HPS211H1 Lecture Notes - Asa Gray, Horse Breeding, Social Darwinism

History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Course Code
Curtis Forbes

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February 28, 2013 Thursday Lecture
Exam hint: Don’t mention genetics or genes when discussing Darwin because they had
no concept of it at that time
Darwin’s Supporters
Asa Gray
- Provided information to Darwin before the publication of the origin specifically
about the distribution of plants in America
- Lots of correspondence between Darwin and Asa
- This correspondence helped establish Darwin over Wallace
- Wallace conceded that Darwin was the main person in coming up with the theory
- Gray arranged for Origin’s publication in America
- Gray while a supporter of Darwin was also a dedicated believer
- He was someone who really took the time t try to align his faith with a clearly well
rounded scientific theory
- Many people rejected Darwin’s theories because they blatantly rejected Christian
Difficulties with Darwin’s Theory
The Mechanism of Natural Selection
- Limited variation through selective breeding
o Ex. Race horse breeding; there seemed to be a cap on how fast race
horses could get
- At the time this was a very serious problem
o How do you get a new specifies out of a pool of variability of a pool that is
basically limited?
- Age of the earth
o Kelvin said that the age of the earth was much too young for natural
selection and evolution to have been able to run its course
- Jenkin
o Argued that over time traits would be washed out
Like if one white dude had babies with a black dude eventually the
skin color of the gene pool after generations would just go back to
black (if only one white dude); white color gets blended out
Humans: Just another Animal?
- This would mean that humans are not the ‘higher’ being of creation from god
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