Charles Darwin (1809-1882) became famous for proposing the evolution theory. Darwinism has been both a blessing and a curse for humanity.
Darwin was greatly influenced by the geologist Adam Sedgwick and naturalist Rev. John Henslow during his natural selection theory development, which became the foundational concept supporting the evolution theory. Darwin’s theory holds that environmental effects lead to varying degrees of reproductive success in individuals and groups of organisms. Natural selection tends to promote adaptation in organisms when necessary for survival. After the scientific community debated Natural Selection in Europe for 300 years, it was eventually published in 1859 by Charles Darwin where it became the now famous treatise On the Origin of Species and the preservation of favored races by Means of Natural Selection.
On December 27, 1831, Charles Darwin joined the HMS Beagle crew as a naturalist. The five-year expedition collected hydrographical, geological, and meteorological data from South America and many other regions around the world. Darwin’s own observations on this voyage led to his natural selection theory.
In 1831, HMS Beagle set sail to chart the South American coast. It was captained by Robert FitzRoy and included in its crew the young naturalist Charles Darwin. While the crew surveyed the coast, Darwin observed and collected many wildlife specimens he had never before encountered. As the ship moved from one South American habitat to another, Darwin observed the different adaptations that enabled animals to live in environments as diverse as the Brazilian rain forest and the desolate Tierra del Fuego at the continent’s southern tip.
In 1831, Darwin graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in theology. From 1831 to 1836, he sailed around the world as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle. In 1839, he published notebooks containing meticulous observations of animal and plant species and geology made during the Beagle voyage. In 1858, he published a paper introducing his ideas on natural selection; the paper was presented to the Linnaean Society, a scientific organization in London, concurrently with a similar paper by British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace. In 1859, he published On the Origin of Species, his complete natural selection theory.In 1871, he published The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, which explicitly stated that humans are descended from apes. In 1872, he published The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
Before Darwin’s ideas were published, many Europeans believed that species were eternally unchanging. By implying that humans had evolved just like other species, On the Origin of Species directly contradicted orthodox theological opinion. British naturalist Alfred Wallace independently conceived a natural selection theory that was identical to Darwin’s. In 1858, both Darwin’s and Wallace’s theories were presented on the same day to the Linnean Society of London.
Darwin was originally a medical student at Edinburgh University before he dropped out and entered the University of Cambridge, where he became an unenthusiastic theology student. Darwin’s father almost prohibited him from joining the Beagle voyage in 1831 for fear that it might lead him away from a future in the clergy.
Darwin’s theory offered an explanation for life’s origin, modification, and destiny, but his naturalistic religious philosophy has never been confirmed completely by the scientific method because this requires observation and experimentation. Charles Darwin was a committed racist and his beliefs were consistent with the paradigm of the European culture of his generation. In the 19th century, many Westerners believed that white Europeans were intellectually and physically superior to all other non-white ethnic groups.
Darwin along with other bigots, such as Herbert Spencer and Sir Francis Galton, attempted to prove white-racial biological superiority through evolution. Darwin’s theory influenced monsters like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Darwinism contributed to the creation of concentration camps in Germany during the Second World War and the persecution of non-whites in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and North America during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, while many secular academics and modern scientists reject the bigotry associated with Darwinism, the spirit of Darwinism still dominates the thinking of some persons within the secular scientific community.