Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twisting Darwin's beliefs

Here is a well-intentioned piece in Washington Post about Darwin and Lincoln - but then it lumps Darwin into a believer category to make a point (by the way, the piece is on culture wars - especially regarding gay marriage...):
Both Lincoln and Darwin were much more complex than the sides that celebrate them and their legacies often admit. The truth is Lincoln was more concerned with preserving the Union than with freeing the slaves, and Darwin was a religious man who saw his science as bringing glory to the God in whom he believed.
Hmm...well, yes and Darwin was more complex than is being presented in this article. Indeed, at one point Darwin was religious - and was quite impressed by Paley's Natural Theology. But while developing his ideas about natural selection, he deeply thought about religion and his views moved far far away from natural theology. Here are two quotes that may capture his views about God and nature:
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.
and
What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!
I'm not exactly sure if these quotes really qualify as "bringing glory to God". So lets not twist Darwin's beliefs - even to make a good point. Its unnecessary. He was a complex guy - and lets keep that complexity. On his actual beliefs, see this earlier post (psst...he says - he is an Agnostic).