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Darwin’s Reactions to Evolution by Natural Selection

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Darwin theorized that animals slowly changed over time but most scientists and the public in his time didn’t believe his theory to be true because of one main reason. Religion was delegitimized when Darwin presented his theory on the evolution of species. Individuals and organizations alike did not believe in the theory but did believe that it was a sin to not believe in creationism. Even educators rejected the theory, and some still do to this day. Even, Charles Darwin’s own wife didn’t support him. Other scientists and naturalists like Alfred Russel Wallace supported Darwin, but the controversy outweighed the support.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection delegitimizes the basis of all religion; that the divine creates the world as we know it, not an adaptation to one’s environment. Darwin did not acquire his knowledge from God, he let his research speak for itself. His theory also states the world is much more ancient than the Bible states. This also destroys the belief that Adam and Eve were the first humans created by God. If humans evolved from apes, then there would have never been Eve’s cardinal sin. It took the church time before they decided to do anything about their issue with the theory. Long after Darwin’s publications came to the public he was convicted of heresy by the holy church and was put under house arrest until he died.

Emma Wedgewood was to marry Charles Darwin in 1839. Darwin knew and fully understood that his and Emma’s beliefs did not line up. Regardless of this, he would always be honest with her about his research. She appreciated his honesty but still worried about his faith when it came to his work. According to Christoph Marty, a journalist for Scientific American, “Emma’s worst fear was that Charles was forfeiting his salvation through his religious disbelief, and this threatened to separate them in death”. Emma was constantly trying to get her husband to read and appreciate the Bible, but she didn’t succeed. She knew that he had lost his faith, but she didn’t give up on trying to fix him.

Darwin’s publication, The Origin of Species, was very popular the second it was released. The public could not wait to get their hands on it. Once the theory had established itself in society, people began to speak out against it, especially educators. A 1925 trial determined whether the theory would be taught in schools. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) describes the trial, “Narrowly, the trial was about challenging a newly passed Tennessee state law against teaching evolution or any other theory denying the biblical account of the creation of man”. The verdict was that both were to be taught in schools. Some states today still don’t condone the theory to be taught in schools. They don’t think that a “theory” should be taught as fact.

Overall, religion is the main controversy surrounding Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. His theory did threaten the basis of entire religions. He was indicted for his opinion on how humans came to be by the church. The people who were raised believing in a Creator also rejected Darwin’s theory. This included Emma as well despite her love and appreciation for her husband. Educators did not think that a theory should be taught in schools because it was merely a theory. Regardless of the social reactions of Darwin’s theory, he still managed to change the history of biology forever. He is still celebrated as one of the greatest scientists in history.

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Darwin’s Reactions To Evolution By Natural Selection. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from
“Darwin’s Reactions To Evolution By Natural Selection.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
Darwin’s Reactions To Evolution By Natural Selection. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Dec. 2021].
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