There Is Grandeur In This View of Life

by | Aug 25, 2020


In 1859 Charles Darwin published one of the most famous books in history: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, otherwise just known as The Origin of Species.

What Darwin proposed in the book, of course, was that changes to organisms occur due to the combination of three factors:  (1) mutation, (2) selection for or against the mutations, and (3) time (lots and lots of it).

Darwin was aware that his theory would be controversial as the concept of evolving species ran contrary to the religious notion that a supreme being created all species in their current form. He also seemed aware that his new theory would seem chaotic and inelegant as compared to the notion of creation. He addressed this point in the last passage in The Origin of Species with a plea that evolution is a beautiful concept in its own right:

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 wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

In this passage, Darwin leaves room for a creator who may have originally breathed life into early organisms, but also asks us to see the grandeur in the concept that life evolves. He asks us to see that the notion of complex organisms evolving from simple, single-celled life forms over millions of years is amazing and beautiful.

How do Americans view evolution? The most recent poll from Gallup on this topic found that 40% of us adhere to a strict creationist view with the remainder split between evolution occurring with and without guidance from God. The idea that evolution occurs without God’s involvement has been gaining steadily over the 37 years that Gallup has been asking the question.



  1. While I find it hard deny the possibility of a Divine Creator, I find it easy to believe Mr.Darwins ‘ scientific “ theory” of evolution.

    That 40 percent of Americans , 130,000,000 People cannot , is not a surprise.

    It is a miraculous world.

  2. It’s interesting to me that, in a deeply felt desire for personal divine guidance in life, so many of us reflexively try to ‘create God in our own image’ rather than allowing for the divine to freely act independently of our necessarily limited understanding. The Greek philosopher, Xenophanes (5th century BCE) noted more than two millennia earlier, ‘ that if horses and oxen had hands and could draw pictures, their gods would look remarkably like horses and oxen.’

  3. Compelling summary by Mr. Darwin.


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