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The development of evolution theory

Charles Darwin is remembered for the theory he developed to support his ideas on evolution. In 1859, Darwin presented his findings to support what is now known as evolution theory. The theory was supported by the numerous research studies conducted by Darwin on various continents, which allowed him to come up with the findings.

Evolution theories have long existed, with ancient Greece providing early theories on evolution. During that period, it was widely believed that all organisms originated from water, but further research has disapproved of this idea. Kant, in the 19th century, argued that humans originated from a common ancestor, and their development was brought about by social culture. Creation stories existed before the evolution theory, and it was only Darwin’s work to prove an organism’s origin. Darwin and Lamarck had similar ideas on the issue of evolution, even though they differed slightly. Darwin and Lamarck believed that animals underwent an evolutionary process, but the difference was in how the change was achieved. Lamarck argued that the genetic makeup of animals underwent changes because of environmental pressures. Lamarck provided an example of a giraffe that had to stretch to reach the vegetation, after which the genetic makeup would change in its offspring. Darwin was of the opinion that genetic composition did not change but varied over time. On the issue of the giraffe, he made an argument that the long necks allowed them to feed well and reproduce, sustaining their generation for a long. For the two, adaption took 6000 years for Lamarck, while Darwin argued that it was a process taking millions of years.

The voyage on the beagle took approximately five years, of which one and a half years were spent on the sea. The voyage provided an opportunity for Darwin to traverse the world, making close observations and collecting data that would be vital in developing his theory. The voyage additionally provided an opportunity to read and learn from the works of different authors. The book “Principles of Geology,” provided a new dimension to understanding the geological history of the world. It was after reading the book that Darwin exclaimed that the history of the world would be understood better through uniformitarianism. The voyage provided an opportunity to analyze the various species of animals and plants over a period of ten years before making conclusions that supported his theory of evolution. Darwin used his observations to counter the theory developed by Lamarck[1].

It was at the Galápagos Islands where Darwin made most of his observations to counter Lamarck’s theory. The observations supported the argument of natural selection, which was the pillar of the theory. The collection of the specimens and the observations on the island provided an opportunity for examination, which took twenty years. The main observation was on the manner in which the same kind of animals differed in many ways. An example was Iguanas, which showed major differences in some islands. Darwin observed that some of the Iguanas lived on dry land and ate vegetation such as cacti, while others lived underwater, relying on seaweeds. The other observation was on the adaption of tortoises to feeding habits. Saddle-backed tortoises possessed shells that rose in the front that allowed them to lift their necks and feed on taller vegetation. It was different from dome-shaped tortoises that lived on islands where vegetation was low, and there was no need to raise the head for feeding. The other observation was on the bird Rhea, which is known as the ostrich. It was large in parts of Argentina, but its species was small and brown in a different geographical location. The three observations on how animals were adapted to different geographical locations served to counter Lamarck’s theory[2].

Russel Wallace played a major role in the development of evolution theory. Wallace was behind the development of critical ideas on natural selection after an expedition in Indonesia that took eight years. Wallace collected specimens in this region and made close observations due to its diversity when it comes to animal lives and plants. Wallace collected several specimens of birds, insects, and animals, which, after examination, allowed him to argue that living things evolved. The conclusion was reached when he fell ill on the island, where he argued that the evolution of animals was brought about by adaption to a new environment. Wallace then wrote his theory, in which he made arguments on evolution before sending it to Darwin for peer review[3].

Darwin and Wallace shared unique characteristics in their theories. The two were similar in the manner in which they conducted their research. They traveled to different locations collecting specimens and making observations, which eventually led to making conclusions on the theory of evolution. They also shared the idea of natural selection and the adaptation of animals to their new environments for survival. The only difference between the two is the circumstances in which they made their conclusions. Wallace became ill and realized that it was part of the process of adaptation, but Darwin used reason to reach such a conclusion. Darwin is credited with the theory of evolution because he came up with initial findings, which were later matched by Wallace. The reason why Wallace is forgotten is that Darwin wrote a book immediately after the two-shared ideas, which overshadowed the role played by Wallace in developing the theory[4].

Geology was a science that supported Darwin’s evolution theory. Catastrophists and uniformitarians are the two areas of geology that support the theory of evolution. Catastrophists held that the earth experienced continuous catastrophes, such as floods and the formation of mountains, which led to the extinction of species, as well as the formation of new species. Uniformitarians, on the other hand, held that the earth underwent a continuous process of change. It is only through the changes that evolution occurred within our own eyes that we could not notice. Lyell inspired Darwin as it was based on gradual change, which was similar to biological uniformitarianism. It is through the comparison that Darwin was able to support his ideas[5].

Darwin faced numerous challenges in defending the theory of evolution. During this period, several theories existed on the formation of the earth and the processes that were still taking place, which cast a shadow on the theory of evolution. Lord Kelvin challenged Darwinism from the law of thermodynamics. Kevin was a physicist who, through calculation, argued that the earth would have only cooled within a million years. The period served to deny evolution the required number of years it needed to occur. The physics perspective meant that evolution was a fallacy since the age of the earth was not in line with the time required for the earth to cool and evolution to occur. The assertions were later discounted by geologists who argued that physics had no relationship with geology. The age of the planet was estimated, and that physics calculations might not have been accurate enough. Creationism came up to oppose the ideas of evolution. It was led by religious beliefs that held that the world was a product of creation and everything that exists in the world is a result of God’s creation. The Protestants were behind the idea of creation and perceived scientists to be believers of a certain faith[6].

The three authors were critics of evolution theory who found the whole theory to be based on some philosophical faith. They made arguments that evolution should be looked at independently without incorporating the issues of the bible. The three were not scientists but free thinkers. Henry was a geologist, Johnson was a lawyer, and Michael was a biochemist. Their criticism provided a different perspective on the issue of evolution. The scientific world responded to the criticism of the three by arguing that they lack scientific knowledge, which is based on observation and repetition[7]. Their arguments were based on their own belief and carried less weight.

The argument by Dawkins on personal incredulity, indicated that people could not fathom how the process of evolution could have occurred over many years. Dawkins noted that such arguments were false as many things happen which are beyond our understanding. It is the limited understanding of people that makes them doubt the process of evolution. The main argument that Ruse provided as an answer to creationists is that law governs science; it is natural and follows a repetitive behavior[8].

In conclusion, Darwin developed a theory that revolutionized the manner in which we understand the world. The perspective of evolution countered creation theory and other theories, which expanded research in this field. The idea of natural selection applies to date through close observation of extinction. Darwin had a point that requires scientific knowledge to understand.


Bronowski, Jacob. The Ladder of Creation. In The Ascent of Man. New York, NY: Little Brown & Co., Chapter 9. 1974.

Darwin, Charles. The origin of species. Dent, 1909.

Darwin, Charles. A Darwin Reader (Norton Critical Edition). P. Appleman (Ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 3rd edition. 2000.

De Beer, Sir Gavin. “and natural selection’.” (1961).

  1. Darwin, Charles. The origin of species. Dent, 1909.
  2. Darwin, Charles. The origin of species. Dent, 1909.
  3. Darwin, Charles. A Darwin Reader (Norton Critical Edition). P. Appleman (Ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 3rd edition. 2000.
  4. Darwin, Charles. The origin of species. Dent, 1909.
  5. Darwin, Charles. A Darwin Reader (Norton Critical Edition). P. Appleman (Ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 3rd edition. 2000.
  6. De Beer, Sir Gavin. “and natural selection’.” (1961).
  7. Bronowski, Jacob. The Ladder of Creation. In The Ascent of Man. New York, NY: Little Brown & Co., Chapter 9. 1974.
  8. De Beer, Sir Gavin. “and natural selection’.” (1961).



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