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New Discoveries and Old Beliefs


In the middle of the 19th century a debate was under way which would shake the foundation of Victorian religious beliefs: the evolutionary theories of Lyell, Chambers and Darwin (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, 1859), seemed to challenge the traditional biblical version of creation. In an age of scientific discoveries and progress, Victorians found this development one of the hardest to accept.


Among those trying to reconcile new discoveries and old beliefs were also men of letters, like Tennyson, [however Victorians generally were both intrigued and disorientated, excited and horrified by such publications. Their sense of who they were and what they had always believed in was shattered, their place in the universe suddenly and dramatically changed].
When Darwin published his famous work, On the Origin of Species, it caused a storm of controversy because it no long gave God a key role in creation. Darwin made every attempt to avoid opposing religious creationism and made as little mention of humans as possible. He also completely avoided mentioning apes and man's common ancestry with them in On The Origin of Species. lt wasn't until the publication of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871 that he courageously took the step of saying that humans descended from apes and that they all very probably originated in Africa.
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