Ailea Merriam-Pigg's latest update for The Science of Magic

Apr 7, 2016

Hello Everyone! Thank so much for following "The Science of Magic" on Inkshares! Remember to preorder your copy today and share with your friends. As a thank you for following the book, here’s a present! 

Part of the book will focus on how magic evolved in various creatures (including dragons). Here’s an explanation of the history of evolutionists as well as a table with all of the current magical creatures, their scientific names, and what those names mean. Enjoy!


Evolution is the process by which living organisms developed from earlier forms, their ancestors, over the history of life on earth. This is usually considered to be the development of a complex form from a simpler form gradually over time, though this is not always the case.

In the broadest terms, evolution is change that occurs in a specific order, usually to the advantage of a particular group or species. Evolution can be used to refer to general change, of everything from astronomical phenomena to computer technology, but normally refers to the evolution of biological organisms. The term was first used by the ancient Greeks. Today it is used in reference to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, popularly called “survival of the fittest”.  This theory was first proposed in publication by Charles Darwin in 1859.

The Ancient Greeks did not use the term evolution. However, there are many references made by philosophers of creatures coming from something else. For instance, Thales states that all things came from water. Anaximenes asserts that air is the principle of all things. Anaximander took this thought further and suggested that men came from other animals and that all life came from moisture and warmth. In Empedocles, there are general mentions of evolutionary thought, including an adaptation of natural selection.
Heraclitus conceives the rational development process, stating that air leads to water which leads to earth. Empedocles and Democritus also discuss development and change. Like the other Greek philosophers, Deinocritus concludes that organisms come from inorganic matter, like moist earth.

In contrast, Plato, though he reiterates the idea of flux in the phenomenal world, denies the idea that there is continuous change in ideas. The idea of evolution is convoluted in Plato’s writing, but is made clearer by Aristotle. Aristotle states that the transition of life from lifeless matter is gradual, leading to a blurred line between the two states. Aristotle believed that life was constantly improving to reach perfection, with man being closer to perfection than any other form of life. Finally, the Neoplatonists believed that the highest principle remains unchanged and that all things come from this principle.

The concept of evolution was not popular during Medieval times, largely due to the widespread acceptance of the Christian theory of creation. Yet, evolution was not denied in the general sense. Augustine used evolution as the basis for his philosophy of history. Erigena and several of his followers may have taught a form of evolution. Nicholas of Cusa taught a similar theory to Erigena’s, though heavily influenced and colored by Pythagoreanism. That is to say, Nicholas taught an undeveloped, pantheistic form of evolution, in which God contains all things within himself, thus connecting all opposites.
Giordano Bruno’s philosophy may be a bit clearer. Bruno believed that all things proceed from a universal nucleus, meaning that the worlds originated through inner necessity of the divine nature, rather than arbitrary acts. Again, God, or the operative nature of God known as the natitra naturans, is said to be present in all things. Bruno’s philosophy is similar to the Greek Stoics, showing a clear concept of evolution in metaphysics and physics. 
The modern philosophy of evolution is quite a bit more involved. Descartes wrote in Principia philosphitce that nature, whether lifeless or living, is merely mechanical or the mechanism. However, Descartes placed metaphysics above physics and the idea of God had an important place, indicating that mechanical evolution did not explain all matter. Leibniz attempted to reconcile this mechanical-physical view with previous teleological views. 
For Leibnitz, the principles of physics and mechanics are wholly dependent on the will of a supreme being. He states the the directionality of a supreme intelligence is what allows the human mind to conceive order and the continuity of one ordered thing to another. Leibnitz greatly valued the law of continuity, which states that the genera of all things are in a continuous spectrum. Though we make distinctions between animals and vegetables, the law of continuity states that there must be intermediary forms which create a continuous sequence between the two. 
The German philosophers of the eighteenth century also accounted for pioneers of modern evolution. Herder, one of the first, explained a doctrine of unity in the continuous development of nature. This included examples of inorganic to organic, stone to plant, plant to animal, and animal to man. Lessing dwelt on the education of the human race, believing it to be the mechanism to become more perfect. Goethe also wrote on the idea of evolution, creating a theory of metamorphosis. Goethe spent part of his career attempting to discover the unity in different organisms. 
German Idealism led to many writings related to evolution. Kant, for instance, is often cited as being an early teacher of the modern theory of descent. Kant considered analogous forms to indicate that organisms may have come from a common source. Kant even entertained the notion that an orang or chimpanzee could develop the organs necessary for walking, speaking, and grasping objects, anticipating Darwinian thought but unable to allow it predominance.

German idealistic successors showed stronger inclinations to the idea of evolution. Schelling indicated strong leanings to evolution, stating that nature was a preliminary stage of mind and that the process of physical development would continue throughout history. According to Schelling, all stages of nature are connected by a common life and show unity throughout their development. 
Schelling’s followers further developed this idea. Oken, for instance, conceived natural science as the eternal transformation of God into our world. This development is carried through the vegetable and animal kingdoms up to man. Oken believed man to be the sole object of animal development, concluding that all other animals were failed attempts to create man. This idea was later controverted by Cuvier and Ernst von Baer. Von Baer is noted for standing in a somewhat opposing role to Darwin. 
Though Krause and Schleiermacher wrote on some evolutionistic ideas, these ideas are better represented by Hegel and his notion of absolute idealism. For Hegel, philosophy is the science of the Absolute. Hegel accepted the teachings of Heraclitus in his logic and, thus, taught eternal proceeding. Hegel differed from Heraclitus in that Hegel believed that the abstract idea or reason as what truly is. For Hegel, nature was a necessary but ultimately temporary state on the road of development. For Heraclitus, evolution was the return of all things to the primal principle which would be followed by a new world-development. For Hegel, evolution was the eternal process of thought with no clear end. 
Prior to Darwin, evolution was a concept born from ideas and the abstract, rather than practical knowledge. Darwin and Wallace, however, outlined their arguments for evolution with a large quantity of ascertained facts. As noted in this chapter, however, Darwin was clearly not the first person to conclude in a formal doctrine that species develop from one to another. Charles Darwin’s own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, outlined his belief in evolution with an emphasis on organic variability. Furthermore, Lamarck preceded Darwin in his view of evolution. Lamarck denied the immutability of species and forms, but stated that he observed the gradual development possible in the animal kingdom.
Indeed, Charles Darwin did not create new the theory of descent, but was the first to describe the mechanism of this descent. Charles Darwin proposed the theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence. Darwin described a rational end to a mechanical process without any teleological principles or innate tendency within the organisms themselves to reach a higher state. In essence, Darwin’s theory is that later organisms deviated from earlier ones and that the deviations, assuming they are improvements, perpetuate themselves to become generic marks of differentiation. This does not explain the origin of the first deviations. 
The concept of evolution as a mechanical process spread quickly after Darwin’s publication, though it was by no means universally accepted. Still, may scientists and philosophers expanded on Darwin’s work. Ernst Haeckel of Germany created his biogenetic law which stated that the development of an individual is congruent with the history of the race. France’s Alfred Fouillee created a theory of idea-forces which combined Platonic idealism with English evolutionism. Marie-Jean Guyau concluded that the most intensive life is also the most extensive, spreading the teachings of universal sociomorphism, which united man with the entire cosmos. 
The most thorough development of the system of evolution occurred in England, principally represented by the work of Herbert Spencer. Spencer is noted for having supported evolution even prior to Darwin’s publication of the Origin of Species. Spencer, in his System of Synthetic Philosophy, illustrates that development is the highest law of nature, rather than just the highest law of organisms. For Spencer, natural selection is not necessary to account for the varying species. Rather, the gradual conditions of life created them. Spencer concluded that the purpose of development is to reach perfect balance. Once that is attained, development will cease. Spencer attempted to resolve the mechanical nature of evolution with the teleological thought of his time. 
In modern times, scientists rarely attempt to unify the mechanisms of evolution with any deity. There are, however, fundamental concepts of natural selection. One concept, the idea of change by common descent, implies that all living organisms are related to each other to varying degrees. Basically, if we are able to look back far enough in evolutionary history, we will find a common ancestor. This is a far cry from Aristotle’s Great Chain of Being, which stated that each species was formed for its personal space in nature. 
It is also important to note that evolution by natural selection is a purely mechanical theory. There is no attempt within the theory to explain a purpose of designer, nor is there any mention in the theory which would refute a purpose or designer. There is no foresight in nature, nor any implication that any species is more perfect than another. For the theory of evolution by natural selection, all that matters is the change, which is driven by selection pressures found in the environment. This theory is widely accepted among professional biologists, but there is controversy regarding whether natural selection works on the molecular, individual, or species level. 
Although Darwin’s original theory did not state that genes account for the heritable traits of any given organism, it is now universally accepted by modern evolutionists. In any given population, natural selection will occur when genetically-based traits, like the ability to camouflage, promote survival and are passed on to, and become more frequent in, future generations. Organisms, therefore, will gradually develop different survival enhancing traits dependent on their environments. Given enough time and environmental changes, the small changes within organisms will accumulate until they are a separate species. For instance, a cactus is highly developed to retain water for long periods of time because it lives in a desert, a place with little water. The cactus would not thrive in a rain forest, a place which receives much more rainfall than the home it adapted to. But a fern is adapted to the rainforest and will thrive. 
For Darwin, there is no sharp distinction between new variations and new species, harkening back to previous views on the continuity of things. This theory allows for the diversity of the Earth’s organisms far better than any competing scientific theories (such as Lamarck’s theory of acquired traits) or theological design theories. 
There are, therefore, three principles of evolution by natural selection. The first principle is that, within a generation, there will be variation, specifically of traits. Some of these traits will aid survival and reproduction while others will not. Similarly, some of the traits have a genetic basis while others do not. The second principle is that there are limited resources and individuals must compete for those resources. Traits which aid survival and reproduction will help in this competition. The final principle is that of heritability, which states that only traits which aid survival and reproduction and have a genetic basis can be passed on to future generations. The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversification of life, but this life must still be classified. 
Taxonomy is the branch of science which focuses on the systematic classification of things, especially organisms. There have been many taxonomies proposed over the years, so it is important to note that the taxonomy mentioned is an adapted form from Linnaeus’ proposed taxonomy, adapted to classify based on the knowledge of organisms we have as of today. The classification of organisms is grouped. The largest group is the domain.
For our purposes, there are three domains of life. These domains are the Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. This three-tiered system was designed by Carl Woese, an American biophysicist and microbiologist, and introduced in 1990. Archaea and Bacteria are all single-celled organisms which have no nucleus, otherwise known as prokaryotic microorganisms. Any and all life which has membrane-bound organelles and a nucleus, including most multicellular life, belongs to the domain Eukarya. 
Other alternative classifications of life include the two-empire or superdomain system and the eocyte hypothesis. The superdomain system separates the groupings into Prokaryota (aka Monera) and Eukaryota. The eocyte hypothesis was first proposed in 1984 by James A. Lake et al. This hypothesis posits that there are two domains, Bacteria and Archaea. All Eukarya would be considered Archaea by this hypothesis. 
It is important to note that non-cellular life, such as viruses, are not included in these systems. There has been support since 2011 to include a fourth domain of life which would be composed of Nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses. In 2012, researchers made the case that the discovery of giant viruses which have genomes and a physical size comparable to cellular organisms, virus-specific parasites called virophages, and remains of protein translation machinery, indicates that viruses are a distinct form of life and need to be reclassified as such. Yet, viruses are still not classified as a form of life and the debate rages on.  


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