[ExI] Darwin the Deist

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 06:56:51 UTC 2009

2009/6/9 John K Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net>:
> This is what Darwin had to say on the subject in his autobiography that he
> insisted was not to be published until after his death:
> "Disbelief crept over me at 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 single 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."
> Darwin's religious wife ordered this passage removed and so it was not in
> the first edition of the book. The note to the publisher in her own
> handwriting survives; she said:
> "I should dislike the passage in brackets to be published. It seems to
> me raw. Nothing can be said too severe upon the doctrine of everlasting
> punishment for disbelief -- but very few now wd. call that Christianity".
> After her death the passage was put back into later editions of the book.
> There are other interesting Darwin quotes:
> "The old argument of 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."
> "[The] very old argument from the existence of suffering against the
> existence of an intelligent first cause seems to me a strong one; whereas,
> as just remarked, the presence of much suffering agrees well with the view
> that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural
> selection."
> "At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an
> intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which
> are experienced by most persons. But it cannot be doubted that Hindoos,
> Mahomadans and others might argue in the same manner and with equal force in
> favour of the existence of one God, or of many Gods, or as with the Buddists
> of no God. I cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any
> weight as evidence of what really exists. "
> As to why Darwin didn't say any of these things publicly during his
> lifetime:
> "My father advised me to conceal carefully my doubts."
>  John K Clark

Nice one John.

Here's something else worth saying about Darwin: he changed his mind.
He clearly started adulthood as a devout christian, and through
rational inquiry came to change his mind about it entirely. You don't
see that every day.


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