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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Darwin and design: historical essay:

“The only distinct meaning of the word ‘natural’ is stated , fixed or settled ; since what is natural as much requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render it so, i.e. to effect it continually or at stated times, as what is supernatural or miraculous does to effect it for once.”

 second edition of Origin of species (1860)

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12 Responses to Darwin Correspondence Project

  1. Just to clarify, this is the preceding paragraph:

    Yet Darwin’s beliefs about the role of a Creator changed over time. Nor does his criticism of Paley mean that he necessarily discounted other versions of natural theology, such as that of William Herschell. Indeed, the second edition of Origin of species (1860) contains a new epigraph from the famous Christian apologist, Joseph Butler, which reads:

    So the words aren’t Darwin’s, as you seem to imply.

  2. Oh noes, cdesign proponentists went back in time and inserted a Christianismist passage into the second edition of Origin of Species that Darwin would have never approved of!

    :rolleyes:

  3. That quote is not Darwin’s, but it is still significant that it appears in Origin of Species. Charles Darwin did attempt to reconcile his beliefs with the evidence present, a worthy task I would implore any creationist to undertake.

  4. Bob O’H,

    How did I “imply”? I gave you a link to the original source. As blackjack000 aptly put it, I too think it is significant enough that it wound up in the second edition. His quote is extremely generous condidering what he wrote four editions later:

    “But many naturalists think that something more is meant by the Natural System; they believe that it reveals the plan of the Creator; but unless it be specified whether order in time or space, or both, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge.”

    “They believe that many structures have been created for the sake of beauty, to delight man or the Creator (but this latter point is beyond the scope of scientific discussion), or for the sake of mere variety, a view already discussed. Such doctrines if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”

    “On the ordinary view of the independent creation of each being, we can only say that so it is;- that it has pleased the Creator to construct all the animals and plants in each great class on a uniform plan; but this is not a scientific explanation.”

    “When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled.”

    However, here is how Darwin ends his sixth edition:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator 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.”

    Charles Darwin, sixth edition (1859)

  5. Hm, you explicitly stated that your quote is from the 2nd edition of the Origin of Species, so, when I read it, I naturally assumed that the quote was of Charles Darwin – as you gave no other hint for an author. Without Bob O’H's post, I’d still think so, as the quote is buried in the middle of the lengthy text you linked to – and you can’t expect that every linked article is thoroughly read by everyone…
    Yes, I feel mislead – though it may not be your intention to do so.

  6. Mario, I have to agree with Bob O’H here. Everyone knows that Origin was written by Darwin. So to set out a quote and then just tag “Origin” to it clearly implies that the words were written by Darwin.

    I followed your link and found out the truth of the matter, but most casual readers will not. Therefore, you have set up many people for confusion. A fairer cite (a form that would be required in a legal brief) would be: Joseph Buter, Epigraph to Charles Darwin, Origin of Species (2nd ed. 1860).

  7. 7
    Timothy V Reeves

    Thanks for the link to the Darwin project article. Reading this article I thought the following worth quoting:

    The correspondence between Darwin and Gray is especially rich in discussions of design in nature. It is clear from these discussions that there were different versions of natural theology, different positions on the role of God in nature being considered. These were not debates between science and religion, they were debates within natural theology, and within science itself. And they were not new, they had been going on for decades prior to the publication of Origin .

    Darwin’s work thus did not introduce controversy into natural theology, nor did it sweep natural theology away. But what did happen in the years following Origin , is that the public debates became more polemical, and a polarised view of science and theology was introduced by a few very vocal protagonists.

    Huxley used Darwinism as a platform for a political campaign against the authority of the clergy in education. Occasionally referred to as ‘Pope Huxley’ by friends and critics alike, he sketched Darwin as the pontiff in a letter of 1868, giving audience to a humble believer, in the form of a German naturalist.

    The political aspect of the evolution debates is of course even more pronounced today, and it is crucial to understanding how Darwin continues to be a watchword. Today we have to contend not only with pervasive misrepresentation and misquoting, but also with the strong tendency to oversimplify the issues at stake, as if we had only two choices: science or religion; evolution or belief in God. Darwin’s correspondence shows that this certainly was not the case, not for Darwin, and not for his readers. The letters give a richer picture of Darwin, and of the debates in which his work was embroiled.

  8. I have lately read Morley’s Life of Voltaire and he insists strongly that direct attacks on Christianity (even when written with the wonderful force and vigor of Voltaire) produce little permanent effect: real good seems only to follow the slow and silent side attacks. ~ Charles Darwin

  9. Thanks BarryA,

    I’ll keep that in mind. I humbly accept the criticism, but honestly I thought these words above the quote justfied me:

    “From Darwin and design: historical essay:”

    My bad. :(

  10. Here is what Darwin himself thought about “design”, according to his autobiography:

    “The old argument from design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows”. (p. 50)

    Note that he says that he was formerly quite taken with Paley’s argument: “…which formerly seemed to me so conclusive…” He notes in his autobiography that Paley’s two most famous books – Evidences of Christianity (written contra Hume) and Natural Theology – were the two books that most impressed him during his education at Cambridge (where he earned a baccalaureate in Anglican theology, his only advanced academic degree). He patterned his own style of argument in the Origin of Species after Paley’s, and acknowledged his debt to Paley in his autobiography:

    “In order to pass the B.A. examination, it was, also, necessary to get up Paley’s Evidences of Christianity, and his Moral Philosophy… The logic of this book and as I may add of his Natural Theology gave me as much delight as did Euclid. The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the Academical Course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind. I did not at that time trouble myself about Paley’s premises; and taking these on trust I was charmed and convinced of the long line of argumentation.

    – Charles Darwin. Autobiography

  11. during his education at Cambridge (where he earned a baccalaureate in Anglican theology, his only advanced academic degree

    Good golly, Miss Molly! People have spent 150 years worshipping a theory made up by a theologian? And want the public to believe Darwin was a scientist. What a crock!

  12. poachy,

    During the late 18th and early 19th century a great number of natural scientists were religious people. So it was not unusual. Darwin did a lot of good work with various things that had to do with life and did not involve evolution. So yes, he was a scientist and a fairly good one at the mundane stuff he did such as barnacle and worms. He did a good job of classifying plants and animals on the Beagle too.

    On evolution he succumbed to arrogance and really thought he had found the philosopher’s stone in natural selection. A lot of fools have followed Darwin’s ignorance since it seemed so simple and obvious.

    Natural selection works and is important in life but it is a limited tool of nature and God. It is far from the philosopher’s stone that Darwin thought it was and like many men of accomplishment, arrogance gets in the way of clear thinking.

    Allen MacNeill’s passages show how his arrogance led to foolish conclusions,.

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