Readings on: The theory of evolution–– results and significance
Simpson, George Gaylord This View of Life, Harcourt, Brace & World New York 1964 The World into Which Darwin Led Us [abstract 430 words] a changed conception of human beings
Scientific consideration of the universe has profoundly changed the world of civilized people. Astronomy made the universe immense and the physical sciences made it lawful We no longer live in a capricious world. We may expect the universe to deal consistently, even if not fairly, with us This view depersonalizes the universe and makes it more austere, but it also makes it dependable.
Two more fundamental, world-changing concepts came from geology. The great age of the universe and the idea of constantly lawful progression in time were added to the modern world-view.
But perhaps the most crucial element in mankinds world is his conception of himself. Here, there has been a reluctant change. There is still a tendency among humans to think of themselves as beings quite distinct from nature and that the world was created for human use.
The world into which Darwin led us is very different from the world of the past. In this world humans have no special status. They are another distinct species of animal, a part of nature and literally akin to every living thing, be it an ameba, a tapeworm, a flea, a seaweed, an oak tree, or a monkey.
the world exists specifically for human benefit or ill. There is
no divine favoritism.
The whole evolution of life is a natural consequence of the immanent laws and there is no need to postulate any non-natural or metaphysical intervention in the course of evolution.
Species become extinct, or, if they survive, the directions and rates of their evolution change. They evolve exactly as if they were adapting as best they could to a changing world, and not at all as if they were moving toward a set goal.
into which Darwin led us is a world where humans and all other living
things have evolved, ultimately from the nonliving, in accordance
with entirely natural, material processes.
In this world humans must rely on themselves. We are not the darling of the gods but only another, albeit extraordinary, aspect of nature. There are immature or the wishful thinkers who cannot accept this. That is plainly a major reason why even now, a hundred years after The Origin of Species, most people have not really entered the world into which Darwin ledalasonly a minority of us. Life may conceivably be happier for some people in the older worlds of superstition. It is possible that some children are made happy by a belief in Santa Claus, but adults should prefer to live in a world of reality and reason.