How Did Carl Linnaeus’ Work In Taxonomy Influence Charles Darwin and Did Linnaeus Believe In Evolution?

Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in 1859, more than 100 years after Carl Linnaeus published his classification system.

Its basic idea was natural selection, the process by which species changed over many years in order to survive in their environment. These changes led to new species, each specializing in a different way.

In evolution, it was called “survival of the fittest.”

The theory created an uproar because it challenged many religious beliefs held at the time.

One hundred years before, Linnaeus seems to have struggled with the same ideas. His careful studies revealed to him that plants produced hybrids, forms that looked like new species.

He saw it clearly when he observed plants from other parts of the world change when they grew in his native Sweden. He could not deny that new species had evolved since the creation of the world.

He also called nature a “war of all against all,” an idea very similar to evolution’s “survival of the fittest.”

Linnaeus did not want to be a preacher, but he was strongly influenced by the religious atmosphere of his family.

He believed that God had created the world in a divine order from the simplest creatures up to human beings. Linnaeus’s need to create a classification system was almost as much religious as it was scientific.

Like many scientists of the time, he reached a compromise between his scientific observations and his religious beliefs in what was called a natural theology.

He said God created struggle and competition to maintain the balance of nature; it was part of the divine order.

There’s no doubt, however, that Darwin was highly influenced by the information Linnaeus so clearly presented in his classification system.

Linnaeus did not propose the theory of evolution, but he had planted the seeds for its development.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

3 thoughts on “How Did Carl Linnaeus’ Work In Taxonomy Influence Charles Darwin and Did Linnaeus Believe In Evolution?”

  1. carolus linneaus
    It is a pretty interesting website, But I’d rather learn about the Human Body, rather than have to study this. Hmmph.

  2. According to the Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, all living things, whether they are plants, animals and etc., have a common ancestor. There are a few queries to be raised regarding the so-called, common ancestor:

    a) As we know all living things, whether they are plants or animals or etc., need to have a couple, i.e. male and female, in order to produce the next living things. A single ancestor, such as either a male ancestor or female, would not have reproduction. How could there be only a single common ancestor in the beginning since it would have needed male ancestor as well as female of similar types in order to have reproduction? It is irrational to assume that different kinds of ancestors could perform reproduction. It is the same as a cow could not find a life-partner to mix with a rooster to perform reproduction. Certainly! If there would be common ancestor for evolution, there must be male and female ancestors with the same kind in order to achieve reproduction. To mention that all living things would have a common ancestor, is rather illogical. This is due to there must be male and female ancestors and they must be of the same kind to interact for reproduction. Not only that, they have to meet with each other instead of one was in one part of the earth and another was in another. Thus, the concept to have one common ancestor for reproduction does not seem correctly and this proves that evolution’s theory might not be true in reality.

    b) If all living things in this world have a common ancestor, it gives the implication that all plants and animals could be considered as the brothers and sisters. As plants, chicken, cows, human beings and etc. could have the common ancestor, the conclusion would turn up to be weird that we always consume our plants, chicken and beef even though they are part of our brothers and sisters. Thus, evolution’s theory would seem to be weird if all living things would have a common ancestor.

  3. It’s worth noting that “survival of the fittest” cannot be attributed to Darwin, and actually wasn’t really aligned with his theory. Instead it was a phrase coined by Social Darwinists as a justification for the levels of poverty that exist withing society. That’s a common misconception, but since it appears to be a cornerstone concept in your discussion here, you might want to take a close look and re-evaluate your conclusions.

    Otherwise, good stuff!

Leave a Comment