American Intellectual History
Dr. Michael Lee
Progression of Darwinism
Charles Darwin is considered to be one of the greatest biologists in history, beyond a shadow of a doubt. He began his path to fame on a trip to the Galapagos Islands where he discovered the variations within species in similar locations. He then spent twenty years cultivating and perfecting his theory. When it was released in 1859, it became a bestseller. Beyond this, it also had a worldwide impact. He was cursed out by Christians, and hailed as genius by others. A man named Herbert Spencer took this theory and created the theory of Social Darwinism, which has had an impact that lasts to this day.
Darwin didn’t start from scratch with his ideas, a lot of his work had connections to and supported Charles Lyell’s theory of uniformitarianism. He left on a 5 year voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands where he continued to develop his theory of natural selection. It was here that Darwin found his famous finches example. Each island had it’s own sub species of finch that was suited to that particular island’s ecosystem.He noticed this difference in the beaks, for example, one island had finches with short and wide, powerful beaks used to crack nuts, while another island had finches with Long and narrow beaks used to pick up grubs. He came to the conclusion that animals were descended from a common ancestor, and the descendents were the best results of evolution. The positive and strongest traits in all the descendents survived, while the negative and weakest traits died off. Each animal is the pinnacle of its evolutionary cycle. This theory exploded. People began taking it in all sorts of different directions that made Darwin very uncomfortable. He strictly meant his theory to stay within the realms of Biology, but it was taken in both a religious and societal context.
Within the realm of Christianity, Darwins theory unintentionally slapped most...