Darwin Quotes

I really think we should have a book with Darwin quotes much like  The New Quotable Einstein.

What are your favorite Darwin quotes?

6 thoughts on “Darwin Quotes

  1. Hi Michael,

    This is such an excellent idea! Why hasn’t anyone thought of it before???

    I apologise for being obvious but my favourite has to be the last paragraph of The Origin of Species

    ‘It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants…’

    In fact this last paragraph could be split into sections. E.g. ‘There is grandeur in this view of life…’

    I look forward to seeing what other people choose.
    Cheers,
    Ruth

  2. “It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

    THE DESCENT OF MAN, AND SELECTION IN RELATION TO SEX, 1871, p. 3.

  3. I can’t begin to list them all. It would be a week’s work just to locate my faves.

  4. This is a long one:

    “By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported,—that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become,—that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us,—that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events,—that they differ in many important details, far too important as it seemed to me to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eye-witnesses;—by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can hardly be denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

    But I was very unwilling to give up my belief;—I feel sure of this for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. 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 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 my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.
    And this is a damnable doctrine.”

    (From his Autobiography, pg 67. )

  5. “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 instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden him self 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 an overwhelming present evil.”

    – Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. 2nd edn., London, John Murray, p. 134.

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