Admiral Robert Fitzroy was Darwin's captain for that famous voyage that changed the world. An aristocrat and a man of science, Ole Cap'n Fitz was not however onboard with evolution.
"I believe that this is the Truth, and had I known then what I know now, I would not have taken him [Darwin] aboard the Beagle." -1860 Oxford evolution debate
The HMS beagle was not exactly a luxury liner. These survey voyages were arduous for sure. The previous captain, Pringle Stokes had committed suicide.
Darwin was selected to accompany the meteorologist/captain as a scientific colleague for this next long voyage. Darwin was meticulous in gathering supporting evidence during the voyage.
Do you think it would have been very long before someone else would have proposed this theory in such a convincing manner?
Wallace was reaching the same conclusion at the same time as Darwin. In fact this is what forced Darwin's hand into publishing when he did. Some brief info here.
Thanks Reg, that Berkely edu link is full of interesting leads since I have recently become very interested in the history of the greatest scientific discoveries. I was not aware that some of the early ideas about the possibility of evolution comes from the study of economics, population growth, and the notion of ending poverty.
Seems Wallace and Darwin were lockstep early on, and Wallace was a supporter of Darwin, but later Wallace became a believer that:
"the unseen universe of Spirit" had interceded at least three times in history. The first was the creation of life from inorganic matter. The second was the introduction of consciousness in the higher animals. And the third was the generation of the higher mental faculties in humankind"
Darwin remained agnostic.
Add geology. Concepts from Charles Lyell and James Hutton helped shape the views of a young Darwin, who at the time was first and foremost a geologist himself. This would have been around the time of the voyage of the Beagle, when Darwin still held creationist views, if I'm not mistaken.
Yes, thanks kris, right, those cutting edge geologists were key. Proponents of "old earth" theories were required because, well the origin of the species takes a while ;)