Was “The Origin of Species” the foundation for evolutionary biology?

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England in 1809. Darwin was from a family of scientists. His father was a medical doctor and his grandfather was a botanist. His mother died when Darwin was just eight years old. Darwin’s family was wealthy and was able to send him to Edinburgh University at age sixteen. He then attended Christ’s College in Cambridge. At Christ’s College, Darwin’s botany professor, John Stevens Henslow, recommended Darwin for a position as a naturalist on the HMS Beagle. In 1831, he set sail to travel the world and study nature all over the globe. He was particularly interested in the Pacific Islands and the Galapagos Islands. These studies led him to create his theory of evolution. After returning to England, he started to write about his findings in the Journal of Researches. In his writings, he developed a theory about the origin of living things that was controversial with other naturalists, who disagreed with him.

In his most famous work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, he writes about this controversial theory. This piece was published in 1859. He wrote about his theory that animals and humans have evolved over time and came from common ancestors.[1] He focuses a great deal on his theory of natural selection, or the theory that only the strongest of species reproduce so that only the best qualities are passed down to the next generation. The book was written for the general public and sparked widespread interest after it was published.

How has our understanding of nature and evolution changed since Darwin wrote The Origins of Species? How has it stayed the same? Why do you think it was so hard for other scientists to accept Darwin’s theory? It has been said that this book is considered the “foundation of evolutionary biology.” Do you agree with this? If not, why?

[1] Darwin, The Origin of Species. 1859.

One thought on “Was “The Origin of Species” the foundation for evolutionary biology?

  1. Our world has changed drastically since Darwin published his piece on evolution. One aspect that hasn’t changed quite so much, unfortunately, is the widespread disbelief in evolution. While evolution is taught in most public schools it is still met with extreme opposition. Most recently, a group of parents here in Pennsylvania tried to put Intelligent Design (a pseudoscience designed to make creationism look scientific) into their public high school’s curriculum. It was brought to the supreme court and thankfully the parents lost.

    After a plethora of evidence backing up the theory of evolution, why are so many still opposed to the idea? In my opinion, it’s the idea that humans are not made in some divine image of God. The idea that we as a species are on the same level as animals freaks people out. This is why there was opposition to Darwin’s theory of evolution back when he published The Origin of Species, and it is why there is still opposition today.

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