Monday, February 25, 2008

Me and Memes

We don't get along.

I almost always turn them down when they come along. So this this one of the few times I'm going to do one. I haven't written anything in a while and this meme gives me the opportunity to talk about one of the greatest figures in the history of science.

Ridger from The Greenbelt has tagged me with "the historical meme". Simple enough rules (mostly they are):1) Link to the person who tagged you.2) List 7 random/weird things about your favorite historical figure.3) Tag seven more people at the end of your blog and link to theirs.4) Let the person know they have been tagged by leaving a note on their blog.

Who Else? Charles Darwin:

1. Was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin who actually was one of a minority of intellectuals of his day who thought there was something to the idea of “evolution.” The problem was that no one could come up with a plausible mechanism by which it could occur.

2. Was headed into the clergy at the time of his trip around the world on HMS Beagle. His first try at a profession was to go to medical school (following in his father’s footsteps). His sessions watching surgery performed without the benefit of anesthesia (for the patients or for Darwin)were enough to convince him he had neither the stomach nor heart for it. His father informed him that the only occupations available to him would be law or the clergy. So he headed off to Cambridge to study for it.

3. He was so fabulously successful as the ship’s science officer, sent back so much valuable scientific data from abroad, that his career was set as a “gentleman naturalist”.

4. What he didn’t do on the voyage, including during his time on the Galapagos, was come up with the theory of evolution.

5. He was a radical abolitionist and this was only made stronger by what he saw of slavery in South America.

6. The idea of evolution really took root with him upon his return. As he sought help from a friend in identifying different species of birds he had found in the Galapagos, he found out that they were all finches with different features which he concluded (correctly) had evolved to fit the various environments of different islands.

7. Darwin was never a declared atheist, though he certainly said and wrote many things that would confirm this point of view. It is a myth that he recanted (recanted “what”?) on his deathbed.

I tag Lynet, Yinyang, BJKeefe, Slut, Kelly, Chappy and Brian. Chances are if any of you tag me back later, I'm not going to do it. So feel free to consider that when deciding.


The Exterminator said...

Well, you think you know a person and ...

I would have guessed that your favorite historical figure was Alfred Russel Wallace.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled upon your blog, and its pretty interesting (but Im a theist). I'm an evolutionary biologist, I think you may find my youtube channel helpful in your debates (

Check out my vids- especially the ones regarding creationist dishonest, as well as transitional fossils / proof of evolution.


Err- here are some direct links for you-

Creationst Dishonesty-

Proof of Evolution-

Transitional Fossils-

John Evo said...

@ Ex - it's hard to love Wallace after his later life turn towards the supernatural. Still, he never recanted either (on evolution). I think the main place he and Darwin diverged was in that Russell just couldn't wrap his head around the idea that consciousness evolves. He just kept on thinking there had to be some mystical explanation for that one.

@ Whit - Thanks a lot for stopping by. I have nothing against your personal beliefs that there is a god out there someplace. I don't GET IT, but that's OK... people like you, who want to believe there is a god but don't make false claims about the natural world, are fine by me. You not only DON'T make false claims - you proclaim the knowledge that mankind has discovered!

I've only watched one of your videos so far but I subscribed to your page and I'll probably post at least one of your videos here. It's extremely powerful rebuttals of the creationist misinformation. I recommend everyone go and check out "Creationist Dishonesty". Bravo!

Lifeguard said...

Gee, Charles Darwin... never would have guessed it!!

PhillyChief said...

I just finished reading the huge bio in the Freethought Today and as I was reading it, I was thinking of you, of course.

I'll check out the vids, Whit. If they're good enough for Evo, they're good enough for me. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Darwin. Never woulda guessed.

I'll have mine up shortly. I'll come back and let you know when it's done.

Anonymous said...

Mine is up now.

Lynet said...

I'm a little busy at present, but I'll do it when I have time :-)

Anonymous said...

I usually don't do memes either, but this is a goodie. The problem is narrowing it down to only one.

"Darwin was a radical abolitionist".
Then how do you explain the fact that he singlehandedly invented racism and inspired the Nazi Holocaust? :)

Brendan said...

Tag noted. It might take me a little time to come up with a good one, but it's a fun challenge.