Did Charles Darwin believe in his theory?

Sep 2018
9
norway
#1
I heard in recent years that Darwin din`t belive in his own theory in the end.
I myself have not find any facts supporting this, but am open for discussion if you know something i dont

(I am new and i really dont quite know were i should post this.)
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,585
Las Vegas, NV USA
#2
I heard in recent years that Darwin din`t belive in his own theory in the end.
I myself have not find any facts supporting this, but am open for discussion if you know something i dont

(I am new and i really dont quite know were i should post this.)
I don't think he ever doubted evolution per se. Whether natural selection was a sufficient explanation was a source of doubt. He was a good scientist and looked at his theory critically. We now know about random mutation and genetic drift.

Darwin's Doubts About His Theory on Biological Evolution and Origin of Species
 
Sep 2012
905
Prague, Czech Republic
#3
I heard in recent years that Darwin din`t belive in his own theory in the end.
I myself have not find any facts supporting this, but am open for discussion if you know something i dont

(I am new and i really dont quite know were i should post this.)

The idea that Darwin rejected evolution later in life seems to be an invention of creationists. There have been a few claims of deathbed recantations. The most well-known is that of Lady Hope; a religious preacher who claimed, a little over three decades after Darwin's death, that he appeared to have turned to God. She didn't say, but implied, that he had abandoned his ideas regarding evolution, paraphrasing him thus:


I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything, and to my astonishment, the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.
There's no evidence of this beyond Lady Hope's assertion decades later, and it was disputed at the time by his family. Whether she made it up, misremembered, or it is all true is not really possible to say, but there's no other evidence of Darwin changing his mind.


Creationists like to quote Darwin saying that things are difficult to explain in evolutionary terms, but generally these quotes are formed by taking him saying "This looks like it can't be explained, but it can!" and removing the final three words. The creationism-lite site that stevev linked to above uses this technique (or, rather, one of their sources does):


Even Charles Darwin thought his own theory was "grievously hypothetical" and gave emotional content to his doubts when he said, "The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder." To think the eye had evolved by natural selection, Darwin said, "seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree."

I fuller context:


The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradations, my reason tells me I ought to conquer the cold shudder.

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.

As much as Darwin was willing to admit that many of his arguments were hypothetical, there's no sign in Darwin's writings or letters that he ever really thought he was wrong ("But, alas, how frequent, how almost universal it is in an author to persuade himself of the truth of his own dogmas.").


What's more interesting reading Darwin's letters is his belief in God. Here there clearly were doubts, and his views seem to have shifted back and forth. It would be fascinating to know what he thought on his deathbed on this front, but unfortunately that's not something any amount of looking is going to tell us.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,183
Sydney
#4
.
Darwin had no problem whatsoever with evolution , but he struggled long for some mechanism to account for it

he delayed publications to accumulate more data until Wallace , letter pushed him to it
the main problem is that when people quote "the theory of the fittest " it's really a logical loop
being the fittest make you a survivor , the survivor is the fittest because he survive .
there were two contending theories of evolution both pre dating Darwin

that was the battle between Cuvier and Lamark

Cuvier's proposed that series of catastrophe whipped the slate clean for a burst of specialization ,
he discounted specie continuous evolution
he didn't know about the Cretaceous/tertiary meteorite but would have appreciated it

the other was Lamark's ...that ultimately it is the behavior of an organism which determine and re-inforce a physical trait , both the behavior and inproved trait is passed down it's descendants

Since Cuvier was world famous as the greatest paleontologist ( he pretty much invented it ) while Lamark was of lesser stature Cuvier views prevailed.
It should be pointed out that both are in fact valid
Cuvier's explain why evolution stop when an organism is in a steady environment , while Lamark offer a clue as to what make a specie split in two different subspecies

Darwin great achievement was to document evolution as a fact , he had no valid explanation for it
 
Mar 2017
801
Colorado
#5
.
Darwin great achievement was to document evolution as a fact , he had no valid explanation for it
Creationists are fond of saying there are controversies in the scientific community about evolution. This is incorrect. Evolution is the most wildly accepted (and simplest) theory for the fossil record and analysis of modern species.

Where there still is controversy are the "mechanisms" of natural selection. Darwin was smart enough to see this as well.

Nat'l Geographic has an interesting article this month about how bacteria are evolving to resist antibiotics. They sight "infective inheritance." Bacterial survivors of anti-biotics pass genetic material "sideways" to other bacterial species they're not related to. This has been observed since the 60's.

DNA is more complicated than we thought.
 
Sep 2018
9
norway
#6
Thanks for helping me Dios/Sparky/Kaficek and steven.

I really like the intresting facts that you guys have shown me,
and i see that i have misunderstand that what i had read

I myself are studing on a christian school where his work is taken for granted and laughed at. Its a shame that people aren't taking his claim seriously as this event was not only importen to sicence but to history aswell.

(i have no problem white christianity btw)
 
Dec 2015
2,512
USA
#7
Thanks for helping me Dios/Sparky/Kaficek and steven.

I really like the intresting facts that you guys have shown me,
and i see that i have misunderstand that what i had read

I myself are studing on a christian school where his work is taken for granted and laughed at. Its a shame that people aren't taking his claim seriously as this event was not only importen to sicence but to history aswell.

(i have no problem white christianity btw)
Well the problem is that evolution isn't a claim. It's a fact, and it's one that underlines and supports pretty much all modern understandings of biology. Medicine, genetics, even agriculture have all been impacted and improved upon thanks to Darwin's theory.

Really if someone is going into ecology, medicine, agriculture, and really anything that deals with living things and they don't accept evolution, they're not going to do well.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,527
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#8
No scientist believes in his [or her] own theories. He [or her] tries and prove them. This is science. To believe is a matter of faith, not of knowledge.