Since it's publication in 1859, Charles Darwin's groundbreaking piece of scientific literature The Origin of Species has done an excellent job of conjuring up controversy wherever it is read. The book introduced the theory of natural selection, which is now widely accepted by many to be a scientific truth. Darwin used the information he gathered on his expedition to the Galapogos Islands as evidence to support his theory.
Needless to say, the Church of England was less than happy with Darwin upon his return from the Galapogos. They believed that his ideas went against the teachings of the Church, mostly the concept of the earth being created in a matter of days and humankind always being as it is now. Even though it has been over one hundred years since Species was published, some still refuse to acknowledge it as the proven fact it is.
One gigantic misconception that has crept its way into the mainstream idea of natural selection is that Darwin claimed that human beings descended from apes and monkeys. Nowhere in the work does Darwin state this, however, he does say that humans and apes share a common ancestor, and through the process of natural selection, the ancestor produced both apes and humans.
Scientific studies have shown that chimpanzee DNA is 99% identical to the DNA of humans. However, it seems that this hard evidence is simply not enough for some. Different religious groups protest the teaching of evolution in schools, claiming that it is against the rights of religious children to have to learn the facts of life. Why it is that some people feel so attacked by Darwin's work isn't completely known, but one reason that has been tossed around is that some feel that the book claims that there is no "God". However, just like the statement that man came from ape, Darwin never said that.
Evoltuion is no longer a theory, it is a fact. Mankind has studied the organisms of the world for centuries, and it has been seen that over time, they change. A being must adapt to its environment in order to survive, this is proven. Even the Catholic Church, an organization notorious for being conservative and closed-minded, has recognized that natural selection is a proven scientific occurrence.
Only when mankind can look at its origins and embrace the changes that have taken place can it progress any further. Knowing history is important, it allows people to look at the mistakes of the past and avoid them. Evolution is the ultimate history lesson; when humanity can finally understand its origins, it can predict where it will be in the future.