Influence of Charles Robert Darwin

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Darwin’s life was filled with the fascination of science and developed an interest in rocks, fossils animals and plants. With this interest he became close friends with geologist Adams Sedgwick and botanist John Henslow, and that’s what started his voyage.  Darwin’s research created a big controversy with his theories of evolution and natural selection. Darwin is definitely important in the scientific community,  with his knowledge and discoveries, he became known as one of the greatest scientist/philosophers of his time.

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Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England, the fourth child of Robert and Susannah Darwin. His father was a successful doctor, as well as his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who had a great influence on Charles’s theories. His mother, who was the daughter of the famous pottery maker Josiah Wedgwood, died when Charles was eight. When Charles was young, he entered Shrewsbury School where he was not a very good student. In 1825 Darwin went to Edinburgh University in Scotland to study medicine, but he decided not to pursue that lifestyle because realized he was unable to even watch an operation being performed. In 1828 he entered Christ’s College, Cambridge, England, to become a minister, he eventually quit that idea as well. He attended John Stevens Henslow’s course in botany, and started a collection of beetles. Soon after he received his bachelor’s degree in 1831.

Darwin became close friends with two Cambridge professors, geologist Adam Sedgwick and botanist John Henslow. An around-the-world sailing trip on the ship HMS Beagle was being arranged by the Royal Navy. Robert Fitzroy, captain of the Beagle, asked Professor John Henslow to recommend Charles Darwin to tag along as a naturalist for the journey. During that five-year journey, from December 27, 1831 to October 2, 1836,  he visited Brazil, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, and the Galapagos islands. Darwin collected many data, and specimens, his greatest discoveries were on the Galápagos islands.

As a result of Darwin’s finding he theorized that new species arise naturally, by a process of evolution, rather than been created by God. Darwin at first believed that the adaptations of species, such as the hinges of the bivalve shell, and the wings and plumes on seeds dispersed by air, were compelling evidence that a god had created each species for its intended place in the economy of nature, but all that changed when he visited the islands. Darwin observed many finches in the Galapagos islands, and he noticed that each finch species had a different type of beak, depending on the food available on its island. With this information he concluded that several birds from one species of finch had probably been blown by storm and separated to each of the islands from one island or from the mainland. When they were seperated, the finches had to adapt to their new environments and food sources, with time they gradually evolved into different species. This is where his theory of evolution came from.

Darwin believed that the world was not ready for his theories, he knew that there would be a lot of protest. What finally caused Darwin to publish his book was a letter from English naturalist Alfred Wallace, who knew that Darwin was interested in evolution. It took Darwin 20 years to finally publish his book, the “On the Origins of Species”,  on 24 November 1859. Throughout Darwin career, he was awarded many awards such as the Royal Medal in 1853 , which is given to those for the most important contributions to the natural knowledge, The Wallaston Medal in 1859, it is the highest award that is granted award given by the Geological Society of London , and The Copley Medal in 1853, which is given to those for outstanding achievements in the research in any of the branches of science. Towards the ending of his life, Darwin got ill and died at Down House on April 19, 1882, at age 73 due to heart failure. He was buried at Westminster Abbey, London, next to Isaac Newton.

The Darwinian theory of evolution caused massive controversy among the outside world, and is still criticized by many religious groups as it contradicts the biblical creation story, and disproves claims about the truth of the Bible. Even with the initial refusal by philosophers, the role of contingency and chance in natural processes is acknowledged in most places. Many philosophers deny the existence of universal laws in biology and suggest that all regularities be stated in probabilistic terms, as nearly all so-called biological laws have exceptions. Philosopher Karl Popper’s theory of falsification would not be able to be applied in these cases. Darwin was not only a great philosopher, and a great scientist, but he was the most influential biologist in history. Darwin’s research was a great influence in the scientific community, along with naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin laid the cornerstone of thought that gave scientific evidence revealing the possibility that all species of life came from common ancestors by a process of natural selection.

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