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ogenoct
Monday, September 27th, 2004, 01:57 PM
CHARLES DARWIN AND THE SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH

by Constantin von Hoffmeister


Charles Darwin was a groundbreaking scientist who introduced and radically advanced the theory of evolution. This theory basically states that all organisms, including humans, evolved from lower types of life through a process called "natural selection" (in this process, the weaker variety of individuals and species are ruthlessly, but naturally, exterminated by the stronger and more resilient ones). In its essence, the theory of evolution is the culmination of the realist and natural takes on life and art that had replaced the earlier romantic and metaphysical notions.

For example, Darwin argued that "species gradually become modified," meaning that they acquire certain traits and characteristics to cope with changes in the environment - once can call this process "adaptation." In this respect, it seems logical that only the "fittest" (those most able to adapt) would survive to produce offspring and therefore propagate the continuation of their species.

These kind of notions were completely novel to the society at large, and even Darwin himself was flabbergasted when he realized the full extent of his discoveries. As he stated, "I had always been much struck by such adaptations..." This, of course, simply reinforces the fact that a break in the process of scientific research (prior to Darwin) had a huge impact on the Western world as a whole. Naturally, the accepted Christian belief of a pocess of divine creation could not stand up to the logical and scientifically sound (in tune with the emphasis on empiricism that permeated late 19th century intellectual circles) nature of Darwin's theory. After all, the earth seemed to be much older than 5,000 years (as Christians believed in accordance with their holy book) when one looked at the various organisms and their complex development over the ages.

Darwin also argued that, since the population of the various species increased geometrically as opposed to the diametrical increase in food supply, the interminable fight over territory and resources was inevitable. He says "that as new species in the course of time are formed through natural selection, others will become rarer and rarer, and finally extinct." This law of nature can also be applied to "civilized" societies in the sense that each nation/state tries to cater to the needs and demands of its own people. Since the latter keep multiplying at an exponential rate, the urge to conquer and appropriate the land and food of other peoples and nations/states becomes imminent. With the advent of Darwin's theory of natural selection and the "survival of the fittest," we are also able to mark the beginnings of "social engineering" and the infamous "Lebensraum" theory (a people need space, even if this space is already inhabited by people/races deemed inferior).