What does Darwin mean for us?

It is important to know Charles Darwin. And it is equally important to know about the theory of evolution. It is not just a question of scientific knowledge. It is not just a question of scientific general knowledge either. It is also a question of cultural knowledge. No other theory has had as significant an effect on the foundation of the modern world, on our perception of nature, the evolution of life, and consequently, the perception of ourselves as human beings and our place in the world.

Evolution is a fact. Just like gravity, earthquakes, magnetism, electricity, DNA, and taxes. We have different scientific theories which describe the different phenomena. Life evolves. Language evolves. Culture evolves. We evolve.

Darwin's theory, which combined with genetics make up the modern theory of evolution, is the theory of the evolution of life. The theory of evolution is our scientific theory concerning the unequivocal fact that all life evolves, that it always has, and that it always will. Darwin was the first to describe this evolution and simultaneously explain how it took place. He did not have all the answers. But he knew that a natural explanation would suffice. Consequently, he established the foundation for all modern science. After Darwin, no scientific field has needed anything else.

Science feeds on unanswered questions. Research is driven by curiosity, enthusiasm, and a world that constantly surprises, challenges, and expands our horizon.

Darwin did not have the definitive answers. But he was fantastic at putting the rest of us to work. Evolutionary research in the 21st century is one of the most compelling testimonies to that fact. Never has evolution been so significant to so many scientists in so many different fields. And never before has so many people benefited from all the great results provided to us by evolutionary science.

When we celebrated Darwin in 2009, we celebrated that today we are able to understand the fantastic, abundant, and overwhelming nature surrounding us and that we are able to give natural explanations to why it looks the way that it does. We celebrated the inquisitive investigation of the life and the world around us. We celebrated that there is always more to learn and that both life and knowledge are constantly evolving.

Peter C. Kjærgaard

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