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Darwin’s Origin of Species

Bird & Insect

The final paragraph of The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin, the 1872 sixth edition, considered the definitive edition:

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. 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; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

Thanks to Michael Roberts’ suggestion

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2 Responses to Darwin’s Origin of Species

  1. I believe three creation stories: the two in Genesis and the great creation story of cosmology and evolution. None of the three can tell us anything about what was before. All three tell us that there is a force in the universe that seems to keep creating more life or complexity. The Genesis accounts tell us that there is something, particularly about human self-centeredness, that wants to limit the abundance of other forms of life. The scientific account of creation sees chaos and stochastic processes as essential to the ongoing unfolding of what is; theologians talk about that as contingency or free will in creation.
    The Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori
    Presiding Bishop, The episcopal Church

    http://day1.org/6850-what_matters_eternally_faith__science_series_part_3

    • Thanks for the quote, Br David. I think the “what was before?” question doesn’t work with an understanding that time is a dimension that came into existence at the start of the Universe. Interestingly, even Augustine understood that – time too, for him, was a creature. Blessings.

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