In 1859, there was a groundbreaking revolution in both the scientific and religious realms: the origin of species, authored by Charles Darwin, was published. The book changed how people approach biology forever, and has fundamental impacts on modern science, religion, and other aspects of the society.

A century and a half later, the influence of Darwin remains. In Australia there is City of Darwin, named after the evolution giant. There are Darwin branded merchandises, restaurants, even colleges. However, as Prof. Browne from Harvard University have lectured, Darwin’s opinions were not fully acknowledged till at least a hundred years later.

At the time when Origin of Species was published, the theories did not immediately gain popularity. As Prof. Browne put it, it was not a “revolution” but rather a slow change, stretched out over the course of a century. Darwin’s opinions, as they start to gain popularity, were very much challenged. Most of the questions come from people who come from a religious background and the concept of evolution particularly disputed the existence of a creator. Darwin’s response what safe yet smart: instead of labeling himself as an atheist, he resorts to being an agnostic, refusing to enter the debate of whether God exists.

Despite his great achievements, Darwin is still a person with unique personalities, and by revisiting his life we could unveil how his thoughts came to be and how his theory of evolution is sparked. Living in a very private, remote estate, Darwin had a wealthy heritage which provided him with ample time and financial support to pursue his interests. Because of his remote location, most of the communications with his scientific colleagues are achieved through mails, and this large amount of correspondence left us with a rather streamlined thought process of how his theory took its shape. First, through those mails, we could see that he was a very organized person, and made decisions through listing pros and cons. One example was when deciding whether or not to get married, he listed the pros and cons of marriage, and in the end concluding that dying alone would be worse that having too much company.

Another aspect of Darwin’s theories that the correspondence revealed was the emergence of similar theories at the time. Multiple people have written to Darwin regarding similar evolution theories and without Darwin, the evolution theory would probably still be discovered, but under a different name. Now, since Darwin is the name attached to this theory, his name, like the Bible, is quoted by people with different agendas. Eugenicists insist that Darwin’s theory implies that we need to actively “better” our gene while other groups cite Darwin for other discriminatory policies. Science history views Darwin as a “saint”, burying him at Westminster Abbey while the British Natural History Museum puts his sculpture up and down depending how Darwin is perceived by the general public. Darwin’s simple theory is interpreted and misinterpreted in many different dimensions, but it is this social discourse that keeps the theory alive and drives science forward.