Theoretical origin of life; new earliest? (Introduction)

by dhw, Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 13:54 (14 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: And finally, to remind you of the starting point of this particular discussion: there is absolutely no justification for saying that Darwin’s theory “dismisses God out of hand”. Come on, be fair to Darwin for a change!

DAVID: Come on. Darwin is interpreted as a chance mechanism. Atheists use it to support their point of view. That is my point of view about Darwin. I'm not unfair to him. What I accept from him is common descent, nothing more.

DARWIN: “I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone.”

DARWIN: “a celebrated author and divine* has written to me that ‘he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws.’

*This was Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, with the beautifully named Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By. (Please note "capable of self-development" as well.)

DARWIN: To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.’

DARWIN: There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.

DAVID TURELL: Darwin’s theory “dismisses God out of hand”.

There are different speculations as to why Darwin incorporated such passages into later editions of Origin (towards the end of his life he said he had never been an atheist, but regarded himself as an agnostic), but I fail to see how anyone can interpret them as meaning that his theory dismisses God out of hand. It is atheistic interpreters who dismiss God out of hand. There are plenty of theists who accept his theory as perfectly compatible with belief in God, and share the view expressed in the third of these quotations.

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