Was Einstein dependent on Darwin?

If Darwin did not discover and publish Origins of Species would Einstein still have came onto his Theory of Relativity?

That is an interesting question with two possible answers. On one hand, Darwin was not alone; nor was his idea singularly unique. Gavin DeBeers wrote “Biology before the Beagle (1964)” to demonstrate that Darwin did not pluck his theory of evolution through natural selection from the recesses of his unique mind or thin air. Darwin was a detailed natural philosopher – nearly obsessive compulsive – who categorized animals and plants. Wallace’s discovery encouraged Darwin to publish so that Darwin would still receive credit, which rather implies that Wallace was onto the same research trail. Not to mention that Lamarck published Philosophie zoologique in 1809, developing a “theory of ‘transformism’ or evolution, which he was the first to do, invoking descent of species during long periods of time from other species, so that the Animal Kingdom could be represented by a genealogy of branching lines, the last branch being that of man.”[1] Lamarckism did not flourish like Darwinism did though, perhaps much can be said for Huxley’s support. William Paley wrote “Natural Theology (1802)” to illustrate life according to the workings of a clock – dependent on a watchmaker. But Darwin found causation for adapted species due to Paley’s description of the select workings of the clock pieces and the altered methods in which species was able to adapt to different surrounds. Paley called to attention the human eye, and he claimed it was created specifically by the Creator to grant vision. The same eye, though, he noted, adapted differently for fish that lived in the water; it was still an eye, but the eye was changed.[2] Scientists, other than Darwin, worked on evolutionary concepts.

On the other hand, if we were to consider that evolutionary theory had not happened, that the concept of biology had not been founded, and religion still held the final authority…then no; I do not think Albert Einstein would have been able to come up with the Theory of Relativity because I do not think the collective consciousness (or ability to develop advanced concepts) would have began to form. In a very reduced example, I think I understood this course because I took Evolution of Life and Intelligence, which is basically the “Darwin course.” When I began, I was terrified because I am not a scientist. I read many articles. I watched videos and listened to lectures. The more I submersed myself in the concepts, the more I was able to understand. I think the large lessons learned, namely through the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution, was to question, to think, to experiment and see what all humans can do – because we are changing, and the more we learn, the more we evolve.


Beer, Gavin De. “Biology before the Beagle (1964).” Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition, Texts, Commentary. 3rd ed. Ed. Philip Appleman. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 41-44.

Paley, William. “Natural Theology (1802).” Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition, Texts, Commentary. 3rd ed. Ed. Philip Appleman. New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. pp. 41-44.

Picture c/o:  http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/0a/0f/1a/e3/cosmocaixa-barcelona.jpg

[1] Gavin DeBeers, “Biology before the Beagle,” p. 34.

[2] William Paley, “Natural Theology (1802),” p. 43.


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