Ideas pays tribute to Charles Darwin and celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of his transformational and contentious book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory of evolution through Natural Selection completely changed how we think about the world. In this 4-part series, Seth Feldman guides us through the life and ideas of Charles Darwin, a creative genius. The series is produced by Sara Wolch.
On November 24th, 1859, a new book with a very long title was published in England: On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life. The author was: Charles Darwin, M.A.; Fellow of the Royal, (the) Geological, etc., Societies; and author of Journal of Researches during H.M.S. Beagle’s Voyage around the World.
The Origin of Species was earth-shattering. In his own day, when he wrote those words, and even now, in our own. Darwin showed us how and why all life is change; that nothing stays the same; that over time all living things adapt and evolve, or perish; and that above all, this is a Natural Process, not the result of Divine Intervention. Darwin’s theory – of evolution through Natural Selection – completely changed the way we see the world.
Episode 1 – Broadcast November 11, 2009
Illustration from Darwin’s Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle.
The Prepared Mind: From Darwin’s Early Years To His Voyage Of Discovery On The H.M.S. Beagle.
Charles Darwin was born into a world just beginning to shake itself loose from biblical creationism. The French Enlightenment produced the first modern evolutionary theories – followed shortly thereafter by Darwin’s own grandfather. At Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, Darwin was mentored by the most progressive natural philosophers of his day, one of whom got him a berth on the H.M.S. Beagle for one of history’s great voyages of discovery.
Episode 2 – Broadcast November 18, 2009
Charles Robert Darwin, aged 45 in 1854, pondering his ideas on the origin of species.
The Transmutationist: Darwin Thinks His Way From The Beagle To The Book.
The young man who stepped off the Beagle not only believed in evolution – or transmutation as it was then known – but also knew better than anyone how it worked. Yet Darwin, family man, country squire, rising star in British science, kept his thoughts secret for more than twenty years. All that time, the evidence piled up until finally the pressure was so great that he had to publish.
Episode 3 – Broadcast November 25, 2009
On The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin.
Primates vs Primates: What On The Origin Of Species Said, And What Was Said About It.
For a book that turned Western Culture upside down, On the Origin of Species was elegantly written and fascinating to read. Darwin made his case logically, patiently and with a keen awareness of his readers concerns and beliefs. Even so, thoughtful scientists, scandalized clergymen and fellow naturalists argued against his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and never forgave him for removing moral direction from their picture of life.
Episode 4 – Broadcast December 2, 2009
The genetic blueprints for living organisms evolve over time.
The Enduring Legacy Of Charles Darwin: Why Science And Society Today Are Still Wrestling With Darwin’s Big Idea.
The great synthesis between Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection (as the mechanism for evolution) and genetics (as the mechanism for natural selection) is the bedrock of contemporary Evolutionary Biology. But Darwin’s idea – though modified, expanded upon and continuously attacked – has also influenced the way we think about everything from human society to thought itself.