Charles Darwin

Incidental Inventor of "Scientific" Bigotry


Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on February 12, 1809. His father Robert was a wealthy physician with one of the largest medical practices outside London. His paternal grandfather Erasmus was both a physician and a celebrated nature writer. Darwin, in his youth became expedition naturalist on the HMS Beagle. The intended 3-year voyage stretched to 5 years, and Darwin circumnavigated the world, spending over 3 years of the 5 exploring the coastline, flora and fauna of southern South America.

In 1839 he married his cousin Emma Wedgewood. They had 10 children together, 7 surviving to adulthood, living in Kent, Darwin never leaving Great Britain again.

On the Origin of Species provides evidence and direct suggestions for research. Darwin's theory of natural selection was not one of local adaptation only. It did not assume the very human notion of progress nor did it presume that one or the other is better, any more perfect or improved, or any more guaranteed of persistence over time. Darwin introduced the idea of randomness and the non-necessity of assuming any divine overseeing Creator as the driving force behind the variety of types in the natural world.

In 1871 his book The Descent of Man was published, in which he argued that humans were no different from all other forms of life, and that we too, in our evolutionary history, have been influenced by the forces of natural selection. Then, in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872, he claimed that most of our refined and most particularly human behavior -- the expression of our emotions -- also reflected our evolutionary past.

Darwin never proposed that the evolution of any species, including our own, was the result of a random accident. He found that changes occurring from one generation to the next are gradual, and influenced by natural processes that are selective, and he didn't make commentary on intent influencing evolution.

Darwin was not an atheist. He described himself as an agnostic, and it is likely that he was a Deist, following the religious tendencies of many scientists before him.

In early 1882 he had several minor heart attacks. His condition worsened and on April 19, 1882, at 73 years of age, he died at Down House, after several hours of nausea, intense vomiting and retching, symptoms of a chronic illness that followed him for the last 40 years of his life. On April 26, 1892 Charles Darwin was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.


  • Darwin’s Theory of Evolution changed the way the world look at the creation of life.
  • In August 1831, he received as offer from Henslow to join him as naturalist for a self-funded supernumerary place on HMS Beagle.
  • In 1838, he took up the post of Secretary of the Geological Society.
  • On January 24, 1839, he was appointed as Fellow of the Royal Society.
  • He was the first to establish the concept that all species descended from common ancestors.

Why Darwin?

Darwin played two important roles in American History. His first, and most important role, was not really as a scientist. His discoveries, those of evolution, came to support many pseudo-sciences which would prove detrimental to science and racial equality. His discoveries came about in a time where racial equality was making progress. However, his discoveries gave bigots a second wind. Racists now had "survival of the fittest" to explain some inherent racial superiority they wanted to uphold. In addition to racists, successful businessmen like Carnegie or Rockefeller used this "survival of the fittest" to explain that they were not only destined to succeed, but their success was beneficial to the economy. It is important to note that Darwin never proved any sort of racial superiority, or connected evolution of living things to evolution of economies. Secondly, his work in science, making observations that led to the theory of evolution. This theory helped develop many sciences involving life, which pushed developments in biology, medicine, and other fields of science. If not for his discoveries, things like contraception or penicillin might not have come about.


Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.