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The 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, and said:

"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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