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The Role of a Hypothetic Creator is Compatible with the Evolution of the Biological Species

1842-1860

The so called Sketch (1842) represents the first summary, of 10 pages length, which Darwin wrote — using a pencil — as a memory of his theory of the biological evolution of species. The contents of these notes will appear later in the Essay (1844) and then in The Origin of Species (1859). The conclusions of the Sketch present the role of a Hypothetic Creator, compatible with the new theory the English biologist was drawing. This idea remains unchanged also in the Conclusions of The Origin of Species, here reported, but observing that the word “Creator” is missing in the first edition of 1859 whereas it is re-introduced from the second edition (1860) to the sixth (1872).

From a Sketch written in 1842, titled The Foundations of The Origin of Species

Such are my reasons for believing that specific forms are not immutable. The affinity of different groups, the unity of types of structure, the representative forms through which foetus passes, the metamorphosis of organs, the abortion of others cease to be metaphorical expressions and become intelligible facts. We no longer look (an) on animal as a savage does at a ship, or other great work of art, as a thing wholly beyond comprehension, but we feel far more interest in examining it. How interesting is every instinct, when we speculate on their origin as an hereditary or congenital habit or produced by the selection of individual differing slightly from their parents. We must look at every complicated mechanism and instinct, as the summary of a long history, (as the summing up) of useful contrivances, much like a work of art. How interesting does the distribution of all animals become, as throwing light on ancient geography. [We see some seas bridged over.] Geology loses in its glory from the imperfection of its archives, but how does it gain in the immensity of the periods of its formations and of the gaps separating these formations. There is much grandeur in looking at the existing animals either as the linear descendants of the forms buried under thousand feet of matter, or as the coheirs of some still more ancient ancestor. It accords with what we know of the law impressed on matter by the Creator, that the creation and extinction of forms, like the birth and death of individuals should be the effect of secondary [laws] means. It is derogatory that the Creator of countless systems of worlds should have created each of the myriads of creeping parasites and [slimy] worms which have swarmed each day of life on land and water (on) [this] one globe. We cease being astonished, however much we may deplore, that a group of animals should have been directly created to lay their eggs in bowels and flesh of other,— that some organisms should delight in cruelty,—that animals should be led away by false instincts,—that annually there should be an incalculable waste of eggs and pollen. From death, famine, rapine, and the concealed war of nature we can see that the highest good, which we can conceive, the creation of the higher animals has directly come. Doubtless it at first transcends our humble powers, to conceive laws capable of creating individual organisms, each characterised by the most exquisite workmanship and widely-extended adaptations. It accords better with [our modesty] the lowness of our faculties to suppose each must require the fiat of a creator, but in the game proportion the existence of such laws should exalt our notion of the power of the omniscient Creator. The supposed creative spirit does not create either number or kind which (are) from analogy adapted to site (viz. New Zealand): it does not keep them all permanently adapted to any country — it works on spots or areas of creation,— it is not persistent for great periods it does, — it creates forms of same groups in same regions, with no physical similarity,— it creates, on islands or mountain summits, species allied to the neighbouring ones, and not allied to alpine nature as shown in other mountain summits — even different on different island of similarly constituted archipelago, not created on two points: never mammifers created on small isolated island; nor number of organisms adapted to locality: its power seems influenced or related to the range of other species wholly distinct of the same genus,— it does not equally effect, in amount of difference, all the groups of the same class.

There is a simple grandeur in the view of life with its powers of growth, assimilation and reproduction, being originally breathed into matter under one or a few forms, and that whilst this our planet has gene circling on according to fixed laws, and land and water, in a cycle of change, have gene on replacing each other, that from so simple an origin, through the process of gradual selection of infinitesimal changes, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been evolved.

From The Foundations of The Origin of Species, a sketch written in 1842, edited in 1909 by Francis Darwin

Source of the digital text:

http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F1555&viewtype=image&pageseq=1

 

From the Conclusions of the first edition of The Origin of Species (November 1859)

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed 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.

From C.R. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (London: John Murray, 1859) 1st edition, first issue.

Source of the digital text:

http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F373&viewtype=side&pageseq=1

 

From the Conclusions of the second edition of The Origin of Species (January 1860)

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.

From C.R. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (London: John Murray, 1860) 2nd edition, second issue.