Man, Time, and Fossils: The Story of Evolution

By Ruth Moore | Go to book overview

III
CHARLES DARWIN ORIGINS

PROOF of the great natural laws often is not found until long after their discovery. The evidence to support the earlier-born theory of the undulation of light and the belief that the earth revolved on its own axis was not brought forth until Darwin's day.

Darwin, however, not only stated the theory of evolution; at the same time he assembled the monumental evidence to support it. In this dual achievement lay his greatest genius and his enduring fame.

This approach was part of his nature, an inherent thing. His extreme humility and caution would not permit him to advance any belief until he had backed it with every possible fact. And even then he was not satisfied. He liked to think that he worked on pure Baconian principles, collecting facts on a massive scale, without any preconceived theory about them.

It is true that this man, venturing into fields untouched, kept a remarkably open mind. He sought counterarguments, weighed them, took them into the fullest account, and willingly yielded if the facts fell on the other side. Nevertheless, it is doubtful if any worker in science ever directed a search more persistently or pointedly to one end.

The idea of species that the voyage of the Beagle had awakened in him stayed constantly in his mind, though he spent the first two years after his return putting his collections in order and preparing his journal of the voyage for pubhca-

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