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The Celebration of Charles Darwin's Legacy

The majority of people are aware of Charles Darwin thanks to his theory of evolution, but many do not realize the significance of the theory, the implications it held for humanity at the time, and its continuing relevance today. Darwin remains a scientific legend to this day, with February 12th, which is also his birthday, being designated as Darwin Day in honor of him and his significant contributions to science.

Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on February 12, 1809, as the fifth child of Robert and Susannah. His mother died when he was eight years old, and his older sister took on his care. He attended Shrewsbury School, where he was fairly considered unsuccessful. Although he wasn’t forthcoming in high school, he went on to complete his university studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1825, where he joined the Plinian Society, which is a club dedicated to natural history. After graduation, he became a naturalist and geologist. In 1831, Darwin was impressed by the variety and number of fossils around the world and took a voyage to South America with the H.M.S. Beagle Royal Navy ship to discover and study plants, animals, and organisms. In this voyage, and more specifically in the Galapagos Islands, he hypothesized that many organisms go through changes to allow them to survive in certain locations, which today, is known as adaptation. The voyage ended in 1835, and the adoption hypothesis laid the foundation for his later work, such as the theory of evolution. Since Darwin came back to England after the first reform act in 1832, he worked on this theory of evaluation in years of civil unrest and constant questioning of religion, the church, and the power it held. The most questioned topic was, of course, the one of creation, which some people believe helped Darwin develop his theory.

From 1838 to 1843, Darwin worked on the description of his specimens from his voyage and compiled them in Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. His publication helped him become more known to the public, and while working on that, he also drafted a 35-page sketch of his theory of natural selection, which he expended in 1844 without the intention of publishing it just yet. In 1859, Darwin published one of his most renowned books, The Origin of Species, which contained glimpses of all of his previous theories. His famous book

didn’t contain academic references and was published with the intention of reaching the general public. Thanks to its easy language, the book was a total hit, and it oversold right away, leaving Darwin with plans to release a second edition. Darwin was later recognized for his lifetime contribution to science by the University of Cambridge in England in 1877 with an honorary doctorate degree only five years before his death. At the time of his death in 1882, he was considered the greatest scientist of his age.

Darwin's theories demonstrated that some species descended from other species, including humans, implying that humans have the same ancestors as other primates. His theories and, most importantly, his law of natural selection showed how everything had been connected along the way of evolution with constant adaptation, natural selection, and artificial selection and offered a completely new understanding of how humans were related to all other life and species on Earth. Unfortunately, other scientists of his era did not initially agree with his theories, and maybe if he hadn’t waited before publishing his discoveries, they would have been burned down and gotten lost before they could survive to this day because of the backlash he would have received from religious groups or conservative people since his theories were against the main principles of most religions, and most importantly, Christianity. When faced with criticism, Darwin always tried to explain that he hadn’t written his work atheistically, but it came out that way because he couldn’t “see as plainly as others do” but his ideas provoked harsh reactions regardless of his intention. However, as

more organism species were found and evidence accumulated, opinions began to change. His theories took on another level with the help of DNA research since it was now possible for scientists to see the similarities between the genes of different species. Over time, the theory of evolution gained widespread acceptance, and Charles Darwin became a legend among biology enthusiasts. Even today, not everyone agrees with the theory of evolution, but it is undeniable that Darwin's ideas allowed biology and humans to explain the world without the aid of supernatural forces.

Works Cited

Days of the year. “Darwin Day.” Days of the Year.

Desmond, Adrian J. “Charles Darwin - on the Origin of Species.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 6 Sept. 2018.

Masci, David. “Darwin and His Theory of Evolution.” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, 4 Feb. 2009.


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