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Born February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England, he was a religious man fresh out of divinity school when he began his voyage on the HMS Beagle, a scientific survey expedition to South America and the South Seas.

His zoological and geological discoveries eroded his former religious beliefs and ultimately provided the basis for his theories of evolution. He worked on these theories for 20 years before publishing one of the most groundbreaking works ever written, "On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection."

Although his ideas have been modified by later developments in genetics and molecular biology, Darwin's work remains central to evolutionary theory.

Attacked by the church during his lifetime, he received an apology from the Church of England in 2008 (126 years after his death), a gesture not unlike the Church's apology for the Vatican's 1633 trial of Galileo, who appalled prelates by declaring that the earth actually revolved around the sun. These are but 2 drops in a vast ocean, as all scientific advancements and knowledge have been made in the teeth of religious opposition.

Charles Darwin was a pioneer. He remains an inspiration.

Happy Darwin Day, my fellow primates! I raise a glass to you!
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Ah Feb 12th, where as a geek I'm put in the uncomfortable position of having to pick between Charles Darwin's birthday and Abraham Lincoln's.
I'd go with Darwin for the far broader reach of his thought and work.
Well they do have a lot in common: impressive beards, a quiet dignity, and both are still reviled to this day in the American south.
Biology lacks all the laws & protocols of earlier scientific disciplines like physics & chemistry, for it has just one unifying thread...Darwin, together with Alfred Russell Wallace, named it. That's genius....
Now that I think about it, it's pretty cool that they were both born on exactly the same day - both changed the world. Kind of like Adams & Jefferson dying on the same day - their lives and work so incredibly linked.... :)
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