A short essay on Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution.
The Life of Charles Darwin
One of the most well-known names in the science of today is Charles Darwin, often called the Father of Modern Biology. He is the author of “On the Origin of Species” (1859), and the accredited discoverer of the Theory of Evolution, which during the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century grew to become accepted as the origin of species, opposing Creationism, the theory that God would have created all living beings as they are today and always will be, and that we weren’t developed stage to stage in millions of years. He was not as many believe the first pioneer on the topic, however; he was merely the man who came with good evidence for the theory which could lead to its acceptance in scientific circuits.
Charles Darwin was born in 1809 as the son of Robert Darwin, and named after his uncle, a doctor who died after accidentally cutting himself during an autopsy. Robert first planned his son to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and become a doctor too, but Darwin refused when he realised he couldn’t stand seeing the pain in a patient during an operation – this was long before the invention of anesthesia.
After studying at Cambridge, Darwin decided to go with Captain Robert FitzRoy on a journey on the ship HMS Beagle, on which he investigated the life of animals on different islands in South America. This was where he first started developing his theory of evolution through natural selection that would contradict Creationism and change mankind’s view on biology.
The Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection
According to Darwin’s theory of evolution, the species of our world were not created as they are today, as believed earlier, but descend from common ancestors that can be very different from the descendants. Through generations, these evolve through what he called natural selection, allowing them to adjust to the environment in order to survive and reproduce. For example, the human of today received her fifth finger, the thumb, through evolution, to be able to use tools which we today need for our every-day life.
The basic of the Theory of Natural Selection reads as follows:
· The prime goal for every species is to survive and reproduce, passing on its DNA, which is unique for the species, unto its next generation.
· This results in too many organisms, and decreasing nourishment available. Thus, the competition between the individual organisms increases, and the weakest will not survive.
· The organisms that died are not random, but a chosen collection of the weakest; or in better words the ones that were not suited for the environment, while the organisms suited survived. Herbert Spencer called this by the well known phrase “survival of the fittest”, inspired after reading Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species.
As a result, only those suited for the environment live on. After many generations of evolution, those left are better suited. This can take a very long time, and the weaker species as well as unnecessary limbs of organisms, functions, etcetera, can linger for thousands of years before being removed. For example, the human appendix, a part of our digestive system, is theorized not to be used for anything anymore. It is therefore believed that it is only a matter of time before we are no longer born with an appendix. The same goes for our little toe, which we no longer need to use for balance. It is not unlikely that we by time only have four toes per foot.