Anecdotage of Glasgow
The Duke of Argyll and Mr. Darwin
- As told in Glasgow
THE Duke of Argyll, in a lecture he
delivered under the auspices of the Glasgow Young Men’s Institue, on
What is Science? said he never thought the theory of development due
to Mr. Darwin in the least degree inconsistent with Divine purpose and
design; but many scientific men in the world are more Darwinian than
Darwin himself was.
I have seen some letters published
in scientific journals from which it was quite obvious that the writers
rejoiced in Darwin, simply because they thought that Darwin had dispensed
with God, and that he had discovered some process entirely independent of
design, which eliminated altogether the idea of a personal Creator of the
universe. Now it so happens that I have some means of knowing that this
was not the attitude of Mr. Darwin’s own mind. In the last year of his
life Mr. Darwin did me the honour of calling upon me in my house in
London, and I had a long and very interesting conversation with that
distinguished observer of Nature. Darwin was above all things an observer.
He did not profess to be a theologian or a metaphysician; it was his work
in the world to record facts, so far as he could see them, faithfully and
honestly, and to connect them with theories and hypotheses, which were
constructed, at all events, for a temporary convenience, as all hypotheses
in science must be before being proved.
"But in the course of that
conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own
remarkable works on Fertilisation of Orchids, and upon The
Earthworms, and various other observations he had made of the
wonderful contrivances for certain purposes of Nature—I said it was
impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect of
mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin’s answer. He looked at me very hard,
"Well, that often comes with
overwhelming force; but at other times,’ and he shook his head vaguely,
adding, ‘it seems to go away.’"
This is exactly the language which
we have expressed in a remarkable passage in the book of Job, in which
that truth is expressed which every Christian holds—that in Nature we
cannot see the Creator face to face, and that there are difficulties and
veils between Him and the visible methods through which He works.
Behold I go forward, but He is not there; backward, but I cannot
perceive Him; on the left hand where He doth work, but I cannot behold
Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him.
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