Basics of Darwinism

Although people have used selection of domestic animals for a long time, and first guesses about the development of life were stated in the antiquity (e.g., according to Aristotle it is driven by a special living force - entelechy), the theory of'transformism' (about changeability of living forms), which opposed the theory of creationism (about constancy of organisms, created by God), was formed only in the eighteenth century. The first fundamental theory of biological evolution was proposed by J. B. Lamarck (1744-1829) in 1809. This theory, progressive for its time, did not include the idea of natural selection and assumed inheritance of acquired characters. In 1858, Charles Robert Darwin (1809-82) proposed a new evolutionary theory based on the mechanism of natural selection.

Darwinism includes two key ideas: undirected variation ('mutations') of discrete hereditary codes ('genes') passed from parents to children, and elimination of less-adapted individuals in the course of 'struggle for existence'. The codes, better reflecting the external conditions, gradually become dominant; average characteristics of individuals are changed. Selection transfers information about environment in the hereditary code. Useful negative fluctuations of entropy are spread over the species.

The Darwinian idea of natural selection can be considered as a very general explanation of matter self-organization - the tendency of entropy decrease in particular objects. This thought corresponds to the opinions of the founders ofmathematical genetics, such as R. E. Fisher (1890-1962): ''Natural selection is a mechanism for generation improbability,'' and A. Lotka: ''The principle of natural selection reveals itself as capable of yielding information which the first and second laws of thermodynamics are not competent to furnish.''

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