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Creation in context

Creation charts Darwin’s personal and intellectual journey as he writes his most famous work, On the Origin of Species. The ideas in the book caused huge controversy at the time of publication, yet Darwin wasn’t the first to propose a theory of evolutionary development. Read the information below, and the three extracts, then use the student worksheet to help shape your thinking on these texts.

Vestiges of the natural history of creation (1844)

This book shares some basic principles with Darwin’s theory. It takes a broad overview of natural history, and where the development of life is concerned, argues from an evolutionary standpoint. The work was published anonymously: the author knew some of his ideas were controversial and that his lack of scientific evidence was likely to meet a scornful response. It is now known that ‘Vestiges’ was written by Robert Chambers, a Scottish author and publisher who didn’t want to compromise his business by attaching his name to the book.

On the Origin of Species by means of natural selection (1859)

Darwin was a respected scientist of his age and as he wanted his work to be read and understood by as many people as possible, he avoided giving pages of detailed case studies in the publication. Although he was convinced his hypothesis was correct, and had undertaken years of research and experimentation to prove it, some puzzles still remained and his arguments required a certain reliance on ‘faith’ in the ideas themselves.



Hand-written scientific notes and sketches, along with two small sheets of specimens, crowd a desk on which a pen rests.

Fossil samples and note books.