February 12th is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. In my opinion, Charles Darwin influenced the scientific world as much as Isaac Newton and Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei. More so, in fact, because his theories of natural selection have contributed to research in medicine and the etiology of many diseases.
"Evolutionary medicine addresses not only the immediate mechanism of diseases, but why natural selection has not eliminated aspects of the body that leave it vulnerable to disease. We're not asking why some people get sick, which is what most medical research asks, but why all humans are vulnerable to a disease." ... Randolph Nesse, MD
Natural selection is one of the cornerstones of biology. It is the evolution of a species through natural adaptation. Artificial selection is where traits are bred in or out of a species, such as horses or dogs. Horse or dog breeders who utilize artificial selection can see how quickly it works, in a very few generations of animals. I believe the same has applied to every species of living things on earth, either plant or animal. We have learned to adapt according to our environment, and we will continue to adapt. Natural selection is the one thing that has created such genetic diversity. Darwin saw this when he went to the Galapagos Islands on the HMS Beagle. There were plants and animals that had evolved there, cut off from the rest of the world, and unlike anything else on earth.
I have read all of Charles Darwin's books, "The Voyage of the Beagle", "The Origin of Species", and "The Descent of Man" and they have all fascinated me. I first became interested in evolution when I was studying high school biology, and we were learning the theory of genetics, and in particular, Gregor Mendel's peas, and the dominant and recessive genes. Oddly enough, Mendel was also a Catholic priest, and later became an Abbott.
There is a lot of controversy about which theory should be taught in schools, the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Creationism. A third theory is the Theory of Intelligent Design, which I guess is sort of a combination of the two. I'm not going to debate that here, because I know there are so many diverse opinions about all three theories. I personally subscribe to the Theory of Natural Selection, and I think Charles Darwin was a genius. I have always believed that life on Earth developed by accident ... a Divine accident, perhaps ... and it just sort of took off from there. And that gets into that grey territory between science and religion. There is definitely a spirituality in the universe that no on can explain. I have experienced that spirituality myself, and I know it exists.
"It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure." -- Albert Einstein
However, is that spirituality God? I don't know. Maybe it is a vibration of the universe that we are unable to understand. I have never been able to understand a God that created the Heavens and the Earth, but has never revealed himself to us. We can scientifically prove the Theory of Natural Selection, but we cannot scientifically prove the existence of God. Did God create us in His image, or did we create Him in ours? I have wondered about this ever since I was a little girl. Is it impossible for us to believe that such beauty as we see in the world could have happened, not by accident, but by the natural selection of the living organism known as Life? No matter how much we debate the issue, there is no right answer.