Naturalist, geologist, and scientist, Charles Darwin, is often accredited with is contributions to the scientific field with his ideas on evolution. His book, “On the Origin of Species”, published in 1859, was innovative in it’s introduction of his new theory of evolution. While initially not well received by the general public, evolution is now widely accepted by the public as well as the scientific community. Darwin’s contributions had supposedly revolutionized the way we looked at species development, religion, and the story of creation. He was heavily praised and became the face of innovative thinking and evolution. He remains one of the most studied, talked about, and applauded scientist to date.
During Thursday’s talk with Dr. Janet Browne some of these beliefs about Darwin and all of his contributions to science were overturned. Notably, his publication was joined with Alfred Russel Wallace. Yet, Darwin is the one who is typically accredited with the development of this theory. Both men had independently developed the same theory, yet only one reaped the benefits of notoriety. Dr. Browne noted that Darwinism may indeed be romanticized to an unworthy degree. Evolution as a theory was made as successful as it is today with the assistance of many other notable scientists. It is unfair that Darwin should receive all of the glory for a collaborative effort.
The disparity in notoriety between Charles Darwin and other scientists encourages us to question what was different about the two. Dr. Browne questioned many important details of Darwin’s life and upbringing that may have isolated him from other scientists. Darwin received incredible support from his family, which may have ultimately led to his success over other scientists. During, and even after his life, his family’s support helped to push him further into the eyes of the public. Ultimately, they gained him the publicity that he needed to gain notable credit for his ideas.
During his life, Darwin’s theories weren’t even accepted to the point where they were impactful in the grander societal scheme. Only after his death and only due to his family’s constant publishings and encouragements did his ideas finally take flight. Finally, religious notions were replaced by scientific evidence suggestive of evolution and natural selection concepts. The fact that Darwin’s ideas (which others also had), did not even impact the thinking of society during his lifetime says something about what he actually contributed to his field. He was reliant upon his family to spread his theories after his death. Why we credit Darwin with these ideas is largely due to the fact that he was the only one that was heard about. However, that by no means justifies the lack of recognition that other scientists had.
Darwin’s evolutionary theories did transform the concepts of creation that previously existed. Natural selection unearthed many fundamental creationist beliefs. However, while these theories while transformative to science, they shouldn’t be accredited solely to Darwin. There were multiple scientists who developed similar ideas who deserve if not the same amount, more credit than Darwin receives. Revolutions are very rarely the result of only one man’s thinking.