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The Modern Synthesis: A Historical Approach

This lecture outline does not address creationism directly, but deals with the complaint that evolution is "just a theory". What is a theory? Does disagreement within the scientific community weaken evolutionary theory?

Every theory in mainstream science has been rigorously tested (otherwise they aren't called theories) and almost none of them strongly resemble the hypotheses that gave birth to them.

Archaeopterix with little fingers

Resources for Teaching about the Development of the Modern Synthesis

  • Farber, 2003 : The author suggests a historical and case-study approach to the teaching of evolution in which the instructor starts with the problems that Darwin and other investigators were trying to solve.
  • Tracking the Course of Evolution: Creating a Curriculum in Evolution (more info)
  • A Brief History of Evolutionary Genetics: being some account of:
    • The major questions in the science of inheritance as it relates to evolutionary phenomena,
    • The ideas proposed as answers,
    • Those who developed these ideas,
    • Where the ideas came from,
    • And how the whole thing moved forward from Darwin's day to the present.
  • History of Evolutionary Thought (more info) : includes a section on the Modern Synthesis. Rich in illustration and detail.

  • Mayr, 1991 : This volume (by a major contributor to the Modern Synthesis) deals with the development of and debates within evolutionary theory.

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