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Charles Darwin - Creativity and ScienceCharles Darwin - Creativity and Science


Charles Darwin (1809-1882)


English naturalist (pictured right).

Famous for his theory of evolution, based on his observations of different species during his famous voyage (1831-6) in the Beagle, pictured right below,  to South America and the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific.Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science

Hugely influential in:

  • protecting the environment.
  • preserving different species.


His most famous book is...

The Origin of Species (1859)

This discussed his theory of evolution.


Why was he so creative?

 Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science

1. Revolutionary

Darwin's theory of evolution disproved the traditional Christian view that God:

  • created the world in six days. 
  • filled it with perfect and complete creatures like Adam and Eve. 

People evolved from apes, Darwin said (leading to attacks like the 1871 caricature pictured right).

So lots of people just couldn’t believe:

  • evolution. Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science
  • Darwin's related idea of natural selection (i.e. survival in a species by those organisms best able to adapt to their environment).

This led to Herbert Spencer's (pictured right) idea of the “survival of the fittest” , introduced in 1864

But Darwin was a reluctant revolutionary.

He kept his theory secret for 20 years until 1858, because he didn’t want to offend anybody.Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science

He was encouraged to publish by the publication of an academic article on evolution by the Welsh naturalist, Alfred Wallace (1823-1913), pictured right.


2. Determination and purpose

His discoveries needed much thought and hard work.

He also had to overcome:

  • continuous bad health (made worse by intense oppositon to evolution, particularly from the Church - see point 1).  Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science
  • the death of his favourite daughter, Annie (pictured right), aged 10 (which destroyed his Christian faith, although not his wife’s). 

But he was still driven by compassion for other people and hated slavery.

He was dedicated to proving scientifically that blacks and whites were equals.


3. Wealth and leisure


  • came from a very wealthy family, whose connections helped him to get the job as naturalist on the Beagle’s voyage.
  • married Emma, the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, the pottery millionaire (pictured right below).
  • was rich enough to live, think and work at home in Downe, Kent, from 1842 onwards. Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science
  • spent on average a night away from home every week, visiting various parts of Britain to take plant samples for his experiments.


4. Observation, thinking and attention to detail

During his five year voyage on the Beagle, he:

  • observed everything new.
  • made detailed notes.
  • sent back to Britain specimens of animals, plants, rocks and fossils.
  • used his notes and observations to create his theory of evolution and other new ideas like cross-pollination between flowers. Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science

He listed the advantages and disadvantages of a particular idea (even his marriage!) before deciding upon its validity.


5. Support

He had the devoted support of:Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science

  • his wife, Emma, pictured right above (despite his views about women’s inferiority)
  • other naturalists (particularly Joseph Dalton Hooker, pictured right, and Thomas Huxley, pictured right below). 

Hooker and Huxley's eloquence strongly defended evolution, much better than Darwin, who was shy and had poor debating skills.

 Charles Darwin - Creativity and Science

6. Curiosity

He was always intensely curious about new ideas, and all the different plants, animals and people he found in the Galápagos Islands.

Closely examining their differences gave him the idea of evolution.


7. Courageous lover of truth

His whole life was spent experimenting and learning in pursuit of truth.

He was prepared to fight for his views against his critics, many of them Christians.


8. Application of different subjects and energy

To explain evolution, he drew on philosophy, literature and economics, as well as science.

Darwin also wrote an estimated six million words in books, articles and letters!


Key quote on competitive advantage

In the struggle for survival, the fittest win at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves to their environment.


Key quote on science

The law, does not concern itself with trifles, does not apply to science.


Key quote on family and children

How paramount the future to the present when one is surrounded by children.


Key quote on education

The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education...and of a high standard of excellence.


Key quote on time management 

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.


Key quote on relationships 

A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.


Key quote on learning 

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

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