I finally had to rip myself away from the links on evolution. I've spent the last two hours looking at them and I have been completely enthralled. Really fascinating stuff....
First, the Wikipedia entry on Darwinism. I was first introduced to Darwinism in bio class during my first year of high school (10 years ago. yikes!). It was hard for me to grasp because I had attended Catholic Sunday school classes for many years where Creationism was taught. Both sets of teachers had a black or white mentality--if you believe in one, you can't believe in the other. I didn't know who to trust, so I just memorized what I needed to know to get an A on the tests. Looking back, it's frustrating that my teachers did not present multiple theories and allow me to make up my own mind. Now I am a huge fan of Darwinism and, at the same time, I believe that a Higher Power/Spirit intelligently designed all of this. The theory that resonates with me is a combination of Creationism and Darwinism. I also studied Social Darwinism in college and actually read the Heggleberg and Murray study for a sociology of education class. That was a trip to re-visit. I appreciated the refresher on Darwinism and found it fascinating to learn about Darwin as a person and the struggles he faced in presenting his ideas to a Victorian society.
The PBS program scared the crap out of me, particularly the theories of extinction. I had no idea that there had been 5 mass extinctions throughout the history of the planet. And the thought that we, as humans, are currently causing a sixth freaks me out! I enjoyed reading about the extinction of the dinosaurs and the prevailing theory that an asteroid caused an end to their life on earth. What makes us think the same thing can't happen to us? I felt very small browsing through the pages on the origins of mankind. We really are just a speck in the evolution of Earth and the Universe. I just kept thinking how amazing it is that scientists have mapped out the progression of our species. And I agree with the biologist who said that we give way too much energy to what we are doing to harm the planet, as opposed to the efforts going on to heal and improve the earth.
Lastly, as for UCB's website, I was fascinated by the work of Jennifer McElwain. Her research on the role that global warming played in the last mass extinction provides profound insight and implications for how we live today (that there was undoubtedly global warming involvement, so the planet kicked off most species and brought itself back into balance---hello, humans! We belong to the earth; the earth does not belong to us.). I also enjoyed exploring the article on the evolution of medicine, particularly that of infectious disease. I was stunned by the break-throughs that scientists have made in regards to HIV research. For instance, the discovery of a human gene that protects against HIV and is found in 20% of the European population. I wanted to browse through everything, but I had to give myself time restraints because I have 8 other classes to study for.
The information that is available to us on the Internet is sooooo cool!!!!!