By Julian S. Huxley, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Reinhold Niebuhr, Oliver L. Reiser, Swami Nikhilananda
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Extra resources for A Book that Shook the World: Essays on Charles Darwin's Origin of Species
Fisher correctly said that natural selection is a means whereby things in the highest degree improbable may be realized. We may add that the emergence of a living body in evolution should not be compared with building a machine in a modern factory. A machine cannot function until the last part of the mechanism has been put in the proper place by human hands or by another machine contrived by an engineer. Biological evolution is rather more like the development of a complex modern machine from simpler and less efficient models, and of the latter from the simple sticks which our subhuman or even prehuman ancestors first used to supplement the action of their muscles and their limbs.
Thus in Thomism we have the apotheosis of Aristotelianism as logic, as metaphysics, as natural science, and as ethics. This brings us to a crucial issue in philosophy, whether it be ancient, medieval, or modern. Did Aristotle in fact have a theory of evolution, as some scholars allege? Or, as I believe is really the case, is it a fact that Aristotelianism did not have a theory of evolution, and indeed by its very nature cannot develop a theory of evolution? In that event, Aristotelianism is inherently opposed to the evolutionary way of thinking, and Dewey is quite correct when he avers that Darwin's book was inescapably destined to work a revolution in Western thought,-a revolution made all the more inevitable by the Christian Aristotelianism which stifled the emerging philosophy of evolution of the pre-Aristotelian Greek nature philosophers.
The second co ere i v e influence in committing the early 39 Christian Church to a non-evolutionary viewpoint was the historical circumstance that some influential converts to Christianity, especially St. Augustine, had previously espoused Plato's theory of ideal forms, and this neo-Platonic metaphysics confirmed the Patrologists in their acceptance of the doctrine of fixed or changeless types in the hierarchy of species. When this neo-Platonic formulation was amended to conform to the Aristotelian modifications of Platonism which Thomas Aquinas steamed and pressed into the mold of Scholastic theology, the non-evolutionary viewpoint was solidified-even beyond what St.
A Book that Shook the World: Essays on Charles Darwin's Origin of Species by Julian S. Huxley, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Reinhold Niebuhr, Oliver L. Reiser, Swami Nikhilananda
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