Charles Darwin

This paper examines the life, education and scientific development of Darwin and discussess the controversy over his book “The Origin of the Species” when it first appeared in 1859.

Darwin’s family was considered to be nonconformist Unitarian but his grandfather and father were freethinkers and sent Darwin to schools, which were part of the Church of England. In Cambridge he became an Anglican clergyman. Although he was an evolutionist in theory he believed in the bible and looked for explanations in laws of nature rather than miracles and saw adaptations of species as evidence of design. He remained orthodox and would quote the bible as his authority on morality. He questioned why all religions were not equally valid and was critical of the bible as history and gave much thought to religion, which was the source of many discussions with his wife. Natural selection produced the good of adaptation but removed the need for design; he viewed organisms as perfectly adapted. In On the Origin of Species he reflects on theology and describes God as the ultimate lawgiver.