He has plenty of detractors, and while those detractors are less likely to read anything on these pages we still reach out with a thought: Charles Darwin’s birthday is an important one, to the degree any birthday is important after someone is no longer among us. A day to remember someone who lived what can only be called a good, important life. Below we link to a quotation that Seth found, as archival researchers and modern folk are likely to do, in a journal reviewing On the Origin of Species early in 1860:
Hitherto we have said nothing of the aim of this book. It is an attempt to prove that all existing plants and animals have not been created in their present sharply-defined specific forms, but have been gradually changed in the course of millions of millions of generations, under the operation of a law of unlimited variation. ‘Probably all the organic beings that have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed by the Creator.’ [P283] (Page 484.) We need scarcely say that this is rather a rude shock to our received belief. Geologists have tortured the first chapter of Genesis to suit their theories of the inorganic world, and now we have to put that unfortunate chapter again on the rack to make it confess still more.
Of the interest of the book we cannot speak too strongly. Apart from its theory, it gives us a summary of the laws and relations that connect the whole organic and inorganic world; and we greatly regret that so much observation and reflection, so much learning and candour, should have been warped to the support of a mere speculation, an unproved and mischievous theory. If Mr. Darwin would but re-write it, weed out its fallacies, and graft in more facts, it would be the most popular book of modern science; it would, moreover, better serve his purpose, if, as we do not doubt, that purpose be the advancement of truth. For we think he would himself admit that, even if his theory be true, it is immature, and by no means clearly proved. … Therefore we think he would have better served his own cause by sending into the world a mass of well-arranged facts, and leaving them to influence silently the progress of opinion.