Darwin is one of the most controversial scientists of all time. His 1859 book On the Origin of Species, written after a 5-year evidence-gathering voyage on HMS Beagle, with a famous stopover in the Galapagos, persuaded scientists that they had to take seriously the claim that all living things have evolved by natural causes from previously existing types. Moreover, he proposed the mechanism of natural selection, in which populations change according to trial and error. The theory renders the Genesis story of creation, and indeed the whole idea of a wise and benevolent Designer, questionable. There seems to be little room here for the immortal soul or transcendent moral values. Whilst materialists and atheists welcome this liberation from the shackles of ancient superstition, some religious believers accuse Darwin of teaching us to behave like animals and thereby undermining the moral foundations of society. We are still living with - and arguing about - the consequences of Darwin's commitment to the truths uncovered by investigative science. This book ranges widely over his background, his travels, his discoveries, his lectures and teachings, and his personal life.
Peter J. Bowler Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Queen's University, Belfast, and author of many publications including Evolution: The History of an Idea (2009) and Charles Darwin: The Man and his Influence (1996). Foreword by Richard Dawkins Evolutionary biologist, television presenter and popular science writer, author of nine books, including the international bestsellers: The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype and The God Delusion.