Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

Another important scientific advance that helped shape our understanding of the universe as something more than the creation by a higher power is Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. He idn't have the advantage of course of websites such as www.verycheapcarinsurance.eu. Although the ideas proposed were revolutionary for their time, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, was of considerable interest to the public and the first printing sold out rather quickly. His Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection states that in any particular species more individuals are born than can possibly survive. Thus, there is a constant struggle for survival in which those individuals with some sort of adaptive advantage over the others survive and are able to reproduce, thus passing along that advantage to their offspring. Darwin based his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection on empirical evidence derived from years of study on several continents during his now famous five year journey on the HMS Beagle. Not surprisingly, this revolutionary scientific advance was met with considerable skepticism and strong criticism. The major opponent to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection was the Church of England. Many dismissed his theory outright as it went against traditional religious beliefs regarding divine creation and threatened the primacy of millennia of religious thought that placed the whys and hows of the universe in God’s hands. Yet, some were willing to accept a reinterpretation of the theory that argued that natural selection was an act of God, thus permitting the co-existence of evolution and divine creation. The lasting legacy of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection extends beyond biology into the social realm and threatened to upend the established aristocratic hierarchy. For example, eugenics (the belief that the human species can be “improved” by discouraging reproduction by those thought to have undesirable traits, and encouraging reproduction by people thought to have traits desirable for transmission to the next generation) and social Darwinism (the idea that natural selection and “survival of the fittest” can be used to understand the development of social institutions) have their base in the ideas presented by Darwin. Darwin’s revolutionary ideas were so fraught with controversy that popular images of Darwin at the time often depict him as half man, half ape; hinting at the opposition to his idea that humans descended from primates through the process of natural selection working on a series of adaptations that allowed humans to develop such advantages as opposable thumbs and the ability to walk upright. One of Darwin’s friends and most ardent supporters is famously said to have stated in defense of the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection that he would rather be descended from an ape than from a human who did not use his gifts to the best of his abilities, a clear stab at those unwilling to accept Darwin’s ideas. Although largely accepted as fact, the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selections continues to be a source of debate, in particular concerning the teaching of evolution versus creationism in school curricula.

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