The Theory That Shook The World Essay

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The Theory That Shook The World Essay, Research Paper The Theory That Shook The World Other than Mendellson and his studies with genetics, Darwin has by far contributed the most to our modern science. From his theories on variation of species to his explanation of natural selection Charles Darwin has shocked the world by proving the world older than previously thought and creatures not immutable. In this present day these theories are as common belief as a simple mathematical equation such as two plus two equals four; but in the year eighteen hundred and fifty nine Darwin not only risked his reputation with these far fetched findings but also the risk of being excommunicated from the church. Previous to Darwin the thought had been that the world itself was only a few hundred

years old and that all creatures were made by God in those seven days as they lived exactly today (Campbell p 421). Aside from past resistance, Darwin also comes under scrutiny still today as missing fossils which are to have been the bridge between a two familiar species are not yet found (Hitching p 3). Whatever the reason of belief or disbelief in Darwin’s theories, he astounded the scientific world as well as the public and was able to convince many in the presence of a misguided past belief. This fact alone makes him one of the most important people of science ever. Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury-Shropshire, England on Feb 12, 1809 (GEA & RBi p 42). He was the fifth child in a wealthy English family with a history of scientific achievement with his paternal

grandfather Erasmus Darwin who was a physician and a savant in the eighteenth century (GEA & RBi p 42). As a young boy Darwin already showed signs of his love for nature. When he was not reading about nature and its quirks he was out in the forest looking for wild game , fish, and insects (Campbell p 424). His father, although noting his son’s interest in nature, felt that all the discoveries of the natural branch of science had been accomplished so he sent his son to medical school at Edinburgh instead (Bowler p 62). While Darwin was there, he could not keep his mind on his medical studies and decided to go and study at the University of Cambridge and become a clergyman. It was here that he was to meet two people who would change his future forever; Adams Sedgwick and John

Stevens Henslow. Out of these two, Henslow turned into his second father and taught him to be meticulous in his observations of natural phenomena (GEA & RBi p 42). Upon graduating in 1831, Henslow suggested that he go on the Beagle as an unpaid naturalist on the scientific expedition (GEA & RBi p 43). Darwin gladly took Henslow’s advice and set out on his voyage to South America to analyze and collect data that would later back up his evolutionary theories (Campbell p 424). Even as Darwin collected his data pertaining to what would become his theory on natural selection, many pre-existing views still had a hold on the scientific world as well as the public. The earliest recorded were those of Plato and Aristotle. Plato (427-347 BC) believed in two worlds; an illusionary

which was perceived only through our senses and a real world which was ideal and eternal (Campbell p 422). Aristotle (384-322 BC), on the other hand, believed in a “scala naturae” in which each being has its own rung on a ladder which was permanent (Campbell p 422). Also, there were the present religious views that had to be dealt with as well as the ancient ideals. At that time many believed that animals and plants did not evolve because they were made holy and immutable by God on those seven days (GEA & RBi p 43). A person who was widely respected and also took some beliefs from Aristotle and present religion was Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778). He believed species immutable and later became known as the father of modern taxonomy (Campbell p 422). Perhaps the largest