In the presentation ‘Darwin’s Biology of Intelligent Design’, Robert J. Richards mainly talked about religion and how Darwin’s views of religion changed during his life. For a good portion of his life, Darwin was a Christian. His father sent him to school to be a clergyman. This life was not for him. He had an opportunity to study the world as a naturalist. But after his travels on the beagle, he began to find that the Bible’s history could not be correct. He found the earth was much to old, and that species evolved. As time passed, he found religion less and less credible, until his daughter died. When his daughter died, religion lost all credibility to him. But Darwin kept religion in his mind as a ‘set of morals’, which was an evolutionary step, that most only humans have evolved to have. Darwin also had to stay parallel to religion for the most part in his work on the “Origin of Species” in order to keep the public from being outraged. Each edition of his book changed based on public feedback.
I had never thought about the Darwinian story in terms of his beliefs on religion. This lecture was very interesting and brought up some details about Darwin I had never known before, and answered some of my questions about Darwin. One of the questions I had always had is how did Darwin catch all these live animals- especially birds- and preserve them all until the voyage was over. The presenter explained that since the animals had never seen a human before, they were intrigued by Darwin and did not run away. Darwin just took the butt of his rifle and knocked the animals out, then put them in a barrel of wine to preserve them. Furthermore, I never really thought about Darwin’s religion in detail. I had always questioned his religion- how could you believe in all these evolutionary theories and at the same time be in religious school? It was interesting to learn the timeline of how his religious beliefs deteriorated, and also how he actually kept religion (a set of morals) and used it to study. His theory was that only humans display this trait but it must have been genetically passed down from ancestors. Learning how hard it was for others to read Darwin’s handwriting was a funny fact. This presentation correlated with our genetics unit, and helped expand my knowledge on Darwin.