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Christopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa, in what is today Northwestern Italy. His father was a middle-class wool merchant, though it was relatively humble beginnings for what he later became. Columbus learnt to sail from an early age and later worked as a business agent, travelling around Europe to England, Ireland and later along the West coast of Africa. He was not a scholar but was an enthusiastic self-educated man, who read extensively on astronomy, science and navigation. He also became fluent in Latin, Portuguese and Spanish. Science Female the original iron man mug. Christopher Columbus was a believer in the spherical nature of the world (some Christians still held the view that the world was flat). An ambitious man, Christopher Columbus hoped to find a Western trade route to the lucrative spice markets in Asia. Rather than sailing east, he hoped that sailing west would lead to countries like Japan and China.

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Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. He was born into a wealthy and influential family. His grandfathers included — China manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood, and Erasmus Darwin, one of the leading intellectuals of 18th century England. Darwin planned to study medicine at Edinburgh University, but later, at the instigation of his father, changed to studying Divinity at Christ’s College, Cambridge University. Darwin was not a great student, preferring to spend time in outdoor pursuits; he spent a lot of time examining natural science and beetle collecting. After gaining a passionate interest in natural science, Darwin was offered a place on the HMS Beagle to act as a natural scientist on a voyage to the coast of South America.

At the time, religion was a powerful force in society, and most people took the Bible as the infallible, literal word of God. This included the belief that God created the world in seven days, and the world was only a few thousand years old. However, on the voyage, Darwin increasingly began to see evidence of life being much older. In particular Lyell’s ‘Principles of Geology’ suggested that fossils were evidence of animals living hundreds of thousands of years ago. On the voyage, Darwin made copious notes about specimens he found on his voyages. In particular, at the Galapagos Islands 500 miles west of South America, Darwin was struck by how the Finch was different on each individual island. Science Female the original iron man mug. He noticed that the Finch had somehow adapted to the various aspects of the particular island. Over the next 20 years, Darwin worked on the dilemma of how species evolve and can end up being quite different on different islands. Influenced by the work of Thomas Malthus, Darwin came up with a theory of natural selection and gradual evolution over time.

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Darwin was brought up in the Church of England, and at one point was being trained to be an Anglican priest. Like many of his generation, he took the Bible as the literal word of God and often quoted it as a source of moral authority. However, after his epic voyage to South America, he became doubtful of the Bible as a source of history; he also felt no reason why all religions couldn’t be true. From 1849, he stopped going to church, though he never considered himself to be an atheist. He felt that ‘agnostic’ suited his beliefs more closely. He wrote in his autobiography that he eventually gave up Christianity as he disagreed with the conclusion that all non-believers spend eternity in hell. He was politically liberal, being an opponent of slavery. He experienced the brutality of how people treated their slaves in a Spanish colony.

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