Janet Browne spoke very eloquently and passionately about Darwin and his legacy. But throughout her lecture, I became more and more interested in hearing about the other evolutionists and their discoveries prior to Darwin. It is hard not to know who Darwin is and what he discovered. He has become socially understood as the “Father of Evolution.” However as Janet pointed out, his discoveries were grand, but not entirely revolutionary. His connection with the finches and theory of survival of the fittest certainly was new news, but Darwin was inspired by other evolutionists. And I am now curious as to what was discovered prior to Darwin. The picture that is painted in classrooms, history books, and society was Darwin made a discovery that was completely new to the world. Browne showed the classic image of ape gradually evolving into man. This image is heavily associated with Darwin, but much to my surprise, he did not create this image. I am still unsure who did, but at least now I know it wasn’t Darwin. Darwin’s discovery has been exaggerated and glorified immensely. The association of image with Darwin’s name an example of the exaggeration. Darwin’s name has become associated with much more than evolution.
The interest I have always personally had in Darwin is the religious ramifications of his discovery. I was surprised to learn this predominantly was an issue in the US and not in England. Having studied the Scopes Trial and studied religion in the US, evolution plays a big role in policies and laws in the US and of course Darwin is associated with them. Darwin’s discovery was scientific, but Americans managed to make it about religion. He created a theory discovering birds and Americans made it into an evil theory that refutes the word of God. Atheism then became interchangeable with evolutionist. Even though these words mean different beliefs, they are intertwined and often misused. I believe when Darwin made his discovery he did not expect or even suspect the global ramifications it would have. Janet Browne mentioned that Darwin was most likely agnostic. However, I presume many have assumed him to be atheist. Religion and science have always had conflict particularly in the US. Darwin is one of the few to cause disputes within religions particularly within the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church only relatively recently finally accepted that the Earth is not the center of the universe. I would imagine it will take a long time, a lot of evidence, and possibly a sign from God for the Catholic Church to officially accept evolution. Evolution has become much more than a scientific theory. It has become a belief to some or a threat to others. It has become its own religion to some extent. You either believe in evolutions or you don’t. There has yet to become a name for the equivalent for agnosticism in regards to evolution. I am sure there will be a term coined in the near future.