Thursday, January 3, 2013

Charles Darwin on God

CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882), founder of the Theory of Evolution

1. Charles Darwin ended his most fundamental scientific work The Origin of Species (1872, 6th edition) with the words:
“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.” (Darwin 1928, 463).

2. “Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting, I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.” (Darwin 1995, 60). 

3. “To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.” (Darwin 1928, 462; The Origin of Species).

4. “With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically.
I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance.” (Darwin 1993, 224).

5. In 1879, three years before the end of his life, Darwin wrote that he had “never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God." He goes on to say, "I think that generally (and more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the correct description of my state of mind." (Darwin, as cited in Bowden 1998, 273).

6. In 1873 Darwin stated: “The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.” (Darwin, as cited in Bowden 1998, 273). 

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