Natural Selection: Darwin’s Great Idea
Despite what creationists like to believe, evolution didn’t spring from Charles Darwin’s over-developed forehead like Athena. Evolution had been theorized since the Greeks. Even environmental adaptation wasn’t new under the sun, having been popularized by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, and especially Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.
The real innovation was Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Until then, no theorist had provided the how and why of evolution. On the Origin of Species meticulously laid out the evidence for a universal natural law molding organisms to their environments.
Natural selection is a biological theory of everything
Suddenly, the speculations of Lamarck had an observable mechanism of transmutation. The extinctions observed by Cuvier no longer required successive creations to explain extant related species.
In celebration of Darwin Day, I would like to pay tribute to Darwin’s great insight and the scientists of his day who also contributed to our understanding of evolution…whether they liked it or not.*