Tuesday, 24 November 2009

150 Years of Realisation

400 Years Later ...

That was the name of the Galilean Nights event I had organised last month. The event was very successful, to put it simply. I couldn't post the pictures and event reports on this blog because my studies left me with little time to blog or even Tweet. (I'll post the pics and reports soon.)

2009, as you must know, has been declared as the International Year of Astronomy to commemorate the 400th anniversary of that little invention called telescope. In 2009, we are remembering the Father of Modern Science – Galileo Galilei. So far, it's been an awesome and very fruitful year for all astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts.  IYA2009 perfectly accomplished what it intended to do and what it did was much bigger and better than many could have hoped for. More on that next month.

But if you thought that only that was the importance of 2009, think again.
2009 also marks the 150th anniversary of publication of one of the most important books in the history of human civilisation: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by, well, Charles Robert Darwin.

This book was published on this very day, 150 years ago. It was perhaps the single most influential book ever published. This book tried to tell us that we were not perhaps Created by the Big Puppeteer Above. This book revealed the crueler, meaner side of Nature. This book told us that life (in the most literal sense) was a continuous struggle – a struggle for existence. This book made us aware of the fact that the Big Puppeteer wasn't the reason we continued to exist. We existed because we deserved to. We survived because we were the fittest. We survived because Nature (not He or She) selected us.

This book told us that we have evolved.

The theory of evolution can't exactly be credited to Darwin. Lamarck had already told us about the progression of life forms. But no other theory was as revolutionary (pun intended) as Darwin's. His theory was as sharp and as potent as Hattori Hanz┼Ź's katana, which could slice Him.

Darwin's book single-handedly changed our perception of life. We were able to look at ourselves through a new prism. Could we have imagined that our ancestors were actually apes? Could we have imagined that we might have some sort of connection with the monkeys at the zoo?

A frighteningly large number of people still refuse to acknowledge the fact that we have evolved and in doing so, they insult the human race and human intelligence. The fact that we have tried to realise who we are and where we came from shows how far we have evolved. Isn't this realisation the pinnacle of human intelligence? Isn't this realisation very beautiful, perplexing and ultimately, uplifting?

150 years after the publication of the Sacred Scripture (for worshippers of science) people continue to debate this theory. Biologists continue to add to this theory. We continue to evolve in our thoughts and scientific pursuits. We continue to realise. And Darwin continues to live.

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