Question for those who believe that evolution explains man's origin: The theory of evolution began with Darwin?

How did people who reject the creation story explain our origin/existence BEFORE Darwin? What did the scientists thinks before evolution theory? What about before there WERE scientists? Also, why did it take so long for all of the supposed science to be known? Why didn't they figure out all they are figuring out now long before? The creation explanation predates all of the "science"; why is that? I was really wondering about this. Please enlighten me.


But still; if scientists are so smart; why did it take them so long? Was everybody stupid before Darwin or something?

Update 2:

Take all of the answers given here and you still have millions of years that are left without information being known. Why is that? Was our species idiots for millions of years?

Update 3:

I am going to try to follow up on this question in Philosophy.

13 Answers

  • paul h
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Best answer

    Actually, there have been many other thinkers and scientists in the past who developed hypothesis' or theories for a naturalistic origin of man.....the philosophy of naturalism...which is what much of modern science is based on... is not a new concept.

    Some of the ancient Greeks like Anaximander, Anaxagoras, Aristotle and others believed that natural processes gave rise to man and other creatures. And prior to that, the Bible states in Jeremiah 2:27 that some people believed they came from rocks or trees...a naturalistic origin.

    27 They say to wood, 'You are my father,'

    and to stone, 'You gave me birth.'

    "Anaximander was one of the earliest Greek thinkers at the start of the Axial Age, the period from approximately 700 BC to 200 BC, during which similarly revolutionary thinking appeared in China, India, Iran, the Near East, and Ancient Greece. He was an early proponent of science and tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws, just like human societies, and anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long.[3] Like many thinkers of his time, his contributions to philosophy relate to many disciplines. In astronomy, he tried to describe the mechanics of celestial bodies in relation to the Earth. In physics, he postulated that the indefinite (or apeiron) was the source of all things. His knowledge of geometry allowed him to introduce the gnomon in Greece. He created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography. He was also involved in the politics of Miletus as he was sent as a leader to one of its colonies.

    With his assertion that physical forces, rather than supernatural means, create order in the universe, Anaximander can be considered the first true scientist. He is known to have conducted the earliest recorded scientific experiment.

    Anaximander speculated about the beginnings and origin of animal life. Taking into account the existence of fossils, he claimed that animals sprang out of the sea long ago. The first animals were born trapped in a spiny bark, but as they got older, the bark would dry up and break.[27] As the early humidity evaporated, dry land emerged and, in time, humankind had to adapt. The 3rd century Roman writer Censorinus reports:

    Anaximander of Miletus considered that from warmed up water and earth emerged either fish or entirely fishlike animals. Inside these animals, men took form and embryos were held prisoners until puberty; only then, after these animals burst open, could men and women come out, now able to feed themselves.[28]

    Anaximander put forward the idea that humans had to spend part of this transition inside the mouths of big fish to protect themselves from the Earth's climate until they could come out in open air and lose their scales.[29] He thought that, considering humans' extended infancy, we could not have survived in the primeval world in the same manner we do presently.

    Even though he had no theory of natural selection, some people consider him as evolution's most ancient proponent. The theory of an aquatic descent of man was re-conceived centuries later as the aquatic ape hypothesis. These pre-Darwinian concepts may seem strange, considering modern knowledge and scientific methods, because they present complete explanations of the universe while using bold and hard-to-demonstrate hypotheses. However, they illustrate the beginning of a phenomenon sometimes called the "Greek miracle": men try to explain the nature of the world, not with the aid of myths or religion, but with material principles. This is the very principle of scientific thought, which was later advanced further by improved research methods."

    "Anaxagoras proceeded to give some account of the stages in the process from original chaos to present arrangements. The division into cold mist and warm ether first broke the spell of confusion. With increasing cold, the former gave rise to water, earth and stones. The seeds of life which continued floating in the air were carried down with the rains and produced vegetation. Animals, including man, sprang from the warm and moist clay. If these things be so, then the evidence of the senses must be held in slight esteem. We seem to see things coming into being and passing from it; but reflection tells us that decease and growth only mean a new aggregation (synkrisis) and disruption (diakrisis). Thus Anaxagoras distrusted the senses, and gave the preference to the conclusions of reflection. Thus he maintained that there must be blackness as well as whiteness in snow; how otherwise could it be turned into dark water?

    Anaxagoras marked a turning-point in the history of philosophy. With him speculation passes from the colonies of Greece to settle at Athens. By the theory of minute constituents of things, and his emphasis on mechanical pprocesses in the formation of order, he paved the way for the atomic theory. However, his enunciation of the order that comes from an intelligent mind suggested the theory that nature is the work of design.

    Darwin's theory of evolution is simply the latest attempt in addressing the reasons for all the life forms we have on earth today and in the's simply another creation myth based on a philosophy of naturalism rather than super-naturalistic explanations given by the various religions of the world.

    And there are many evidences which show it is false and flawed....contrary to what some people state. Those evidences are summarily rejected and discarded by science in order to preserve a naturalistic theory. If science were truly interested in determining the truth, there would be more investigation as to what falsifies evolution theory. How many grants or research projects are funded to do that?

    I would hazard a guess the answer is zero.

  • Sarah
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    @ Skeptikitten You totally miss the point. The point is, there is NO MECHANISM whereby an amoeba will eventually over time create a human descendant. NOBODY is arguing that natural selection or speciation or mutations dont occur. The argument is that ALL BIOLOGICAL CHANGES WITHOUT EXCEPTION tend to dilute the genome, leading to increased specialisation, leading to decreased potential to survive further change. Now you can define that as "Evolution" but there is no way a bacteria or amoeba is going to be anything more than a bacteria or amoeba. Because natural selection still works by CULLING the population, DESELECTING those genes not fit for the environment. You on the other hand are saying ah ha! The bacteria is changing! Thats proof for common ancestry! And it just doesn't cut it. And its the fact that your response is typical of "those who should know", that reinforces my creationist position. If the smart people with a vested interest in the idea of evolution can't demonstrate even its logic, let alone the science, AFTER 150 YEARS - then that good enough for me to conclude that Evolution is not a theory but rather a self reinforcing cultural paradigm thats stuck because it creates the illusion that God is unnecessary.

  • icabod
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Why did it take so long? Issac Newton said it best "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." He recognized that as knowledge builds, we make more discoveries.

    Scientific thinking began with the Age of Reason in the17th century and increased with the Enlightenment of18th. Previously people like Aristotle, made observations,tried to explain them and never tested them. Aristotle's writings guided people for hundreds of years and few questioned them.

    An example: The I pod. In the 1970s huge "boom boxes" were lugged around playing 8 track tapes.Why weren't I pods being made? The answer was the technology wasn't there, the Internet wasn't invented, computers weren't in homes and so on.

    The world has thousands of creation narratives. None are in complete agreement with each other and very few can be reconciled. When you say "the creation story" which one do you mean? The Norse Ice Giants? The Japanese pools of mud?, the Navajo prior worlds?

    For most of human existence religions had many gods. Why did it take so lone for montheisitic religions to appear?

  • 1 decade ago

    Scientific method has a long and tortured (literally) history. When you consider what education was available and how it was available to only a select few of privilege until very recently (and in a lot of ways it still is) you might appreciate the great many obstacles that preceded more modern scientific discovery.

    Rejecting empirical evidence has always been a root cause for science. Although scientific progress has been greatly hindered over the centuries by religious dogma, little stood to be gained by contradicting it. The Catholic Church imprisoned Galileo for suggesting that the earth was not the center of the universe, which only contradicted precepts of the church. Imagine what would have been done to anyone suggesting that humans arose from more humble beginnings than the creation fable of Genesis purports?

    Galileo may seem like ancient history today over four and a half centuries later and Newton who followed in the next century may not seem any more modern but they and the scientists that built on their work had to rely on their ability construct theories from the rudiments of knowledge. That is to say each following scientist had to rely on their ability to understand every fundamental that the preceding scientist expounded on. Even today, eking out just one more preponderance of data to add to the body of mathematical theory relies on as just as vast amount of knowledge.

    So right there is where the attention of most of the available scientific minds went for the eons leading up to the eighteenth century. They were preoccupied with proving what they could, leaving speculation as to the circumstance of life up to the philosophers, while they maintained focus on irrefutable truths. Notice the trend away from empirical data.

    Let's not forget that while scientists may be smart, they still aren't all knowing or perfect. Aside from handily avoiding ridicule and possibly disenfranchisement from the society that allowed them to pursue their hunger for knowledge, scientists too, could and still can be drawn to the comfort that religion offers.

    A century or so after Newton, Darwin makes his compelling observation that life may have arrived at it's current state from a more primitive form. Made sense to a lot of scientists at the time and a large percentage of scientists since.

    It is really rather obtuse to conjecture about the relevance time has to any argument but to decry the progress of human intellect as anything other than potential denied for all but the most infinitesimal portion of it's capability is ignorance and there can't really be any furtive discussion.

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    This sounds more like a religious question than a science question.

    The Native Americans have longed understood and "believed" in evolution. And they still do. The Greeks also knew of evolution.

    Before Darwin most cultures just said, "God(s) made everything" and left it to that. Serious scientific inquires into the origin of life are relatively recent.

  • 1 decade ago

    Darwin didn't come up with the the only theory of evolution. there were a few scientists before him. he just came up with the best one. before him, and even during his time religion was getting in the scientists way. if you didn't believe in creationism then you could be punished. for example when Galileo said the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around, he was sentenced to house arrest for life. also in 1650 archbishop James Ussher said that the world was created in 4004 BCE making the earth only 6000 years old. evolution couldn't explain the diversity of life if it all happened in 6000 years.

    one important thing you must realize is that evolution is both fact and theory. the fact part is that life has changed over time. that fact is verifiable by looking at fossils. the theory part is our explanation of why life has changed, that's where Darwin comes in.

    more in depth info is available in an online lecture of my class at

    Source(s): I'm taking a Biological anthropology class. most of my information was gathered from chapter one in a textbook called "Core Concepts in Biological Anthropology" by Agustin Fuentes
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I wanted to address one of the answers to your question rather than your question itself. To the individual who used the phase "They key word is "Theory"..."

    Um yeah it's a theory. Don't let that mislead you into thinking it's of any lesser significance though because it is ONLY arguably the MOST successful scientific theory of all time. People have been actively trying to disprove it for 150 years and failed repeatedly.

    Why? Because it's the single best explanation for observable phenonmena in the diversity of life on this planet we have. Scientists actively encourage anyone with proof to the contrary to instruct them. See, unlike religion science isn't a belief system it's a methodology. A tool kit, if you will for discovering how the world around us works based on evidence rather than stories. You show me religion and I'll show you the spanish inquisition. You show me science and I'll show you life saving vaccines, landing men on the moon, 747's, computers, high yield agriculture... Scientists are the first ones to admit they don't know everything, but they made all of what I just mentioned possible... HMMMM maybe they're on to something?

  • 1 decade ago

    Just in my own opinion, before the theory- most people either believed that we were created by God or that we just 'appeared' on this planet, or they just didn't think about it at all. It's only now that we're classifying all the organisms into their 'categories' .. and in the process finding evidence that we all evolved from the same ancestor.. and also finding fossils that look like we evolved from them, that the evolution theory came about.

    Source(s): my feelings from all the biology/science lessons I've been taking since high school XD
  • 1 decade ago

    People answered every question regarding where humans came from before Darwin with "God did it" The creation explanation does predate science, but it is not a satisfactory answer for people who seek proof. Despite all the evidence there are still around 90% of people in the United States alone who believe the universe is 6 thousand years old. Ridiculous.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Darwin was not the first to believe in evolution. The ancient Greeks, in fact, some 4,000 years before had speculated on the idea. It was nothing new but the church made sure, by torture and burning at the stake, that its policies were the ones to be believed, despite the facts.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Before the theory of evolution people believed in all the mumbo jumbo called religion--God and all that.Many God's were worshipped, and it took so long worshipping them them that some bright spark decided it would be easier to have only 1 God.However they couldn't decide what God to have, and fought many wars trying to bring their own special God to prominence.As people became more enlightened to the structure of the planet, and with rational thinking they gradually saw the light and slowly rejected all the religious nonsense

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.