Charles Darwin died in 1882. The theory of continental drift was not widely accepted until long after World War II. What on earth could those things have to do with each other and then with evolution? Buckle up because I think all three are linked and very much related.
Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of continental drift in the early 1900s and was outright rejected by the “scientific community”. He was ridiculed for proposing such nonsense. “What force could possibly move land masses?” they asked. Since Darwin died twenty years prior to Wegener’s hypothesis, it is likely that Darwin had no clue about the theory. This is important because Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on his observations of animals he made on voyages to other continents. His perspective would have been that animals on other continents which appeared similar to those on the European continent would have evolved to be that way at the same independently would have proven evolution. Today, from a pure science perspective, we understand that (hypothetically) finding fossils of wooly mammoths on two continents to be due to the continents actually being connected at some point in the distant past. But if we thought the continents had ALWAYS been separated and (hypothetically) found fossils of wooly mammoths on two continents, we would have just found irrefutable evidence of evolution.
By evolution, I mean the cross-species type by the way. There is no refuting that species change to adapt to their environments. There is no evidence, however, of one animal evolving into another animal. And by “no evidence”, I mean, “none”.
When science appears to be religion, as it is with the case of evolution, it is very important to put things into their original context. Charles Darwin is the equivalent of an “Early Church Father” or a New Testament author when it comes to the scientific community. Putting his observations into the context of the time can show how incredibly ignorant the man really was of the world around him. Today, we take continental drift for granted – as if it has always been accepted. The reality is that there were serious, degreed, and credentialed scientists who did not accept this theory as we do today into the 1960s. I wonder what it was like to be a scientist back in the 60s when dissent was tolerated and even expected?