Thoughts on Religionby GEORGE JOHN ROMANES
"I propose to consider, in a series of three papers, the influence of Science upon Religion. In doing this I shall seek to confine myself to the strictly rational aspect of the subject, without traveling into any matters of sentiment. Moreover, I shall aim at estimating
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"I propose to consider, in a series of three papers, the influence of Science upon Religion. In doing this I shall seek to confine myself to the strictly rational aspect of the subject, without traveling into any matters of sentiment. Moreover, I shall aim at estimating in the first instance the kind and degree of influence which has been exerted by Science upon Religion in the past, and then go on to estimate the probable extent of this influence in the future. The first two papers will be devoted to the past and prospective influence of Science upon Natural Religion, while the third will be devoted to the past and prospective influence of Science upon Revealed Religion"
George John Romanes FRS was a Canadian-born English evolutionary biologist and physiologist who laid the foundation of what he called comparative psychology, postulating a similarity of cognitive processes and mechanisms between humans and animals.
He was the youngest of Charles Darwin's academic friends, and his views on evolution are historically important. He invented the term neo-Darwinism, which is still often used today to indicate an updated form of Darwinism. Romanes' early death was a loss to the cause of evolutionary biology in Britain. Within six years Mendel's work was rediscovered, and a whole new agenda opened up for debate.
Romanes tackled the subject of evolution frequently. For the most part he supported Darwinism and the role of natural selection. However, he perceived three problems with Darwinian evolution:
1. The difference between natural species and domesticated varieties in respect to fertility. [this problem was especially pertinent to Darwin, who used the analogy of change in domesticated animals so frequently]
2. Structures which serve to distinguish allied species are often without any known utilitarian significance. [taxonomists choose the most visible and least changeable features to identify a species, but there may be a host of other differences which though not useful to the taxonomist are significant in survival terms]
3. The swamping influence upon an incipient species-split of free inter-crossing. [Here we strike the problem which most perplexed Darwin, with his ideas of blending inheritance. It was solved by the rediscovery of Mendelian genetics, and later work showed that particulate inheritance could underlie continuous variation: see the evolutionary synthesis]
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