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This class, with Shimer faculty member David Lukens, will examine one of the most controversial scientific books in the modern world. The debate about evolution is one that we hear about in the news, in school board meetings, in churches, and from our families. Almost everyone has a strong opinion on the subject—far more people have an opinion, in fact, than have read the book that started the debate. This class will examine the reading to see what Darwin set out to do by starting its conversation with this question: What is Darwin trying to do in his book, and how does the first chapter, on Variation under Domestication, advance his agenda?
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was an English naturalist who published on a variety of biological subjects. When he began his education in Cambridge, he was studying to become a clergyman for the Anglican Church. In his pursuit of knowledge about where species come from and how they are related, Darwin traveled the globe making detailed observations of plant and animal life.