Erasmus Darwin’s famous grandson learned early about evolution.
Many people erroneously think that Charles Darwin (who earned a degree in theology) was once blissfully content with the biblical explanation of origins—until, that is, as an unbiased naturalist, he stumbled across the idea of evolution by observing the ‘facts of nature’ in the Galápagos Islands in 1835. The truth is significantly otherwise. The concept of evolution had, in fact, been ‘in his family’ ever since his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, first suggested it in 1770.1
As we have often pointed out, evolutionists do not have any facts that are unavailable to creationists—it is how these facts are interpreted that is significant, and it is ideology which largely determines the interpretation. Charles Darwin himself said, ‘How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!’2
So we need to carefully consider the influences on Darwin’s mindset before he set out aboard the Beagle on his round-the-world trip in 1831. The key to understanding how he was predisposed to interpreting facts in favour of an evolutionary ideology goes back to the beliefs, writings and role model of his grandfather, Erasmus.
Scientist, inventor and doctor
Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) was one of the most erudite, enthusiastic and dedicated scientists/inventors of his day. He completed a major translation from Latin to English of the works of Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), who devised the plant classification that forms the basis of modern botany. His many inventions included a speaking machine, a copying machine, and a carriage steering mechanism later used in cars. Indeed, ‘There is scarcely an idea or invention in the modern world that Erasmus Darwin did not originate or foresee, from evolution to eugenics, from airplanes to submarines, from antiseptics to psychoanalysis, from talking-machines to telephones.’3
He began his chosen profession of medicine at Lichfield in 1756. His reputation as a physician was established when he saved the life of a young man from a prominent local family, whom other doctors had declared to be incurable. Because his cures were ‘unfashionably frequent’ his practice gradually became the largest in the English Midlands. King George III asked him to become his personal physician in London, but Erasmus declined….
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