Thursday, October 11, 2007

Book Review: The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

Since its publication in 1859 The Origin of Species has caused controversy and remains the subject of much debate today. Despite being demonised by many religious groups, both past and present, Darwin believed in God and wrote this book in layman's terms to describe his findings from years of studying, not only in the Galapagos islands but from his back garden in Kent and at no time does he attack religious beliefs of any kind. This book is simple in its aims: to describe the observations that Darwin made and explain, in a logical process, how they point towards the conclusions he made. It all makes sense and fits into any system of beliefs with a little adaptation.

This book is probably one of the most influential ever written and is worth reading for that reason alone. The easy-to-understand language make all the arguments within simple to grasp and I would emplore anyone who has an opinion on either evolution or creationism to read the origin of species so that they can make an educated argument for whichever cause they represent: for too long people have argued about this book based upon poorly informed accusations that have been levelled at it.

Having said that, the biggest downfall of this publication for me is that although when it was published the contents were boldly original, now it appears hackneyed and cliched. Of course it is not, just that what was once profound is now mostly common knowledge, with terms such as "survival of the fittest", "natural selection" and "struggle for existence" cropping up on most natural history programs.

Despite being one of the greatest books to be published in terms of its impact on the way we understand the world around us, I found it quite dull, despite studying ecology and having a deep interest in such topics from the youngest of ages.

Highly recommended in terms of its historical impact, but don't expect to learn much that you didn't already know, which is testament to the success of this publication.

Score: 7/10

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