Tuesday, November 24, 2009

There is grandeur in this view of life

Today, November 24, is the 150th anniversary of the publication of a celebrated book:

Its author was Charles Darwin [1809-1882].

On the web, you can obtain free an entire copy of the original edition [display]. Here is the final paragraph of that momentous work:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. 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 most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

In the most recent book by Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth, the entire final chapter is devoted to a line-by-line analysis of the above paragraph. The words of Darwin and, today, Dawkins present a vision of life in which the primordial ingredient is expressed ideally by that great French word: grandeur.


  1. You have no doubt seen that Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort - those two ratbag (a great Australian word) creationists - have issued their our bastardised version of Darwin's book. There is an account of their exploits at UCLA on PZ Myers wonderful Blog


  2. Yes, I saw somewhere that they were proud of themselves for imagining the idea of giving away free copies of Darwin's work, but prefaced by one of the ratbags. And yes, I do like that Australian word very much.