More Than Karl Marx or John Stuart Mill: Charles Darwin, The Great Liberator
There is also a humble white-marble slab, on the floor of the north side of the nave, near the quire. It's easy to miss because it's in a kind of corner, where it's dark, and it's also almost in the shadow of a garishly splendid monument to Sir Isaac Newton, which tends to hold the visitor's attention. But if you look for it you'll find it easily enough.
No stirring elegy. No moving psalm.
I'd gone to see that marble slab recently, partly because I just never had, and partly because it had been occurring to me for some while that of all the great thinkers among the Enlightenment's first-born, from John Stuart Mill to Karl Marx, there was no one whose star still shines as bright in the firmament as Darwin's. Of them all, Darwin remains indispensible.
The Grants put in 35 field seasons to show, by the evidence of voluminous data acquired by painstaking and meticulous labour, what Darwin could only surmise. Evolution by natural selection was indeed "just a theory" in Darwin's day. It isn't anymore. It's demonstrable, proved, tested and revealed.
And so Darwin prevails. Evolution is driven by hybridization, and by sex selection, but the main engine is natural selection. It's how the earth ended up so rich in the diversity and abundance of life. It's evidence against the founding texts of all the world's great religions. It's evidence for life as a phenomenon that is constantly changing, constantly innovating, all on its own.
It's a rational explanation, subject to testable hypotheses. It's free for the asking and available to everyone, regardless of culture or class. It can account for everything from the virulence of diseases to the complexity of the human eye to the origin of humankind itself. No stirring elegy. No moving psalm.