|Part of the series on|
“”An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
|—-- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (1986), page 6|
Charles Darwin (1809–1882) was the man behind that dreadful, godless nonsense known as evolution.
Darwin is credited as the co-discoverer of the now-accepted theory of evolution by natural selection along with Alfred Wallace. He is best known for writing On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. His grandfather Erasmus was an early evolutionary thinker.
Darwin is often a victim of the phenomenon known as quote mining.
 Biographical overview
Darwin initially studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but having lost interest in becoming a doctor, he later enrolled in an Arts degree at Cambridge University, where his father hoped he might study towards a place in the Anglican clergy. In both settings, he gave more attention to his interests in geology, botany and zoology than to his academic studies.
Following his graduation in 1831, and thanks to his reputation as a keen amateur naturalist, he was offered a place on the HMS Beagle, a survey ship charting the coasts of South America. The voyage lasted five years and also took in the Cape of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Darwin spent as much time as possible ashore at these locations during the voyage, studying the local wildlife while other members of the expedition concentrated on charting the coastlines.
It was during this voyage that Darwin began to develop his theory of natural selection, and over the following decades, he honed the theory, conducting further research and seeking evidence for common descent.
On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, prompted by Alfred Wallace's essay showing that he had hit on the same idea and might steal Darwin's thunder, although of course Darwin had been planning to publish his theory for some years. The book sold tremendously, though it met with some criticism and scepticism both from within and outside the scientific community.
His later publication of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) proved much more controversial, since it explicitly placed humans within the evolutionary schema and presented extensive evidence for our animal ancestry. This provoked severe criticism, not least from the Church and its supporters, and ridicule, such as all those caricatures of Darwin as a monkey which remain popular with creationists to this day.
Darwin was married and had ten children, though three died during childhood. He avoided discussing his views on religion publicly, but his private writings (from the Beagle era onwards) show that he was increasingly critical of theology and Biblical literalism, and had many doubts about God, including concerns about the problem of evil. In a letter of 1879, he described himself as an agnostic rather than an atheist, but stated that evolutionism is not incompatible with theism.
Creationists often refer to people who consider evolution to be a valid scientific doctrine as "Darwinists". This is a big, ugly use of rhetoric designed to insinuate that "evolutionists" (and atheists) worship Charles Darwin. The biological theory that explains the diversity of life is called "evolution", and those who study it are called "biologists." Those who accept that this theory is sound are called "rational". One could perhaps describe those who study Darwin the man (biographers, for example) as "Darwinists".
 2009: Darwin Year
The year 2009 was the bicentennial of Darwin's birthday, and heretics everywhere gathered to celebrate. Darwin Day (February 12) joins Evolution Day (November 24) as another pain in the ass for Creationism. 2009 was also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his best-seller, Origin of Species.
Happy birthday man.
 In popular culture
Darwin is also the name of a character in the Cartoon Network show The Amazing World of Gumball, who is Gumball's pet goldfish that went through what the average person believes to be evolution and became his brother.
 See also
- Alfred Russel Wallace
- Francis Galton
- Herbert Spencer
- Social Darwinism
- Darwin Awards
- Darwin's Predictions