• Nick Gotts

    Absolutely not what he would say. He was very well aware of how big a deal his theory was – which is why he sat on it for two decades. Darwin was a highly motivated scientist and a liberal (passionately anti-slavery, for example), but he was also a very rich Victorian gentleman, with a huge stake in the established order, and a very religious wife. According to Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s Darwin, evolution (or “transformation of species”) was associated in the 1830s-40s (a very turbulent time in Britain, the heyday of Chartism) with atheism and social revolution, and direct attacks on Christianity by radicals such as George Holyoake*. By the time Darwin went public in 1858 (prompted by Wallace’s independent formulation of natural selection), the mid-century boom had eased social and ideological tensions.

    *The evolutionism of the radicals was based on Lamarckian ideas: a concept of inherent progressivism in nature, inheritance of acquired characteristics (which Darwin too accepted but downplayed) and conscious striving on the part of animals themselves.

    • Dr. E.D PhD

      You have said some relevant things about Darwin, well done! However, there is an issue with your response. He was more progressive for his time, but also remember that Darwin was a product of his time as well! As an Anthropologist and proponent of Darwin’s significant work, even I have to recognize that he was enculturated with Eurocentric views. He was more progressive, but by no means was he liberal, even by today’s cultural standards. He recognized Race as a Folk Taxonomy, as most scientists did at the time, and egalitarianism was a concept even Darwin conflicted with. Scientifically, he was years ahead of his time!
      From a Biological Anthropological perspective, it is important to remember his contribution to Evolutionary Theory. Although On Origin of Species did not specifically discuss Human Evolution, he did pave the way. Thankfully, thinkers like Steven J Gould existed to further impact Evolution on the Macro and Micro levels.