Okay, first let me apologize again for this being delayed a day. I was hoping to have finished reading The Origin of Species so I could properly talk about it. I almost did, but as I’m in chapter 14 and it’s summing everything up, I think I can still do so before I finish those last 20 pages.
The first impression I had was that it wasn’t anything at all like I expected. When a man and his ideas have been so incredibly demonized in the world I was raised in, it’s quite eye-opening when I stepped out of that world and into reality. His work is well thought out and rational. It makes sense. It’s not, “We’re monkeys and here’s why.” He speaks of genetics, man’s selection with animals (most often about pigeons, which he kept and studied as part of his research), and then how natural selection has changed animals over time.
I found it to be utterly fascinating, and I wonder if any in my family would ever consider reading it or if they dismiss it out of hand based on their Mormon faith. I’m sure it’s the latter and I find that to be discouraging. I remember hearing someone recount a story when I was young (so I don’t remember who was involved or if it was an anecdote that was drifting through the religious vine) where someone had seen a parked car in a shopping center that had it’s lights on (back when they weren’t automatic, so this was a recipe for a dead battery). The individual was going to check the door to see if it was unlocked so he could turn off the lights, but then he saw a Darwin fish on the back of the car and decided “survival of the fittest” and left the car alone with the lights on.
I didn’t understand this as a young kid, and asked why they would do that. They simply told me that it was an evolution term, and if they thought that only the strongest survived, then they were being the weak and didn’t deserve the kindness of the stranger that was going to save their car battery. (Not their exact words, but that was the feeling behind it.) I think you can imagine why this stuck with me for so long. I found this a curious thing before, but now it actually pisses me off. (I hate the idea that only those who share one’s religious beliefs are deserving of one’s altruism.)
Darwin wasn’t out to turn the world upside down with his theory. He was simply doing what scientists do in trying to discover how the world works around him. I would recommend this book to any who haven’t read it who are able to read through 500 pages of old-timey wording. I had to keep my phone close by, as there were words I didn’t recognize (he uses a lot of technical animal classification names I hadn’t seen before). At times it did seem repetitive, but without using the same words so it wasn’t arbitrary. And with the language he uses, it wasn’t a book I could breeze through.
But then, it’s not fluff fiction, either.