The Church of Darwin

From the June/July 2015 Print Edition

Right from the start, ­Darwin’s theory was about much more than scientific truth. Darwin himself believed that ­evolution by natural selection refuted the idea that nature displayed evidence of purposeful design. Writing near the end of his life, he wrote that “the old argument from design in Nature . . . fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered.” He recalled poignantly the sense of wonder that as a young man he once experienced in a Brazilian rainforest, which inspired in him a “conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body.” “But now,” he concluded, “the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind.”Darwin also believed that his theory diminished the case for human uniqueness, writing in one of his notebooks that “it is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another” and complaining that “people often talk of the wonderful event of intellectual Man appearing” when, in fact, “the appearance of insects with other senses is more wonderful.” Continue Reading »