Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life

By Charles Darwin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
MISCELLANEOUS OBJECTIONS TO THE THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION

Longevity--Modifications not necessarily simultaneous--Modifications apparently of no direct service--Progressive development--Characters of small functional importance, the most constant--Supposed incompetence of natural selection to account for the incipient stages of useful structures--Causes which interfere with the acquisition through natural selection of useful structures--Gradations of structure with changed functions--Widely different organs in members of the same class, developed from one and the same source--Reasons for disbelieving in great and abrupt modifications

I WILL devote this chapter to the consideration of various miscellaneous objections which have been advanced against my views, as some of the previous discussions may thus be made clearer; but it would be useless to discuss all of them, as many have been made by writers who have not taken the trouble to understand the subject. Thus a distinguished German naturalist has asserted that the weakest part of my theory is, that I consider all organic beings as imperfect: what I have really said is that all are not as perfect as they might have been in relation to their conditions; and this is shown to be the case by so many native forms in many quarters of the world having yielded their places to intruding foreigners. Nor can organic beings, even if they were at any one time perfectly adapted to their conditions of life, have remained so, when their conditions changed,

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