Saturday, January 14, 2012

Aether and Evolution in the 19th Century

Modern western civilization is so permeated with the 19th century concept of evolution that it seems to many to not only parallel but to bypass divine revelation as an explanation to everything.

Evolution as a concept of human mind carries with it the heavy legacy of 19th century mechanistic worldview that was deeply influenced by the brilliance of Newtonian physics. Combined with Hegelian concept of logical processes that take place during historical time, evolution became the "prima causa" for life on earth as we know it and also for the existence of us, the human beings.

I am tempted to compare the revolutionary 19th century ideas about evolution to that other big thing of 19th century science - aether. There was the luminiferous aether that explained how light is propagated. There were many other, some quite ancient, aether theories where this strange substance was used as an explanation to natural phenomena such as gravity. The work on the ideas of aether go on also in modern theoretical physics.

Aether has largely been left to the books of the 19th century history of science. Evolution, on the other hand, is well and kicking also in the beginning of the third millennium.

Evolution is a fact that can be and has been studied and offers explanations especially to changes within the species (micro evolution).


We know something and can use it to our advantage in many ways. But why to lock our understanding of the growth and develompent in nature only to that mechanistic system where environment as a given factor shapes organic life upon planet Earth by natural selection of the fittest. the lucky random mutation that happens to fit best to the changing world and climate?

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