Darwin Day

Darwin Day

The “Darwin Day” better known by its English name of “Darwin Day” is a day of international celebration in the sciences and humanities held annually on February 12 or thereabouts, which coincides with the day of birth of Charles Darwin in 1809.

Charles Robert DarwinThe purpose of this day is to pay homage to the life and discoveries of Charles Darwin. It is celebrated every year on the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who was born in 1809. He is the famous English naturalist who first described, with scientific rigor, the biological evolution of species through natural selection, and also serves to promote science in society.

The first February 12 festivity of Darwin Day happened in 1909 at the New York Academy of Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History. From that point, there were sporadic festivals of Darwin Day supported by science associations, universities, and humanist groups.

In the United States of America, “Darwin Day” turned into an official occasion in 2015. The commemoration of Darwin’s introduction to the world was to respect Darwin and to commend “science and humankind.” The International Darwin Day Foundation site at darwinday.org is a project of The American Humanist Association. The site fills in as a clearinghouse for several Darwin Day festivities around the globe.

Who is Charles Darwin?

An English naturalist, Charles Darwin was born February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire (England) and died on April 19, 1882, in Down, Kent (England). He is at the origin of the theory of Evolution. The very famous naturalist of the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin has significantly marked the world of biology. By dedicating his life to deepening his research on natural selection, he gave birth to modern evolutionary thinking.

A young man who seeks his vocation

Charles Darwin was born in England on February 12, 1809, in a rich family, both material and cultural. Indeed, his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, is a famous scientist and doctor. Darwin grew up surrounded by the scientific influence of those around him. So, of course, he enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to take medical courses. But he will soon realize that he has made a mistake.

Undoubtedly too sensitive for this science, and very little motivated, Darwin abandons the faculty. Not knowing what to do, he follows the advice of his father and opts for the vocation of pastor. He then enrolls at the University of Cambridge. This time, he completed his studies, enriched by the knowledge of two professors who marked his career: the geologist Adam Sedgwick and the naturalist John Stevens Henslow.

The journey that will determine his life

Without the influence of his two teachers, Darwin would probably not have had the fate he is known for. Indeed, John Henslow has unquestionably developed his passions for everything related to naturalism. It is he, too, who convinces the captain of the Beagle to accept the young man on his ship.

Darwin thus embarked at the end of December 1831, as a naturalist, for a world tour that would upset his life. For five years, he will discover the Cape Verde Islands, a large part of South America, the Pacific, Oceania to the Azores. On his return, October 2, 1836, he will have a pharaonic amount of information, observations, and specimens on which he will not delay to look more seriously.

The first conclusions

During his trip, Darwin undertakes the analysis of his geological records that he confronts with some naturalistic works. He thus verifies the works of Charles Lyell, described in Principles of Geology and opposing catastrophism, a theory implying that changes in the Earth’s surface are the result of cataclysms.

By his observations and conclusions, Darwin largely supports the theories of Lyell, who becomes his friend, but, on his return, he will push his questions even further. During his world tour, he realized that some distinct species had very similar characteristics and that their differences were often related to their natural environment. He begins to doubt the fixity of species, a theory in force in the scientific community and relies instead on the principle of gradual modification of species. This observation quickly becomes the focus of his research and will remain so until the end of his life.

Origin of species and natural selection

Darwin takes some notes on his theory in his Notebooks on the Transmutation of Species and seeks to understand it better. Always interested in the publications of his colleagues and various other texts, he read Thomas Malthus’ Essay on the Population Principle. He explains that the balance of the human population is based on natural disasters. If famines or epidemics did not kill some of the men, population growth would become too high and lack of resources would soon be felt. Immediately, the theory of natural selection responsible for evolution takes shape in Darwin’s mind. Nature by its rigor selects the aptest to survive. The characteristics that allowed them to adapt to their environment are then inherited. Darwin, therefore, deduces that after several generations, this process results in the creation of new species.

In 1839 he married his cousin Emma Wedgwood and moved with her to Down, Kent. Fragile, he prefers to retire to a peaceful place in England. Heir to a colossal fortune, he is safe for the rest of his life and has plenty of time to pursue his research. He writes some writings without publishing them before seriously beginning the writing of a book with the will to write on paper a well-founded theory.

However, in 1858, Darwin became acquainted with a text by Alfred Wallace entitled The tendency of varieties to stand out indefinitely from the original model. He discovers, with few differences, all the strings of his theory of natural selection. The two men then agree to jointly present their discovery to the Linnean Society. Pressed by the situation, Darwin then immediately began to complete his book with a view to publishing it quickly. In 1859 appears, therefore, the Origin of the species.

Reactions and deepening

Since its publication, the Origin of Species has been a real success, but the reactions it raises among the scientific and religious world are rather virulent. Indeed, this theory which upsets the biological convictions established until then disturbs certain biologists, who reproach Darwin for lacking scientific proofs and explanations on the system of variation of the species. Without genetics, which was born only in the twentieth century, it is, in fact, difficult to explain scientifically the functioning of the mutations in question.

Moreover, the men of the Church are truly scandalized by such a theory, which undermines the Creation recounted in the Bible. Darwin asserts that different species are in fact from the same ancestors and have evolved differently over time, depending on their natural environment.

Despite these criticisms, Darwin will spend the rest of his life developing his thoughts in new publications and completing the Origin of Species. He is particularly interested in the descent of man and goes so far as to explain, in the Filiation of Man and selection related to sex, that it descends from the monkey. The book will once again become the object of the Church’s wrath, but it will eventually admit that there is no real contradiction between the theories of evolution and the writings of the Bible.

Until his death in April 1882, Darwin will always seek to deepen his conceptions. He spent his life working on the principles of species evolution through natural selection. Although some of these ideas have already been formulated more or less precisely by others before him, he has unquestionably demonstrated these theories more scientifically and has developed them considerably. Darwin thus leaves in his wake all the basic elements of modern evolutionary theories.

 

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