Re: Happy Darwin's day !

From: John Clark (
Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 09:51:10 MST

Jacques Du Pasquier <> Wrote:

>from Darwin's letters and stuff you read in the book he really appears
>(to me at least) as a very, very nice person. Sensitive, funny, intelligent,
> honest, delicate.

I agree, almost everybody seems to have liked the man personally, even those
who hated his theories. However there doesn't seem to be any relationship
between friendliness and intelligence because the other great genius the
human race has produced, Isaac Newton, was as unpleasant a man as
you could find. If it wasn't for his boiling water IQ (Fahrenheit of course)
nobody would want anything to do with him. Darwin on the other hand
would be fun to be with even if you took away his genius.

My favorite nonscientific Darwin quotation comes from his autobiography.

        "Disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate but at last was
         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."

The first edition of the Autobiography published in 1896 just 6 months after
Darwin's death did not include the quotation, due to the insistence of his
very religious wife Emma. Her letter to the publisher written in her own hand
survives, she wrote:

 "I should dislike the passages 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 wd call that Christianity."

I think she was being overgenerous, even today lots of people would call that
Christianity. Anyway, after Emma's death in 1896 the passage was restored
to the book.

          John K Clark

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:39 MST