Charles Darwin: The Descent of Man


When Charles Darwin (1809–1882) published The Descent of Man in 1871, he was already a participant in the debate surrounding evolutionary theory as a result of his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Throughout much of the early and mid-nineteenth century, debate raged over the issue, with theologians, social commentators, scientists, and even poets weighing in on the question of whether humans evolved from lower creatures—a view made explicit in The Descent of Man. Many people believed that Darwin's theories were a frontal assault on the bedrock Christian belief that God created man in his own image, as described in the biblical book of Genesis. Darwin's writings, along with those of scientists who agreed with him, also sparked debate about such issues as the definition of races, the presumed superiority of men over women, the development of ethics and morality in the human community, and particularly the way in which evolutionary theory was applicable to the...

Image for: Charles Darwin: The Descent of Man

Charles Darwin (Library of Congress)

View Full Size