Though Darwin is credited with purposing the theory of evolution as we now know it, he was certainly not the first to have such ideas; he wasn't even the first to purpose evolution by natural selection. Charles Darwin was building on the ideas that were popular in his time. Following close on the heels of "the Enlightenment" were several revolutions in the sciences, particular in geology. In 1785, James Hutton, a Scotsman, wrote concerning geology, "...the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now … No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle." By limiting geological rates and processes to only what we can observe in the present, Hutton's theory expanded the age of the earth far beyond the date of creation provided in Scripture. Scottish lawyer and geologist, Charles Lyell, expounded on these ideas in the early 1800's, asserting that, "...the physical part of Geological inquiry ought to be conducted as if the Scriptures were not in existence.” After reading Lyell's landmark work, Principles of Geology - Volume I, while aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, Darwin began to interpret geologic formations he saw within this anti-biblical framework. In his Autobiography, Darwin wrote, "He who can read Sir Charles Lyell’s grand work on the Principles of Geology, which the future historian will recognize as having produced a revolution in natural science, yet does not admit how incomprehensibly vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume."
On the aforementioned voyage, Darwin was perplexed by the similarities he observed between the different species on South America and on the Galapagos Islands. At the time, it was believed that the words "after their kind" used in Genesis 1 represent what was known as "fixity of the species." In other words, new species could not be formed, meaning that all plants and animals at the species level in the classification system were created by God in their present form. However, what Darwin observed seemed to strongly favor the conclusion that new species could form and interbreed. In his most famous book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin declared, “I am fully convinced that species are not immutable; but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are lineal descendants of some other and generally extinct species, in the same manner as the acknowledged varieties of any one species are the descendants of that species. Furthermore, I am convinced that natural selection has been the most important, but not the exclusive, means of modification.” Darwin's theory of evolution used these two principles, transmutation (changing of one "kind" of animal into another) and long ages, to explain the great variety of life on earth. The mechanism by which this change would occur is death, or as the extended title of Darwin's book put it, "...by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."
“Nothing is easier," Darwin wrote, "than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult--at least I have found it so--than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind.” Darwin experienced this first hand with the death of his beloved daughter Annie. Without a biblical understanding of the Fall and the effects of the Curse on creation and humanity, Darwin concluded that death is a permanent part of the world, and, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows." Darwin's views on humanity, as a result of his evolutionary ideas, were downgrading, (Darwin referred to natives as "savages") and racist (note the subtitle of Origin included the words "Favoured Races"). Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man, "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes . . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian [Aborigine] and the gorilla." Even today, those of African or Aboriginal descent are unfortunately viewed as "lesser evolved" than those of European descent because of the evolutionary theories about the origin of humanity. This is done in spite of scientific evidence in genetics confirming what the Bible clearly says about the existence of only one race: the human race, created in the image of God.
Charles Darwin died in 1882, and was buried in the floor of London's Westminster Abbey. How ironic that a man who's views so contradicted a biblical understanding of humanity is buried in the same place as William Wilberforce, who, like Abraham Lincoln, denounced and fought to end slavery. The examples of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln remind us as Christ followers to heed the command given in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to be, "...bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," so that our ideas and legacies will not cause the next generation to stumble, but to serve the Lord and our fellow men, who are "created . . . in His own image."