Biophilia for Beginners
Until my early twenties, I had never really thought about Darwin. I was halfway through a doctorate in biology by then, so in retrospect this seems like a glaring omission. Naturally, I had thought about Darwinism – or more accurately, I simply knew about it. Darwinism was at the centre of a scientific ‘theory of everything’ instilled early on by my parents, both professional biologists. There were very few childish ‘why’s’ in our household that couldn’t be answered by either Darwin or Newton. Laws of nature stood in for any conventional religion, with perhaps the advantage that they didn’t seem irrational or intrusive, so as I grew up, I never felt moved to reject them. Such was the happy upbringing that could produce a student of biology who had never given a serious second thought to what has been called ‘the greatest single idea in the history of thought’: that living species are not God-given and immutable but are capable of changing and evolving under the pressure of natural selection.