Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Darwin Disconnect

A book review - Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution

The controversy - be there any in the first place - is irrelevant. While reading this book on the plane to England the man sitting next to me asked "Is it for, or against?" "Neither," I responded, "it's a biography."

Randal Keynes is the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin and he deals with the life of his progenitor in an objective, scholarly and warm manner. In an interview with Diane Rehm, Keynes said that he wanted to portray Charles through the lens of family. He achieves this primarily through Darwin's wife Emma, and the death of their ten-year-old daughter, Annie. His devotion to science never eclipsed his supreme devotion to family.

Be you a Christian and a Darwinist naysayer, be sure to develop a keen differentiation between what you have to say about the man's science and what you have to say about the man. Although he spent many years determining that, although he would not deny the existence of a God, he could not subscribe to a belief in Jesus Christ, he was most Christian in character. He had great love for and cared deeply about the welfare of other humans. Outside his work as a scientist and father to ten children he did much to help others help themselves.

Those who are "believers" should not look upon Charles Darwin as an object of wholesale derision. As one of history's most iconic figures Darwin is used as epithet, rude caricature, and source of ill-placed humor. His tender nature was wounded by such treatment, so much so, that he delayed the publication of his "Origin of Species" for years, not wanting to subject himself or his family to the scorn that would surely come.

The natural world fueled his development of intellect. Fatherhood heightened his sense of humanity. Both taught him to see terrestrial beauty in a way most of us cannot conceive. His heart was continually swelled with the beauty of form, relationship, emotion, and filial connection. He cried bitter tears over the death of his daughter Annie. Tears made more bitter by his inability to have faith in a life after the one he knew. Although faith could not offer him comfort, love could, and as father to ten children he certainly had no paucity of love. Charles profoundly appreciated life; whether that life came as gift from a Maker, or as the stunning chance of natural selection.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Well put. Could we post this on the book club blog?

You have such great talent, Jessica.