CBC Digital Archives

Darwin debunked?

The year 1809 was remarkable for producing figures of great historical importance, including Lincoln, Chopin, Poe, Braille, Tennyson and many others. But no other figure produced as dramatic an effect on society as the English naturalist Charles Darwin. His groundbreaking theory of evolution had a major impact on religion, education, history and our conception of humankind. Now, 200 years after his birth and 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species, the CBC Digital Archives looks at the history of Darwin, his controversial theory and the ways in which his thoughts still affect the world.

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The theory of evolution has support from most secular scientists, but in this 1996 clip, the dissenting minority have their say. Biochemist Michael Behe has some strong criticism for Darwin's ideas. But he isn't a creationist either; he believes the Earth is millions of years old and that species probably have changed over time. Another secular critic joins Behe in arguing that evolution and natural selection just aren't good enough explanations for the development of life.
•The word "evolution" appears only once in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. In that work, Darwin preferred the term "descent with modification." • "Evolution" derives from the Latin word evolvere, which means "to unroll." Along those lines, the word "evolve" came to mean "to unroll" or "to expand."

• As host Ian Brown mentions, many critics of Darwinian evolution argue that an organ as complex as the human eye could not have evolved by chance. Darwin himself was very candid about that point; In the Origin Of Species he wrote, "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selections, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree."

• Anti-evolutionists often use this quote against Darwin, but only by using it out of context. The rest of that paragraph discusses the possible evolution of an eye and essentially says that just because something seems absurd does not mean it is not possible. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: Sept. 22, 1996
Guest(s): Michael Behe, David Berlinski
Host: Ian Brown
Duration: 22:19
Photo: Herval, used under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Last updated: February 8, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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