portrait of Charles Darwin
Portrait by George Richmond in the late 1830s

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Quotes of the Day for 12 February 2004 – Charles Darwin

Charles Robert Darwin was born at Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on this day in 1809. His father and paternal grandfather were physicians, his mother was an heiress to the Wedgewood china fortune. He entered the University of Edinborough to become a physician himself, but he couldn't stand the gore and the agony involved in surgery before anaesthetics, so he entered Christ's College, Cambridge with plans to become a priest. After graduation he accepted an unpaid trip around the world on HMS Beagle, serving as naturalist. He studied and collected fossils, plants, and drew animals on a trip that lasted almost five years. Organizing his notes and drawings after his return, he concluded that all life on earth had evolved from a single original life form, and that variations in species came about as a result of a process he termed natural selection. His work was attacked by religious leaders who were certain that all species then living had been carried on Noah's Ark, despite the obvious fact that two of evey species could not possibly have fit in the ark. (I rather doubt that two individuals from of every species of insect would have fit.)

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutory pleasure in proving their falseness.

I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection.

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change.

The very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason.

Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits.
     - All from Charles Robert Darwin, 1809 - 1882

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