What is Darwin’s theory?
Darwin’s theory is the set of scientific formulations proposed and developed by the British-born naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) that explains the origin of the diversity of life and the role of natural selection on the evolutionary process.
This set of studies and formulations, collected in various works of his authorship, are known as Theory on the origin of species and also as Darwinism.
Contrary to popular belief, Charles Darwin was not the author of the theory of evolution, which already existed previously. However, it was he who made one of the most important contributions to it, which led to the formulation of contemporary evolutionary theory: natural selection.
Darwin called natural selection the effect of environmental pressure and competition with other species for available resources. This phenomenon is the force that triggers evolutionary change and that, therefore, gives rise to the different species of living beings.
The set of scientific theories that Darwinism proposed was the product of Darwin’s long voyages around the world aboard the Beagle ship. It was embodied in the book The Origin of Species, published in 1859, which forever revolutionized many fields of science and knowledge.
More than a single theory, it is a set of interrelated scientific disquisitions, the foundations of which can be summarized in three key points:
- The transformism. This is the name given to the verifiable fact that species are not fixed and immutable orders of life, but that they change gradually over time. That is why for years “transformism” was called what we now know as “evolutionism”.
- Diversification and adaptation of life. The different species of living beings that exist or that were, are the product of life’s effort to adapt to the environmental conditions in which it lives, as part of a struggle to prosper and multiply, overcoming adversity. From there it can be concluded that all species have a common ancestor, and therefore are related to some degree (phylogeny) with each other and with a remote common ancestor.
- Natural selection. Said adaptation of life to the environment occurs due to what Darwin called “natural selection”, and which is the result of two factors: on the one hand, the natural variability that individuals of a species inherit from their offspring so that it is finding it better adapted to the environment; and on the other hand, the pressure exerted by the environment on said variations, distinguishing between the successful species that reproduce and multiply, and the unsuccessful ones that decrease until they become extinct.
Darwin’s theory remains valid despite some inaccuracies and ignorance characteristic of the time. It is a materialistic approach to the fact of life, in which there is no room for religious or magical ideas such as those of the soul or the spirit.
For that reason, it was fought for years by the different Western churches. However, their majority eventually recognized the indisputable evidence and updated their creeds to understand evolution as part of divine work.
Importance of Darwin’s theory
Darwinism was a revolutionary scientific contribution that laid the foundations for virtually all contemporary biology. Besides, it affected other sciences and even fields of humanistic knowledge.
Its precepts were embraced by social scientists in the early 20th century. For example, social Darwinism originated, a doctrine that aspired to think about the functioning of societies in terms of natural selection, a central idea in the rise of European fascism in the 20th century.
However, there are still those who seek to dismiss the contribution of Darwinism, using various pseudosciences or claiming to dismiss it as “just another theory.”
In the first place, it is important to understand that a scientific theory is not a more or less informed assumption or assumption, but a set of concepts, abstractions, and verifiable formulations that explain in the best possible way, and according to the guidelines of the scientific method, a natural fact.
Consequently, Charles Darwin’s observations and deductions are the basis for much of modern evolutionary synthesis and his proven knowledge.
Biography of Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, in 1809. He was the son of a wealthy businessman and physician and was raised on the precepts of the Anglican church and free thought.
From a very young age, Darwin showed talents for natural history and a passion for collecting biological specimens. He learned taxidermy, after following in his father’s footsteps in medicine was an unbearable idea.
He was sent to Cambridge to study letters and ordained as a pastor. However, in 1931 he embarked on the HMS Beagle to chart the American South, as part of Robert FitzRoy’s exploration. This trip was key in Darwin’s life.
The numerous observations, drawings, and conclusions that he obtained from the coasts of the Azores, Cape Verde, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador, as well as Australia, Cocos Island, and South Africa gave him a fundamental perspective of the vast and diverse of life. Thus he obtained the keys to formulate his scientific theories.
The following years he devoted entirely to the elaboration of his work and the publication of numerous manuscripts, even though in the last 22 years of his life he suffered significant heart ailments. He finally died in Kent, England, on April 19, 1882, and received a state funeral at Westminster Abbey.
What is Darwin’s theory? Importance of Darwin’s theory