“If Darwin could rename his most famous book.”

“If Darwin could rename his most famous book.”

Through my readings of his writings, I believe Charles Darwin might today rename his famous book of 1859: “Origin of Species.”

When he wrote “Origin,” he did not have access to Mendel’s work on genetics.  Over and over, I have written in my book margins: “If only Darwin had a simple Punnett square in hand!”  Darwin repeatedly talked of reversion to ancestral species.  When one looks at the cross of two pure-breeds for a given trait from a male and female, one homozygous dominant and one homozygous recessive, the result is 100% hybrid.  Each member of the first filial generation is heterozygous dominant.  The resulting cross of two hybrids is one homozygous dominant, two heterozygous dominants and one homozygous recessive possibility. When the hybrids are then crossed, the original parental/grandparent homozygous traits might just reappear.   Darwin talked extensively about genetic themes before the discipline was solidified.  I am referring to content in Chapter I of “Origins,” called “Under Domestication,” in the paragraphs beginning with “A long list could easily be given of sporting plants,” and the subsequent paragraph beginning with “Seedlings from the same fruit.”

In the paragraph beginning: “Geological research,” in Chapter IX: “Geological record,” Darwin lamented the lack of numerous transitional varieties to support his idea of gradualism.  In effect, he acknowledged the effects and significance of the Cambrian explosion and punctuated equilibrium.

In his Chapter called “Recapitulation and Conclusion” in “Origin,” Darwin alluded to life “breathed” into a progenitor species, which is very reminiscent of the “breath of life” as indicated in Genesis 2:7.  The paragraph to which I am referring in Chapter XIV begins with: “Analogy would lead me to one step further.”

In this same paragraph he talked about “Nevertheless all living things have much in common.”  He was foreseeing DNA as the code, the library of words which are common to all living things.

Finally, in this opinion expressed by me, I will recapitulate and conclude:

#1 Darwin was a brilliant thinker in genetics before the discipline officially “became of age.”

#2 He acknowledged possible faults in his theory of gradualism.

#3 He at least suggested supernatural influence when discussing the beginning of things.

#4 Darwin recognized the influence of DNA in the commonality of things.  One of my collaborators added: “But if Darwin had the benefit of knowing the genetic code like we do today, he would observe that the most salient example of gradualism is the code itself, as we compare a gene from lower to higher organisms.”

My Conclusion:

It is possible, that were Darwin alive today, he might retitle his work “Origin of Species,” to:

How DNA works.”

By Darrell D. Barnes

February 6, 2019

Your thoughts?

The paragraphs cited in this opinion were taken from “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin, A Facsimile of the First Edition.

 

120 Comments

  1. I have been learning about Darwin every since I was in the 6th grade. There is always something new to learn about him and his works. It was very helpful and interesting learning more about such a true genius.

    Like

  2. I agree that if Darwin had access to the knowledge that we know today, the title of his book would have been changed (at the very least). His theories might would even be drastically different. We have certainly come a long way since Darwin was alive. I think it is useful to remember the time and context of ideas from the past as they could lend some more insight to how people thought and even how far ahead of their time some people were.

    Like

  3. I completely agree with your points. I believe if only Darwin had the tools and knowledge we currently have in hand his theory would have been described much differently. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and thus forcing me to think about these concepts.

    Like

  4. I agree that there is a possibility that if Darwin wrote his book today that he would have named it differently because as there are more scientific discoveries today, he would have more information to back up his ideas. This was a very interesting post, and it really makes you think.

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  5. I honestly agree with you dr. barnes . If Darwin knew what we know now everything including the name of the book would be different. Although Darwin was very smart he didn’t know everything that they know now.

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  6. Darwin was definitely ahead of his time and had a great mind. I think he would be amazed if he was alive today at how notorious his work became and what he had wrong or right. He would have to rename the book considering the understanding we now have on genetic code.

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  7. This was a very interesting post! I agree that Darwin would probably change the name of his book if he had the knowledge we have today.

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  8. Darwin was a brilliant thinker before he ever knew all this anyway. He has always been one of the scientist to prove things before they are proven. One of the most smartest people in the world if you ask me. This is very deep.

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  9. I completely agree Dr. Barnes. If Darwin would have more information, he would have named his book something like “How DNA Works.” Also, if he were to have more information he may have been able to discover much more, maybe even things we still do not know today.

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  10. After reading this article, I too believe that if Darwin would have written his book in the 2000s his book would be named something else. Because Darwin did not have the same knowledge as we do today, he was not able to effectively do his research. Also, I think that if Darwin would have had a better grasp on gradualism, his book would have been much different. Like you said- “How DNA Works” would have been a more appropriate title for his work than “The Origin of Species”. Darwin’s various discoveries will constantly be built upon- so in a hundred years- someone else will probably write about how his book should be renamed again because of new findings in science.

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  11. Darwin was thinking about scientific possibilities that were way before his time. If he had had access to DNA research and new technologies , we in today’s society could be further along in terms of genetic research because Darwin would have information that is much more accurate.

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  12. I completely agree with you Dr. Barnes! Darwin did not have access to other scientists’/researchers’ work at that time to compare and evaluate the topic as a whole, so rather than writing on the emphasis on DNA; he wrote more about the origin and different characteristics of each! Very interesting concept!

    Like

  13. The definition of origin, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is the point at which something begins or rises or from which it derives. The dictionary also states that origin is something that creates, causes or gives rise to another. Our traits come from our DNA and our DNA make up is our beginning or origin. So, I don’t know if he would change the title.

    Like

  14. Going from your blog, it is a good probability
    that yes in fact, if Darwin were alive today, he may
    have considered changing the title of his book. Also,
    it is a pretty interesting concept. That his book speaks
    of living things changing over time, due to mixing DNA,
    I suppose.

    ”When one looks at the cross of two pure-breeds
    for a given trait from a male and female,
    one homozygous dominant and one homozygous
    recessive, the result is 100% hybrid.”

    “When the hybrids are then crossed,
    the original parental/grandparent homozygous
    traits might just reappear.”
    I liked how during class you talked about elephants
    and there differences and people experimenting to
    try to bring the woolly mammoth back, by breeding
    elephants that have hair. If they succeed, and if I’m
    understanding right that would be an example
    of the reappearing traits.

    I like that you mention the bible in here as well,
    what better book to read and consider the passage
    of time, than the book that God Himself breathed
    life into, some might argue it is even the oldest book.
    Many believe, the unexplained phenomenon
    of lifes beginning. Can be explained by a
    loving Father that wanted to share His perfect
    love, and spoke life into existence. ”And God said,”
    Gen 1:3, 1:6, 1:9, 1:11, 1:14 1:20, 1:24, 1:26.
    Or it can be that supernatural influence that Darwin
    suggested.

    In conclusion, my thoughts, on your opinions.
    I believe that it helps open the mind for possibilities
    in science. Observe by Learning from the past,
    experiment with what you know you can.
    Never stop wondering, how things could have been.
    Question everything. Even if, it is simply a title to an
    old educational book.

    Like

  15. I think if Darwin were lived today, he would changed the title to “How DNA works”, because DNA is the bulding block for all life and determines what traits are inherit and which traits do not.

    Like

  16. Going from your blog, it is a good probability
    that yes in fact, if Darwin were alive today, he may
    have considered changing the title of his book. Also,
    it is a pretty interesting concept. That his book speaks
    of living things changing over time, due to mixing DNA,
    I suppose.

    ”When one looks at the cross of two pure-breeds
    for a given trait from a male and female,
    one homozygous dominant and one homozygous
    recessive, the result is 100% hybrid.”

    “When the hybrids are then crossed,
    the original parental/grandparent homozygous
    traits might just reappear.”
    I liked how during class you talked about elephants
    and there differences and people experimenting to
    try to bring the woolly mammoth back, by breeding
    elephants that have hair. If they succeed, and if I’m
    understanding right that would be an example
    of the reappearing traits.

    I like that you mention the bible in here as well,
    what a better book to read and consider the passage
    of time, than the book that God Himself breathed
    life into, some might argue it is even the oldest book.
    Many believe, the unexplained phenomenon
    of lifes beginning. Can be explained by a
    loving Father that wanted to share His perfect
    love, and spoke life into existence. ”And God said,”
    Gen 1:3, 1:6, 1:9, 1:11, 1:14 1:20, 1:24, 1:26.
    Or it can be that supernatural influence that Darwin
    suggested.

    In conclusion, my thoughts, on your opinions.
    I believe that it helps open the mind for possibilities
    in science. Observe by Learning from the past,
    experiment with what you know you can.
    Never stop wondering, how things could have been.
    Question everything. Even if, it is simply a title to an
    old educational book.

    Like

  17. If darwin knew about the punnet square and the knowledge we have today, he would change the name of his book. With the knowledge of today, he would realized it was about Dna determining the trait.

    Like

  18. I agree, if Darwin were to change the title of his book today, he would have access to a wider range of information that would make the title “How DNA works” a fitting one due to the genetic research made throughout the years since 1859.

    Like

  19. Darwin was definitely ahead of his time, and I think his work would have gone even further with the technology and knowledge we have. He would have renamed his book to something about genetics or DNA.

    Like

  20. I agree. It makes sense when I put it together in my head. DNA that will help a species survive will inevitably kill off those without it ( and thus the individuals without it fail to pass on their lack of favorable characteristics ). If a zebra had DNA that made it cherry red, it would likely be killed (because it is so easy to spot) before it could reproduce and spread the DNA causing the red coat.

    Like

  21. If Darwin was able to see the possibilities of today he would have been able to open doors that researchers today are still looking for. Not say that his work is not brilliant he just was missing key details that would have put his work on top.

    Like

  22. I agree, Darwin was a thinker of the future there were so many uncertainties during his time so in present-day it can only be assumed that he would be revered throughout the science community..

    Like

  23. I agree if Darwin had the knowledge and resources we have today, he definitely would’ve changed his book and would have a different viewpoint.

    Like

  24. This is really interesting to consider! I wonder a lot about how his theory of evolution would have changed in our modern age due to all the technological advancements.

    Like

  25. I agree with your thoughts on Darwin’s book. I thought it was very interesting and wished that Darwin could have known the things that we know today to have helped him back in time.

    Like

  26. Yes, because there are so many different things that we have today that we didn’t have back in that time that could have helped him even more !!

    Like

  27. I really agree if he had the information we have now, he would definitely change the title. But I think he would try to name it something a little unique or different. The new knowledge to him would change his mindset to some degree. In my own opinion.

    Like

  28. I like your thoughts on this subject and agree Darwin would have probably named his book differently had he had the knowledge we possess today. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Like

  29. I agree with you statement on how Darwin would change his book name to “ How DNA works.” It’s appropriate because of the advancement of the new technology

    Like

  30. I truly wonder if he had the information we know now if he would have changed it too “How DNA works” or if there was a reason that no one knows why he named it “Origin Of Species”

    Like

  31. I agree with your thoughts on this topic. If he had the information that we have today, I believe his title and some of his writings would be more informative and accurate.

    Like

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