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The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition Mass Market Paperback – September 2, 2003
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“Next to the Bible no work has been quite as influential, in virtually every aspect of human thought, as The Origin of Species.”—Ashley Montagu
“Darwin was one of history’s towering geniuses and ranks with the greatest heroes of man’s intellectual progress.”—George Gaylord Simpson in The Meaning of Evolution
“It is clear that here is one of the most important contributions ever made to philosophic science; and it is at least behooving on scientists, in the light of the accumulation of evidence which the author has summoned in support of his theory, to reconsider the grounds on which their present doctrine of the origin of species is based.”—The New York Times
“Amazingly, 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species, Darwin's seminal work on the theory of evolution remains the authoritative tract on the subject.”—Library Journal
About the Author
Charles Robert Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. At Cambridge University he formed a friendship with J. S. Henslow, a professor of botany, and that association, along with his enthusiasm for collecting beetles, led to “a burning zeal,” as he wrote in his Autobiography, for the natural sciences. A voyage to the Southern Hemisphere on the H.M.S. Beagle between 1831 and 1836 would lay the foundation for The Origin of Species, published in 1859. His other works include The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) and Recollections of My Mind and Character, also titled Autobiography (1887). Charles Darwin’s Diary of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle was published posthumously in 1933.
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It's interesting how research worked back in the mid-19th century. He didn't have Google and even if he did, most scientists back then hadn't asked the questions he was asking. For example, he wondered how seed could be transported across oceans; he concocted experiments to see if seeds would float in the ocean for a long period of time and still germinate. He also wondered if mud on birds feet would contain seeds; so he captured some birds and checked out the mud on their feet. There are many other examples where he did this sort of thing.
He also structured this book to answer all of the possible criticisms to his theories and did a very good job. He effectively cited the work of other scientists. I found this book a joy to read and see how the mind of a great scientist works. It's refreshing to see a scientist go against the consensus and powerfully support his radical new theory.
This book is highly recommended for everyone. It is eminently readable and convincing.
This book is controversial since there are many people that feel it is anti-God. I don't think so; to me, it simply shows that God did not create each and every species from 'nothing'. God is more like a farmer than a conjurer. I would think that the amazing versatility of life and its ability to adapt shows something that seems hard to imagine coming together by mere chance.
For me, everything he explains about descent through modification and rudimentary organs and common ancestors not only makes sense but is corroborated by the principles of Biology concerning classification and evolution.
Darwin, contrary to how creationists reacted and are still reacting towards him, does not confront the idea of "God created everything out of nothing" and dismisses it as nonsense (except maybe a little towards the end, when he writes "Do they really believe that atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues?"). He takes more of a perplexed approach and doesn't seem to understand why they can't look at the facts.
*** A note on the free Kindle edition: it does seem abridged and does not include the chart that the author refers to on several occasions but the gist of natural selection is in here***
The main text is Darwin's 6th Edition.
Darwin considerably amended Origin of Species through the course of its six editions. For example he first used the expression "survival of the fittest" (coined by Herbert Spencer) in the 5th edition and he first used the term "evolution" in the 6th edition. However, he also diluted some of his arguments in an attempt to deflect criticism. Most notably he made more allowance for now discredited Lamarckian ideas of hereditable affects of use and disuse, versus pure natural selection.
It is an open argument whether the 1st edition or the 6th edition best represents his real thinking. My 2 cents would be that the differences are relatively minor in the context of the overall work. The key driving ideas are well expressed in both and either is a fine start. Just be aware that other readers of Origin of Species may have seen a slightly different text!