darwin complicated


The Darwinian controversy continues, but some things should be clear. If Darwin gives comfort and even delight to atheists who claim him as a patron, they are mistaken in their choice of hero. He never even divested himself entirely of a certain qualified belief in a Master Designer, though he rejected the sweetest blandishments of natural theology. For all his brilliance, he was prone to confusion about the most serious matters, including the far-reaching ramifications of his own theory. It was a robust confusion, however, the conflict of an austere intellect, a sense of the marvelous, and a lacerated heart. Compassion guided him toward his theory, and an icy mind confirmed its truth. That truth remains dubious for many, whether simple religious believers trying to live righteous lives or scientists and philosophers viewing life through the lens of intelligent design. To try to settle the questions they raise is far beyond my powers, although the simple and righteous who maintain the literal truth of Genesis do not figure in a serious discussion. But in any case the wonder of Darwin endures, that of a man who searched the world’s pain and tried to comprehend it, who like a great novelist truly bore in his mind and heart as much earthly life as they could hold. There is rich matter for all who seek it in his life and works.

more from Algis Valiunas at The New Atlantis here.