In the mid Nineteenth Century, many believed that the Bible was the literal word of God. This included a belief that the world was only 6,000 years old, and that God created the first humans, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eve. Darwin’s theory of evolution radically altered how we viewed the creation of life. Darwin showed that man had gradually evolved through a process of natural selection. Evolution radically altered our view of biology, history and showed the limitations of a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Although often simply called the 'theory of evolution', Darwin's great theory is more correctly called the theory of evolution by natural selection. Evolution, after all, is just change; and species could have changed in many different ways. Darwin's proposal was that random mutations occur between generations, and that some of these mutations are more useful than others in helping individuals survive in their environments. Those who survive reproduce, and so pass on these helpful traits to their offspring. It wasn't this concept as such that upset 19th-century clerics, but the implication that humans had descended from the apes. Like many brilliant ideas, Darwin's is beautifully simple. In fact, when you think about how people bred dogs or roses, it seems amazing no one had thought of it before. But Darwin was a genius, and sometimes it takes a genius to see something that's right in front of your eyes.