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Charles Darwin: His Impact on the Western Worldview

Introduction

The evolution theory is an umbrella of three ideas that Charles Darwin came up with. These are “microevolution”, which is the genetic build-up of an organism as it mutates. This occurs due to natural mistakes in the reproduction of the next generation and thus a difference in the next generation. The second tenet is “natural selection” where the “fittest” survives (All About Science par.3). This enables such genetic adaptations passed on to the next generation.

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Finally is the “speciation”, where species are separated from each other through constant mutation. Through this process, new breeds are separated from the rest having the ability to reproduce on their own without involving the rest of the species related to them.

Such concepts of the evolution of man and all species, in general, have their name tagged to a man born at Shrewsbury, whose father was a doctor. Landry (par.2) explains that Darwin was at first drawn to the medical world as a young man, but would later realize that his interest in medicine was not so much. He would then be transferred to Cambridge University where he was to be trained in ministry. After meeting with a biological professor, he would get a heavy interest in zoology and geology. Professor Sedgwick later invited him in his tours to the South Seas (Landry par.2).

Amazon (par.3) explains how his trip aboard “The Beagle” gave him an undying interest as to how natural occurrences assisted in shaping up the crust of the earth. It is these early experiences that made this scientist get an interest in studying further the claims laid across by former scientists like Lyell (Amazon par.6), who claimed how species were created in a special way: each and every one of them.

In this paper, we are going to discuss further the works of Charles Darwin, and how his work made an impact mostly in the cultural setup of the western world. We are going to look at how some of his theories, for example, his work’s theory in “natural selection”, altered the religious, cultural and even political line of thought in the western world. In the furtherance of our discussion, we are going to take an example of one western worldview and explain how Darwin’s ideas changed that perspective.

Darwin’s Work

It is important to get a feel of part of his work before we get to analyze what its implication in the western world was. Much of what Charles Darwin did was in sharp contradiction to the norm and culture of the day. When, for example, he picked up his ideas of “The evolution of Species” from Alfred Russell Wallace, Parrington (para.3) explains that he would shy off from printing this paper for at least 20 years due to the sharp controversies it would attract.

From a book by Thomas Malthus, the author states that evolution would take place eventually if a species would be favored in survival than others (Parrington par.3). At the time, it would be an outrageous theory seeing as no one would believe that mutation was directly co-related to survival amongst particular species. It was a rough ride for Darwin until much later in his work he would release “Origin of Species” in 1859. The book immediately become a best seller and even after the sixth edition, as explained by Boerre (para.14), the book would still be doing well in the markets. In 1868, with his research work on animal and plant behavior and in 1871 with his work on how man came to be what he physically is today, Darwin made a sensation and these books literally ‘’shook the world’’ (Charles Darwin Biography par. 16).

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Other books would give an explanation as to the behavior of animals, the reasons they have certain distinct colors and a vast explanation of how even human beings react towards his surrounding. Sharp controversies, as Boeree explains, arose after the introduction of books such as “The descent of Man” into the public due to cultural and traditional implications it would have especially to the church at that time. The book will be discussed later in the paper. Landry (para.14) finally states that Darwin’s work gave a paradigm shift to what humanity thought of him. By the time of his death, the world would no longer hang on to the belief that all things were made separately, but all things came into being by random chance. Everything made them what they are today. In other words, all things evolved through a process of ‘’survival for the fittest’’ (Port par. 2).

Darwin stresses that man is not a finished product, since he is still evolving just like all the other animals (Boeree par. 13). That is why horses move faster, humans are more intellectual, and fungi, viruses and the like are more resistant to medicine that was made in the past than today’s medicine. In all this, Darwin certainly understood the implication of his work. He must have had a glimpse of how much his work would impact his generation if not his future generation (Charles Darwin autobiography 1).

Charles Darwin’s Impact

It will be naïve not to think that Charles Darwin and his work would not influence the world. The rippling effects of his work are being felt two hundred years after his death and to a great effect are destabilizing the moral framework that our ancestors had established once upon a time. To understand the cultural implications of Darwin’s work, it is imperative to look at what changes took place after humanity embraced some of his wisdom. Smithe (, par.5) quotes that Darwin gave humanity a perception in life that we are but “mere animals”. He concludes that we are just here for a while and then we would die.

The implication, therefore, is that we are not called to a greater purpose than life. This is in contradiction to what man was taught through his forefathers, regardless of the culture he is from. All cultures taught of a higher power. All cultures embraced a form of religion, which by the way gave rise to the kind of constitution that most cultures embrace currently. Darwin is quoted saying that in such a universe like this, there is no purpose.

There is no good thing or evil thing. All that exists is mere indifference (Smithe par.6). Another cultural implication of the Darwinist ideas is the degradation of our culture. According to Smithe who gives an example of Geneva in the time of the “revolution”, culture was advance. This was because of how much people had embraced religious principles. Geneva flourished to the point that many would escape to this city for religious refuge. When Darwin’s ideas started to be embraced, degradation of the once highly held morals commenced. Many young ones were raised simply knowing that they were a part of the evolutionary system.

What followed suit was a rejection of God and any moral values that were part of adhering to God’s Word as their forefathers taught them. The vast majority in the nation are relying more and more on in the government of the day. They have embraced entertainment more are more. Many have turned to a socialist kind of a system where the majority vote concerning anything in society, whether morally right or wrong would be passed. Smithe continues to say that there is a sincere “hate” towards God and the values related to the things of God (par.7). The author implies that culture has been adversely ruined by the ideas propagated by Darwin.

As concerns the science world though, the impact of Darwin swings in both directions. It has been the ever-lasting desire for scientists to answer the most intriguing question; is there a God? With the conclusions that he made after his work, in a “Charles Darwin autobiography” (par.8), Darwin is quoted saying that the Biblical explanation of some phenomena in the Bible like the formation of the rainbow and the Tower of Babel depicts that the historical records are giving wrong implication of the existence of an all-knowing God. He goes ahead to explain in his books about scientific reasons why human beings are inclined to subject them to a higher power.

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It is because, according to Darwin, of a deep conviction of an intelligent God. Nevertheless, the fact that this conviction is universally the same across the board, having different religions inclining to different gods depicts that there is absolutely no God at all.

Darwin stated that with advancement in a generation, there is also advancement in the intellectual capacity of human beings (Boeree par. 17). Because of Darwin, the study of “modern evolutionary theory” has been done in a more profound way. He adds another statement that would later become very controversial; that all species that find a relation to one another have come from the same common ancestor (Boeree, 2000, para. 17). To date, modern-day scientists are studying such claims in the effort to understand where Darwin would get such an idea (Kreis par. 3).

He is also known to have left an impact in the economic marketing world. With theories such as those of the “survival for the fittest”, companies have learned to work extra hard to make sure that they outdo existing companies when it comes to the marketing world (Thomas, 1996, p 1).

These principles form the behavior of animals are making a lot of sense to the corporate world. Just as the weaker ones of a certain species are forced to mutate, according to Darwin’s theories, weaker companies have to adapt newer and different approaches to the market in order to stay afloat in the markets. Without doing so, these weaker companies will eventually face extinction in the market just as a species that has refused to mutate with the changing environment would do. It is interesting to note how much the ideas of one human being would greatly contribute to very many arenas in life even in his generation (Charles Darwin’s religious views par 3).

All the same, one of the biggest contributions that Charles Darwin made is one that refuted the existence of a higher power than humanity. He did so openly in his book, “Origin of Species” where thirty-five times he openly denies the existence of a risen savior. Having had a Christian background, Charles would later join a minority elite who would later drain him slowly by slowly from all the belief he had in a superior being. By the time, he has to write the material in this book around 1840, he was completely anti-Christ (Landry par.5).

The idea of a Lord and Savior of the universe no longer resonated within him. As it is said in the article “Charles Views” (Wikipedia, par.3) he could not find an explanation to a deity who would bring suffering to the animal chain as it is arranged in this present age. “Origin of Species” would be the book that would be based on the idea that any species, including man, came from a common source. More importantly, there is no specialty given to any of the living things in creation contrary to how it is put in the Holy Bible that “God created…and He saw that it was good” (Kofal, par. 32).

Kofal (para.33) explains how Darwin’s major agenda was to drive every scientist into the notion of any divine ability. His agenda was simply to make them deny of the existence of a god(s) and empower them with knowledge of how powerful they were as scientists.

Darwin made the scientists believe, and even now still do, that everything and any extraordinary happening in the universe could be explained through scientific principles. He would convince all scientists that everything happening in the world we live in should be explained through scientific evidence. This hidden agenda has been entirely successful, in that even to date, most scientists do not have reverence for a supreme being. They consider themselves as the highest in society and assume that once they die, their purpose on earth is accomplished.

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This has trickled down even to our learning institutions, where we have been taught to live in a secular world where there should be no reference of a supreme being, even in our schools as per the constitution. All this has its roots in the ideas of Darwin in his theories of evolution (‘Evolution Of Man’ 2).

Philosophical materialism is considered a kin to Darwin’s theory of evolution by neo-Darwinists (Larson 45). It has been used to stamped and entrenched as the official creation story of the westerners. In spite of its shortcomings, it has been defended by a number of scientists. Social Darwinism posits that human species advancement is a moral imperative and things that accompany this advancement are good hence capital punishment and slavery are acceptable and desirable as they help in the elimination of the weak.

The advancement of human beings is an ambiguous terminology as it may be used to refer to the greater population, power over nature, general feeling of happiness, hence there is a need to come up with exact wording. Claim by social Darwinism that it uses the force of natural selection in promotion of the fit and elimination of the less fit implies that even culture has to be fit hence motivation of the feeling that natural selection can be forced. This is an impossibility as natural selection cannot be forced neither can it be impeded (Thomas 1).

Conclusion

As much as discoveries are part of our scientific world, more often than not these discoveries do a lot of harm as much as they did many good. Darwin, in his efforts in trying to understand life has come under a lot of criticism about the harm he has created. Statistics have shown how morally, the society, in general, has taken a fall, probably because of taking a secularist stand whose pioneer ship is driven by the likes of Darwin. Radical personalities have always brought radical change and he was seen at his time as a radical, with his theories’ effects being felt to the third and to the fourth generation. To the belief of his theories is left to a man’s discretion but to the implication that the theories give, one may be tempted to point a finger due to the obvious effects they have had on society.

Works Cited

Boeree, George. “Charles Robert Darwin”. Darwin and Evolution, 2000. Web.

Charles Darwin autobiography, faith and reason quote about God”. Age of the Sage,  2002. Web.

Charles Darwin Biography”. Amazon, 2010. Web.

Charles Darwin’s religious views”. Wikipedia. 2010. Web.

Evolution Of Man – Concepts in Evolutionary Theory”. All about Science, 2010. Web.

Kofal, Robert. “Charles Darwin: Influences on the Man, His Science, and His Theory”. 21st Century Creation Evangelism, 1996. Web.

Kreis, Steven. “The Age of Ideologies (4): Charles Darwin and Evolutionary Theory”. Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. 2009. Web.

Landry, Peter. “Charles Darwin”. Biographies, 2003. Web.

Larson, John. “Evolution: The Remarkable History of a scientific theory”. London: Modern Library, 2004. Web.

Parrington, John.“Charles Darwin: Revolution of evolution”. Socialist Review,  2009. Web.

Port, Tami. “ Darwin, Evolution and Selection: Survival of the Fittest, Biological Change and How Organisms Evolution.” Suite 101. 2008. Web.

Smithe, Sophia. “The Cultural Impact of John Calvin and Charles Darwin on Western Civilization”. Vision Forum Ministries. 2009. Web.

Thomas, Jerry. “ Survival for the fittest.” Analytical Research Systems, 1996.

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