I really liked Darwin’s use of different bird species to explain natural selection. He muses on the variances in birds, like why do upland geese who rarely swim have webbed feet? He writes “each species [is] constantly trying to increase in number with natural selection, always ready to adapt the slowly varying descendants of each,” (Darwin, pg 493). Descent with modification was a new idea, but it was able to explain the specializations of animals of the same species living in different parts of the world. Darwin didn’t have a lot to support his argument because of the “imperfect” fossil record, and he was also claiming that the world was much much older than people believed, which went against the popular religious beliefs at the time. Near the end of the chapter, Darwin writes “I look with confidence to the future, to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality,” (Darwin, pg 503) because he clearly knew his ideas of evolution were radical.
Darwin recognizing and unpacking the arguments against his theory first and foremost before providing evidence for his argument was very effective. Validating the “other side” to some degree allowed him to expound on why his theory of evolution was more realistic than creationism. I thought that his example of selective breeding in domesticated animals was a very good way to put his ideas in to layperson’s terms. Though not selective breeding on the farm isn’t exactly how nature has evolved, it’s an excellent example. After presenting this idea, he was able to build a case for successive changes in generations of species in terms that people could understand.
Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species. (United Kingdom: 1859)