Darwin's voyage on the Beagle has been acclaimed as the source of great discoveries which gave him the theory of evolution. But, during that five-year voyage (1831 to 1836), he never found any such evidence. Here is what happened. This is science vs. evolution—a Creation-Evolution Encyclopedia, brought to you by Creation Science Facts.
Important: After reading this, be sure to read Darwin's Strange Sickness. The cause of his 46-year illness has at last been found.
CONTENTS: Darwin's Voyage around the World
Cape Verde Islands: Tramping through the nearby hills
Tierra del Fuego: Climbing Mount Tarn
Rio de Janeiro: Watching mud-daubers
Montevideo to Buenos Aires: Old bones and horse rides
Santa Cruz River: Helping to survey a river
Valparaiso: Walking around town and into the jungle
Chiloe Coast and Archipelago: Looking at a glacier
Concepcion: Mussel-shell beds and evidence of an earthquake
Santiago to Mendoza: A pack trip across the Andes
Valparaiso to Copiapo: A pack trip to a silver mine
Lima: Watching the water for six weeks
Galapagos: Five weeks studying subspecies
Tahiti: Climbing a gorge and a rock pile
Kororareka: Hiking and hunting kangaroos
Tasmania: Climbing Mount Wellington
The Trip Home: Looking at more ocean
Page numbers without book references refer to the book,
HISTORY OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY, from which these facts are
summarized. An asterisk ( * ) by a name indicates that person is not known to be
a creationist. Of over 4,000 quotations in the set of books this
is based on
, only 164 statements are by creationists.
It has been widely said that it was *Charles Darwin's five-year journey on the Beagle that laid the foundation for his theory. Well, then, what is it that he discovered during those five years which provided that foundation? Let us, for a few minutes, journey with Darwin as he sailed around the world!
Sailing from England on December 31, 1831 ("my real birthday!" said Darwin afterward), H.M.S. Beagle set sail for South America. Stopping at the Cape Verde Islands, on January 16, 1832, Darwin saw the town and, during the short time while the ship loaded supplies, quickly tramped around through some nearby hills. Charles Darwin was young and robust. Although the ship made him seasick, he was hardy and well able to tackle all kinds of pack trips while on land.
At Tierra del Fuego, in December 1832 and January 1833, Darwin, 24 at the time, climbed a desolate mountain range called Mount Tarn. It was a grueling climb, but there was nothing to see but rock and snow. While there, Darwin and the crew returned three Fuegans to their home, and he had a chance to view that desolate, wind-swept land of Tierra del Fuego. No evidence of evolution here.
The Beagle surveyed the coasts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina for nine months in 1832. After an excursion to Tierra del Fuego, another seven months were spent in 1833 doing the same thing. That was the reason the British government had sent the ship to sea: to chart the coasts of South America and other locations, in order to update the maps of the British Admiralty in London.
While the ship surveyed the South American coast, young Darwin spent much of his time ashore. On April 4, 1832, the Beagle arrived in Rio de Janeiro. For ten weeks, while Fitz Roy on the Beagle upgraded British charts of the Brazilian coast, Darwin lived in a cottage on Botafogo Bay at Rio de Janeiro. While in that cottage, Darwin studied mud-dauber wasps which made clay and then stuffed them "full of half-dead spiders and caterpillars." No evolution here. He also saw a fight between a wasp and a spider. Darwin later said that helped him understand "the struggle for survival." But no evolution there either. Darwin wrote about the frogs and "a pleasing chirp" of crickets he heard there at night. He also roamed about over the nearby countryside.
The Beagle left Rio for Montevideo in July 1832, and Darwin spent almost six months exploring ashore. The ship returned to Montevideo again in April 1833, and Darwin had more months ashore. But his diaries and notes provide no indication that he saw any evidence of evolution.
He also found some fossil bones while there. This excited him, but there was no evidence of evolution in anything he saw. From August 11-17, 1833, he took a horseback trip. He traveled hundreds of miles from the mouth of the Rio Negro, north of Bahia Blanca, and thence another 400 miles to Buenos Aires, sleeping under the stars, eating whatever game the gauchos could find. His diaries indicate he was a strong young man, and well able to take the trip.
September 27, 1833, found him in Buenos Aires, saddling up for another trip. He rode horseback 300 miles northwest over dangerous roads to Santa Fe, on an arm of the Parana River. Then he returned downriver to Buenos Aires by boat, arriving there on October 2.
From November 14 through the 28th, he found some more fossil bones, and what he thought was the tooth of a horse.
This excited him even more, since there had been no horses in Argentina till recent times. But, as before, there was here no evidence of evolution.
In January 1834, the ship headed south from Deseado and again went to Tierra del Fuego, on down to near the southern tip of South America, then up by the Falkland Islands, and over to the coast again. From April 18 to May 8, Darwin helped survey the Santa Cruz River by boat.
Then, in May, the ship headed south—and through the Straits of Magellan.
On June 11, 1834, the Beagle entered the Pacific. The end of July found the ship 1,200 miles northward at Valparaiso, where it remained until winter was past. While there young Darwin walked around town and into some nearby jungles. He found no evidence of evolution.
In November, the ship returned south, and spent the next three months charting the coast of Chiloe Island and the many islands of the Chonos Archipelago. Darwin was deeply impressed with the glaciers he saw. Enormous chunks of ice would break off, with a sound "like the broadside of a man-of-war," sending great waves outward in all directions. In February 1835, at Valdivia on the coast of Chile, Darwin felt an earthquake. More excitement! He had experienced far more than most natives of England twice his age, yet none of it provided any indication of evolution.
Later arriving at Concepcion, 200 miles further north, he witnessed violent effects of that same earthquake. On a nearby island, Captain Fitz Roy found mussel-shell beds that had risen ten feet above sea level. The earthquake had caused the island to rise somewhat. This was really news for young Darwin, and he carefully wrote about it in his diaries. But, again, it was no evidence of evolution.
March 1835 found Darwin in Santiago, and he was glad to be off the rolling ship for a time. Arranging for another pack trip, he crossed the Andes from Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, in Argentina, by way of Portillo Pass. He then returned by Uspallata. This pack trip lasted from March 18 to April 10. It is no simple thing to go across the Andes. But the young man experienced no physical difficulty doing it, though Chilean guides and ten mules took him across the continent and back in 24 days. They ate and slept in the open fields throughout the trip. In the Andes he found fossil seashells at 14,000 foot elevation and petrified coastal trees high on the Argentine side of the Andes. Both were evidences of extreme mountain uplift at some time in the past; but, once again, it provided no evidence of evolution.
Back at the coast, Darwin met the Beagle on April 23, in order to transfer some of his fossil shells and petrified tree pieces to the ship. Then he hurriedly returned to shore, thankful for more time away from the ship and the seasickness it brought.
Arranging for another pack trip, he journeyed northward from Valparaiso to Copiapo on April 27. Darwin thoroughly enjoyed the rugged life of the pack trip and camping out in the open along the way. A little more than halfway up the coast, he took a jaunt off to the east to a silver mine at the base of Mount Arqueros. Darwin saw the miners climbing up nearly vertical ladders with loads on their shoulders that often weighed 200 pounds or more. On June 22, he again met the ship, but nowhere on the trip had he found evidence of evolution. If he had, it would have appeared in his notebooks and his later book about the voyage.
In July, 1835, he again boarded the Beagle, and the ship went north to Callao, the port of Lima, where they remained six weeks. Young Darwin had planned for another expedition. But a revolution was in progress, so he stayed on the ship most of the time. Then the ship weighed anchor and set sail out into the broad Pacific.
Darwin had time to think about all he had seen, and he wrote many comments about it in his diaries. But none of it amounts to evidence of evolution.
Then, about 600 miles west of Ecuador, they arrived in the Galapagos and spent five weeks there. The captain charted the islands while young Darwin walked over several of them. There were many odd creatures on the islands, but no evidence of evolution.
He also saw those finch subspecies, collected a few, and wrote them up in his notes. It was not until he arrived back in England that a friend (John Gould) suggested they might be evidence of evolution! So here at last was the evidence! But not so, as we discussed in Natural Selection; those finches were all variations of one species, just as the honeycreepers of Hawaii are all subspecies. What Darwin did not realize was the limiting wall imposed by the DNA coding. All the variations he witnessed had been originally included in that code. Only by changing the code could species be changed, and that could not be done. The Galapagos Islands had been there a long time, yet those finches remained finches; none of them had changed into something else.
"The aid of a good wind (25 days from October 20 to November 15, 1835) took the Beagle from the Galapagos to Tahiti." Arriving at Matavai Bay, he looked at coral reefs and journeyed inland with two Tahitian guides. Tramping along the Tia-aura (now Tauaura) Valley, they entered a rugged mountain gorge "far more magnificent than anything which I had ever before beheld." The trip took two days, and included some very dangerous rock climbing and ledge clinging. But a search of his diaries reveals no evidence of evolution in the coral reefs, mountain canyons, or steep cliffs. Eleven days of intense tourism for Darwin and it was time to leave.
Arriving at Kororareka (now Russell) in New Zealand's Bay of Islands on December 21, 1835, Darwin hiked through rough terrain and saw how the Maoris lived.
Setting sail again, the ship lowered anchor in Sydney harbor 14 days later. Darwin hired a guide to take him to Bathurst, and off they went on a 12-day march. While in the outback, Darwin did some kangaroo hunting at Wallaroo, but saw none of the wild dingoes, although he looked for them. He marveled at the ability of the Aborigines to track across country, and the way they could throw a spear at a tiny target 30 yards away and hit it. There was no doubt but that they were highly intelligent.
In January 1836, the Beagle sailed to Tasmania, where the inexhaustible Darwin climbed Mount Wellington through a tangle of trees and undergrowth. On February 17, they sailed to King George Sound, in southwest Australia. It was a trip of 1,500 miles, and Darwin was seasick much of the time. The ship happened to arrive in time to see a yearly festival by the Aborigines.
Ahead of Darwin was the final leg of the long journey. He had months to recall the years already gone by. Across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, into the Atlantic, to Ascension Island, and a little final charting of the coast of South America. Then up to Cape Verde Islands, and to Falmouth, England, where Darwin left the ship for the last time on October 2, 1836.
But, although he spent the rest of his life dreaming up imaginative possibilities as to how evolution might have occurred, he never really had any solid facts to offer. Darwin should have learned the lessons his trip could have taught him. He had journeyed around the world without finding any evidence of evolution; for, you see, "evolution" is the change of one species to another.
But there is more to this story: Why did this healthy, robust young man spend most of the rest of his life as a partial invalid? —Now turn to Darwin's Strange Sickness to find out. It will surprise you.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
To the next topic in this series:
DARWIN'S STRANGE SICKNESS: A careful biographer has at last found the cause of *Darwin's 46-year-old illness.