3) On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin
…to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.
It’s no surprise Origin of Species is in here. The theory of evolution has to be the most controversial scientific theory out there. Despite it being backed by yards and yards of evidence, it receives an inordinate amount of hatred from the religious world. There are much stranger and ungodly theories – for instance, quantum mechanics is pure evil – but evolution is the only scientific theory that is constantly harassed by the general layperson.
Evolution was groundbreaking at the time, and a real game changer for the natural sciences. On the Origin of Species isn’t a particularly easy read but Darwin does have a nimble grandeur about him at times:
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.