In 1839, Darwin married his cousin Emma Wedgwood. Following the birth of their second child, the family moved to Down House in Kent, in England’s southeast. Darwin would live there for the next forty years, until his death. The house and its surroundings provided him with plenty of inspiration. It was at Down House that he conducted several of the key experiments supporting his great theory of evolution by natural selection. It was also at Down House that Darwin lost his faith in God.
Quite clearly, the possibility of being viewed as a heretic – whether by scientists, Christians or both – worried Darwin considerably. But he refused to abandon his work on developing his theory of evolution.
With the success of his research on pigeons, Darwin took another step nearer to finalizing his theory of evolution. However, Fate would intervene cruelly. He suffered a series of tragedies, one of them so severe that it irrevocably undermined his faith in God.
That there’s no gain without pain was something Darwin had already learned during the more difficult times of his famous voyage on HMS Beagle. Now, as he pursued his research, he was discovering the truth of the saying all over again. Fortunately, there was a resolute side to Darwin’s character, and despite the adversity, he continued his work. In our next programme, we’ll hear how his classic work On the Origin of Species was finally published.