Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Darwin "never puzzled anybody."

  Bernard Shaw criticized Darwin by saying that the secret to Darwin's popularity was "that he never puzzled anybody." Shaw says that Darwin never got too deep into his ideas that a regular person could not understand. All citizens, according to Shaw, were familiar with the concepts of use and disuse and were familiar with people taking natural selection into their own hands by eliminating breeds or traits in animals or plants that are weak or undesirable. People do this by making hybrids of dogs to have the fastest, most visually appealing, or most intelligent dog and eventually weeding out the undesirable by drowning the weakest kitten or puppy in a litter.

  Since people have undoubtedly heard of these actions, it would be fair to say that they would not be shocked by Darwin's theories. Shaw states, "Now if you are familiar with these three processes: the survival of the fittest, sexual selection, and variation leading to new kinds, there is nothing to puzzle you in Darwinism." While I feel this statement has some truth to it, I also feel that things are not as simple as Shaw makes them appear to be. You cannot say that breeding two types of animals together to get a "better" one is the same as weeding out the weaker humans to, in turn, have a stronger human race. Furthermore, breeding animals and eliminating the weaker ones is not the same as taking a human life. Human life is more precious than animals and we view breeding as morally acceptable while killing off weak humans is something one would be sent to jail for. Humans do not necessarily "breed" the way animals are bred. Humans reproduce for reasons much different than because someone has seen that they would produce a better offspring than what exists now, they reproduce out of love most of the time.

   Humans in the Western world are also given the freedom to choose the person they will mate with, whereas animals that are being bred by humans are not given that opportunity. The animals are bred strictly to benefit society by improving the animal's traits. With this being said, it seems that humans are the only species resisting natural selection at this point with the ideas of prosthetics, plastic surgery, and vision corrective surgery, just to name a few. In conclusion, I argue that Darwin did not convert the people and since Shaw said he did I would say that he is incorrect.

Alison Madill

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