Charles Darwin was one of the greatest minds in human history, and his theory of evolution and his idea of natural selection are some of the most incredible discoveries of the modern era of science. Darwin is recognized for his accomplishments today, but this was not always the case especially during his time. The religious controversy that he sparked by making these claims about the history of mankind was unbelievable, and many of his ideas were not truly recognized as substantial and valid for close to 100 years. Now he has become a household name and is recognized all over the world for his contributions to human history. There is a college named after Darwin, a city, multiple mountains, movies, and he was pictured on the British currency. This makes it clear that he is very well recognized today for his major discoveries and ground breaking research and studies, however it is very interesting to hear about the controversy around his work during his life time.
The cultural assimilation that his book and his studies caused was very substantial. Many of the well known scientists of his time period were not in support of his work because they were so grounded in their beliefs about religion and about the history of humans. Sometimes even after hearing his studies and theories he had formed after many years of studying they still chose not to fully believe or validate his claims just because even the major scientists of the time were so religious and so grounded in their prior thinking. As you can imagine, the general public acted similarly and was also dedicated to their religious beliefs and refused to accept any other way of thinking for the most part. This led to much of the public writing to Darwin with many major philosophical questions about religion and about life as a whole. Darwin for the most part was humble and polite with people when they asked him questions that he didn’t have the answers to.
A major part of the history of Darwin as a naturalist and a evolutionist is the fact that he did not have a job and was living off of an inheritance from his parents. He also married a wealthy woman named Emma Wedgwood and they had many kids together which greatly contributed to his happiness in life. This happy home environment and lack of an occupation allowed him to fully invest himself into his work and spend many years researching and examining various species of animals and plants. Of course this is not the only thing that contributed to his success and incredible discoveries, because he also was extremely brilliant and compulsive. This led to him breaking down every action or thought he ever came up with and fully considering every positive and negative consequence. This included things in his life such as marriage, where he fully broke down all the pros and cons of getting married and eventually decided that it was a good idea and he would enjoy being married. Another interesting fact I learned during this lecture was that there were many other evolutionists at this time along with Darwin, who had similar lines of thought, but clearly did not have some of the major theories or discoveries that Charles Darwin had himself. Some of these evolutionists were Herbert Spencer, Robert Chambers, and Alfred Russel Wallace. It is very interesting to think that people read the Origin of Species at this time and saw and read other works and studies from other evolutionists and yet for 100 years his work was not recognized as what it truly was.