For Those Thinking of Charles Darwin on His Birthday

As today is Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, here are a few posts I’ve written that would be of interest to those noticing such things. I can’t think of anything I’ve writen that would connect with Abraham Lincoln.

“Stamp Collectors’ Wives Don’t Get Escorted by the King of Sweden”
“Will a Jew Plow with a Mule?”
“Father’s Day Special: Relatedness of Abraham and the Children of Israel”

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About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

7 thoughts on “For Those Thinking of Charles Darwin on His Birthday

  1. For whatever reason, the database is attributing “Will a Jew Plow with a Mule?” to Ivan Wolfe. Sorry, Ivan. We’ll get Brian to remedy that. That nice graphic I used to have of the Swedish stamp commemorating Rutherford’s Nobel prize is also missing. The travails of system porting.

  2. I am still surprised that a man who writes down observations and conclusions that farmers/ranchers had for millennia gets credited as a genius. Sure he was smart, but didn’t appear to come up with much that wasn’t obvious. True, he used exotic examples if you were European, but most of his observations were not novel. Additionally, he appeared to plagiarize a significant portion of his work.

    But he did have the courage to theorize outside the box and clearly is relevant 150 years after he published his ideas.

    I found many of his conclusions arbitrary and very weakly supported.

  3. Sure, a lot of people had had some of the same ideas.
    None of them had ever thought to put them all together.
    And Darwin wasn’t just studying artificial selection, which was what farmers/ranchers had mostly been looking at. He was studying how selection works in nature.
    As far as plagiarizing work…this is science, not fiction. You don’t do science without using the tools and ideas that other people come up with. Much of it was entirely his own–his observations about tortoises, finches, etc. (although in some cases he had help from bird experts, etc. at home, who told him that all those birds, even though they looked drastically different, were still all finches). But all scientists rely on other scientists’ work to do their own.

  4. Darwin’s contribution wasn’t evolution as the origin of species. That was an ancient concept, a common feature in many myths. Darwin’s great contribution was a mechanism that explains it, natural selection. Hence why I’ve never understood why so many make such fuss and create bogus conflict between faith and evolution when there is none. If the church hadn’t dropped that anti-evolution nonsense some apostles used to promote, I would have left long ago.

  5. Artificial selection is the same as natural selection. Species survive if they meet the criteria set by the environment. (Is man is part of nature)? If you had asked most shepherds for thousands of years if the faster/stronger lion/bear/fox/sheep/guinea pig/ox is more likely to live and if traits are passed on, they would know the answer to both.

    I do give Darwin credit for compiling the work of many and establishing a cohesive theory that contained many insights; exhibiting a type of intellectual courage, and changing the perception of the scientific community for centuries to come. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but what I’ve read of Darwin is a propensity to over reach and a loose sense of logic. Specifically his inight that the God he had worshiped would not create the wasp that planted parasitic eggs in a caterpillar.

    Steve, don’t leave the church, but there is still some conflict between faith and evolution. Was there an Adam? If God created man in His image, was it by writing the genetic code that culminated in mankind? Did he place Adam in a garden 6000 years ago, or is that symbolic? Was there a fall of man? How did Adam fall if he was merely an animal with instincts just the same as all other animals? How did Adam not know how to procreate if he evolved from species that knew? Your acceptance of one possible chain of events supported by evolution raises numerous other questions.

    I’m not saying I know the answer to these questions and maybe answers to these questions don’t provide salvation, but they do implicate the cause of a necessity for salvation and a savior.

  6. I wonder if there’ll be as much hoopla over Einstein or other notable scientists when their bicentennials roll around. I doubt it. We’re celebrating a movement.

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