Guest Editorial: Where Is the "Origin" in the Origin of Species?
McComas, William F., The American Biology Teacher
Even as we celebrated both the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin and the sesquicentennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species, polls in 2009 showed that only 39% of Americans "believe in the theory of evolution" (Gallup, 2009). It is unlikely that this recent high-profile focus on Darwin and evolution altered this sad situation. Many continue to hold a faulty view of the principle of adaptation, there is widespread misunderstanding of whether evolution has a purpose, and inappropriate assumptions are common about the implications of evolution--along with general confusion regarding the distinction between "change through time" (evolution itself) and the accompanying explanatory mechanism (natural selection). However, here, I will focus on another important element in the misunderstanding of evolution: confusion about the origin of life and the origin of species.
On the Origin of Species is a brilliant argument that proposes a mechanism to account for how one group of organisms might arise from a preexisting one. However, some look to Origin for an answer to the question of how life itself arose. Their failure to find such an answer has caused many to unfairly reject the central premise of Darwin's seminal book (Clough, 2006).
Darwin recognized how useful it would be to have explained both types of origins, but he understood not only the distinction …
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Publication information: Article title: Guest Editorial: Where Is the "Origin" in the Origin of Species?. Contributors: McComas, William F. - Author. Journal title: The American Biology Teacher. Volume: 72. Issue: 2 Publication date: February 2010. Page number: 62+. © National Association of Biology Teachers Mar 2009. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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