Charles Darwin has become one of the most important men in history. The quiet, unsure polymath who avoided confrontation, ensconced in his family home at Down House in Kent, was also a revolutionary who developed his idea of Natural Selection in isolation. Cyril Aydon's short biography is considered one of the best introductions to the life and ideas of Darwin.
This book features an exploration of the interaction between Darwinian ideas and Catholic doctrine. This coherent collection of original papers marks the 150 year anniversary since the publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" (1859). Although the area of evolution-related publications is vast, the area of interaction between Darwinian ideas and specifically Catholic doctrine has received limited attention. This interaction is quite distinct from the one between Darwinism and the Christian tradition in general. Interest in Darwin from the Catholic viewpoint has recently been rekindled. The major causes of this include: John Paul II's "Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution" in 1996; (2) the document "Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God" issued in 2002; by the International Theological Commission under the supervision of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the present Pope Benedict XVI; Cardinal Christoph Schonborn apparent endorsement of Intelligent Design in his "New York Times" article "Finding Design in Nature" of July 7, 2005; and, Pope Benedict XVI's contributions in the recent collection of papers "Schopfung und Evolution" ("Creation and Evolution"), published in Germany in April, 2007. Responding to this heightened interest, the book offers a valuable collection of work from outstanding Catholic scholars in various fields.
Jean Octave Edmond Perrier was a French zoologist who lived through the tumult of British Darwinism and Lyellism, and reminds us in this revealing account that French scientists had much to contribute to such perennial topics as evolution, catastrophism and creationism. While very much a product of the Third Republic, Perrier's account also aimed to outline timeless issues and permanent advances in taxonomic and developmental biology since classical Greece and Rome. In this aim he succeeds with surprisingly modern perspectives for a book first published in 1884. Perrier was born May 9, 1844 at Tulle, the son of the principal of a school which now bears his name, Lycee Edmond Perrier. In 1864 he was accepted to the Ecole Normale Superieure, where he was strongly influenced by Louis Pasteur and Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers. After working for three years at a high school in Agen, he obtained a post of naturalist-aid at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (1868), advancing in that institution to Chair of Natural History of Molluscs, Worms and Corals (1876-1903) and then Director of the museum (1900-1919) and Chair of Comparative Anatomy (1903-1921). Previous directors of the museum included many of the scientists he discusses in this book: George Cuvier (1822-1823, 1826-1827, 1830-1831), Isidore Geoffrey St Hilaire (1860- 1861), and Alphonse Milne-Edwards (1891-1900). Perrier's own research on echinoderms and earthworms took him on several expeditions in 1880-1885, mostly to Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, but also to the Caribbean.
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