Biology: Charles Darwin and Evolution
Posted by Science on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 at 11:30 pmin
Charles Robert Darwin (1809 – 1882) was a British geologist and naturalist who became well-known for pioneering the theory of evolution. Ever since he was a child, Darwin has had a fondness for collecting and databasing rocks as well as animals such as insects and beetles. He initially studied medicine at Edinburgh University, only to later switched to divinity at Cambridge University. In 1831, Darwin took part in a five-year scientific voyage with the HMS Beagle. Through the expedition, he encountered the diversity of animals in the Galapagos Islands, and marveled at the way each island seemed to substantiate similar yet characteristically unique species. Darwin collected data concerning species diversity in the Galapagos Islands and returned to England in 1836. He worked on the theory of evolution for twenty years before finally making a joint announcement with another naturalist, Alfred Wallace, who reached similar conclusions in 1858. To consolidate his findings, Darwin published “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” in 1859.
In a nutshell, Darwin introduced the concept of natural selection, which is a theory that expresses the belief that nature plays a role in determining which organisms get to survive by sustaining the lives of those that are better-adapted to their surrounding environment(s). By doing this, nature inherently ensures that characteristics that allow organisms to adapt and survive are passed on through generations, thus contributing to evolution.
Darwin’s theory of evolution is one of the most controversial scientific breakthroughs of all-time, because, at the time it was released, many communities in Europe were still deeply rooted in Christianity. Most people believe that the Earth was created in seven days, and that all species along with their variations were created by God since the beginning of time. Thus, Darwin’s idea of evolution was considered a form of indoctrination against God, and was shunned by many before finally receiving proper credence.
- “Charles Darwin.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 05 May 2014. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/darwin_charles.shtml>.
- “Charles Darwin & Evolution.” Charles Darwin & Evolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014. <http://darwin200.christs.cam.ac.uk/pages/index.php?page_id=j>.