Charles R. Darwin: From 2002 to 2008/2009

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico/Chico, California 95929-0400
Telephone: 530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: and home page:

6 May 2002 [1]

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(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on May 3, 2002, for a presentation on May 6, 2002, in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico. Previous PHIL 108 presentations are listed below in Footnote #1. For some recent "Darwin" information, please go to:


Charles R. Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 and died on April 19, 1882. The years leading up to 2008 / 2009 will be interesting: 2008 will be the sesquicentennial of the joint Darwin-Wallace papers of 1858 at the Linnean Society meetings and 2009 will be the bicentennial of Darwin's 1809 birth as well as the sesquicentennial of the publication of the first edition of what has become known as Origin. I attempt to "humanize" Darwin and convey my understanding of him to others.

Darwin was fascinating and many have written much about him and there is a "Darwin Industry" with various publications such as Merryl Davies's Darwin And Fundamentalism (2000), Gabriel Dover's Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior (2000), Phillip E. Johnson's Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds (1997), Randal Keynes's Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution (2002), as well as Edward J. Larson's Trial And Error: The American Controversy Over Creation And Evolution (1985). Incidentally, on March 11, 2002, President Manuel Esteban announced that Edward J. Larson will be part of the President's Visiting Scholars Program and will be on this campus sometime over the 2002-2003 academic year. Dr. Larson, currently at the University of Georgia, recently published Evolution's Workshop: God And Science on the Galápagos Islands (2001).

In my own attempt to understand Darwin I have been to the Galápagos Islands as well as Darwin's home in England and have been portraying Darwin in the first person (since October 4, 1990) for various classroom and professional presentations. Three videotapes, created for instructional purposes, are available via the World Wide Web. Today's brief presentation deals with some information concerning Charles R. Darwin and his research: he sailed from England on HMS Beagle on December 27, 1831 and after conducting research in South America, the HMS Beagle entered the Pacific Ocean on June 11, 1834 and Darwin reached the Galápagos Islands on September 15, 1835. After that, HMS Beagle continued around the globe, arriving back in England on October 2, 1836. Darwin never left England again.

Photo by Charles F. Urbanowicz, Natural History Museum, London (1999).


"The fact is that Charles Darwin was in almost all respects a fairly standard example of the nineteenth century student, well off, active in field sports, working hard enough to avoid academic failure, but a long way from academic success." Peter Brent 1981, Charles Darwin: A Man Of Enlarged Curiosity (NY: Harper & Row), page 89.



"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. If, now, we correct the Darwinian unit of survival to include the environment and the interaction between organism and environment, a very strange and surprising identity emerges: the unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind" [italics in original; stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.

"The Galapagos Island finches once studied by Charles Darwin respond quickly to changes in food supply by evolving new beaks and body sizes, according to researchers who studied the birds for almost 30 years. Starting in 1973, husband-and-wife researchers Peter and Rosemary grant of Princeton University have followed the evolutionary changes in two types of birds, the ground finch and the cactus finch, on Daphne Major, one of the Galapagos islands. In a study appearing today in the Journal Science, the Grants report that climate and weather have a dramatic effect on the evolutionary path the finches follow. Ground finches most eat small seeds, and their beaks have adapted to that purpose. When the weather turned dry in 1977, most of the plants that produce small seeds on Daphne Major were killed, leaving little food for finches with modest beaks. Most died off, but some ground finches with bigger, stronger beaks survived [stress added]." Anon., 2002, Finches Shown To Be Able to Change. The Chico Enterprise-Record, April 26, 2002, page 11A.

"For the first time, doctors have documented a large-scale U.S. outbreak of antibiotic-resistant strep throat--an episode involving at least 46 Pittsburgh schoolchildren. Until now, antibiotics have easily killed the bacteria that cause strep throat and life-threatening septic infections...." Linda Johnson, 2002, Strep Bacteria Resisting Common Antibiotic. The Chico Enterprise Record, April 28, 2002, page 2B. [AND SEE: and]

"Environmentalists mourn the loss on any species. But a new study shows that the loss of a few key species may be more devastating to an ecosystem than elimination of a greater number of less critical organisms." Lee Bowman, 2002, Loss of Key Species Can Doom Ecosystem. The Chico Enterprise-Record, April 28, 2002, page 6V. [AND SEE:]





Source: Caroline Overy, 1997, A Teacher's Guide To Charles Darwin: His Life, Journeys and Discoveries (United Kingdom: English Heritage).



"The most curious fact is the perfect gradation in the size of the beaks in the different species of Geospiza, from one as large as that of a hawfinch to that of a chaffinch, and (if Mr. Gould is right in including in his sub-group, Certhidea, in the main group), even to that of a warbler. The largest beak in the genus Geospiza is show in Fig. 1, and the smallest in Fig. 3; but instead of their being only one intermediate species, with a beak of the size shown in Fig. 2, there are no less than six species with insensibly graduated beaks. The beak of the sub-group Certhidea, is shown in Fig. 4. The beak of Cactornis is somewhat like that of a starling; and that of the fourth sub-hroup, Camarhynchus, is slightly parrot-shaped. Seing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paicity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends [stress added]." Charles R. Darwin, 1845, The Voyage of the Beagle [Edited by Leonard Engel, 1962, NY: Doubleday], pages 380-381.


Source: Various (and see R.B. Freeman, 1978, Charles Darwin: A Companion [Folkestone, Kent, England: Dawson & Sons, Ltd.], pages 66-68.

CHARLES R. DARWIN, 1859 (as well as: 1860, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1872): On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life [Note: this is the on-line version of the 1859 edition].

When what is commonly called Origin was published in 1859, it was an immediate success and the following information should be of interest to all interested in Darwin. Every edition of Origin published in Charles R. Darwin's lifetime is different! He re-wrote every-single-one and all are different! The reason it is important to point out the various editions of Origin is demonstrated by the following chart, based on information in the excellent 1959 publication of Morse Peckham [Editor] entitledThe Origin Of Species By Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text). The concept of change is definitely vital to an understanding of Darwin, whether you are reading Darwin himself or reading about him and I include the following tabular information on Darwin's Origin in virtually everything I present or write:

THE VARIOUS EDITIONS FROM 1859-1872 (based on Peckham, 1959):



9 eliminated
483 rewritten
30 added
7 %
33 eliminated
617 rewritten
266 added
14 %
36 eliminated
1073 rewritten
435 added
21 %
178 eliminated
1770 rewritten
227 added
29 %
63 eliminated
1699 rewritten
571 added
21-29 %

If one is reluctant to read ALL of Darwin's Origin as indicated, there is a delightful book by Maurice Sagoff (1970) which is called to your attention: Shrinklits: Seventy of the World's Towering Classics Cut Down To Size (New York: Workman Publishing) wherein the following appears on page 99:

"All creatures strive;
The fit survive.

Out of this surge
Species emerge.

'Throw the bum out!'
Is Nature's shout.

And 'Class will tell'
Sex-wise as well.

The age-old race
To win or place

(At least to show)
Persists, although

The way things look
None Dares make book."


Incidentally, Charles R. Darwin took great care not to write about Homo sapiens in Origin in 1859 and all he had to say about "man" in 1859 was:

"In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history. [Chapter XV: "Recapitulation And Conclusion"]



One need only read recent accounts to realize that Darwin is debatable and "Darwin Lives" in the year 2002 (en route to 2008/2009!). Consider, for example, the following:

"The last decade of the millennium saw the arrival of a new player in the creation/evolution debate--what has become known as the 'intelligent design (ID) movement' or 'the wedge,' This new movement aims to overthrow not only Darwinian evolution. but also the supposedly dogmatic materialist/naturalist philosophy of the modern age that it believes has dethrowned Christian theism from its proper role of moral and intellectual authority. The most important publication that heralded the wedge movement included [University of California] Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson's book Darwin on Trial (Regnery, 1991) and Leigh [University] biochemist Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (The Free Press, 1995). Another significant publication is the biology textbook by Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon titled Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins (Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 1993), which creationists have proposed for use in secondary school [stress added]" Robert T.Pennock, 2001, Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives (The MIT Press), pages ix-x. 

One can also see recent items in the press concerning Darwin and "Intelligent Design" and see for example: [Design vs. Darwin} April 1, 2002]

"Leaving fundamentalist dogma behind, a new species of anti-evolutionists has arisen under the banner of "intelligent design" -- now at the heart of a bitter debate erupting in Ohio about how science and evolution should be taught in the public schools." (For additional information see: "Nature's Diversity Beyond Evolution" by Carl T. Hall in The San Francisco Chronicle, March 17, 2002, page A1).

"Give Ohio's kooks and knuckle-draggers this much: Sure, their fight against Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has made Ohio a national joke. But the "intelligent design" ruckus has one virtue: It has clued voters to the lunacy of the State Board of Education, Ohio's most absurd (some days, most dangerous) agency." (For additional information see: "State Board of Education Is not A Result of intelligent Design" by Thomas Suddes in The [Cleveland, Ohio] Plain Dealer, March 20, 2002, page B11.

"A crucial question arose the other day in the debate about whether Ohio should require religiously based ideas about the origins of life to be included in the science classrooms alongside Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Rep. Twyla Roman, R-Akron, asked, "If we allow the Darwinian theory to be taught as fact, are we not infringing on religious freedom by forcing this particular philosophy" on students? Roman's question perfectly crystallizes the misunderstanding at work in this debate. Implicit in the question is the idea that the theory of evolution is a pilosophy or a system of belief somehow akin to a religious faith, and that evolution and its proponents therefore undermine and displace other religious faiths. If evolution were a faith-based idea, Roman would be correct. Teaching evolution to the exclusion of other religious ideas about the origins of life would be a case of religious suppression. But, in fact, evolution is not a faith; it is science. And science is nothing more than the attempt to understand the physical world and its natural processes. By definition, science limits itself to natural processes and leaves questions about the supernatural to religion. In other words, science quite deliberately eschews any entanglement with the spiritual and the supernatural. For more than a century now, evolution simply has been the best natural explanation for the fully established fact that newer forms of life have, over vast amounts of time, evolved from earlier forms of life [stress added]." (For additional information see: "Editorial" in The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch, March 10, 2002, Page 2C.)

Science is (or should be) a "neutral" process and Darwin "simply" observed and described his world in the 19th Century (synthesizing some of which had been done before) and his impact continues into the 21st Century and some individuals simply cannot accept that! Recently on April 21, 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle had an extensive article about Phillip Johnson, entitled "Intelligent Design's Public Defender." Johnson a retired University of California, Berkeley, Law Professor was discussed as follows:

"The ghost of William Jennings Bryan [1860-1925], the most celebrated -- and demonized -- critic of evolution of the past century, inhabits a small California bungalow in a one block cul-de-sac in North Berkeley. There, 61-year old Phillip Johnson is working full time to convince the world that an intelligent force -- not evolution -- is responsible for all forms of life on earth. ... In fact, intelligent-design theorists have popular opinion on their side. Americans seem to overwhelmingly reject the Darwinian view of evolution, despite its scientific hegemony. According to a recent Gallup poll, 45 percent of respondents said they believed in the biblical view that God 'created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.' An additional 37 percent believe that 'humans have developed over millions of years fromless-advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.' A mere 12 percent believe that God has nothing to do with it. ... Johnson says he is an ordinary Christian who regularly attends the First Congregational Church in Berkeley. But when pressed, he avoids answering pointed questions, including his views on just who the intelligent designer is. 'It certainly could be God, a supernatural creature, but in principle it could be space aliens of high intelligence who did the designing,' he says. He won't say whether he is or isn't a creatinist. 'I won't answer that. That's like asking me if I was ever a member of the Communist Party.' Now will he say just how old he thinks the earth is. 'We do not take a position on the age of the Earth, because it is something we are not addressing,' he said. By avoiding central questions such as these, Johnson clearly wants to keep the focus of his attacks on evolutionary theory itself and not get sidetracked onto emotional theological issues [stress added]." Louis Freedburgh, 2002, Intelligent Designer's Public Defender. The San Francisco Chronicle, 21 April 2002, pages D1 + D6.

The debate goes on!



In ending, I attempt to answer the question at the beginning of this paper, namely "Why are there so many different kinds of living things?" In his closing words of the 1860 edition of Origin Darwin had the following:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of higher animals directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved [stress added]."
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For-virtually-every web page I do I try to "update" the following information concerning "Darwin" and "Search Engines" on the World Wide Web. The following is provided for your edification:

On October 17, 2001, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 120,000 items; Northern Light had 51,939 items; Alta Vista Search had 65,975,088 items; and MonkeySweat had numerous items!

On February 6, 2002, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 118,000 items; "Power Search" by Northern Light had 2,587 items; Alta Vista Search had 40,131 items; and MonkeySweat had numerous items!

On May 2, 2002, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 130,000 items; "Power Search" by Northern Light had 2,623 items; Alta Vista Search had 36,608 items; MonkeySweat had numerous items; and WiseNut had 64,940 items.

Two things should be obvious: (#1) interest in Darwin continues and (#2), obviously, just as with people, all "search engines" are not created equal and there is "cultural selection" involved in everything we do! How does one "evaluate" and "use" this wide range of information? One does it just as Darwin did, carefully, patiently, and slowly, for as Darwin wrote:

"False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened." Charles R. Darwin, 1871, The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex[1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Chapter 21, page 385.
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(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on May 3, 2002, for a presentation on May 6, 2002, in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico. Previous PHIL 108 presentations are at (December 2, 1998), (April 26, 2000), (April 30, 2001), and (November 17, 2001). This current page incorporates ideas, words, phrases, and references from earlier items (and earlier Darwin items: see for example (February 10, 2002) as well as (March 9, 2002); new ideas, information, and interpretations, however, are constantly being added to all presentations. For some specific "Darwin Visuals" which were part of the Power point presentation this day, please see For some Darwin "Self-Tests" you may wish to take, please see: as well as To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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 [~3,302 words]

To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

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Copyright © 2002; all rights reserved by Charles F. Urbanowicz

3 May 2002 by cfu

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