Charles Darwin's Theories Of Evolution

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Charles Darwin was a 19th century naturalist who shaped the way we view nature and humanity. His theories of evolution completely reassessed how we understand the natural world through his ideas on natural selection. Darwin himself was largely inspired by a few other naturalists who predeceased him, mainly William Paley and Thomas Malthus, and it was their work, as well as his travels around the world, that led him to form his own theories and to change how nature, humans and biology are seen for generations to come.

Thomas Malthus was a leading economist and human ecologists during the Romantic period, and formed his principle of population that was largely defined by conflict, which eventually gave way to the development of evolutionary
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However, both Malthus and Paley were concerned with religion and tried to incorporate God into their ideas (Shapiro, 2014, pp.114). Darwin, on the other hand, moved away from this idea, and didn’t hold God responsible for evolution or for the checks that were in place. Both Malthus and Paley argued that nature had a purpose that was designed by God. Malthus argued that God created a limited amount of resources so that humans would have to struggle, and that civilization would be better off for it “only by threat of hunger has he been stimulated to exert his full capacities and to advance toward civilization” (Worster, 1994, pp.151). Malthus also took away previous enlightenment theory, as well as completely disagreeing with Paley, that there is not a harmony between nature and humans. Paley, on the other hand, argued that these checks were in place to recreate harmony with nature, and that they would lead to an overall happiness amongst humans. Ultimately Paley argued that nature was benevolent as God intended it to be. Darwin instead moved away from this religious aspect, and decided to discover and more scientific explanation to Malthus’ and Paley’s theologies (Young, 1985, …show more content…
Darwin agreed with Malthus and Paley that there was an uneven ratio between population growth and growth of food sources, which in turn created a struggle for survival, and put in place checks that would eventually return the population to a sustainable rate. However, unlike Malthus and Paley, Darwin did not agree that it was God who implemented these checks, which inspired Darwin to move away from natural theologian explanations, and instead form his own ideology on natural selection (Darwin, 1871, pp.65). To begin with, Darwin argued that all species came from a common ancestor, and he described this by comparing it to the tree of life. This metaphor suggested that every species come from a common root, and eventually break off in branches, and in turn each of these branches break off into more and more branches; suggesting that each branch is a different species, and this is how different species can be very similar to one another, because they all come from the same branch and same root (Darwin, 2014, pp.81). From this, Darwin went on to explain how species evolve, which happens through natural selection. The principle of natural selection is that evolutionary change occurs through the variation of an individual/s in each generation, with the variation, if hereditary, will be passed on throughout generations, and eventually multiple

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