Simply Darwin tells the story of Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882) and his theory of evolution through natural selection. On one level, it is the story of a dedicated scientist who, through careful observation and brilliant insight, became convinced that organisms are the end product of a long, slow, natural process of development. On another level, it’s an account of the end of an era and a cataclysmic change in our ideas about ourselves—a conceptual upheaval the aftershocks of which continue to this day.
In Simply Darwin, author Michael Ruse puts Darwin and his ideas in context, clearly showing that, while Darwin was a great revolutionary, he was no rebel. His ideas came directly out of his background and training, and he was simply following an evidentiary trail that led to an inevitable conclusion. Eventually, as Darwin and his fellow scientists began to apply his ideas to our own species, long-held notions about the nature and origins of religion, morality, race, sexuality and much more were called into question. Then, as now, some embraced these provocative ideas while others reacted with horror and disbelief.
In recounting this fascinating and inspiring history, Ruse doesn’t neglect the visual component that has always been an inherent part of evolutionary thought, and Simply Darwin’s copious illustrations provide an informative and captivating counterpoint to one of the greatest stories ever told.
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