Whenever I feel like my work isn’t being appreciated enough or that I won’t one day amount to anything, I’m going to think back to Janet Browne’s lecture, “The Darwinian Revolution.” In her lecture, Browne told us that most of Darwin’s work wasn’t appreciated until long after his death, and that many of his fellow scientists tried to deny his work for nearly 100 years! However, the truth behind Darwin’s work remained intact and now his views are widely accepted in the scientific world. This just shows that even when if people doubt your work, you just have to keep on keeping on.
Before the lecture, I thought that Darwin’s findings were always thought to be self-evident, as they are now, but it seems like every scientist must go through a rough patch. This made me think, what other scientists have had to go through struggles similar to Darwin, or how many budding scientists won’t get their work realized for the next 100 years because of pre-conceived notions?
One of reasons why Darwin’s work wasn’t widely accepted during his lifetime was because of his religion, or lack thereof. Darwin was an atheist, a practice which heavily opposed the majority the scientists, who were Christian. To Christian scientists, Darwin’s theory of evolution might have been dangerous, because it opposed their entire belief system. Creationism is still a popular mode of belief today, so I can only imagine how strong the influence of God in science was back in their time. Because of this difference, it was very easy to cast aside Darwin’s work by questioning his character or his state of mind. While yes, that was a different time, I feel like something similar could happen in 2016. With the raising levels of Islamophobia worldwide, what’s to stop someone from discounting the work of a gifted Muslim person simply because of their religion? It’s a scary thought, but it’s happened before.
Dawrin’s work was also put in the shadows because it caused people to break down their strongly held beliefs to consider new things. Before evolution was proposed, many people accepted certain ideas about the natural world as a given. Species were not thought to be linked in a “family tree”. Most species weren’t even thought to be connected, but were unrelated and unchanged since the moment of inception. For people who believed that everything was independent for hundreds of years, it’s reasonable for them to be suspicious about a mysterious set of cross-connections between species. However, it’s when people hold onto their beliefs and are unwilling to think about the possibility of another option, when things go awry. This is what happened to Darwin, and it could very well happen again now.
Even though Darwin had to jump through many hoops, even after he had passed, he still came out victorious in the end. His work is now the building block of evolutionary theory and he is very well respected in the scientific community. He has liquor, cafes, and clothing dedicated to him, his house was made into a museum, and his statue sits, ironically enough, in a cathedral. Which goes to show that no matter what obstacles come your way, it’s best to keep on keeping on, and the work will speak for itself.