Charles Darwin went to his printer 156 years ago with the book that stood science, philosophy, religion and mankind on their collective heads.
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was a smash hit—in the bookshops, at least. The first press run of 1,250 copies sold out quickly, and the book went through six editions in 13 years.
A few years ago a first edition copy was sold by Christie’s for $194,500. Bibliophiles guess that perhaps 1,000 copies of the first edition are still tucked away in institutional and private libraries.
Several of them are sold every year.
You probably know that, although the book enjoyed some degree of popularity among both scientists and late 19th century popular science readers, Darwin’s startling conclusion that human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors was wildly debated and disputed immediately after he published the book. The debate, dispute and denial continues today.
It seems to me that the “evolution deniers” got a 100-year head start on the today’s global climate change deniers.
For some folks, it is an apparently enduring capacity of human nature to ignore facts and scientifically rigorous thinking when some combination of ignorance, myth, belief, greed and fear makes it comfortable to do so.
Read here about the other evolution theorist, Alfred Russel Wallace
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.