nov 24, 1859 - Charles Darwin: Born 12 Feb 1809 - Died 19 April 1882
The work of Charles Darwin continues to this day to raise controversy among many religious followers, believing his ideas to be in direct contrast to the idea of creationism. Darwin himself, however, was a clergy man. And waited 23 years to publish his ideas in the book On the Origin of Species on 24 November 1859, because he feared the negative backlash. He only published his work in 1859 after another scientist, Hewett Watson, made similar observations, and he feared he wouldn’t get the credit for his discoveries. What made his book so controversial was the fact that he proposed what is known as the theory of evolution through natural selection. This theory proposed that all life evolved from a common ancestor and that diversity of life happened naturally based on environmental conditions. For example, a lot of his work revolved around finches. He noticed that the finches on each of the different islands of the Galapagos in South America were similar, but had beaks that corresponded directly with the types of foods available on each of their separate island. It was therefor possible that each of these finches had a common ancestor and that a finch would randomly mutate to have a beak which could more successfully eat the seed of each island. Then when something natural like a drought would happen, all of the finches not capable of eating the seeds which survive the droughts would themselves die of starvation and only the mutated finches would remain. Different events similar to this over millions of years could have possible lead to the formation of all life as we know it on the Earth. Whether or not one believes in this idea it does give a logical explanation of how diversity of life originated based on verifiable evidence.
Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: J. Murray, 1859. Print.
Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The gene: an intimate history. The Bodley Head, 2016. Print.