by David Catchpoole

While Charles Darwin, in his writing,1 made it very clear that he did not accept the Genesis account of creation,2 the picture we have of Darwin’s views about the existence of a Creator is, at best, confusing. In the 1st edition of his Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, in his Conclusion:

“ … I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.”3 [emphasis added]

That almost sounds like biblical language (Genesis 2:7). However, Darwin cannot be referring to the God of the Bible, as the biblical Creator breathed life into the first human directly—Adam was not “descended from some one primordial form” along with “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth”. Nevertheless, it does seem that Darwin was leaving the reader with the impression that he believed in some kind of a creator. In fact, in the 2nd edition, Darwin added “by the Creator” to the end of the sentence.4

Why the addition?

Perhaps science historian James Strick’s observations about Darwin are pertinent here.5 He writes that Darwin’s public writing was framed so as to not alienate people who, while taking a liberal view of the Bible,6 nevertheless believed in a Creator:

“Darwin went out of his way, even misrepresenting his own views on life’s origin, to use language that gave these readers some breathing room.”5

If so, given the controversy that erupted with the publication of the 1st edition of Origin, Darwin might well have considered that adding “by the Creator” would be strategically prudent….

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