Janet Browne began the discussion by noting that Darwin himself foresaw the rise of the revolution that would stem from his discoveries. He “dimly [foresaw] a revolution in natural history” that would result from the scientific community’s and public’s acceptance of his work. Darwin did not, however, understand the shift that his discoveries would bring not only in science, but also in economics, political theory, business theory, and even culture.
Today, Darwin’s theory of natural selection, or descent with modification, has support of the scientific community and even the Catholic Church. This theory has played a key role in the direction of scientific research since its amalgamation with genetics. The idea of the “survival of the fittest” and concepts of natural selection have been applied to economic, political, and business theory, which dictate the market and financial status of the many nations. Darwin has also become an icon of classic scientific discovery; towns, mountains, buildings, cafés, and even twitter handles have been named or created in his honor. Darwin’s wife and children worked to establish the legacy of Darwin that we know today. Darwin’s funeral reflects his importance to Britain. Despite being an agnostic scientist, he was buried among the heroes and religious icon of Britain in Westminster Abbey–this established his status as a kind of secular saint. In 1885 a magnificent statue of Darwin was erected and moved into the Natural History Museum of London, where it presided over a cathedral-like room and an altar-like platform. Fifty years after Darwin’s death one of his descendants organized a commemoration event with a famous geneticist to promote Darwinian science as the field of genetics began to gain popularity. In 1950 UChicago held a celebration of Darwin with a panel of the world’s brightest biological scientists. Today, ideas of Darwinism persist in science, economics, political, business and culture.
Darwin precipitated the idea of natural selection, or descent with modification, when reading an economics book. He delayed publishing this concept for years out of fear of how society might react. When he finally did publish, the scientific community did not immediately accept his work; in fact, many people vehemently rejected the notion that humans were related to apes. In 1925 a teacher was prosecuted for having a textbook that mentioned the concept of evolution–this case, the Scopes trial, represents the resistance to natural selection that remained many decades after the theory had been accepted, and even celebrated by the scientific community. Some may argue that the Darwinian Revolution wasn’t really “Darwinian.” During the period of Darwin’s greatest discoveries other scientists were exploring similar ideas. Some argue that if Darwin and had existed another person would have made the same discoveries and drawn the same conclusions–in other words, Darwin was not unique; he was just the first to make an inevitable discovery. People may also argue that the introduction of natural selection and evolution did not really cause a revolution. Darwin’s ideas were not really globally accepted until the 1940’s. The world’s most famous revolutions did not occur overnight; many of them took years or even decades, so to say that Darwin’s ideas took too long to catch on ignores the timeframe about great revolutions. His ideas also resulted in the paradigm shift from God as the creator of man to descent with modification. This shift directs modern scientific research.