Beating the Naysayers to the Punch

In the last chapter of his major work, Darwin brought up a few arguments or defenses of his new theory to some anticipated counter-arguments. One of these is why “not every geological formation charged with such [examples of transitional forms]” (Dawrin, p. 486). In other words, why do not not see a plethora of fossils from creatures part way between recognizable species? Darwin notes a few reasons as for why this appears to be the case, including the fact that in a geologic sense the world has barely been explored, and that the record overall is quite imperfect and not as well understood as many Geologists would posit (Darwin, p. 488) Darwin also addresses the argument that species were created/designed as they appear today, and notes how his new theory better fits explains examples of animals such as why do “…upland geese, which never or rarely swim, should have been created with webbed feet…” (Darwin, p. 493). Darwin posits that with this theory of perpetual change, such oddities fit well into the theory of evolution, and “might even have been anticipated” (Darwin, p. 493).


As for how I feel in terms of how convincing Darwin’s arguments are, I am not too fond of him sort of “setting aside” the Geologic record with the hope that future discoveries will validate his theory more extensively. “I can answer these questions and grave objections only on the supposition that the geological record is far more imperfect than most geologists believe.” (Darwin, p. 486). Other than that, I find this whole chapter where Darwin proactively responds to criticisms of his theory to be quite refreshing. This type of writing is the same as what I was taught in my writing classes here at MSU, and it is refreshing because it seems that in the modern day this is becoming less and less common, i.e. new theories are being thrown out on a variety of topics but is seems a regular occurrence that little proactive thought is put into the views and claims of those who might object to the new theories.

One thought on “Beating the Naysayers to the Punch”

  1. Great post Morgan. I agree that it was an interesting strategy how Darwin first starts out by addressing the ways his critics would argue against his theories. I think this was a smart way to address his theory. If you can prove your opposition wrong you have a better change of convincing the masses. You bring up an interesting point about the geologic record. I think Darwin was right that during his time science was not advanced enough to thoroughly prove his theory. I slightly disagree with your point concerning the geologic record. His openness about the subject has allowed others to build upon his work that he did. However, I do not know much about the geologic record so I am open to opposition on that point.

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