Date of Award

Spring 1982

Document Type




First Advisor

William Thompson

Second Advisor

Jean Smith

Third Advisor

James Manion


The notion of the vast array of different animals and plants evolving as new forms through a slow, historical, natural course from simpler forms is a familiar one. Evolution is a theory that should not be confined to academic circles only; it is an idea about which everyone should be informed. Owing to the vast discussions taking place about evolution, there have been a great number of books written. This thesis has chosen two outstanding authors and their books to present the theory of evolution. These two authors are Theodosius Dobzhansky and Raymond J. Nogar, authors respectively of Mankind Evolving and The Wisdom of Evolution. These books attempt to explore the possibilities of understanding mankind as a product of evolution. This thesis hopes to present each of these respective works in a clear, objective manner. First, we will present the views of Dobzhansky, and then in the second chapter Nogar's ideas will be illuminated. In the third and last chapter, a concise summary of the two views will be stated while trying to point out areas of parallelism and areas of difference. A proper stance of open objectivity that one should take when delving into the subject of evolution will also be presented in this last chapter. This is not meant to be the only stance available, but only one of many quite possible ones.

Theodosius Dobzhansky gives a profound insight into the biological theory of evolution. Being a scientific theorist, Mr. Dobzhansky gives a we11-documented and concise explanation of the evolution of the human race. Using a broad range of knowledge, he creates an interesting and succinct look into the controversial hypothesis of man’s origins. It was Charles Darwin who was able to marshall a great mass of evidence making evolution intelligible. T. Dobzhansky makes the acceptance of the theory inescapable. The opposition to this theory, especially in this era of technology and the Age of Science, is too well known to need detailing. The reluctant attitude can be well portrayed, as Dobzhansky did, in the quaint, little story of the English lady who on being told of Darwin’s theories exclaimed: "Descended from the apes! My dear, we hope it is not true. But if it is, let us pray that it may not become generally known" (9:5). This common feeling on the notion of Darwinian evolution shows how degrading to human dignity some people view it. It also shows vividly how ignorant some people are. To say humans have decended from the apes is absolute rubbish since their remote ancestors could not have descended £ from animals which are our contemporaries. The fact is man and apes have descended from common ancestors. The basic thesis presented by Dobzhansky in Mankind Evolving is that humanity has both a nature and a "history". Human evolution is composed of two aspects, the cultural and the biological. These components are "neither mutually exclusive nor independent, but interrelated and interdependent" (9:18). Evolution of mankind must be understood under the light of an interaction of biology and culture; it cannot be adequately described as purely biological nor purely cultural. There exists a feedback between the two processes. To insist that there are two independent evolutions, one organic and the other superorganic, is to substantiate one’s misunderstanding of the nature of heredity. Biological heredity is the basis of biological evolution and determines the response of the developing organism to the environment in which it develops.