Charles Darwin

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Charles Robert Darwin

Three quarter length studio photo showing Darwin's characteristic large forehead and bushy eyebrows with deep set eyes, pug nose and mouth set in a determined look. He is bald on top, with dark hair and long side whiskers but no beard or moustache. His jacket is dark, with very wide lapels, and his trousers are a light check pattern. His shirt has an upright wing collar, and his cravat is tucked into his waistcoat which is a light fine checked pattern.

Charles Robert Darwin, aged 45 in 1854, by then working towards publication of On the Origin of Species.

12 February 1809
Mount House, Shrewsbury,Shropshire, England

19 April 1882 (aged 73)
Down House, Downe, Kent, England





Geological Society of London

Alma mater
University of Edinburgh
University of Cambridge

Academic advisors
John Stevens Henslow
Adam Sedgwick

Known for
The Voyage of the Beagle
On The Origin of Species
Natural selection

Alexander von Humboldt
John Herschel
Charles Lyell

Joseph Dalton Hooker
Thomas Henry Huxley
George John Romanes
Ernst Haeckel

Notable awards
Royal Medal (1853)
Wollaston Medal (1859)
Copley Medal (1864)

"Charles Darwin", with the last name underlined by a downward curve that mimics the curve of the initial "C"

Charles Robert Darwin FRS (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist[I] who established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolutionresulted from a process that he called natural selection. He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species.[1][2] The scientific community and much of the general public came to accept evolution as a fact in his lifetime,[3] but it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.[4] In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.[5][6]

Darwin’s early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marine invertebrates. Studies at the University of Cambridge encouraged his passion for natural science.[7] His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell‘s uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.[8]

Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838.[9] Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority.[10] He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.[11]Darwin’s work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature.[3] In 1871, he examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.[12]

In recognition of Darwin’s pre-eminence as a scientist, he was one of only five nineteenth-century non-royal personages from the United Kingdom to be honoured by a state funeral,[13] and was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.[14]

Life of Darwin

Childhood and education

See also: Charles Darwin’s education and Darwin-Wedgwood family

Three quarter length portrait of seated boy smiling and looking at the viewer. He has straight mid brown hair, and wears dark clothes with a large frilly white collar. In his lap he holds a pot of flowering plants

The seven-year-old Charles Darwin in 1816.

Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on 12 February 1809 at his family home, the Mount.[15] He was the fifth of six children of wealthy society doctor and financier Robert Darwin, andSusannah Darwin (née Wedgwood). He was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin on his father’s side, and of Josiah Wedgwood on his mother’s side. Both families were largely Unitarian, though the Wedgwoods were adoptingAnglicanism. Robert Darwin, himself quietly a freethinker, had baby Charles baptised in the Anglican Church, but Charles and his siblings attended the Unitarian chapel with their mother. The eight-year-old Charles already had a taste for natural history and collecting when he joined the day school run by its preacher in 1817. That July, his mother died. From September 1818, he joined his older brother Erasmus attending the nearby AnglicanShrewsbury School as a boarder.[16]

Darwin spent the summer of 1825 as an apprentice doctor, helping his father treat the poor of Shropshire, before going to the University of Edinburgh Medical School with his brother Erasmus in October 1825. He found lectures dull and surgery distressing, so neglected his studies. He learned taxidermy from John Edmonstone, a freed black slave who had accompanied Charles Waterton in the South American rainforest, and often sat with this "very pleasant and intelligent man".[17]

In Darwin’s second year he joined the Plinian Society, a student natural history group whose debates strayed into radical materialism. He assisted Robert Edmund Grant‘s investigations of the anatomy and life cycle of marine invertebrates in the Firth of Forth, and on 27th March 1827 presented at the Plinian his own discovery that black spores found in oyster shells were the eggs of a skate leech. One day, Grant praised Lamarck’s evolutionary ideas. Darwin was astonished, but had recently read the similar ideas of his grandfather Erasmus and remained indifferent.[18] Darwin was rather bored by Robert Jameson‘s natural history course which covered geology including the debate between Neptunism and Plutonism. He learned classification of plants, and assisted with work on the collections of the University Museum, one of the largest museums in Europe at the time.[19]

This neglect of medical studies annoyed his father, who shrewdly sent him to Christ’s College, Cambridge, for a Bachelor of Arts degree as the first step towards becoming an Anglican parson. As Darwin was unqualified for the Tripos, he joined the ordinary degree course in January 1828.[20] He preferred riding and shooting to studying. His cousin William Darwin Fox introduced him to the popular craze for beetle collecting which Darwin pursued zealously, getting some of his finds published in Stevens’ Illustrations of British entomology. He became a close friend and follower of botany professor John Stevens Henslow and met other leading naturalists who saw scientific work as religious natural theology, becoming known to these dons as "the man who walks with Henslow". When his own exams drew near, Darwin focused on his studies and was delighted by the language and logic of William Paley‘s Evidences of Christianity.[21] In his final examination in January 1831 Darwin did well, coming tenth out of 178 candidates for the ordinary degree.[22]

Darwin had to stay at Cambridge until June. He studied Paley’s Natural Theology which made an argument for divine design in nature, explaining adaptation as God acting through laws of nature.[23] He read John Herschel‘s new book which described the highest aim of natural philosophy as understanding such laws through inductive reasoning based on observation, and Alexander von Humboldt‘s Personal Narrative of scientific travels. Inspired with "a burning zeal" to contribute, Darwin planned to visit Tenerife with some classmates after graduation to study natural history in the tropics. In preparation, he joined Adam Sedgwick‘s geology course, then went with him in the summer for a fortnight to map strata in Wales.[24] After a week with student friends at Barmouth, he returned home to find a letter from Henslow proposing Darwin as a suitable (if unfinished) gentleman naturalist for a self-funded place with captain Robert FitzRoy, more as a companion than a mere collector, on HMS Beagle which was to leave in four weeks on an expedition to chart the coastline of South America.[25] His father objected to the planned two-year voyage, regarding it as a waste of time, but was persuaded by his brother-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood, to agree to his son’s participation.[26]

Voyage of the Beagle

For more details on this topic, see Second voyage of HMS Beagle.

Route from Plymouth, England, south to Cape Verde then southwest across the Atlantic to Bahia, Brazil, south to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, the Falkland Islands, round the tip of South America then north to Valparaiso and Callao. Northwest to the Galapagos Islands before sailing west across the Pacific to New Zealand, Sydney, Hobart in Tasmania, and King George's Sound in Western Australia. Northwest to the Keeling Islands, southwest to Mauritius and Cape Town, then northwest to Bahia and northeast back to Plymouth.

The voyage of the Beagle

Beginning on the 27th of December, 1831, the voyage lasted almost five years and, as FitzRoy had intended, Darwin spent most of that time on land investigating geology and making natural history collections, while the Beagle surveyed and charted coasts.[3][27] He kept careful notes of his observations and theoretical speculations, and at intervals during the voyage his specimens were sent to Cambridge together with letters including a copy of his journal for his family.[28]He had some expertise in geology, beetle collecting and dissecting marine invertebrates, but in all other areas was a novice and ably collected specimens for expert appraisal.[29] Despite repeatedly suffering badly from seasickness while at sea, most of his zoology notes are about marine invertebrates, starting with plankton collected in a calm spell.[27][30]

On their first stop ashore at St. Jago, Darwin found that a white band high in the volcanic rock cliffs included seashells. FitzRoy had given him the first volume of Charles Lyell‘s Principles of Geology which set out uniformitarian concepts of land slowly rising or falling over immense periods,[II] and Darwin saw things Lyell’s way, theorising and thinking of writing a book on geology.[31] In Brazil, Darwin was delighted by the tropical forest,[32] but detested the sight of slavery.[33]

At Punta Alta in Patagonia he made a major find of fossil bones of huge extinct mammals in cliffs beside modern seashells, indicating recent extinction with no signs of change in climate or catastrophe. He identified the little knownMegatherium by a tooth and its association with bony armour which had at first seemed to him like a giant version of the armour on local armadillos. The finds brought great interest when they reached England.[34][35] On rides with gauchosinto the interior to explore geology and collect more fossils he gained social, political and anthropological insights into both native and colonial people at a time of revolution, and learnt that two types of rhea had separate but overlapping territories.[36][37] Further south he saw stepped plains of shingle and seashells as raised beaches showing a series of elevations. He read Lyell’s second volume and accepted its view of "centres of creation" of species, but his discoveries and theorising challenged Lyell’s ideas of smooth continuity and of extinction of species.[38][39]

On a sea inlet surrounded by steep hills, with high snow covered mountains in the distance, someone standing in an open canoe waves at a square-rigged sailing ship, seen from the front

As HMS Beagle surveyed the coasts ofSouth America, Darwin theorised about geology and extinction of giant mammals.

Three Fuegians on board, who had been seized during the first Beagle voyage and had spent a year in England, were taken back to Tierra del Fuego as missionaries. Darwin found them friendly and civilised, yet their relatives seemed "miserable, degraded savages", as different as wild from domesticated animals.[40] To Darwin the difference showed cultural advances, not racial inferiority. Unlike his scientist friends, he now thought there was no unbridgeable gap between humans and animals.[41] A year on, the mission had been abandoned. The Fuegian they had named Jemmy Button lived like the other natives, had a wife, and had no wish to return to England.[42]

Darwin experienced an earthquake in Chile and saw signs that the land had just been raised, including mussel-beds stranded above high tide. High in the Andes he saw seashells, and several fossil trees that had grown on a sand beach. He theorised that as the land rose, oceanic islands sank, and coral reefs round them grew to form atolls.[43][44]

On the geologically new Galápagos Islands Darwin looked for evidence attaching wildlife to an older "centre of creation", and found mockingbirds allied to those in Chile but differing from island to island. He heard that slight variations in the shape of tortoise shells showed which island they came from, but failed to collect them, even after eating tortoises taken on board as food.[45][46] In Australia, the marsupial rat-kangaroo and the platypus seemed so unusual that Darwin thought it was almost as though two distinct Creators had been at work.[47] He found the Aborigines "good-humoured & pleasant", and noted their depletion by European settlement.[48]

The Beagle investigated how the atolls of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands had formed, and the survey supported Darwin’s theorising.[44] FitzRoy began writing the official Narrative of the Beagle voyages, and after reading Darwin’s diary he proposed incorporating it into the account.[49] Darwin’s Journal was eventually rewritten as a separate third volume, on natural history.[50]

In Cape Town Darwin and FitzRoy met John Herschel, who had recently written to Lyell praising his uniformitarianism as opening bold speculation on "that mystery of mysteries, the replacement of extinct species by others" as "a natural in contradistinction to a miraculous process".[51] When organising his notes as the ship sailed home, Darwin wrote that if his growing suspicions about the mockingbirds, the tortoises and the Falkland Islands Fox were correct, "such facts undermine the stability of Species", then cautiously added "would" before "undermine".[52] He later wrote that such facts "seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species".[53]

Inception of Darwin’s evolutionary theory

For more details on this topic, see Inception of Darwin’s theory.

Three quarter length portrait of Darwin aged about 30, with straight brown hair receding from his high forehead and long side-whiskers, smiling quietly, in wide lapelled jacket, waistcoat and high collar with cravat.

While still a young man, Charles Darwin joined the scientific elite

When the Beagle reached Falmouth, Cornwall, on 2 October 1836, Darwin was already a celebrity in scientific circles as in December 1835 Henslow had fostered his former pupil’s reputation by giving selected naturalists a pamphlet of Darwin’s geological letters.[54] Darwin visited his home in Shrewsbury and saw relatives, then hurried to Cambridge to see Henslow, who advised on finding naturalists available to catalogue the collections and agreed to take on the botanical specimens. Darwin’s father organised investments, enabling his son to be a self-funded gentleman scientist, and an excited Darwin went round the London institutions being fêted and seeking experts to describe the collections. Zoologists had a huge backlog of work, and there was a danger of specimens just being left in storage.[55]

Charles Lyell eagerly met Darwin for the first time on 29 October and soon introduced him to the up-and-coming anatomist Richard Owen, who had the facilities of the Royal College of Surgeons to work on the fossil bones collected by Darwin. Owen’s surprising results included other gigantic extinct ground sloths as well as the Megatherium, a near complete skeleton of the unknown Scelidotherium and a hippopotamus-sized rodent-like skull named Toxodon resembling a giant capybara. The armour fragments were actually from Glyptodon, a huge armadillo-like creature as Darwin had initially thought.[56][35] These extinct creatures were related to living species in South America.[57]

In mid-December Darwin took lodgings in Cambridge to organise work on his collections and rewrite his Journal.[58] He wrote his first paper, showing that the South American landmass was slowly rising, and with Lyell’s enthusiastic backing read it to the Geological Society of Londonon 4 January 1837. On the same day, he presented his mammal and bird specimens to the Zoological Society. The ornithologist John Gould soon announced that the Galapagos birds that Darwin had thought a mixture of blackbirds, "gros-beaks" and finches, were, in fact, twelveseparate species of finches. On 17 February Darwin was elected to the Council of the Geological Society, and Lyell’s presidential address presented Owen’s findings on Darwin’s fossils, stressing geographical continuity of species as supporting his uniformitarian ideas.[59]

Early in March, Darwin moved to London to be near this work, joining Lyell’s social circle of scientists and experts such as Charles Babbage,[60] who described God as a programmer of laws. John Herschel‘s letter on the "mystery of mysteries" of new species was widely discussed, with explanations sought in laws of nature, not ad hoc miracles. Darwin stayed with his freethinking brother Erasmus, part of this Whig circle and close friend of writer Harriet Martineau who promoted Malthusianism underlying the controversial Whig Poor Law reforms to stop welfare from causing overpopulation and more poverty. As a Unitarian she welcomed the radical implications of transmutation of species, promoted by Grant and younger surgeons influenced by Geoffroy, but anathema to Anglicans defending social order.[51][61]

Gould met Darwin and told him that the Galápagos mockingbirds from different islands were separate species, not just varieties, and what Darwin had thought was a "wren" was also in the finch group. Darwin had not labelled the finches by island, but from the notes of others on the Beagle, including FitzRoy, he allocated species to islands.[62] The two rheas were also distinct species, and on 14 March Darwin announced how their distribution changed going southwards.[63]

A page of hand-written notes, with a sketch of branching lines.

In mid-July 1837 Darwin started his "B" notebook on Transmutation of Species, and on page 36 wrote "I think" above his firstevolutionary tree.

By mid-March, Darwin was speculating in his Red Notebook on the possibility that "one species does change into another" to explain the geographical distribution of living species such as the rheas, and extinct ones such as the strangeMacrauchenia which resembled a giant guanaco. His thoughts on lifespan, asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction developed in his "B" notebook around mid-July on to variation in offspring "to adapt & alter the race to changingworld" explaining the Galápagos tortoises, mockingbirds and rheas. He sketched branching descent, then a genealogical branching of a single evolutionary tree, in which "It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another", discarding Lamarck’s independentlineages progressing to higher forms.[64]

Overwork, illness, and marriage

See also: Charles Darwin’s health

While developing this intensive study of transmutation, Darwin became mired in more work. Still rewriting his Journal, he took on editing and publishing the expert reports on his collections, and with Henslow’s help obtained a Treasury grant of £1,000 to sponsor this multi-volume Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, a sum equivalent to about £75,000 in 2008.[65] He stretched the funding to include his planned books on geology, and agreed unrealistic dates with the publisher.[66] As the Victorian era began, Darwin pressed on with writing his Journal, and in August 1837 began correcting printer’s proofs.[67]

Darwin’s health suffered from the pressure. On 20 September he had "an uncomfortable palpitation of the heart", so his doctors urged him to "knock off all work" and live in the country for a few weeks. After visiting Shrewsbury he joined his Wedgwood relatives at Maer Hall, Staffordshire, but found them too eager for tales of his travels to give him much rest. His charming, intelligent, and cultured cousin Emma Wedgwood, nine months older than Darwin, was nursing his invalid aunt. His uncle Jos pointed out an area of ground where cinders had disappeared under loam and suggested that this might have been the work of earthworms, inspiring "a new & important theory" on their role in soil formation which Darwin presented at the Geological Society on 1 November.[68]

William Whewell pushed Darwin to take on the duties of Secretary of the Geological Society. After initially declining the work, he accepted the post in March 1838.[69] Despite the grind of writing and editing the Beagle reports, Darwin made remarkable progress on transmutation, taking every opportunity to question expert naturalists and, unconventionally, people with practical experience such as farmers and pigeon fanciers.[3][70] Over time his research drew on information from his relatives and children, the family butler, neighbours, colonists and former shipmates.[71] He included mankind in his speculations from the outset, and on seeing an orangutan in the zoo on 28 March 1838 noted its child-like behaviour.[72]

The strain took a toll, and by June he was being laid up for days on end with stomach problems, headaches and heart symptoms. For the rest of his life, he was repeatedly incapacitated with episodes of stomach pains, vomiting, severe boils, palpitations, trembling and other symptoms, particularly during times of stress such as attending meetings or making social visits. The cause of Darwin’s illness remained unknown, and attempts at treatment had little success.[73]

On 23 June he took a break and went "geologising" in Scotland. He visited Glen Roy in glorious weather to see the parallel "roads" cut into the hillsides at three heights. He later published his view that these were marine raised beaches, but then had to accept that they were shorelines of a proglacial lake.[74]

Fully recuperated, he returned to Shrewsbury in July. Used to jotting down daily notes on animal breeding, he scrawled rambling thoughts about career and prospects on two scraps of paper, one with columns headed "Marry" and "Not Marry". Advantages included "constant companion and a friend in old age … better than a dog anyhow", against points such as "less money for books" and "terrible loss of time."[75] Having decided in favour, he discussed it with his father, then went to visit Emma on 29 July. He did not get around to proposing, but against his father’s advice he mentioned his ideas on transmutation.[76]

Continuing his research in London, Darwin’s wide reading now included the sixth edition of Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species. Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work…[77]

Malthus asserted that unless human population is kept in check, it increases in a geometrical progression and soon exceeds food supply in what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe.[3] Darwin was well prepared to see at once that this also applied to de Candolle’s "warring of the species" of plants and the struggle for existence among wildlife, explaining how numbers of a species kept roughly stable. As species always breed beyond available resources, favourable variations would make organisms better at surviving and passing the variations on to their offspring, while unfavourable variations would be lost. This would result in the formation of new species.[3][78] On 28 September 1838 he noted this insight, describing it as a kind of wedging, forcing adapted structures into gaps in the economy of nature as weaker structures were thrust out.[3] By mid December he saw a similarity between farmers picking the best breeding stock and a Malthusian Nature selecting from chance variants so that "every part of newly acquired structure is fully practical and perfected",[79] thinking this comparison "a beautiful part of my theory".[80]

Three quarter length portrait of woman aged about 30, with dark hair in centre parting straight on top, then falling in curls on each side. She smiles pleasantly and is wearing an open necked blouse with a large shawl pulled over her arms

Darwin chose to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.

On 11 November, he returned to Maer and proposed to Emma, once more telling her his ideas. She accepted, then in exchanges of loving letters she showed how she valued his openness in sharing their differences, also expressing her strong Unitarian beliefs and concerns that his honest doubts might separate them in the afterlife.[81] While he was house-hunting in London, bouts of illness continued and Emma wrote urging him to get some rest, almost prophetically remarking "So don’t be ill any more my dear Charley till I can be with you to nurse you." He found what they called "Macaw Cottage" (because of its gaudy interiors) in Gower Street, then moved his "museum" in over Christmas. On 24 January 1839 Darwin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[82]

On 29 January Darwin and Emma Wedgwood were married at Maer in an Anglican ceremony arranged to suit the Unitarians, then immediately caught the train to London and their new home.[83]

Preparing the theory of natural selection for publication

For more details on this topic, see Development of Darwin’s theory.

Darwin now had the framework of his theory of natural selection "by which to work",[84] as his "prime hobby".[85] His research included animal husbandry and extensive experiments with plants, finding evidence that species were not fixed and investigating many detailed ideas to refine and substantiate his theory.[3] For fifteen years this work was in the background to his main occupation of writing on geology and publishing expert reports on the Beagle collections.[86]

When FitzRoy’s Narrative was published in May 1839, Darwin’s Journal and Remarks was such a success as the third volume that later that year it was published on its own.[87] Early in 1842, Darwin wrote about his ideas to Charles Lyell, who noted that his ally "denies seeing a beginning to each crop of species".[88]

Darwin’s book The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs on his theory of atoll formation was published in May 1842 after more than three years of work, and he then wrote his first "pencil sketch" of his theory of natural selection.[89] To escape the pressures of London, the family moved to rural Down House in September.[90] On 11 January 1844 Darwin mentioned his theorising to the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, writing with melodramatic humour "it is like confessing a murder".[91][92] Hooker replied "There may in my opinion have been a series of productions on different spots, & also a gradual change of species. I shall be delighted to hear how you think that this change may have taken place, as no presently conceived opinions satisfy me on the subject."[93]

Path covered in sandy gravel winding through open woodland, with plants and shrubs growing on each side of the path.

Darwin’s "sandwalk" at Down Housewas his usual "Thinking Path".[94]

By July, Darwin had expanded his "sketch" into a 230-page "Essay", to be expanded with his research results if he died prematurely.[95] In November the anonymously published sensational best-seller Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation brought wide interest in transmutation. Darwin scorned its amateurish geology and zoology, but carefully reviewed his own arguments. Controversy erupted, and it continued to sell well despite contemptuous dismissal by scientists.[96][97]

Darwin completed his third geological book in 1846. He now renewed a fascination and expertise in marine invertebrates, dating back to his student days with Grant, by dissecting and classifying the barnacles he had collected on the voyage, enjoying observing beautiful structures and thinking about comparisons with allied structures.[98] In 1847, Hooker read the "Essay" and sent notes that provided Darwin with the calm critical feedback that he needed, but would not commit himself and questioned Darwin’s opposition to continuing acts of creation.[99]

In an attempt to improve his chronic ill health, Darwin went in 1849 to Dr. James Gully‘s Malvern spa and was surprised to find some benefit from hydrotherapy.[100] Then in 1851 his treasured daughter Annie fell ill, reawakening his fears that his illness might be hereditary, and after a long series of crises she died.[101]

In eight years of work on barnacles (Cirripedia), Darwin’s theory helped him to find "homologies" showing that slightly changed body parts served different functions to meet new conditions, and in some genera he found minute males parasitic on hermaphrodites, showing an intermediate stage in evolution of distinct sexes.[102] In 1853 it earned him the Royal Society‘s Royal Medal, and it made his reputation as a biologist.[103] He resumed work on his theory of species in 1854, and in November realised that divergence in the character of descendants could be explained by them becoming adapted to "diversified places in the economy of nature".[104]

Publication of the theory of natural selection

For more details on this topic, see Publication of Darwin’s theory.

Head and shoulders portrait of a balding Darwin looking rather grim and slightly startled.

Darwin was forced into swift publication of his theory of natural selection.

By the start of 1856, Darwin was investigating whether eggs and seeds could survive travel across seawater to spread species across oceans. Hooker increasingly doubted the traditional view that species were fixed, but their young friend Thomas Henry Huxley was firmly against evolution. Lyell was intrigued by Darwin’s speculations without realising their extent. When he read a paper by Alfred Russel Wallace on the Introduction of species, he saw similarities with Darwin’s thoughts and urged him to publish to establish precedence. Though Darwin saw no threat, he began work on a short paper. Finding answers to difficult questions held him up repeatedly, and he expanded his plans to a "big book on species" titled Natural Selection. He continued his researches, obtaining information and specimens from naturalists worldwide including Wallace who was working in Borneo. The American botanist Asa Gray showed similar interests, and on 5 September 1857 Darwin sent Gray a detailed outline of his ideas including an abstract of Natural Selection. In December, Darwin received a letter from Wallace asking if the book would examine human origins. He responded that he would avoid that subject, "so surrounded with prejudices", while encouraging Wallace’s theorising and adding that "I go much further than you."[105]

Darwin’s book was half way when, on 18 June 1858, he received a paper from Wallace describing natural selection. Shocked that he had been "forestalled", Darwin sent it on to Lyell, as requested, and, though Wallace had not asked for publication, he suggested he would send it to any journal that Wallace chose. His family was in crisis with children in the village dying of scarlet fever, and he put matters in the hands of Lyell and Hooker. They decided on a joint presentation at the Linnean Society on 1 July of On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection; however, Darwin’s baby son died of the scarlet fever and he was too distraught to attend.[106]

There was little immediate attention to this announcement of the theory; the president of the Linnean Society remarked in May 1859 that the year had not been marked by any revolutionary discoveries.[107] Only one review rankled enough for Darwin to recall it later; ProfessorSamuel Haughton of Dublin claimed that "all that was new in them was false, and what was true was old."[108] Darwin struggled for thirteen months to produce an abstract of his "big book", suffering from ill health but getting constant encouragement from his scientific friends. Lyell arranged to have it published by John Murray.[109]

On the Origin of Species proved unexpectedly popular, with the entire stock of 1,250 copies oversubscribed when it went on sale to booksellers on 22 November 1859.[110] In the book, Darwin set out "one long argument" of detailed observations, inferences and consideration of anticipated objections.[111] His only allusion to human evolution was the understatement that "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history".[112] His theory is simply stated in the introduction:

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.[113]

He put a strong case for common descent, but avoided the then controversial term "evolution", and at the end of the book concluded that:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.[114]

Responses to the publication

Three quarter length portrait of sixty year old man, balding, with white hair and long white bushy beard, with heavy eyebrows shading his eyes looking thoughtfully into the distance, wearing a wide lapelled jacket.

During the Darwin family’s 1868 holiday in her Isle of Wightcottage, Julia Margaret Camerontook portraits showing the bushy beard Darwin had grown by 1866.

White bearded head of Darwin with the body of a crouching ape.

An 1871 caricature following publication of The Descent of Man was typical of many showing Darwin with an apebody, identifying him in popular culture as the leading author of evolutionary theory.[115]

For more details on this topic, see Reaction to Darwin’s theory.

The book aroused international interest, with less controversy than had greeted the popular Vestiges of Creation.[116] Though Darwin’s illness kept him away from the public debates, he eagerly scrutinised the scientific response, commenting on press cuttings, reviews, articles, satires and caricatures, and corresponded on it with colleagues worldwide.[117] Darwin had only said "Light will be thrown on the origin of man",[118] but the first review claimed it made a creed of the "men from monkeys" idea from Vestiges.[119] Amongst early favourable responses, Huxley’s reviews swiped at Richard Owen, leader of the scientific establishment Huxley was trying to overthrow.[120] In April, Owen’s review attacked Darwin’s friends and condescendingly dismissed his ideas, angering Darwin,[121] but Owen and others began to promote ideas of supernaturally guided evolution.[122]

The Church of England‘s response was mixed. Darwin’s old Cambridge tutors Sedgwick and Henslow dismissed the ideas, but liberal clergymen interpreted natural selection as an instrument of God’s design, with the cleric Charles Kingsley seeing it as "just as noble a conception of Deity".[123] In 1860, the publication of Essays and Reviews by seven liberal Anglican theologians diverted clerical attention from Darwin, with its ideas including higher criticism attacked by church authorities as heresy. In it, Baden Powell argued that miracles broke God’s laws, so belief in them was atheistic, and praised "Mr Darwin’s masterly volume [supporting] the grand principle of the self-evolving powers of nature".[124] Asa Gray discussed teleology with Darwin, who imported and distributed Gray’s pamphlet on theistic evolution, Natural Selection is not inconsistent with Natural Theology.[123][125] The most famous confrontation was at the public 1860 Oxford evolution debate during a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, where the Bishop of Oxford Samuel Wilberforce, though not opposed totransmutation of species, argued against Darwin’s explanation and human descent from apes. Joseph Hooker argued strongly for Darwin, and Thomas Huxley‘s legendary retort, that he would rather be descended from an ape than a man who misused his gifts, came to symbolise a triumph of science over religion.[123][126]

Even Darwin’s close friends Gray, Hooker, Huxley and Lyell still expressed various reservations but gave strong support, as did many others, particularly younger naturalists. Gray and Lyell sought reconciliation with faith, while Huxley portrayed a polarisation between religion and science. He campaigned pugnaciously against the authority of the clergy in education,[123] aiming to overturn the dominance of clergymen and aristocratic amateurs under Owen in favour of a new generation of professional scientists. Owen’s claim that brain anatomy proved humans to be a separate biological order from apes was shown to be false by Huxley in a long running dispute parodied by Kingsley as the "Great Hippocampus Question", and discredited Owen.[127]

Darwinism became a movement covering a wide range of evolutionary ideas. In 1863 Lyell’s Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man popularised prehistory, though his caution on evolution disappointed Darwin. Weeks later Huxley’s Evidence as to Man’s Place in Natureshowed that anatomically, humans are apes, then The Naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates provided empirical evidence of natural selection.[128] Lobbying brought Darwin Britain’s highest scientific honour, the Royal Society‘s Copley Medal, awarded on 3 November 1864.[129] That day, Huxley held the first meeting of what became the influential X Club devoted to "science, pure and free, untrammelled by religious dogmas".[130] By the end of the decade most scientists agreed that evolution occurred, but only a minority supported Darwin’s view that the chief mechanism was natural selection.[131]

The Origin of Species was translated into many languages, becoming a staple scientific text attracting thoughtful attention from all walks of life, including the "working men" who flocked to Huxley’s lectures.[132] Darwin’s theory also resonated with various movements at the time[III] and became a key fixture of popular culture.[IV] Cartoonists parodied animal ancestry in an old tradition of showing humans with animal traits, and in Britain these droll images served to popularise Darwin’s theory in an unthreatening way. While ill in 1862 Darwin began growing a beard, and when he reappeared in public in 1866 caricatures of him as an ape helped to identify all forms of evolutionism with Darwinism.[115]

Descent of Man, sexual selection, and botany

Head and shoulders portrait, increasingly bald with rather uneven bushy white eyebrows and beard, his wrinkled forehead suggesting a puzzled frown

By 1879, an increasingly famous Darwin had suffered years of illness.

More detailed articles cover Darwin’s life from Orchids to Variation, from Descent of Man to Emotions and from Insectivorous Plants to Worms

Despite repeated bouts of illness during the last twenty-two years of his life, Darwin’s work continued. Having published On the Origin of Species as an abstract of his theory, he pressed on with experiments, research, and writing of his "big book". He covered human descent from earlier animals including evolution of society and of mental abilities, as well as explaining decorative beauty in wildlife and diversifying into innovative plant studies.

Enquiries about insect pollination led in 1861 to novel studies of wild orchids, showing adaptation of their flowers to attract specific moths to each species and ensure cross fertilisation. In 1862 Fertilisation of Orchids gave his first detailed demonstration of the power of natural selection to explain complex ecological relationships, making testable predictions. As his health declined, he lay on his sickbed in a room filled with inventive experiments to trace the movements of climbing plants.[133] Admiring visitors included Ernst Haeckel, a zealous proponent of Darwinismus incorporating Lamarckism and Goethe‘s idealism.[134] Wallace remained supportive, though he increasingly turned to Spiritualism.[135]

The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication of 1868 was the first part of Darwin’s planned "big book", and included his unsuccessful hypothesis of pangenesis attempting to explain heredity. It sold briskly at first, despite its size, and was translated into many languages. He wrote most of a second part, on natural selection, but it remained unpublished in his lifetime.[136]

Darwin's figure is shown seated, dressed in a toga, in a circular frame labelled "TIME'S METER" around which a succession of figures spiral, starting with an earthworm emerging from the broken letters "CHAOS" then worms with head and limbs, followed by monkeys, apes, primitive men, a loin cloth clad hunter with a club, and a gentleman who tips his top hat to Darwin.

Punch’s almanac for 1882, published shortly before Darwin’s death, depicts him amidst evolution from chaos to Victorian gentleman with the title Man Is But A Worm.

Lyell had already popularised human prehistory, and Huxley had shown that anatomically humans are apes.[128] With The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex published in 1871, Darwin set out evidence from numerous sources that humans are animals, showing continuity of physical and mental attributes, and presented sexual selection to explain impractical animal features such as the peacock‘s plumage as well as human evolution of culture, differences between sexes, and physical and cultural racial characteristics, while emphasising that humans are all one species.[137] His research using images was expanded in his 1872 book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, one of the first books to feature printed photographs, which discussed the evolution of human psychology and its continuity with the behaviour of animals. Both books proved very popular, and Darwin was impressed by the general assent with which his views had been received, remarking that "everybody is talking about it without being shocked."[138] His conclusion was "that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system–with all these exalted powers–Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."[139]

His evolution-related experiments and investigations led to books on Insectivorous Plants, The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom, different forms of flowers on plants of the same species, and The Power of Movement in Plants. In his last book he returned to The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms.

He died at Down House on 19 April 1882. He had expected to be buried in St Mary’s churchyard at Downe, but at the request of Darwin’s colleagues, William Spottiswoode (President of the Royal Society) arranged for Darwin to be given a state funeral and buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.[140] Only five non-royal personages were granted that honour of a UK state funeral during the 19th century.[13]

Darwin was perceived as a national hero who had changed thinking, and scientists now accepted evolution as descent with modification, but few agreed with him that "natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification".[141] In "the eclipse of Darwinism" most favoured alternative evolutionary mechanisms, but these proved untenable, and the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis with population genetics and Mendelian genetics from the 1930s to the 1950s brought a broad scientific consensus thatnatural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. Research and debate has continued within this frame of reference.[4]

Darwin’s children

Darwin in his thirties, with his son dressed in a frock sitting on his knee.

Darwin and his eldest son William Erasmus Darwin in 1842.

Darwin’s Children

William Erasmus Darwin
(27 December 1839–1914)

Anne Elizabeth Darwin
(2 March 1841–23 April 1851)

Mary Eleanor Darwin
(23 September 1842–16 October 1842)

Henrietta Emma "Etty" Darwin
(25 September 1843–1929)

George Howard Darwin
(9 July 1845–7 December 1912)

Elizabeth "Bessy" Darwin
(8 July 1847–1926)

Francis Darwin
(16 August 1848–19 September 1925)

Leonard Darwin
(15 January 1850–26 March 1943)

Horace Darwin
(13 May 1851–29 September 1928)

Charles Waring Darwin
(6 December 1856–28 June 1858)

Three quarter length studio photo of seated girl about nine years old, looking slightly plump and rather solemn, in a striped dress, holding a basket of flowers on her lap.

In 1851 Darwin was devastated when his daughterAnnie died. By then his faith inChristianity had dwindled, and he had stopped going to church.[142]

The Darwins had ten children: two died in infancy, and Annie’s death at the age of ten had a devastating effect on her parents. Charles was a devoted father and uncommonly attentive to his children.[7] Whenever they fell ill, he feared that they might have inherited weaknesses from inbreeding due to the close family ties he shared with his wife and cousin, Emma Wedgwood. He examined this topic in his writings, contrasting it with the advantages of crossing amongst many organisms.[143]Despite his fears, most of the surviving children went on to have distinguished careers as notable members of the prominent Darwin-Wedgwood family.[144]

Of his surviving children, George, Francis and Horace became Fellows of the Royal Society,[145] distinguished as astronomer,[146] botanist and civil engineer, respectively. His son Leonard went on to be a soldier, politician, economist, eugenicist and mentor of the statistician and evolutionary biologist Ronald Fisher.[147]

Religious views

For more details on this topic, see Charles Darwin’s religious views.

Darwin’s family tradition was nonconformist Unitarianism, while his father and grandfather were freethinkers, and his baptism and boarding school were Church of England.[16] When going to Cambridge to become an Anglican clergyman, he did not doubt the literal truth of the Bible.[21] He learnt John Herschel‘s science which, like William Paley‘s natural theology, sought explanations in laws of nature rather than miracles and saw adaptation of species as evidence of design.[23][24] On board theBeagle, Darwin was quite orthodox and would quote the Bible as an authority on morality.[148] He looked for "centres of creation" to explain distribution,[45] and related the antlion found near kangaroos to distinct "periods of Creation".[47]

By his return he was critical of the Bible as history, and wondered why all religions should not be equally valid.[148] In the next few years, while intensively speculating on geology and transmutation of species, he gave much thought to religion and openly discussed this with Emma, whose beliefs also came from intensive study and questioning.[81] The theodicy of Paley and Thomas Malthus vindicated evils such as starvation as a result of a benevolent creator’s laws which had an overall good effect. To Darwin, natural selection produced the good of adaptation but removed the need for design,[149] and he could not see the work of an omnipotent deity in all the pain and suffering such as the ichneumon wasp paralysing caterpillars as live food for its eggs.[125] He still viewed organisms as perfectly adapted, and On the Origin of Species reflects theological views. Though he thought of religion as a tribal survival strategy, Darwin still believed that God was the ultimate lawgiver.[150][151]

Darwin remained close friends with the vicar of Downe, John Innes, and continued to play a leading part in the parish work of the church,[152] but from around 1849 would go for a walk on Sundays while his family attended church.[142] He considered it "absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist"[153][154] and, though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he wrote that "I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. – I think that generally … an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind."[81][153]

The "Lady Hope Story", published in 1915, claimed that Darwin had reverted back to Christianity on his sickbed. The claims were repudiated by Darwin’s children and have been dismissed as false by historians.[155] His last words were to his family, telling Emma "I am not the least afraid of death – Remember what a good wife you have been to me – Tell all my children to remember how good they have been to me", then while she rested, he repeatedly told Henrietta and Francis "It’s almost worth while to be sick to be nursed by you".[156]

Political interpretations

Darwin’s fame and popularity led to his name being associated with ideas and movements which at times had only an indirect relation to his writings, and sometimes went directly against his express comments.

Full length portrait of a very thin white bearded Darwin, seated but leaning eagerly forward and smiling.

Caricature from 1871 Vanity Fair


For more details on this topic, see Eugenics.

Darwin was interested by his half-cousin Francis Galton‘s argument, introduced in 1865, that statistical analysis of heredity showed that moral and mental human traits could be inherited, and principles of animal breeding could apply to humans. InThe Descent of Man Darwin noted that aiding the weak to survive and have families could lose the benefits of natural selection, but cautioned that withholding such aid would endanger the instinct of sympathy, "the noblest part of our nature", and factors such as education could be more important. When Galton suggested that publishing research could encourage intermarriage within a "caste" of "those who are naturally gifted", Darwin foresaw practical difficulties, and thought it "the sole feasible, yet I fear utopian, plan of procedure in improving the human race", preferring to simply publicise the importance of inheritance and leave decisions to individuals.[157]

Galton named the field of study "eugenics" in 1883, after Darwin’s death, and developed biometrics. Eugenics movements were widespread at a time when Darwin’s natural selection was eclipsed by Mendelian genetics, and in some countriescompulsory sterilisation laws were imposed, the most famous of which were in Nazi Germany. It has been largely abandoned throughout the world.[V]

Social Darwinism

For more details on this topic, see Social Darwinism.

Taking descriptive ideas as moral and social justification creates the ethical is-ought problem. When Thomas Malthus argued that population growth beyond resources was ordained by God to get humans to work productively and show restraint in getting families, this was used in the 1830s to justify workhouses and laissez-faire economics.[158] Evolution was seen as having social implications, and Herbert Spencer‘s 1851 book Social Statics based ideas of human freedom and individual liberties on his Lamarckian evolutionary theory.[159]

Darwin’s theory of evolution was a matter of explanation. He thought it "absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another" and saw evolution as having no goal, but soon after the Origin was published in 1859, critics derided his description of a struggle for existence as a Malthusian justification for the English industrial capitalism of the time. The term Darwinism was used for the evolutionary ideas of others, including Spencer’s "survival of the fittest" as free-market progress, andErnst Haeckel‘s racist ideas of human development. Darwin did not share the racism common at that time: a point examined by the philosopher Antony Flew, who is at pains to distance Darwin’s attitudes from those later attributed to him.[160]Darwin was strongly against slavery, against "ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species", and against ill-treatment of native people.[161][VI]

Darwin’s views on social and political issues reflected his time and social position. He thought men’s eminence over women was the outcome of sexual selection, a view disputed by Antoinette Brown Blackwell in The Sexes Throughout Nature.[162]He valued European civilisation and saw colonisation as spreading its benefits, with the sad but inevitable effect of extermination of savage peoples who did not become civilised. Darwin’s theories presented this as natural, and were cited to promote policies which went against his humanitarian principles.[163] Writers used natural selection to argue for various, often contradictory, ideologies such as laissez-faire dog-eat dog capitalism, racism, warfare, colonialism and imperialism. However, Darwin’s holistic view of nature included "dependence of one being on another"; thus pacifists, socialists, liberal social reformers and anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin stressed the value of co-operation over struggle within a species.[164] Darwin himself insisted that social policy should not simply be guided by concepts of struggle and selection in nature.[165]

The term "Social Darwinism" was used infrequently from around the 1890s, but became popular as a derogatory term in the 1940s when used by Richard Hofstadter to attack the laissez-faire conservatism of those like William Graham Sumner who opposed reform and socialism. Since then it has been used as a term of abuse by those opposed to what they think are the moral consequences of evolution.[166][158]


Commemoration of Charles Darwin

Three-quarter portrait of a senior Darwin dressed in black before a black background. His face and six-inch white beard are dramatically lit from the side. His eyes are shaded by his brows and look directly and thoughtfully at the viewer.

In 1881 Darwin was an eminent figure, still working on his contributions to evolutionary thought that had had an enormous effect on many fields of science.

During Darwin’s lifetime, many geographical features were given his name. An expanse of water adjoining the Beagle Channel was named Darwin Sound by Robert FitzRoy after Darwin’s prompt action, along with two or three of the men, saved them from being marooned on a nearby shore when a collapsing glacier caused a large wave that would have swept away their boats,[167] and the nearby Mount Darwin in the Andes was named in celebration of Darwin’s 25th birthday.[168] When the Beagle was surveying Australia in 1839, Darwin’s friend John Lort Stokes sighted a natural harbour which the ship’s captain Wickham named Port Darwin: a nearby settlement was renamed Darwin in 1911, and it became the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory.[169]

More than 120 species and nine genera have been named after Darwin.[170] In one example, the group of tanagers related to those Darwin found in the Galápagos Islands became popularly known as "Darwin’s finches" in 1947, fostering inaccurate legends about their significance to his work.[171]

Darwin’s work has continued to be celebrated by numerous publications and events. The Linnean Society of London has commemorated Darwin’s achievements by the award of the Darwin–Wallace Medal since 1908. Darwin Day has become an annual celebration, and in 2009 worldwide events were arranged for the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.[172]

Darwin has been commemorated in the UK, with his portrait printed on the reverse of £10 banknotes printed along with a hummingbird and the HMS Beagle, issued by the Bank of England.[173]


For more details on this topic, see List of works by Charles Darwin.

Darwin was a prolific writer. Even without publication of his works on evolution, he would have had a considerable reputation as the author of The Voyage of the Beagle, as a geologist who had published extensively on South America and had solved the puzzle of the formation of coral atolls, and as a biologist who had published the definitive work on barnacles. While The Origin of Species dominates perceptions of his work, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals had considerable impact, and his books on plants including The Power of Movement in Plants were innovative studies of great importance, as was his final work on The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms.[174]

This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Darwin when citing a botanical name.[175]

See also


I. ^ Darwin was eminent as a naturalist, geologist, biologist, and author; after working as a physician’s assistant and two years as a medical student was educated as a clergyman; and was trained in taxidermy.[176]

II. ^ Robert FitzRoy was to become known after the voyage for biblical literalism, but at this time he had considerable interest in Lyell’s ideas, and they met before the voyage when Lyell asked for observations to be made in South America. FitzRoy’s diary during the ascent of the River Santa Cruz in Patagonia recorded his opinion that the plains were raised beaches, but on return, newly married to a very religious lady, he recanted these ideas. (Browne 1995, pp. 186, 414)

III. ^ See, for example, WILLA volume 4, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Feminization of Education by Deborah M. De Simone: "Gilman shared many basic educational ideas with the generation of thinkers who matured during the period of "intellectual chaos" caused by Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Marked by the belief that individuals can direct human and social evolution, many progressives came to view education as the panacea for advancing social progress and for solving such problems as urbanisation, poverty, or immigration."

IV. ^ See, for example, the song "A lady fair of lineage high" from Gilbert and Sullivan‘s Princess Ida, which describes the descent of man (but not woman!) from apes.

V. ^ Geneticists studied human heredity as Mendelian inheritance, while eugenics movements sought to manage society, with a focus on social class in the United Kingdom, and on disability and ethnicity in the United States, leading to geneticists seeing this as impractical pseudoscience. A shift from voluntary arrangements to "negative" eugenics included compulsory sterilisation laws in the United States, copied by Nazi Germany as the basis for Nazi eugenics based on virulent racism and "racial hygiene".
(Thurtle, Phillip (Updated 17 December 1996). "the creation of genetic identity". SEHR 5 (Supplement: Cultural and Technological Incubations of Fascism). Retrieved 2008-11-11
Edwards, A. W. F. (April 1, 2000). "The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection". Genetics 154 (April 2000): pp. 1419–1426. PMID 10747041. PMC 1461012. Retrieved 2008-11-11
Wilkins, John. "Evolving Thoughts: Darwin and the Holocaust 3: eugenics". Retrieved 2008-11-11.)

VI. ^ Darwin did not share the then common view that other races are inferior, and said of his taxidermy tutor John Edmonstone, a freed black slave, "I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man".[17]

Early in the Beagle voyage he nearly lost his position on the ship when he criticised FitzRoy’s defence and praise of slavery. (Darwin 1958, p. 74) He wrote home about "how steadily the general feeling, as shown at elections, has been rising against Slavery. What a proud thing for England if she is the first European nation which utterly abolishes it! I was told before leaving England that after living in slave countries all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the negro character." (Darwin 1887, p. 246) Regarding Fuegians, he "could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilized man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement", but he knew and liked civilised Fuegians like Jemmy Button: "It seems yet wonderful to me, when I think over all his many good qualities, that he should have been of the same race, and doubtless partaken of the same character, with the miserable, degraded savages whom we first met here."(Darwin 1845, pp. 205, 207–208)

In the Descent of Man he mentioned the Fuegians and Edmonstone when arguing against "ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species".[177]

He rejected the ill-treatment of native people, and for example wrote of massacres of Patagonian men, women, and children, "Every one here is fully convinced that this is the most just war, because it is against barbarians. Who would believe in this age that such atrocities could be committed in a Christian civilized country?" (Darwin 1845)


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  81. ^ Barta, Tony (2 June 2005). "Mr Darwin’s shooters: on natural selection and the naturalizing of genocide".Patterns of Prejudice, Volume 39, Issue 2. Routledge. pp. 116–137. doi:10.1080/00313220500106170. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
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External links

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin OnlineDarwin Online; Darwin’s publications, private papers and bibliography, supplementary works including biographies, obituaries and reviews

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Basic topics in evolutionary biology

Charles Darwin

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Darwin’s Mission

    "…a century and a half before Darwin, science was not separate from religion but, on the contrary, an aspect of religion, and ultimately subservient to it… Thus, Darwinian science came to represent a major threat not only to the theological claims of religion, but also to religion’s functional utility -to confer purpose and meaning." 
    – Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln

The publication of Charles Darwin’s prominent book, Origin of Species, was a very critical climax in the War Against Religion. Actually within the book there was no information about the "origin of species", but this did not prevent the popularity of the book in a very short time. Since, the real purpose was not a "scientific", but an ideological triumph.
The ship called H.M.S. Beagle was travelling swiftly in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The ship seemed like an ordinary cargo or passenger ship but in reality it had set on a journey of investigation that was viable to last for years. It was going to travel over the ocean and reach to the South American shores. The year was 1832. Not making much sense for nearly anybody at those times, the 5-year-long journey of the Beagle ship was starting. 

One of the passengers on board was to make the ship very famous later on. He was a 22 year old nature-researcher named Charles Robert Darwin. He was actually educated on religion rather than biology, and had studied theology at the University of Cambridge. Not surprisingly, one of the two books he took with himself while boarding on Beagle was the Holy Bible which he always kept by his side.

The second book beside Darwin was another study currently on debate; Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology.Besides being a Scottish lawyer, Lyell was also an amateur geologist. While writing this book, he had made use of the studies of another Scottish amateur geologist, James Hutton. The common argument of both was that the world’s age was not as young as informed in the Holy Bible. Conversely, they defended that world was billions of years old. 

This was quite unacceptable for the Christian world who believed that the world was created as written in the Creation part of the Old Testament – that is, at most six thousand years ago. Hutton and Lyell were criticised by the laymen for standing against the Holy Book. But they did not care much about that. This couple were taking every chance to impart that they were not religious, and that they approached religion with antipathy. Essentially, their starting point was their wish to disprove the creation chronology narrated in the Bible.

The basic argument in Charles Lyell’s book was that the earth had various “layers” and the “real age” of the world could be calculated by investigating these. For the first time, he advanced the term of “geological layer” and brought it to be one of the fundamental issues of modern geology and biology. In fact, the discoveries made one century later would disclaim the thesis of Lyell and his followers, the “evolutionist geologists” and disclose that the earth layers were not hierarchical and regular, therefore could not be used as a “method for age calculation”.  Because as accepted by even some of the current evolutionists, Lyell had imposed his imagination upon the evidence.  But at those times, there was nobody to make a counter-research to meet Lyell’s so-called “scientific” thesis.

Anyhow, as we have written above, the young man called Charles Darwin, had taken besides him Lyell’s book along with the Holy Bible. His taking these two contradictory sources along with him showed the mental dilemma that he was in. The young man was given a religious education for a long time, but on the other hand he was quite influenced by the positivist trends of the century he lived in. Not surprisingly, he had absolutely given up some of the basic regulations of the Christian belief before setting out to Beagle journey.  Because currently, he had a passion for biology and the paradigm he confronted was not in accordance with the religious beliefs at all.

Well, what was the "factor" leading a young layman to take interest in non-religious and even anti-religionist ideas and be enticed in biology?

Father Erasmus

Eventually, we have dealt with the answer of the question above at the beginning of the book: Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin was the most important factor who made him non-religious and even anti-religionist. Erasmus Darwin had passed away long before his grandson Charles got on the Beagle. But young Charles used to listen to his grandfather since his childhood and was greatly influenced by his ideas. 

Erasmus Darwin was virtually the first man who put forward the notion of “evolution” in England. He was known to be a physicist, psychologist and poet and he was a quite “respected” person. According to his biographer, Desmon King-Hele, he was even “the greatest Englishman of the eighteenth century”.  However, he had a quite dark private life and at least two illegitimate children.

Erasmus Darwin’s most important characteristic was his being one of the few forerunner “naturalists” of England. Naturalism was a trend of thought which assumed that the essence of the existence of the universe was in nature, denied a metaphysical Creator and considered the nature itself as the Creator. In other words, it was one of the variations of the materialist thought dominating over the 19th century.

Erasmus Darwin’s naturalist studies were qualified enough to pave the way for Charles Darwin. "Father Erasmus" had left both an ideological and organic inheritance to his grandchild. On one hand, he had developed arguments that would lay the basis for Darwinism by the researches he led in his two acre botanical garden and compiled these in his books of The Temple of Nature and Zoonomia. On the other hand, he had established a society in 1784 that would show the way to spread these ideas: Philosophical Society. Not surprisingly, tens of years later, Philosophical Society indeed became one of the greatest and hottest backers of the theory advanced by Charles Darwin.

In short, Erasmus Darwin was the most important factor that caused Charles Darwin to yield his religious beliefs rapidly despite his theology education, to take the materialist-naturalist "side" and then to publish The Origin of Species by undertaking a great mission on behalf of that side. Before everybody, Erasmus Darwin was the main person that determined Charles Darwin’s mission.

And Erasmus Darwin had another very significant attribute; he was the representative of masonry which was the foremost founder and the sovereign of the New Secular Order which reached its peak in the 19th century. Senior Darwin was one of the masters of the famous Canongate Kilwining Lodge in Scotland Edinburgh.  Moreover, he also had connections with the Jacobean Freemasons in France and the Illuminati society which had made anti-religionism their primary task.  Erasmus had brought up his son Robert (Charles Darwin’s father) just like himself and had enrolled him to the masons lodges.  Due to this, Charles Darwin was to take over a Masonic inheritance both from his father and his grandfather.

This certainly conveyed an important meaning. Because as we have mentioned in the previous chapter, masonry was one of the two power centres that conducted the long struggle carried out to overthrow the socio-political order relying on religion and replace it with a secular one. Besides, freemasonry was the biggest power leading the essential intellectual change with various mechanisms which is needed to realise this socio-political order transformation. The organisation had gained a considerable victory against the Church thanks to the alliance it established by anti-Christian powers, primarily the Jews. 19th century was the gala of the New Secular Order instituted by this victory.

But as we have defined at the beginning, there was a single aspect missing in the gala of the New Secular Order; to bring a non-religious explanation to the existence of the living things. Master Erasmus Darwin had toiled a lot to bring up this explanation and had gone a long way. And now the way he had opened was to be advanced by his grandson. The result reached by moving on this way would be the greatest present given to the gala of the New Secular Order. Because it would close down the biggest gap of the new order.

In fact, what Darwin has found was nothing but a worthless argument. It was worthless, because it was groundless. It was an unreal assertion impossible to be verified by substantial evidences, conversely, it was prone to be continuously refuted by them. In other words, it was a lie. But this situation would not cause this assertion to lose worth in the view of the New Secular Order. Because the New Secular Order itself was nothing but a lie.

Yet one lie could be well certified by another one.

A New Spirit To Naturalism

As official naturalist on survey vessel, “Beagle” Charles Darwin sailed round the world (1831-1836) during when he had the opportunity to examine some living things that were up until then unknown to biologists of the Western world. Especially the observations he made in Gallapagos Islands were of great importance for him. The differences he observed in the beaks of the Chaffinch birds impressed him mainly. According to him, birds developed beaks based on the nutriments they required since he came across with 18 different kinds of beaks. The variety of the beaks led him to reach to the conclusion that chaffinch birds “evolved” according to the environment they were living in. In this content, he never accepted the thought that, “God created so many kinds of beaks”. 

Nevertheless, Darwin’s choice had a psychological nature. There was, in no way, a logical explanation of why he rejected to explain the variety in animals, as the perfection in God’s creation.

The theory which led Darwin to develop his peculiar views was Naturalism, one of the most striking theories that evolved in the atmosphere of the 19th century which totally excluded religious values. Naturalism accepted nothing except what was perceived from nature and feelings. Nature was referred to be the creator and ruler of itself. “Mother Nature” or well known expressions like “nature” has endowed man with the ability to “nature created woman in a way to” are the statements commonly of the mentality injected to the society by naturalism movement.

Naturalism was promoted by a familiar organisation: Free Masonry. This fact was particularly proclaimed in 1884 in the famous declaration Humanum Genus by Pope XIII. Leo stated : “In our time, with the aid and support of an association called Free Masonry, which has a wide and strong organisation, the efforts of those who worship to dark have been united. These are not feeling the necessity of hiding their ill will anymore and fighting against the Holy God.” and the Pope divulged the relationship between naturalism and the masonic organisation: “All aims and effort of Freemasons lead to one intention: Abolishing all social and religious disciplines of Christianity and establish a new system of rules based on the principles of naturalism and their own thoughts.” 
The biggest contribution to naturalism came from Charles Darwin. Darwin unquestionably covered a big gap of naturalism. Naturalists adored the perfection in nature, yet they were in difficulty to give a satisfactory answer to the question of how this perfection came into being. They insistently rejected God’s creation since they adopted to positivist approach/method which led them to believe only in concepts that exist as a result of experiments and observations. This simply meant accepting nature as a creator! Yet it is wholly illogical since something cannot create itself.

Darwinism obviously tried to challenge this fact. His assertions constituted a “so-called” basis for the claim that nature creates itself. In 1859, after 27 years from the Beagle-voyage, Darwin wrote his famous book, The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection Or The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life. In the book it was put forward that all living things evolved from a single cell by means of Natural Selection.

Natural Selection asserted weak individuals were eliminated in the struggle for life and the remaining strong ones became responsible for the improvement of that particular species. Maybe, there was nothing wrong with this explanation, yet Darwin did not benefit from this process. Because natural selection could only make the stronger, for instance, to survive. In other words, natural selection could only be responsible for the betterment of generations. Yet, “the origin of species” which was the name of Darwin’s book, could never be explained by natural selection. That is because natural selection does not transform a horse into a bird or a shark into an elephant. These species were created separately and natural selection could only be responsible for the elimination of the “weak” and survival of the perfect ones.

In brief, Darwin’s fiasco had started even at the name he gave to his book; although he was supposed to write about the “origin of species”, he had not included even one factual mechanism to explain this “origin.

However during the time of Darwin, nobody noticed the inadequacy of the theory because of the lack of knowledge in biology. In time, as more data were accumulated, the contradictory nature of Darwin’s theory became apparent, yet it was skilfully kept hidden. Moreover, Darwin’s original words were revised. For instance, unaware of the certain genetic distinctions among the species Darwin said that he thought that a branch of the bear species were feeding increasingly on animals living in water and eventually their mouth structure had a larger shape with time; then he stated some of these bears turned out to be whales and he saw no difficulty in realising this.

Despite the contradictory nature of Darwin’s theory, it was widely adopted since it brought a sort of explanation to fill in the big gap of naturalism and secular order in its broader sense. A group of scientists voluntarily took upon themselves to be the promoters of the theory. The most well-known among them was Thomas Huxley, who was called with the nickname of “the bulldog of Darwin”. Thomas Huxley, whose ardent advocacy of Darwinism was the single factor most responsible for its rapid acceptance, attracted the attention of the whole world to evolution by the famous “Oxford discussion” he had with Oxford bishop Samuel Wilberforce in 1860.

It is not difficult to understand why Huxley devoted all his efforts to promote evolution when his “organisational links” are taken into account. Huxley was actually a member of Royal Society, one of the most important scientific institutions of England, and was also a senior Mason just like all the other members of Royal Society.  Other members of the Royal Society advanced explicitly and in detail the alternative theory of natural selection foreshadowed by Erasmus Darwin. (provided a considerable support to Darwin both before and after the publication of his book.)  This freemasonic institution attached so much importance to Darwin and Darwinism that, some time later, just like Nobel prizes they began to award successful scientists with “Darwin medal” every year.

In other words, Darwin was not alone to carry out his mission. Freemasonry, one of the most important headquarters of the war waged against religion, provided its full support to the theory from the day it was put forth. The theory of evolution, despite the lack of conviction it created among a lot people when it was first asserted, gained immense popularity in a few decades by the ideological support it received.

Due to, again, this ideological support, advanced biological studies disproving Darwinism, did not affect Darwin’s followers. Furthermore, the science of biology together with geology was developed in a way to back up Darwinism. Darwin made a strong assertion at that time and claimed that the earth was around 300 million years old since the evolution process he planned in his mind took longer time than the actual age of world. Right at this point, the purpose of geology turned out to “prove that the earth is as old as the evolution foresaw “ rather than to “find out the actual age of the earth”.

Confirmation of naturalism, even by deceptive methods, was quite important due to its socio-political consequences. The new Secular Order adopted the individualistic and social model it generated to the nature and explained nature by these means. Based on these models, their aim was to claim that their order was also nature’s order and wholly reflected its features.

This was one of the triumphs Darwin had in the name of the New Secular Order.

Redefinition of "Nature of Things"

Before the New Secular Order was established, the Christian dominated European Order had a consistent “cosmological explanation” in itself. In this order, it was believed that everything was created by God and consequently everything was a servant to God. The universe, stars, planets, plants, animals and human beings were all under God’s control. Since they all had the same nature, it was impossible to talk of a competition, or rivalry among them. Consequently a corrupted environment could only occur as a consequence of disobedience to God. 

The concept of cosmological harmony adopted by Christian European Order was an undesirable fact taught by the God-revealed religion, namely Christianity. The Koran reveals this universal harmony in the following verse:

    To Him belongs every being that is in the heavens and on earth: all are devoutly obedient to Him. (Al-Room 26)

In another verse, it has been stated that: 

    Seest thou not that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth,- the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind? But a great number are (also) such as are fit for Punishment: and such as Allah shall disgrace,- None can raise to honour: for Allah carries out all that He wills. (Al-Hajj 18)

As it is heralded in the verse, all the universe obeys God’s commandments, without any sign of objection. Some of the human beings also display the same kind of obedience and pay an unconditional submission to God, whereelse others deserve to be "punished" since they rebel God’s order. 

Consequently the cosmological harmony existing all around the universe can only be violated by "rebellious" human beings. The following verse explains this fact:

    Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from Evil). (Al-Room 41)

The concept of "struggle for life", the focal point of the evolution theory, was certainly a new explanation about "Nature of Things". Darwin took advantage of the concept by incorporating it into the centre of his theory. Yet, Darwin was mostly influenced by British economist Thomas Robert Malthus, who in his Essays on the Principle  of Population (1789) argued that, because population increases by a geometrical ratio while means of subsistence increase by an arithmetical ratio, poverty and suffering was unavoidable. According to political scientist A.fienel, Darwin actually meant the following while adopting Malthus’ argument; 

    "Scarcity, poverty, unemployment, and low wages that raged among certain classes offer the industrial revolution was a basic consequence of the fierce competition among bourgeoisie. He generalises this consequence to all living things and puts forward that the process of "natural selection" occurred as a result of the struggle made of scarce means to subsistence."

According to Jeremy Rifkind, the American scholar, Malthus was not the only capitalist who influenced Darwin: Darwin was equally influenced by one of the other great economic philosophers of the eighteenth century, Adam Smith… the thoughts Smith penned in The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. 

The only thing that Darwin did was to establish a correlation between the concept of "struggle for life" and the nature. This way, the God-endowed harmony was wholly rejected and replaced by the "corruption" of the newly established secular order. Another consequence of the process of "Nature of Things" in terms of "corruption" than the God-endowed harmony, and proclamation of the legitimacy of the new secular order.

The best known slogan of capitalism known as "The big fish eats the little fish" is a basic example of the "corruption" created by violation of others’ rights in the modern secular order and attributing the process of he nature.

The main point in the redefinition of "nature of things is the interpretation of life as a "struggle". The term is actually used to make capitalism acquire its legitimacy when it is taken as a struggle among individuals. When it is used as a struggle among classes, on the other hand, the intention is to give legitimacy to socialism. Finally, the term makes racism and nationalism gain their separate legitimacy when it is used as a struggle among races or nations.

Yet, in nature the struggle foreseen by Darwin does not exist. Every living thing does what it is destined for and lives on the “sustenance” provided by God. "I put my trust in Allah, My Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He hath grasp of its fore-lock. Verily, it is my Lord that is on a straight Path. (Hud 56)  and There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance dependeth on Allah: He knoweth the time and place of its definite abode and its temporary deposit: All is in a clear Record. (Hud 6). It is actually not a consequence of a “random struggle for life.”

Apart from this, the behaviours of sacrifice displayed by animals make the Darwinist concept of "struggle for life" collapse. Almost every each animal struggles to feed and protect its infants. Even, in some cases, they put their lives into jeopardy for this purpose. In some species, there are some certain individuals who sacrifices themselves for the good of the animal group they belong to. For instance, ants and bees, completely unaware of the ‘struggle for life’, finish the duty they undertake even if it takes to lose their life at the end. While doing this, they rely only on the nutriment they are given and never violate the shares of others.

Moreover, bees exhibit an extraordinary example of sacrifice. Facing many difficulties and dangers, they produce hundred kilograms of more honey than they really need. The reason of their behaviour is explained in the following verse: “And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.” (An-Nahl 68-69)

Likewise all animals exist to carry out the divine duty given to them. Therefore the Koran states, “And verily in cattle (too) will ye find an instructive sign. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood, We produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it.” (An-Nahl 66). Human beings are  responsible to be aware of the Divine harmony and balance existing in the nature and to comprehend that nothing exists without a purpose. (For more detailed information you may refer to Cavit Yalçin, For the Men Who Think: Evidences on Heaven and on Earth (Düsünen Insanlar Için: Göklerdeki ve Yerdeki Deliller), 2nd edition, Istanbul: Science & Research Publishing, March 1997)

In the universe, the only creature that sees life as a purposeless struggle is the man who disobeys God. In this sense, Darwinís theory is the best known of all efforts to base the principles of the ‘corrupted’ order, in other words the Secular Order, created in the imagination of unbelievers on nature.

An Article On The Process Of Secularisation

In the previous pages, we analysed the secularisation process of Europe and stated that the process actually occurred as a result of the socio-political struggle. The church and the anti-church alliance were the two important sides of the quarrel. One of the two parts of the anti-church alliance was the Freemasonry. The mission of Darwin, on the other hand, was considered to be very important since it was carried out on behalf of the anti-church alliance. The strategy designed by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, who was himself a mason, was being carried out by his grandson. 

For this reason, Darwinism and redefinition of nature of things should be explained and interpreted within the context of the socio-political struggle between the Church and anti-church alliance. The reason why this “biological invention” become suddenly popular all over the world can also be explained in terms of this framework.

At this point, we shall refer to an article written by Dr. Selami Isindag, one of the senior Freemasons of Turkish Masonry Lodges. “Obstacles in front of the Flourishment of Wisdom and Freemasonry” published in Turkish Grand Free Masonry,  Year Book 1962. What makes the article so important is that it reflects the process of secularisation from the point of view of a mason.

Isindag makes the definition of religion first:

    Primitive people under the influence of the greatness of the natural events believed in a supernatural power, thus the primitive religions appeared… Religion appeared with multi-gods first, but then developed into a  single Allah concept… We are considering religion in here with all its branches, no matter what it’s name or praying manners are.

According to Isindag, the basic reason of the conflict between religion and science is as follows: 

    …Religion has always attached itself to imaginary, unproved, forces that can only be felt. Science, on the other hand, examines the true nature of different events and the relations among them… With the development of science, the false and unwise nature of religion started to be disclosed and therefore science attracted the fuzy of religion. Since this was the case, science undertook the responsibility to reveal that religion relies on prejudices.

No doubt, the statements above is a sole repetition of the ignorant mentality of the Enlightenment, which was the intellectual movement of 18th century Europe that questioned traditional beliefs. However, from the general content of the article, it is understood that when Isindag refers  to religion, the means Christianity and Islam, the two God-revealed religions that all through the history. Judaism, on the other hand, another member of the anti-church alliance together with Freemasonry, is simply excluded from this definition. Isindag  clearly indicates that Judaism was always in favour of the anti-church alliance by saying: “Throughout the history of science, no conflict was observed between Judaism and science” and he continues; 

    …Christianity carried only the messages of Jesus Christ wherever it reached. According to this new religion, all existing things were created all of a sudden, and for centuries this concept remained as the main reason of the conflict prevailing between science and religion. Under these conditions, the dark age prevailed in west.

According to Isindag the term “Dark Age” solely refers to the date of “creation” was accepted. From his words it is clearly deduced that the word “dark” is attributed to religion, and, not to the prejudices that emerged as a result of misinterpretation and misuse of religion. In the masonic terminology, the term “dark” refers to religion whereelse the Enlightenment stands for anti-religious systems and mechanisms. 

Consequently every type of war waged against Religion is a component of the Enlightenment process. Isindag also analyses Islam in his article and states that Islam, in its essence, has never been compatible with science. Isindag also was in sympathy with a movement that occurred in the history of Islam:

    In Islam… a philosophical movement called “Dehriyyun” took place which was led by famous materialist and rationalist Ravendi and Ebubekir Razi who attacked Islamic dogmas. Ebubekir Razi, in his book Meharik states: “The three holy books have no worth next to Greek wisdom.” Historians attribute the use of the term "three forgers" to Moses, Jesus and Muhammed, to Ebubekir Razi.

Isindag calls Ravendi and Ebubekir as “two important philosophers” due to their offensive attitude towards prophets and resents to the fact that they have not created the impact they actually deserve and continues: “The thoughts of these philosophers did not give any harm to Islam and the influence of religion raged without interruption.” 

Isindag tells the secularisation process all through his article. Yet, surprisingly he mentions the deceasing power of the socio-political power of the Church. This particular “vision” verifying the role of secularisation process as a great tool of socio-political change becomes more apparent especially in his comments about the French Revolution:

    Voltaire attacked religions bigotry in to an extent that he attracted the fury of the Church and the clergy. Church in return used every means to cope with his efforts. Yet, the believers of science, in the meantime, started to receive some kind of public support. Diderot, on the other hand, did not fall short of Voltaire in his struggle with religion. Their works had been placed on a black list. Church, which ordered Voltaire’s corpse be buried at a cemetery outside Paris, soon was defeated by the French Revolution. During this time, thousands of people had an enormous funeral service for Voltaire and transported his corpse to Pantheon… At last, Lessing stated that one day there will be no need for religion with the Enlightenment of people.

It is apparent that the actual goal of the struggle was to abolish religions influence from all aspects of life. This was, after all, necessary for the success of the reign of the social forces who were in charge of the New Secular Order. In such a period, Darwinism emerged as an important front of the war waged against religion. Isindag explains this point as follows: 

    Finally Darwin emerged with the theory of evolution. It became evident that species did not emerge suddenly as a creation of God and that the what holy books wrote about creation were all wrong… From then on, religion lost its apparent influence.

It is an important and striking point that Isindag continuously refers to Enlightenment and the socio-political power of religious authority together: it is actually an indication of the fact that secularisation war was made solely for the purpose of a socio-political revolution. Isindag tells about what Darwinism meant for this war and gives an insight about the “vision” in question: 

    Churches at this time, lost their power to attract people. Despite all, religion used its remaining energy to attack to anti religious forces… Church declared that science was like fire and a certain amount of it was useful where else it was all harmful when it was too much… Towards the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century science, no more, dealt with religion… Religion only addressed to ignorant, and since it lacked its previous influence and power, it ceased to attack the religion.

Isindag also describes what he theoretically refers to as “science”, in reality, means: 

    If one takes a close look at how science flourished in time, it will be seen that Freemasonry had a part at every stage of it. The main reason for this is as follows: Freemasonry was guided by science, maturity, logic, in other words, wisdom in every age. It has always been against bigotry. For this reason, in history Freemasonry and masons faced oppressions and torture. Therefore we can truly believe that by being a real mason we can accomplish our goals.

Isindag’s above statements are only some examples creating public opinion awareness about masonic view on religion. When masonic literature is thoroughly searched, information pertaining to the history and grounds of the masonic activities against religion is found out: 

    While religious bigotry became a threat for France and religious doctrines together with narrow-mindedness challenged the principles and rules of the modern society, we find relief in struggling with Church’s unbiased claims, funny exaggerations, and an all-out assault on religious beliefs, under the protection of a hard working, long visioned organisation like Freemasonry.

The theory of evolution attracted so much attention since it had a distinctive place in this big struggle. The theory was actually not an ordinary one; it was one of the most important weapons developed against the anti-religious alliance. For this reason, all anti-religious forces promoting the secular ideologies of the 19th century that gathered under the protection of Freemasonry cooperated to prove the claims of the evolution. 

Yet, as it was emphasised in the previous sections, it was impossible to prove the validity of the theory. It was really hard to find the evidences supporting a fraud. The only way to ensure the success of the theory was to sustain it with false evidences. The search for false evidences, unfortunately, involved “human hunting” and crimes that were engaged in various parts of the world.

Slaughter for Evidence

After publishing Darwin’s Origin of Species and Descent of Man, a big campaign was initiated to find out the fossils that would possibly be displayed as an evidence for the theory. Archaeologists started looking for the fossils of imaginary creatures called transitional forms. For decades, they digged different parts of the earth to prove their point with no success. Their disappointment eventually led them to the forgery of Piltdown man. In 1912, the English biologist Charles Darwin fitted an orangutan jaw to a human skull and exhibited it as a transitional form between human and ape. It became evident only after 37 years that the Piltdown man which was exhibited in British Museum as the biggest evidence for evolution, was solely a forgery. Yet, more sophisticated forgery methods were being developed by evolutionists. 

In the meantime, some evolutionists held strongly the idea that there existed some “living fossils”. According to the belief, if mankind had ape-like ancestors, there should still, in some part of the world, be some semi-human beings who still have not completed the evolution process. Towards the end of the 1800s, the victims were found. The native inhabitants of Tanzania, called Aborigines were designated as “living evidences of evolution”.

The different orbit structure and the relatively heavy lower jaw of Aborigines were the main reasons of why these human beings were defined as transitional forms. Evolutionist archaeologists and many “fossil-hunters” who joined them, set out to dig the graves of Aborigines and take the skulls to western evolutionist museums. Soon, the skulls were distributed to each one of the institutions, schools in the West as the confirmation of evolution.

The fossil-hunters did not hesitate to become “skull-hunters” when the number of graves were not enough to meet their needs. Since Aborigines served as transitional forms, they had to be regarded as animals rather than human beings. For the sake of the development of science, the lives of Aborigines could be sacrificed just as guinea pigs!

“Skull-hunters” killed Aborigines and legitimised this act asserting that they were doing it for science. The skulls of the hunted natives were sold to museums after some chemical reactions that would make them look old. The skulls with bullet holes were filled in with utmost attention. According to Creation Magazine published in Australia, a group of observers that came in from South Galler were shocked when they saw that dozens of women, children and men were killed by evolutionists. Forty five skulls were chosen among the killed Aborigines, the flesh of them were set aside and boiled. The best ten were packaged to be sent to England.

Today, thousands of skulls of Aborigines are still in the warehouse of Smithsonian Institution. Some of these skulls belong to the corpses digged from the graves whereelse some others are the skulls of innocent people killed to prove evolution. 

There were also African victims of the evolutionist violence. The most famous one was the pigmy Ota Benga who was taken to the “world of the white men” to be displayed as a transitional form. Oto Benga was caught in 1904 by a researcher Samuel Verner in Kongo then a colony of Belgium. The native whose name meant “friend” in his native language, was married and had two kids. Yet he was chained, put into a cage and sent by a boat to the “evolutionist scientists” who within the same year displayed him in the St. Louis World Fair together with other monkey species as “the closest transitional form to humankind”. Two years later, he was taken to Branx Zoo in New York where he was, this time displayed as one of the “ancestors of human beings” together with a few chimpanzees, a gorilla called Dinah and an orangutan called Dohung. Dr. William T. Hornaday, the director of the zoo who was also a fanatical evolutionist delivered long speeches about how he was proud of having such a precious transitional form. The guests, on the other hand, treated Ota Benga as an ordinary animal.  Before and, Ota Benga could not bear the treatment he received and committed suicide.

Since evolution was not an ordinary scientific theory or a hypothesis but an “ideology” that had to be certainly proved, its defenders committed or confirmed such massacres without the slightest hesitation. To verify the “lie”, even massacre seemed to be legitimate for them.

That is because this “lie” was the basis of the world order set up by them and different ideologies attributed to the other.

African Pygmy Ota Benga was specified to be the "primitive species as evidence to evolution theory of evolution" and he was placed in a cage with monkeys for display. Actually he was only one of the thousands of pygmies slaughtered by evolutionists.



1800-2010 Search other dates

  1. 1809

    Feb 12, 1809 – Charles Darwin lived a life of many influential discoveries and interesting ideas. Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England on February 12, 1809. (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution– A Theory in Crisis). He was the fifth of six children in his

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  2. 1831

    Dec 27, 1831 – To collect more information to prove his theory on human evolution, Charles Darwin took a trip on HMS Beagle on 27 th December 1831. He did this since the Beagle was on a British science expedition that would travel all over the world. Darwin’s theory of

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    From Charles Darwins – The Theory of EvolutionRelated web pages

  3. 1835

    1835 – It was the finch that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835. The threat to the Galapagos comes from invasive species, developing tourism and immigration. Over the past 15 years the number of passengers

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  4. 1858

    1858 – Wallace and Darwin both published papers on the theory of evolution in 1858. Related Resources: Human Evolution How humans and our primitive ancestors evolved, and evidence of how our ancestors lived their lives .

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  5. 1859

    1859 – THEORY OF EVOLUTION __ Charles Darwin’s theory developed in AD 1859, in his book Origin of Species. Darwin theorized that humans evolved from a lower order of animals, such as primates. THERMAL PROSPECTION __ A remote sensing method used in

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  6. Nov 1859 – Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution, described in The Origin of Species, was viewed as one of the most explosive ideas in history, when it was published in November, 1859. A one-time devout Christian, and world-renowned scientist, Darwin suffered more than

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  7. Nov 23, 1859 – Letter of TH Huxley to Charles Darwin, November 23, 1859, regarding the Origin of Species. Thomas Henry Huxley was one of the first adherents to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, and did more than anyone else to advance its acceptance among

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  8. Nov 24, 1859 – The honor of being the single most successful theory ever elucidated goes to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. On November 24, 1859, Charles Darwinturned the discipline of life science on its head by publishing a little tome entitled On the

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  9. 1925

    May 25, 1925 – On May 25, 1925, John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. A survey of 1000 US adults found that two out of every three people (67 percent) said they have a “personal relationship” with Jesus that is active and that

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  10. 2009

    Feb 12, 2009 – 12 (ANI): Only 39 percent Americans believe in the Darwin’s ‘theory of evolution ‘ and just 24 percent of those who attend church weekly believe in his explanation for the ‘origin of life’, a poll released on Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday reveals. The Gallup survey found that 25
    From Four in ten Americans don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolutionRelated web pages …Evolution (1)