Evolution Revolution

  • James Ussher

    James Ussher
    Using biblical chronology, Ussher calculated that the creation of Heaven and Earth took place in 4004 B.C. Biblical passages provide Ussher with clues to the number of human generations -- and hence years --since Adam and Eve. This date of 4004 B.C. is then used for 200 years in English editions of the Bible. Some biblical literalists of the 20th century will use similar methods to assert that life first appeared on Earth less than 10,000 years ago.
  • Spontaneous Generation

    Spontaneous Generation
    New instruments of magnification, including elegantly crafted microscopes, are fueling scientific research. The ancient question of whether life can arise from non-living matter now can be tackled in a new way. Jesuit-trained physician Francesco Redi shows why fly maggots often crop up in putrefied meat. They are not the result of "spontaneous generation," but rather born from eggs too tiny for the naked eye to see.
  • John Ray

    John Ray
    He developed the concept of genus and species. He also placed humans in the order Primates along with all of the apes, monkeys, and prosimians. It implied that people were part of nature, along with other animals and plants. He also declared fossils were the petrified remains of extinct creatures in his book on reptiles and mammals.
  • Carolus Linnaeus

    Carolus Linnaeus
    Linnaeus was a first class scientist. His most important contribution to science was his logical classification system for all living things which he proposed in his book Systema Naturae. He described plants and animals on the basis of physical appearance and method of reproduction. He classified them relative to each other according to the degree of their similarities. He used a binomial nomenclature in naming them.
  • Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis

    Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis
    He theorized on the nature of heredity and how new species come into being. He thought that speciation took place by chance events in nature, rather than by spontaneous generation as was believed at the time. About ten years earlier he introduced the concept of stronger animals in a population having more offspring.
  • Charles Bonnet

    Charles Bonnet
    He wrote in his book, "Philosophical Palingesis" that the females of each organism contain the next generation in miniature form. He believed that natural catastrophes sparked evolutionary changes in organisms. His idea of evolution was analogous to organisms climbing a ladder of life, with animals becoming intelligent, primates becoming human, and humans becoming angels.
  • Comte de Buffon

    Comte de Buffon
    He said that living things change through time. He speculated that this was somehow a result of influences from the environment or even chance. He believed that the earth must be much older than 6000 years and is probably at least 75,000 years old. He also suggested that humans and apes are related.
  • James Hutton

    James Hutton
    At Glen Tilt in the Cairngorm mountains in the Scottish Highlands, Hutton found granite penetrating metamorphic schists, in a way which indicated that the granite had been molten at the time. This showed to him that granite formed from cooling of molten rock, not precipitation out of water as others at the time believed, and that the granite must be younger than the schists.
  • Erasmus Darwin

    Erasmus Darwin
    Believed that evolution has occurred in living things, including humans. He wrote of his ideas about evolution in poems such as the Laws of Organic Life. He also suggested that the earth and life on it must have been evolving for "millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind."
  • George Cuvier

    George Cuvier
    Cuvier presented his paper on living and fossil elephants, it was still widely believed that no species of animal had ever become extinct. Cuvier came to believe that most if not all the animal fossils he examined were remains of species that were now extinct. This led him to believe in catastrophism that maintained that many of the geological features of the earth and the past history of life could be explained by catastrophic events that had caused the extinction of many species of animals.
  • Thomas Malthus

    Thomas Malthus
    According to Malthus, populations produce many more offspring than can possibly survive on the limited resources generally available and poverty, famine, and disease were natural outcomes that resulted from overpopulation. However, he believed that divine forces were ultimately responsible for such outcomes, which, though natural, were designed by God.
  • Natural Theology

    Natural Theology
    Natural Theology views God through nature. Archdeacon William Paley's Natural Theology holds that not only God's existence but also his attributes are manifest in the intricate forms of nature. Paley singles out the eye as an organ of such complexity that, like a pocket watch, it must have been designed by an intelligent designer.
  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

    Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
    Lamarck believed that microscopic organisms appear spontaneously from inanimate materials and then evolve gradually into more complex forms.The ultimate product of this evolution was thought to be humans. he believed that evolution occurs when an organism uses a body part in such a way that it is altered during its lifetime and this change is then inherited by its offspring. Lamarck's explanation of evolution was incorrect though.
  • Beagle Voyage

    Beagle Voyage
    The voyage of the HMS Beagle, which carries Charles Darwin to tropical forests, Andean peaks, and the Galapagos Islands, is the most important experience of his life as a scientist. He is now committed to a life discovering nature's laws. And the collections he returns with, particularly fossils from South America and creatures from the Galapagos Islands, become the basis of his budding ideas about evolution.
  • Charles Lyell

    Charles Lyell
    In his three volume Principles of Geology he documented the fact that earth must be very old and that it has been subject to the same sort of natural processes in the past that operate today in shaping the land. These forces include erosion, earthquakes, glacial movements, volcanoes, and even the decomposition of plants and animals.
  • Lord Kelvin

    Lord Kelvin
    Lord Kelvin calculates the age of Earth. One of Britain's most distinguished scientists proclaims that Earth is roughly 100 million years old. William Thomson, later known as Lord Kelvin, arrives at this estimate by assuming that Earth has cooled steadily since it first formed as a molten mass. Kelvin later broadens his estimate to 20 to 400 million years old.
  • Richard Owen

    Richard Owen
    He opposed the notion of transmutation, at least across the boundaries of his archetypes. His opposition rested on his analysis of morphological homologies from which he inferred that the various kinds of animals represented archetypal forms, four common structural plans: fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals.
  • Neanderthal

    The unearthing of a fossil skull in Germany's Neander Valley fuels a debate over whether all humans are the direct descendants of Adam and Eve. The skull looks much like a modern human, yet is distinctly different. Neanderthals were large-brained with heavy-set brows and protruding jaws. They challenge the traditional Christian picture of humankind in Eden. Some people wonder whether Neanderthal Man might have been the result of a separate act of Creation.
  • Flint Tools

    Flint Tools
    Flint tools spark debate over human evolution. A chance discovery raises the question of whether humans existed tens of thousands or even millions of years in the past. In Brixham, England, a man drops a pick-axe into a hole in the ground and finds underlying cave. Inside, he finds a large reindeer antler. An archeological excavation uncovers remarkable flint knives, as well as the bones of extinct mammals. Some of the bones have been split, perhaps to extract their marrow.
  • Radioactivity

    Radioactivity points to an ancient Earth. The discovery of radioactivity by physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel leads to stunning calculations of Earth's age. Failure to understand radioactivity within Earth threw off earlier calculations. With a new understanding of radioactivity, rock-dating techniques show that Earth is more than 4.3 billion years old.
  • Mendel Genetics

    Mendel Genetics
    The obscure work of Moravian monk Gregor Mendel is brought to light and becomes a cornerstone in the emerging science of genetics. Mendel's notion that traits are passed down in discrete units called genes. The contrary idea, that all traits of parents are blended in their offspring, had been a stumbling block for evolutionists.