Monday, May 25, 2009
Maureen Cavanaugh: Charles Darwin in his most famous book "On the Origin of Species" ended on a hopeful, poetic note. He wrote about his theory of common descent and natural selection, "There is grandeur in this view of life, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
Scientists would agree wholeheartedly. Evolutionary theory is the fundamental concept underlying our scientific understanding of biology. But that is not the case outside of science. The theory of evolution and natural selection is still seen as a threat to some religious traditions. Some states modify how much evolution can be taught in school science classes.
So even as we mark the 200th anniversary this year of the birth of Charles Darwin, the controversy that first greeted his famous theory is still very much alive.
Thomas Deméré, curator of the Department of Paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Jon Cohen, correspondent with Science Magazine, and is the author of "Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine."
Mark Wheeler, professor and chairman of the Department of Philosophy at San Diego State University.