Charles Darwin is famous for his controversial theories – even after his death. Today, he is something of a poster boy for evolutionists and something of a whipping boy for creationists. His brilliant insights into geology, botany, biology and even psychology are often overshadowed by his fame and infamy, derived from just a few of his theories and a fraction of his work. However, he was a very interesting and intelligent man, whose life was more than just a few theories.
Most of the discoveries that Charles Darwin made regarding the theory of evolution were made on a voyage around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle. He left in 1831; he was in his early twenties, at the time. His adventurous voyage set him on his life’s work, but it was the only such voyage he would take in his lifetime. He did continue to collect various specimens from around the world, with the help of colleagues. He used these to continue some of his work. However, he was not much of an adventurer in his later years. In fact, he may have suffered from some form of social anxiety, given his behavior.
Darwin is often said to be the creator of the theory of evolution. This is false. Evolutionary theory existed long before Charles’ time. Nonetheless he did expound on the theory a great deal. He also came up with the theory of natural selection, in support of the theory of evolution.
Just a few years before Charles Darwin’s famous trip aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, he was actually training for the ministry in Cambridge. He was a Christian (obviously) at the time, but he later became something of an agnostic. He was not an atheist. Nor does he have any connection with atheism. Evolutionary theory and atheism are not the same.
Charles Darwin became very interested in natural history and geology during the Beagle’s voyage. He became so observant of the coral, fossils, shells and natural formations that he saw that he was able to come up with several theories on how the Earth forms such things as mountain ranges and islands. He was even able to disprove Charles Lyell’s theory on how coral reefs are formed and come up with a correct theory of his own.
Charles Darwin was, surprisingly, somewhat sexist. He treated his wife something like a child. He was also convinced that men were more advanced, in an evolutionary sense, than women. Of course, his beliefs were somewhat in keeping with the ways of his era and the worldview with which he was raised.
Charles Darwin was very sick for the better part of his life. He attributed this illness to a sort of depression, brought on by the controversial nature of his work. His symptoms were nausea, vomiting, shaking, hysterical crying, anxiety, flatulence, tinnitus and headaches. His illness could have been a number of things, both physical and mental, but it went undiagnosed during his lifetime. It is unlikely it will ever be certain what ailed Charles Darwin.
Many Christian groups claim that Charles Darwin dismissed his theories regarding evolution and evolutionary theory itself, as he lay dying. This claim is based on an article written by a woman, shortly after his death, who claimed to have been there and heard him say it. His children, who were there, denied that it ever happened.
Many things about Charles Darwin are misunderstood or purposely altered to suit religious and scientific agendas. In reality, Charles was very confused about his theories in regards to his faith. It probably did him more harm than anyone else. He was a brave and thorough researcher and writer, who risked much personal loss in the name of truth and scientific progress. No matter what your personal opinion is on this man’s work, it is hard to deny that he put his life into it, with very little gain for himself. He could be admired for that alone.
Charles Darwin, retrieved 1/19/10, crystalinks.com.darwin.html
Caton, Kiram, Darwin’s Illness, retrieved 1/19/10, darwin-legend.org/html/darwins-illness.htm
Charles Darwin, retrieved 1/19/10, lucidcafe.com/lucidcafe/library/96feb/darwin.html
Charles Darwin, retrieved 1/19/10, blupete.com.Literature/biographies/Science/Darwin.htm