CBC Digital Archives

Explaining evolution

The year 1809 was remarkable for producing figures of great historical importance, including Lincoln, Chopin, Poe, Braille, Tennyson and many others. But no other figure produced as dramatic an effect on society as the English naturalist Charles Darwin. His groundbreaking theory of evolution had a major impact on religion, education, history and our conception of humankind. Now, 200 years after his birth and 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species, the CBC Digital Archives looks at the history of Darwin, his controversial theory and the ways in which his thoughts still affect the world.

Almost 150 years have passed since Charles Darwin first thought up his theory of evolution and the questions, arguments and accusations have never died down in all that time. Creationists say evolution cannot explain the variety and complexity of human life. Evolutionists say the creationists have no proof beyond their faith. This 1981 episode of Man Alive looks at both sides of the evolutionary argument and explains what Darwin's theories mean and why they have proved so controversial.
• World-renowned anthropologist Ashley Montagu once summed up the opposing sides of the evolution debate by saying, "Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof."
  • Whether right or wrong, few deny that Charles Darwin had a brilliant mind ... although it was not so apparent in his younger days. In his autobiography, Darwin recalled his sub-par school days: "When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor low in it; and I believe I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect." 

Medium: Television
Program: Man Alive
Broadcast Date: Feb. 15, 1981
Guest(s): Michael Denham, Chris McGowan, Daniel Osmond, Gary Parker, William Swinton
Host: Roy Bonisteel
Duration: 25:18

Last updated: February 8, 2012

Page consulted on January 27, 2014

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