“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 don’t exactly believe the title is of much relevance. Science is always progressing and in order for that to happen, someone had to start somewhere. The title of his book only served as a stepping stone for some other scientist. This will likely be the case for all of eternity.

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  2. I think you’re right but since he doesn’t live in the present it was only fitting that Darwin named it what he did.

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  3. Obviously evolution was still a new concept and Darwin was the man that ultimately began the impact on the scientific community. With that said he definitely had a weaker grasp of it and the book itself is misleading with the title.

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  4. Definitely an interesting read. I personally think changing the title would not change the delivery of the book and what it means.

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  5. I think for his time this book title was more than acceptable because Darwin was just stumbling on this theory. I think if he had more time and more knowledge of genetics and evolution as a whole, he would of came up with a more suitable Titile for his book. Today we know so much more about evolution , I’m pretty sure we could could come up with a better title for his book.

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  6. If I’m understanding correctly, I disagree with Darwin’s theory on how humans came to be. Therefore, the comparison of his theory and bible scriptures is absurd to me. That’s just my opinion though!

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  7. darwin probably changed the title multiple times he probably would have changed it many of times if wallace had not pressured him to publish

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  8. To be completely honest, l do think that “Origin of Species” sounds a lot more interesting than having DNA in the title, only because it made me wonder what exactly is in the material. If I were to read a title with “Origin of DNA” or “How DNA Works”, I would personally think it would sound bland and it basically tells how the whole entire book is. I really like interesting titles on books because you can dig deeper into the context. I am really interested in this topic because, even though I am a Christian, I oftentimes wonder how all of this happened and the scientific side of all of these considerations.

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    1. Understood and likewise. Darwin himself was a Christian too. He had a brilliant mind and yes, I enjoy being a student of his work. I do not agree with all of his conclusions but I sincerely appreciate the dedication he had to his trade.

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  9. Yes, he will probably change the title to “How DNA works” or probably “The Truth about Genetics in Our Culture.” Because there are a million things changing in our culture when it comes to modify genetics and I feel like he would have something to say about it! Unless, he would writes another book explaining.

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  10. I think that Darwin does see the need of an intelligent Designer as he realizes the complexity of animals,plants, etc……as he uses Biblical lingo to describe the creation and start of life as Darwin tries to fit the pieces together.

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    1. In addition, I found this same suggestion of a “Creator” on page 12 of “Variation of animals and plants under domestication.” Darwin consistently included special creation, especially of the single progenitor which he suggested gave rise to the rest of life.

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  11. Maybe now with more knowledge from where he first started he might change the tittle but i feel like it couldve been a second part to the book where he could have been more specfic and explained things more as he learned more. Maybe his focus wasnt to pinpoint dna but he had to talk about that in order to get the point of how we began across.

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  12. Definitely makes sense how the “new” title would intertwine with the direction Darwin was headed with his thoughts on genetics!

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  13. Question why can’t his theory of Gradualism work along side with punctuated equilibrium? Life could slowly change over time, but then have a burst of diversity.

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  14. If Darwin was alive today I don’t think that he would rename his book. That was his mind at the time and if anything he could have wrote a second book that explain DNA. “Origin of Species” is original and I feel like the book weren’t be where it is at today without that title

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  15. I think if he would have lived longer to know about Punnett Square the name would change or if not have an additional part in the book.

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  16. While Origin of Species was a massive success on its own, changing the title to How DNA works would’ve been not so controversial. Many people back then were devout church-followers, and were more concerned with where everything came from rather than what individuals were made from at that time.

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  17. Since DNA is technically speaking “the origin of species” the book title is both memorable and accurate. Darwin was certainly ahead of his time, and recognized DNA well before its discovery. But, personally, I find “The Origin of Species” is far more “catchy” than “How DNA Works”

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  18. He knows the origin of DNA but I believe he would have the Punnett Square it would have descrease his work load when discovering DNA. I believe he used his belief of God to discover DNA.

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  19. I think if Darwin was able to be in the time we are in today he would have change the name of his book. Or he would have at least made a sequel to it called “How DNA Works” and expanded upon the thoughts he touched on. He has definitely paved a nice road for us to follow and build upon.

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  20. As previous comments have stated, I do not think it’s plausible that Darwin would rename “On the Origin of Species”. I personally believe that if he were to live long enough to have access to the research presented by Mendel and Crick and Watson, he would probably write a second edition called something along the lines of “On the Origin of Species: The Influence of DNA”.

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  21. From reading this blog, Darwin was the pioneer that founded DNA and it how works. If he was still alive, he would’ve kept the title “Orgins of Species” but add a subtitle to what he would’ve discovered now.

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  22. I dont think he would change the title to How DNA works because the title Origin of Species has become so popular. He would probably just make a second edition of the book.

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  23. These threads were all very interesting. I feel that he was so much more passionate in his time, then everyone else. The people back then may just not have understood how he thinks. Maybe if he were alive today, his theories would be put into consideration with other theories today.

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  24. I agree that “How DNA Works” would be an appropriate title, however I do not believe it would be appropriate to rename it since he had not made a full discovery to refer to what he’s looking at as “DNA”. However, I do believe he would have written a second book to finish his idea, now that he can put a name to his discovery.

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  25. This was very interesting. Darwin was well rounded and thought of things in many diffrent way. I think either title would have subsided the meaning behind the information he was trying to convey.

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  26. Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, had a long and successful reign. The Empire he ruled from Prague expanded, and his subjects lived in peace and prosperity. When the Emperor died, the whole Empire mourned. More than 7,000 people accompanied him on his last procession. The heir to the throne of the flourishing Empire was Charles’ son, Wenceslas IV, whose father had prepared him for this moment all his life. But Wenceslas did not take after his father. He neglected affairs of state for more frivolous pursuits. He even failed to turn up for his own coronation as Emperor, which did little to endear him to the Pope. Wenceslas “the idle” did not impress the Imperial nobility either. His difficulties mounted until the nobles, exasperated by the inaction of their ruler, turned for help to his half-brother, King Sigismund of Hungary. Sigismund decided on a radical solution. He kidnapped the King to force him to abdicate… then took advantage of the ensuing disorder to gain greater power for himself he invaded Bohemia with a massive army and began pillaging the territories of the King’s allies. It is here where my story begins.

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  27. Darwin was a very smart individual. He was way beyond his time. A punnet square would have helped him a whole lot. I think it would have been better, to name his work “How DNA Works.”, it would have made more sense.

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  28. I haven’t read the book fully, so take this with a grain of salt, but looking at the table of contents, “How DNA Works,” might be misleading. If he were alive today, perhaps he would have wrote a 2nd edition of “Origin of Species: DNA Edition” filled with the data on DNA that we have today, with the same style and train of thought as the original. Makes you wonder what else could change if historical figures were alive today.

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  29. Origins of species has become so popular since it’s been published that whatever title he chose for it, it would still be popular today

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  30. Darwin was definitely before his time. If punnett squares were a thing, he could have done some really cool things and probably figured stuff out earlier. His work was the building blocks for the scientist after him. We thought that “Origin of Species” was an appropriate title for what he wrote about. It precedes “How DNA Works”. We thought that maybe if Darwin was alive today, his sequel would be titled “How DNA Works”. It would be the updated or 2.0 version.

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  31. With the more advanced things that we know today, he would definitely changed that name of the book or he would have just written a second with more updated knowledge.

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  32. I think had Darwin had the opportunity to change the title of his book in today world, that he would not have changed it due to the fact of his title comes off more intriguing rather than factual in his original title, “Origin of Species.” I believe this is how Darwins mind works and it shows off in many of his books including “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.” Just a thought.

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    1. I have to agree. From a marketing standpoint, the title “Origin of Species” is pretty iconic. Perhaps he could have added a subtitle along the lines of “Origin of Species: (How DNA Works)”. That being said, a title simply called “Origin of Species” is a right amount of simple, authoritative, and intriguing.

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  33. Even if he changed the title of his book to How DNA Works, I do not think there would have been that big of a change to the popularity of the book.

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    1. I have to disagree, I do believe it would have changed the popularity. When searching for books on DNA, it would allow Darwin’s book to come up rather than only coming up when searching for where species came from or started.

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