150th Anniversary of 'Origin of the Species': Manuscripts Online
As we reach the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin's manuscripts are available online (You need Silverlight to flip through the pages, though). Darwin's Theory of Evolution predated the discovery of DNA, though was not the first to contradict the story of Genesis: medieval church scholars viewed the story of Genesis as allegory and not as historical fact, which Darwin served to quantify. The book's original title, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, was abbreviated for the sixth edition. Origin of the Species is now in the public domain, and has even seen a creationist remix by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, though their results seem to be mixed at best.
Creationism as we know it came to the fore after the Reformation. Since then, the study of the natural world was more of a search to rationalize the creation story. Actually, Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin's great-grandfather, worked on a theory of interspecies transmutation (Zöonomia), when he wasn't trying to invent the rocket engine.
Against this background, Charles Darwin joined the crew of the HMS Beagle as a naturalist in 1831 and, in his journeys to Tierra del Fuego and the Galapagos Islands, began to test the theory that one species could change into another, and that the gap between humans and animals was more perception than fact. Furthermore, Darwin stated that this evolution was driven by natural selection: competition between members of a species to survive.
Religious reception to Darwin's work varied: some religious bodies just denounced it as BS, while others said that it was further proof of a higher power's hand at work.