Nineteenth Century American Life Essay

Pages: 4 (1320 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Evolution

Charles Darwin

This year marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, and hundreds of special activities were held around the world to commemorate the occasion. Although it has been 150 years since the concept of evolution and the publication of Origin of Species, controversy continues about this theory, especially in the realm of religious belief. Numerous people instead believe in what is called creationism rather than in evolutionary theory. Based on a couple of the newspaper articles from the 1880s when Darwin first wrote his book, it appears that this distinction between those who believe in evolution or those who believe in what is now called intelligent design, is much more an issue today than it was during Darwin's time. During the Victorian time, most leaders recognized that Darwin never said that evolution explained all of life development; there were still unknowns that could be attributed to a higher authority.

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According to a study conducted this year, about 50% of the over 2,000 British adults questioned about evolution were either very against the theory or confused regarding it. At least 22% were more in favor of the concepts of creationism or intelligent design to explain the world's origins (Butt). A quarter of Britons say that Darwin's theory of evolution is "definitely true" and the same number says it is "probably true." Ten percent of individuals elected young Earth creationism, or the idea that the world was created by sometime during the previous 10,000 years, over evolution. Just over the same amount supported intelligent design, or the belief that evolution by itself does not provide an explanation about the structures of living organisms. Everyone else was confused, frequently getting creationism, intelligent design and evolution, mixed up.

Essay on Nineteenth Century American Life Assignment

This debate pro-or con evolution has been a major part of American history since the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in the 1920s, when a high school biology teacher was charged for covering evolution in his science curriculum. Clarence Darrow was the teacher's attorney, and William Jennings Bryan, who had run as the populist Democratic presidential candidate three times, supported the State of Tennessee. The anti-evolution movement won the case, and it took until 1967 for the law to be removed from the state's books. In a number of other states, today, creationism is very strong. In Kentucky, a creation museum just opened up a couple of years ago and has exhibits of humans and dinosaurs living together.

When reading a couple of articles from the late 1800s, it is interesting to see that there was not this black-or-white situation. People, including some clergy, recognized that Darwin was not saying it was either evolution or belief in God. He was instead arguing that evolution was one of the ways that explain living organisms. In an article from the English Church Quarterly, the writer demonstrates the reasons for the "triumph" of Darwin's ideas and "fearlessly argues in favor of the compatibility of the Darwinian theory with religious belief." He further states that Darwin never claimed that natural selection explained everything. In his writings, the scientist said that "the modification of species arises from other causes besides natural selection, and that in fact most of the minor variations on which, when amplified in successive generations, the rise of new species itself depends are originated by unknown causes."

Another article, written in 1874 in the New York Times, says that theologians were too quick to criticize Darwin for the religious aspects of natural selection. That Darwin's theory is "quite compatible" with the fullest belief of the Scriptures. Since the earliest history of humankind, philosophers have seen the rise of humans from lower forms; Voltaire argued that plants have organization; animals have organization, sentiment and instinct; and man has organization, sentiment and intelligence. Geoffroy St. Hilaire similarly stated that plants live, animals live and feel, man lives, feels and thinks. In an essay on Plato's Republic by De Quincey, it is said: "By two tests is man raised above the brutes.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Nineteenth Century American Life" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Nineteenth Century American Life.  (2009, March 7).  Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Nineteenth Century American Life."  7 March 2009.  Web.  29 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Nineteenth Century American Life."  March 7, 2009.  Accessed September 29, 2020.