A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Previous Page

Charles Darwin  Erasmus Darwin  Leonard Darwin  Richard Dawkins  William Dembski  Daniel Dennett  Michael Denton  Alan Dershowitz 

Charles Darwin  (180982)  Web  Library  Amazon  LoC  GBS  QMP  Darwin Online

Thought (or desires more properly) being hereditary it is difficult to imagine it anything but structure of brain hereditary, analogy points out to this. -- love of the deity effect of organization, oh you materialist! Read Barclay on organization!! Avitism in mental structure a disposition & avitism in corporeal structure are facts full of meaning. -- Why is thought being a secretion of brain, more wonderful than gravity a property of matter? It is our arrogance, it our admiration of ourselves.    C Notebook  (1838)  p.166

Origin of man now proved. --Metaphysics must flourish. --He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.    M Notebook  (1838)  #84 

I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.    Letter to Asa Gray  June 18 1857

This sketch is most imperfect; but in so short a space I cannot make it better. Your imagination must fill up many wide blanks. Without some reflexion it will appear all rubbish; perhaps it will appear so after reflexion.   Letter to Asa Gray  September 5, 1857

Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life 

For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be here done.     Introduction to Origin of Species  (1859)

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.    Origin of Species  (1859)  p.186   see also: Dispute

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.    Origin of Species  (1859)  p.189

But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.     Origin of Species  (1859)  p.280

By the theory of natural selection all living species have been connected with the parent-species of each genus, by differences not greater than we see between the varieties of the same species at the present day; and these parent-species, now generally extinct, have in their turn been similarly connected with more ancient species; and so on backwards, always converging to the common ancestor of each great class. So that the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great. But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon this earth.     Origin of Species  (1859)  pp.281-282

Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the frequent discovery of her transitional or linking forms.     Origin of Species  (1859)  p.292

He who rejects this view of the imperfection of the geological record, will rightly reject the whole theory. For he may ask in vain where are the numberless transitional links which must formerly have connected the closely allied or representative species found in the successive stages of the same great formation?    The Origin of Species (1859)  p.342

AS this whole volume is one long argument, it may be convenient to the reader to have the leading facts and inferences briefly recapitulated. That many and grave objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through natural selection, I do not deny.    The Origin of Species

There is grandeur in this view of life    The Origin of Species (1859)  p.429

Your question what would convince me of Design is a poser. If I saw an angel come down to teach us good, and I was convinced from others seeing him that I was not mad, I should believe in design.    Letter to Asa Gray  September 17, 1861

It is a very curious subject, that of the old myths; but you naturally with your classical & old-world knowledge lay more stress on such beliefs, than I do with all my profound ignorance. Very odd those accounts in India of the little hairy men! It is very true what you say about the higher races of men, when high enough, replacing & clearing off the lower races. In 500 years how the Anglo-saxon race will have spread & exterminated whole nations; & in consequence how much the Human race, viewed as a unit, will have risen in rank. Man is clearly an old-world, not an American, species; & if ever intermediate forms between him & unknown Quadrumana are found, I should expect they would be found in Tropical countries, probably islands.    Letter to Charles Kingsley  February 6 1862

When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed (i.e. we cannot prove that a single species has changed): nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory. Nor can we explain why some species have changed and others have not.    Letter to G. Bentham  May 22, 1863

It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.    Letter to J.D. Hooker  Febuary 1, 1871

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.    The Descent of Man  (1871)  p.168-169

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.    The Descent of Man  (1871)  p.201

Last night Dicey and Litchfield were talking about J. Stuart Mill's never expressing his religious convictions, as he was urged to do so by his father. Both agreed strongly that if he had done so, he would never have influenced the present age in the manner in which he has done. His books would not have been text books at Oxford, to take a weaker instance. Lyell is most firmly convinced that he has shaken the faith in the Deluge far more efficiently by never having said a word against the Bible, than if he had acted otherwise...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.     Letter to George Darwin  October 21, 1873

I should prefer the part or volume not to be dedicated to me (although I thank you for the intended honour), as that would, in a certain extent, suggest my approval of the whole work, with which I am not acquainted. Although I am a keen advocate of freedom of opinion in all questions, it seems to me (rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and Theism hardly have any effect on the public; and that freedom of thought will best be promoted by that gradual enlightening of human understanding which follows the progress of science. I have therefore always avoided writing about religion and have confined myself to science. Possibly I have been too strongly influenced by the thought of the concern it might cause some members of my family, if in any way I lent my support to direct attacks on religion.    Letter to Edward Aveling (Son-in-Law of Karl Marx)  October 13, 1880

But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?   Letter to W. Graham  July 3, 1881   see Exposition

I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.    Letter to W. Graham  July 3rd, 1881

It has often been said, as Mr. Macnamara remarks, that man can resist with impunity the greatest diversities of climate and other changes; but this is true only of the civilised races. Man in his wild condition seems to be in this respect almost as susceptible as his nearest allies, the anthropoid apes, which have never yet survived long, when removed from their native country.    The Descent of Man  (1882)  p.188 

If it is ever found that life can originate on this world, the vital phenomena will come under some general law of nature.    Letter to Daniel Mackintosh  February 28, 1882

The principle of continuity renders it probable that the principle of life will hereafter be shown to be a part, or consequence of some general law.    Letter to George Wallich  March 28, 1882

Many years ago I was strongly advised by a friend never to introduce anything about religion in my works, if I wished to advance science in England; and this led me not to consider the mutual bearings of the two subjects. Had I foreseen how much more liberal the world would become, I should perhaps have acted differently.     Cambridge Manuscripts cited by Gertrude Himmelfarb in Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution  (1967)  p.383

But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?    The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin  (1905)  p.282

On his standard of proof, NATURAL science would never progress, for without the making of theories I am convinced there would be no observation.    The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (Volume II)  p.108

Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlasting punished. 

And this is a damnable doctrine.    Autobiography of Charles Darwin  (1958)  p.87

A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones.    Autobiography of Charles Darwin  (1958)  p.94

Before I was engaged to be married, my father advised me to conceal carefully my doubts, for he said that he had known extreme misery thus caused with married persons.    Autobiography of Charles Darwin  (1958)  p.95

Next Page

Charles Darwin  Erasmus Darwin  Leonard Darwin  Richard Dawkins  William Dembski  Daniel Dennett  Michael Denton  Alan Dershowitz 

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Home  Evolution  Stephen Jones