Darwin’s Quantum Leap
By Terrell Clemmons
Early in 2009, the International Year of Darwin got underway in Shrewsbury, England, the birthplace of Charles Darwin. As part of the celebration marking both Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, a sculpture was unveiled in Shrewsbury’s Mardol Quay Gardens. Nearly forty feet high, sixty feet long, and weighing over 200 tons, the structure, named Quantum Leap, resembles a gigantic slinky placed on the ground like an upside down ‘U.’ Darwin coordinator, Jon King, explains, “What we wanted was an iconic structure – something that was big was bold, but something that could be interpreted in different ways.” In an irony apparently lost on its celebrants, the name ‘Quantum Leap’ makes a fitting metaphor for the thinking of contemporary Darwinists.
Charles Robert Darwin began his career in the summer of 1831 when he boarded the H.M.S. Beagle on a four-year surveying mission. The budding naturalist had studied a bit of medicine and divinity at Cambridge, but geology and nature interested him most. During his five-week stay on the Galapagos Islands Darwin was particularly struck by the varieties of plant and animal life on the different islands.
A Paradigm is Born
On return, he took up pigeon breeding and discovered that with selective breeding, he could produce a variety of pigeons from a common rock pigeon. Like any curious scientist, Darwin began to speculate. What if, over time, little changes added up to big changes? And if random variations arose along the way, could not entirely new species come into existence? If the changes had enough time to accumulate, and if changes that failed to meet the requirements for survival died out, then the result could be a multiplicity of organisms adapted to their surroundings. This extrapolation from observed variations among species to adaptation and survival of the fittest came to be known as the Law of Natural Selection.
Darwin later put forth his ideas in On The Origin of Species, which reportedly sold out on its first day of publication in 1859. Though Darwin stopped short of atheism – in his autobiography he called himself an agnostic, and in fact never addressed the origin of life in any of his books, the intimation that life could have freely emerged, independent of any pesky notion of God, took on a life of its own, and within a century Darwinism, or ‘Evolution as the Explanation of Everything,’ would become the reigning paradigm of science.
Questioning the Premise
But is this paradigm itself a scientifically established fact? That was the question raised by a surprise entrant to the creation/evolution debate…
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