Talk:Religious views of Charles Darwin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Religion  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Religion, a project to improve Wikipedia's articles on Religion-related subjects. Please participate by editing the article, and help us assess and improve articles to good and 1.0 standards, or visit the wikiproject page for more details.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
 
WikiProject Biography  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 

Agnosticism[edit]

Hello Dave souza,

this edit does not make sense to me. Where does this "forcing new ideas" come from? Is this in the original conversation? If so, please cite directly. Furthermore, the word "admitted" in this context is not neutral.--Eloquence* 20:49, July 13, 2005 (UTC)

The sentences you are finding difficult are now directly quoted from Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin (London: Michael Joseph, the Penguin Group, 1991). ISBN 0-7181-3430-3 pages 657-658, though I have considerably shortened their section on the episode. My reading is that they are paraphrasing Darwin, and "forcing new ideas" is their paraphrase of his statement about what the atheists want to do. The "admitted" comes in the context of a sentence about Darwin being able to agree with them about Christianity, and in my shorter version "agreed" does make it clearer. The sources they draw on appear to be Recollections of Francis Darwin, Cambridge University library pp 9-14 and Aveling, Religious Views pp 4-6, which I don't have to hand. His preference is for the word agnostic, but I feel that heading the section "Preference for agnosticism" is misleading. - - dave souza 23:35, 13 July 2005 (UTC)
This "forcing ideas" part is not acceptable in this form. You are quoting someone else's paraphrasing without direct attribution, thereby letting Wikipedia paraphrase what Darwin said or thought. That is neither neutral nor encyclopedic. It's fine to quote from Desmond and Moore, but we shouldn't make their conclusions our own. Instead, we should report what Darwin actually said, as close to the primary source as possible.
A statement to the effect that atheists "force" ideas on other people would be seen quite problematic by many, and if we attribute that opinion to Darwin, we should be quite clear about what he said where and when, rather than being content with quoting other people's summaries and interpretations.--Eloquence* 01:04, July 14, 2005 (UTC)
I'll go along with that, though Darwin stating that he is against "forcing" atheism on anyone being "problematic" for many seems odd, when less than a decade earlier he was trying to stop the vicar from forcing Anglican doctrine on all the village schoolchildren...dave souza 08:41, 17 July 2005 (UTC)
As I said, I don't mind a full discussion of Darwin's views -- I would like to know what he really said, and in which context. Was anyone he talked to trying to "force" atheism upon anyone in the same way Anglican doctrine was forced on schoolchildren? To me, the phrase sounds a bit anachronistic, but I may be wrong.--Eloquence* 23:07, July 17, 2005 (UTC)

At last a source. Have edited the section accordingly. . dave souza, talk 11:36, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Fundamentals[edit]

"His work was pivotal in the development of evolution theory which some argue helps show that God is unnecessary, while others feel that attacking Darwin and restricting teaching of evolution helps to evangelise their faith." The second part of this sentence is completely unnecessary. The statement that some (presumably you meant Christians) "attack Darwin" and "restrict teaching" to advance their religion reveals bias and makes Christians sound very closed-minded and fundamentalist. Whether or not creationists/Christians ARE closed-minded and fundamentalist is a different discussion. This comment contributes nothing to the discussion of Darwin's personal religious views. I vote that the sentence should be shortened to, "His work was pivotal in the development of evolution theory."{{Subst:unsigned2|21:33, 8 October 2006|68.183.65.55]]


On the main page it says taht he was a theist during the time of writing origin of species, is this correct as it was publicized after the death of annie when he lost faith supposedly?—Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.56.2.244 (talkcontribs) 15:38, 20 April 2007


Agnostic[edit]

As it happens, I was reading T.H.Huxley today, and it seems he invented the term agnostic - which may quite possibly have something to do with Darwin's choice of term. This might be OR, though. Adam Cuerden talk 06:51, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

I call Bullshit.[edit]

I take exception to the following lines in the first section. "To Darwin, Natural selection produced the good of adaptation but removed the need for design" Is adapted from the following paragraph, which is the author's own opinion, not Darwin's.

Correspondingly, in the resulting theory, organisms are still regarded as being machines that are almost perfectly designed and adapted; although the benevolent omniscient designer, God, had been replaced by the omnipotent process of natural selection.

Darwin's opinion was given just above this as

When constructing his theory of evolution, Darwin still hoped that this theory could at least be brought into harmony with a deistic belief in God.

and moreso in this line "and he could not see the work of an omnipotent deity in all the pain and suffering such as the ichneumon wasp paralysing caterpillars as live food for its eggs."

There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me .... But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I have probably shown by this letter.

Which is a complete and utter reversion of what was stated above. I will admit to being a proponent of some form of Intelligent Design (though I am unsure of the intelligent part), though not a christian or believer in any form of organized religion. I don't feel that Evolutionists or, as they sometimes call themselves, Darwinists, should be allowed to bend facts to their own agenda. WookMuff (talk) 23:38, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Your bullshit is noted. The statements are compatible, and the author's opinion is the opinion of a reliable source, Momme von Sydow. "To Darwin, Natural selection produced the good of adaptation but removed the need for design" is backed up by Darwin's words you cite above, "I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed", and "he could not see the work of an omnipotent deity in all the pain and suffering such as the ichneumon wasp paralysing caterpillars as live food for its eggs." is a reasonable summary of "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars".
Darwin did continue to try to treat natural selection as a secondary cause resulting from deistic laws, but his opinion on whether such laws were really the work of a deity fluctuated. Hence his eventual position of agnosticism. I don't who you're referring to as "Evolutionists or, as they sometimes call themselves, Darwinists", these terms are commonly used by creationists to refer to biologists or other scientists.
So, your complaint is noted. Do you have specific proposals for improving the wording of the article? . . dave souza, talk 07:52, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
For the first, the fact that Darwin wanted his theory to be compatible with a Deistic belief is wholly left out of the article. As for the second, while the partial statement is summarized accurately, it ignores the context and paints a completely reverted picture of what the paragraph intends:

I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance

Ie. God>Natural Selection>Evolution. If Darwin indeed eventually became agnostic, so be it, but I feel that using sections of text out of context is bad. As for fixing it, I say dump the comments entirely.
This took me a while to respond to as I haven't been wikipediaing much lately and forgot how it all works. WookMuff (talk) 06:05, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Didn't think that inference was there before, but to clarify things I've added a reference to the letter and cited Quammen, embedding a link to deism in what Quammen calls an impersonal God as first cause. More later, dave souza, talk 11:20, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Adaptation not always perfect[edit]

It is quite wrong to say, as the intro does, "He [Darwin] still viewed organisms as perfectly adapted, and On the Origin of Species reflects theological views". This is simply not true, as evidenced by his discussions of rudimentary, atrophied or aborted organs, which he describes as "extremely common throughout nature". (Origin, 1st ed p320, and similar in later eds). In fact, no theory of evolution makes any sense if all organisms are perfectly adapted all the time, and Darwin was well aware of this. "It would be difficult to name one of the higher animals in which some part is not in a rudimentary condition" p321. Also, his continual harping on variations carries with it the appreciation that not all members of a population could be equally adapted. In fact it was the natural theologists that thought organisms were perfectly adapted, because they had been so created. Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:39, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

Looking at the source, I've changed it to "Until 1844 he followed Paley in viewing organisms as perfectly adapted with only a few imperfections, and only partly modified that view by 1859." to reflect more closely what von Sydow says. If there are opposing view we can reflect that. I think there are views that Darwin was immersed in natural theology and in seeking a law to explain adaptation he found a situation where he could not believe in divine intention for every step of the mechanism. This was a problem for the teleology of natural theology, but the idea of divine laws rather than continuing miraculous interventions was conventional enough to have appeared in Herschel's 1836 letter on the "mystery of mysteries". . dave souza, talk 19:49, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm going to have a close look at the Natural Selection 'big book' (Stauffer) to see if I can find a clear statement of his view on adaptation just pre-Origin. The von Sydow ref is good, but the Moore ref should be dumped: too tailored to its market... I find in Huxley (Ev the new Syn) the comment that adaptation is just the problem of efficient function seen from a slightly different angle -- which is, of course, right. So I'm also going to go through the Barrett Concordance to the Origin for uses of both words... Don't hold your breath! Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:07, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Why do we have this article?[edit]

We can cover Darwin's Theism/Agnosticism/anti-atheism/whatever in his own article. We have the space to put the most important aspects of this page there, I se no need to fork the article into this (which is not even in the slightest as important as his work on evolution and adaption). Darwin was a scientist who studied and gave us our founding views of evolution. His views on religion aren't that important (though worth noting, as I said, just not worthy enough for it's own page). 98.198.83.12 (talk) 07:56, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Many historians don't share your view of the importance or worthiness of Darwin's religious views, and this article is based on these reliable sources. The main article covers the topic briefly, but hasn't the space to cover details which are shown in this article in accordance with WP:SUMMARY. . . . dave souza, talk 19:15, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Unflattering Picture[edit]

I think it was chosen on a derisive basis. Should it be changed to something neutral? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Chiar skro (talkcontribs) 13:58, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

As the picture info notes, it wasn't his finest photo: On 27 May 1855 Darwin wrote to his friend Joseph Hooker about this portrait: "if I really have as bad an expression, as my photograph gives me, how I can have one single friend is surprising." I've changed it to an alternative, more options are available here. . . dave souza, talk 22:09, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

instrument for ascertaining its truth[edit]

I've been tidying the sources for this article and have added a few cites after direct quotes. I've been unable to find the source of a quote at the end of the section "Caution about publication, spiritualism":
If theism were true, "reason might not be the only instrument for ascertaining its truth".
This isn't in the letter sent by Darwin to Romanes on 5 Dec 1878. The letter is available here. It includes the "very great interest" but not the quote above. Suggestions? Aa77zz (talk) 13:50, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Nice find, Desmond and Moore p. 631 make it look like a quote, but that must be a typo. Have tried rephrasing the para per D&M while avoiding going beyond the original, you're welcome to reword that if you think refinement is needed, . dave souza, talk 15:49, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Dave for your reply and your edit. It looks fine to me. I have a question. The article has a large list of uncited publications that I've added to "Further reading". Most of them are general Darwin sources which I don't think are need in this particular article. Would you be happy if I deleted some (or all?) of them? Aa77zz (talk) 16:50, 1 May 2014 (UTC)