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Charles Darwin Online 326

eldavojohn writes "The entire works of Charles Darwin have been made available online. It includes scanned works that were owned by his family — many of which were signed by the author. The University of Cambridge hopes to have this completed by 2009 and is only estimated to be about half way done. If you have any love for books whatsoever, I suggest you take a look at how they present the user with each book. Take the very first edition of On the Origin of Species, for example, where they use frames to display the text on the left with the original image on the right. From the Reuters article: 'Other items in the free collection of 50,000 pages and 40,000 images are the first editions of the Journal of Researchers, written in 1839, The Descent of Man, The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle, which includes his observations during his five-year trip to the Amazon, Patagonia and the Pacific, and the first five editions of the Origin of Species.'"
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Charles Darwin Online

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  • by bunions (970377) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:57PM (#16509013)
    The little-known fact that he signed his name as "Chuck D."
  • Flame on! (Score:4, Funny)

    by JeanPaulBob (585149) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:58PM (#16509029)
    The entire works of Charles Darwin have been made available online.

    Oooh, good, I've been looking for some new fiction to read.

    (Let the flamewar commence.)
    • May I recommend the works of a guy named Issac Newton? He had a few amusing errors also.
    • Re:Flame on! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:09PM (#16509175) Homepage Journal
      Better yet, maybe somebody will actually *read* the theory before attacking it (now if we could only get some theories of theistic evolution and atheistic evolution published online for comparison, since Darwin's version wasn't partial either way).
      • Re:Flame on! (Score:5, Informative)

        by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:29PM (#16509439)
        (now if we could only get some theories of theistic evolution and atheistic evolution published online for comparison, since Darwin's version wasn't partial either way)

        Contrariwise: Darwin's theory made no mention whatever of God, as he felt it unnecessary to postulate the involvement of such an entity. What more do you ask of atheistic evolution? It's evolution happening without the involvement of a god. That's the whole point. If you're going to allow for evolution 'helped over the jumps', in Dawkins' phrase, by some magician, then why bother at all? Why not have the magician create the universe last Thursday? It's just as scientific.

        As Darwin wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell,

        "If I were convinced that I needed such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish ... I would give nothing for the theory of natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent."

        (see Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, p.249)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          Contrariwise: Darwin's theory made no mention whatever of God, as he felt it unnecessary to postulate the involvement of such an entity. What more do you ask of atheistic evolution?

          Absolute proof that the base laws of the universe are random rather than intelligently ordered, of course.

          It's evolution happening without the involvement of a god. That's the whole point. If you're going to allow for evolution 'helped over the jumps', in Dawkins' phrase, by some magician, then why bother at all?

          Because it'
          • Re:Flame on! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:57PM (#16509805)
            Contrariwise: Darwin's theory made no mention whatever of God, as he felt it unnecessary to postulate the involvement of such an entity. What more do you ask of atheistic evolution?

            Absolute proof that the base laws of the universe are random rather than intelligently ordered, of course.

            But that would be atheistic cosmology. Evolution says nothing about the laws of the universe; that's physics, not biology, and Darwin wasn't involved in that end of things at all.

            It's evolution happening without the involvement of a god. That's the whole point. If you're going to allow for evolution 'helped over the jumps', in Dawkins' phrase, by some magician, then why bother at all?

            Because it's a damned interesting engineering method; one that could prove highly useful in the sciences of Artificial Intelligence, biology, robotics, and maybe best of all, environmental cleanups.

            An intellgently guided environment for mutations to live or die in is a highly powerful idea.

            True, we could learn to apply the theory. Let us say, we create by genetic engineering some species or strain and set it to work, and use our understanding of evolution to predict its effect on the ecology. But that doesn't make much difference to evolution as an explanation of our origins. If we're reduced to postulating miraculous interventions, we're not doing science.

            ...

            The descent for a theistic evolutionist comes *after* the miraculous additions. Without the miraculous addition, there'd be no life because the Big Bang itself would have collapsed back in under it's own gravity and chaos. The descent Darwin wrote about happened at least 15 billion years later by what we now know- the physical laws that govern it were already in place by then, having been decided during that strange injection of information and energy during the Big Bang. When we figure that out (if we ever can) we will know the face of God that was the original reason for scientific research to begin with.

            Ah, we've been at cross-purposes. What I understand by 'theistic evolution' is that evolution proceeds naturally, but that God intervenes from time to time to adjust its direction, like an alien with a Monolith, with some ultimate aim in mind. What you have there is something different, which I'd call 'deism': God rigs the universe at the outset, presses the detonator switch for the Big Bang, and then walks away. That's another issue entirely, all about the fine-tuning of universal constants and so forth, and I'd class it as part of cosmology, not evolution. It's something to take up with Einstein, not Darwin.

            • Re:Flame on! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by JeanPaulBob (585149) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @10:04PM (#16511655)
              What I understand by 'theistic evolution' is that evolution proceeds naturally, but that God intervenes from time to time to adjust its direction, like an alien with a Monolith, with some ultimate aim in mind. What you have there is something different, which I'd call 'deism': God rigs the universe at the outset, presses the detonator switch for the Big Bang, and then walks away.

              "Theistic evolutionist" means a theist who believes in common descent through evolution. It includes ID types who believe in common descent with God miraculously tweaking the process, but it also refers to people who believe God created life entirely through the secondary cause of natural laws. Yes, the latter sounds sort of like deism. But there's a major difference. IIRC, deists believe that God set up the universe and walked away, and does not interact with humanity in any kind of personal way--the deist God is entirely impersonal. (There may be exceptions to that. At the least, deists don't believe in miracles.) Theistic evolution only refers to the development of life. Christian theistic evolutionists still believe that God really did pick out Abraham and the Jews to bless all humanity (ultimately through Jesus), and some will believe that most of the Bible after Genesis 11 is true history.

              Even young-earth creationists believe that God can (and does) act in that so-called "deistic" fashion. For instance, they believe that God knits us together in our mothers' wombs, makes the grass grow, and clothes the daisies in splendor. But that doesn't mean he interrupts natural law--he made and sustains the universe, including natural law. (The biggest problem creationists have with evolution is that it doesn't fit with a straight-forward reading of Genesis as a historical account.)
            • Re:Flame on! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Chemicalscum (525689) on Friday October 20, 2006 @08:24AM (#16514795) Journal
              What I understand by 'theistic evolution' is that evolution proceeds naturally, but that God intervenes from time to time to adjust its direction, like an alien with a Monolith, with some ultimate aim in mind.

              There is a more rigorous form of 'theistic evolution' which takes into account quantum mechanics. From quantum theory we know that the world we live in is one of many possible worlds and that there are many possible futures. There are three possible explanations for this. The first is that the universe if fundamentally stochastic and governed by chance this is essentially Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation. The second approach is that all possible universes are physically real which is the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. The third approach is that God chooses which of the possible worlds is made manifest.

              The third position is quite rational and consistent with modern science and does give rise to a 'theistic evolution'. It is quite different from intelligent design which is the last refuge of those that have a primitive and fundamentalist theology but who are sophisticated enough to try to pass it of as "science".

              By the way there is a combination of the last two interpretations that leads to a modern form of Bishop Berkeley,s idealist philosophy and can be summed up in popular terms that we are living in God's matrix. The interesting question is are these different approaches mere metaphysics or do they ultimately lead to experimental tests. In which case an experiment to determine the existence of God would be possible.

        • Burden of proof... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by darekana (205478) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:13PM (#16510739) Homepage
          You seem to be missing the point that:
          In-order to invalidate the "theory [wikipedia.org] of evolution", the burden is on YOU to come up with a better theory.

          Your new theory must also have falsifiable or testable predictions about things not yet observed.

          I look forward to reading your paper.
        • by plunge (27239)
          Historically, that's note quite right. Darwin does mention a Creator here and there in his books as something possibly starting life. It wasn't really a part of his theory as much as it was just the parlance of his times, but I thought it was a nitpick worth noting.
      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:31PM (#16509461) Homepage Journal
        maybe somebody will actually *read* the theory before attacking it

        Boulderdash, you know as well as I do that those who attack it don't think for themselves, they just flame with what they were told to say when they were in that big room with the guy up front telling them what to think.
        Reading it would be a waste of time, they have a much more efficient system: One person does the thinking, and distributes it to a group.

        Think smart, not hard, dummy!
      • by ndansmith (582590)
        Better yet, maybe somebody will actually *read* the theory before attacking it

        Better yet, maybe somebody will actually *read* the theory before supporting it.

        Let's be honest: there is dogmatism on all sides of this debate.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Yes, there is dogmatism on both sides. However, there is only any actual science on one. The mere fact that a point of view has dogmatic supporters does not make it incorrect.
    • (Let the flamewar commence.)

      Hey!? It's been half an hour, where are all the obcurantism proponents at?
  • Tense Confusion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adavies42 (746183) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:01PM (#16509081)
    The entire works of Charles Darwin have been made available online.

    vs.

    The University of Cambridge hopes to have this completed by 2009 and is only estimated to be about half way done.

    English has a future tense for a reason. Please learn to use it.

  • by bugnuts (94678) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:03PM (#16509097) Journal
    from tfa: This document has been accessed 87820 times since 09 October 2006

    Gentle website, prepare to evolve or perish.
  • by BeeBeard (999187) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:07PM (#16509145)
    I can't seem to access the site, and I live in Kansas. Maybe it's just a technical problem. Please, could somebody pray to Our Lord and have Him fix my innerweb, in His mercy?

    • innerweb

      :D

      *golf clap*
    • by rthille (8526)
      I want to mod the parent 'sad but true' , but I'm not sure whether it'd be +1 or -1 :-)

      I wonder though with the whole praying thing, is got so clueless that he doesn't realize there's a problem? :-O
  • by nekokoneko (904809) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:09PM (#16509181)
    So is this what they call Open Darwin? *DUCKS*
  • Blah blah blah, religion.

    Please respond with generic evolution flame.

    thankyou.
  • A great tribute! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lkypnk (978898) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:19PM (#16509315)

    Charles Darwin, should, regardless of your personal belief of the veracity of evolutionary theory, be regarded as on of the greatest men to have ever lived. He, in the face of tremendous religious and scientific adversity, put forth an astounding scientific theory worked out through great diligence.

    In the Origin of Species, with relentless precision he works his way through the variation of domesticated and wild animals and plants, and eventually culminates in a very strongly supported theory which is almost elegant in its simplicity. He even anticipates many challenges to his theory, in the aptly named chapter, Difficulties on theory. Darwin's accomplishment is perhaps even more impressive when you take into account that he had no knowledge of genetics or the mechanism of inheritance, and was most certainly not aware of anything such as DNA. His writing is precise and lively; even today, 150 years later, the Origin of Species is easily followed by a layman.

    This site is an honour to Darwin's efforts and I hope it will inspire some people to read his works.

    • Too bad his greatest discovery goes largely unnoticed and underused.
      • Too bad his greatest discovery goes largely unnoticed and underused.

        Indeed. Just as Darwin himself, I, too, consider Darwin's work on Earthworms to be his greatest contribution to the annals of science!

    • Charles Darwin, should, regardless of your personal belief of the veracity of evolutionary theory, be regarded as on of the greatest men to have ever lived. He, in the face of tremendous religious and scientific adversity

      Those who's "personnal" belief go contrary to his theory happen to view his religious adversity as a reason to villify, not celebrate him.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Plutonite (999141)
      He, in the face of tremendous religious and scientific adversity, put forth an astounding scientific theory worked out through great diligence.

      I would actually contest that. The theory he put forth was overly simple and lacked the microbiological understanding of genetics we have today, which is infinitely more interesting. His reliance on "selection" - which is almost intuitive - as opposed to the actual induction of genetic features is a good example. Just because he had the balls to say something like:"h
  • I'd prefer famous influential books to be presented as images of the original, left/right pages as in the original, with controls to swap the images in place with digital text. That would let me recreate the experience of contemporary readers with the layout of the original volume. Some subtle info is contained in the pageturning, especially in books with images, sidebars, or other layout features influenced by the surrounding context.

    Of course, selectable revisions/annotations, and hyperlinking the origina
  • by rwebb (732790) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:28PM (#16509423)
    The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (ISBN 0393059812) is a great recent (and concise) biography that picks up on his return from the Beagle adventure and takes the reader on an interesting journey past dangling duck's feet, barnacle gonads, and earthworm poop. And the publications, of course.

    Sadly, since estimates of the opinions/beliefs of the US population usually hit around 40% "young earthers" and 45% "guided by the great spirit in the sky," this may be of interest to only a relatively small segment of the population ...
    • Sadly, since estimates of the opinions/beliefs of the US population usually hit around 40% "young earthers" and 45% "guided by the great spirit in the sky," this may be of interest to only a relatively small segment of the population ...

      Are you sure about those figures? I would have thought more like 25% "Young Earthers", 50% "guided by the great spirit in the sky", and 25% "I only believe in what I can touch and see". These works would be of interest to anybody in the second two groups- since Darwin's
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268)
        From what I see around me in the US these days, I thought your estimate of the Young Earthers is far too low. The OP's 40% is probably closer.

        The "guided by the great spirit in the sky" camp isn't much of a problem; I believe that's the Catholic Church's position as well, that there's nothing saying the G/god didn't have some part in guiding the process, or setting it in motion. Darwin's theory doesn't concern these anyway, it just describes the evidence and makes predictions.

        Luckily, you're right about t
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Also, I mentioned Catholics and you call them a small percentage of Christians, but I'd just like to point out to people not aware of this that here in America, Catholics are not considered Christians because they worship statues and believe that good works will get you into heaven. Don't argue with me about the worshipping statues bit either; argue with all the fundamentalists, since that's their position.

          I avoid using the word Christian to describe my beliefs for exactly that reason. I've always wonder
          • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:18PM (#16510035) Journal
            only about a hundred million Evangelical Fundamentalists in comparison
            You don't count evangelicals by how many people they have, you count them by how many nuclear weapons they have access to. After all, when it comes to the crunch, that's all that matters.
            • by plunge (27239)
              Bite your tongue:

              "As for Armageddon, I just note with interest that's what the Bible says. That it's on the Plains of Megiddo. Right there in Israel. And it makes you wonder where this conflict's all going to ultimately lead. And I happen to believe it will ultimately lead to what the Bible says." -John Doolittle, Deputy Majority Whip, Secretary of the House Republican Conference

              In other words: he is excited by the prospect that the Iraq war may lead to the end of the world. That's definately the sort of g
          • by Grishnakh (216268)
            I avoid using the word Christian to describe my beliefs for exactly that reason. I've always wondered why the Fundamentalists avoid the Epistle of James and a traditional reading of the Epistles of Peter.....where both good works getting you into heaven (James) and the "cloud of witnesses" those statues represent (Peter) are literally mentioned.

            Here in the US, I've found that many people call themselves "Christian" rather than any denomination, as they they're the "real" Christians or something. It's very
        • by Woldry (928749)
          Also, I mentioned Catholics and you call them a small percentage of Christians, but I'd just like to point out to people not aware of this that here in America, Catholics are not considered Christians because they worship statues and believe that good works will get you into heaven. Don't argue with me about the worshipping statues bit either; argue with all the fundamentalists, since that's their position.

          Actually, according to Sister Ann Marie when I was in fourth grade here in America, only Catholics
      • In fact Darwin's Origin said nothing about the origins of life - only of species. Later in his life he did publish some papers about a hypothesis of panspermia, but he also wrote that he was very uncomfortable with the fact that he had, for the first time, published an idea without any experimental observations to support it. His panspermia work was published in response to the religous right of the day, who were confusing the idea of speciation with the origin of life. Some things haven't moved on much
  • by cy_a253 (713262) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:42PM (#16509595)
    Ah! You scientists and your fancy "research" and "proof" and "peer-review" are all obvious wasting your time with this "theory of Evolution".

    Behold!

    Proof of the existence of God by the Banana Argument. [google.com]

    (and here's the entire episode [google.com] if this sort of TV evangelism tickles your fancy)

  • Wow he really has evolved if he's now an online sentient being! Just like the AI's in Neromancer. I imagine his expectations for the rest of humanity will go something like "More cyborg technology study or die!"

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