Thursday, February 17, 2011

Charles Darwin himself believed in God?!!

This Feb 12th marked the 202nd birth anniversary of Charles Darwin. This day is celebrated world-wide as Darwin day, a day for science and reason.

Charles Darwin is regarded as a great sceintist , who put forward the theory of evolution as a solution to the question that puzzled everyone for years - about how life came into being. He came to his conclusion from numerous evidences regarding the form and shape of various species of living beings, their body parts, development, their interactions with the environment , and  also further evidences from fossils. Its wonderful how further evidences from studies by other scientists in the later years neatly fit into his theory, further reinforcing its possibility to be true.

Now the popular notion until that time about the origin of life was that a 'God' created man in his image, that all life on earth was similarly 'created' with proper 'design'. This idea has been recently named the thoery of 'intelligent design', to give a scienitific outfit! Atleast for the scientists and other people who worked in fields of science, the theory of evolution was an eye opener. People who have always been sceptical about the idea of 'creation' , who until  then had no reasonable explanantion to offer about the origin of life, finally had one!

Now if Charles Darwin proposed such a theory that doesn’t require a 'divine intervention', he is sure to have rejected the possibitlity of the existence of a God. But a few lines from his literature suggests the contrary…

" 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."

The 'creationists' gain tremendous advantage from this situtation. When the person who proposed the theory himself believes that life was 'designed', even if in minor degrees, why shouldn’t anybody else believe so? These lines from Darwins text has been widely used in religious circles as a weapon against the whole of evolution theory - that Darwin himself was a believer!.

But the truth happens to be that the quote is taken out of context. The paragraph continues,

Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound. (Darwin 1872, 143-144)

Darwin continues with three more pages describing a sequence of plausible intermediate stages between eyelessness and human eyes, giving examples from existing organisms to show that the intermediates are viable.

This is called QUOTE MINING!! 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analysis! This not just shows Quote Mining, it also shows how rationalism builds through word mining.There is a research oriented reflection in almost all the posts.