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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 12, 2009 @ 11:20 am

    It being Darwin day

    Fiona McCann

    Here’s a little something from the great man’s great-great-granddaughter, Ruth Padel, who has published a new collection about her famous relative called Darwin: A Life in Poems. For Arminta Wallace’s piece on Padel’s new work, click here. In the meantime, here’s a poem from the collection that was reprinted in the New Scientist, which points up the distance between Darwin and his wife Emma because of the latter’s fears that her husbands view of creation would lead to his eternal damnation.

    I Think I shall Dislike it Very Much

    (from Chapter Five: The coat of fur (1851-1882))

    He’s glad they’re out there, young scientists,
    giving the world his argument. It’s out, it’s done -
    and he’s spent nine years on plants.
    Now The Descent of Man and Selection
    in Relation to Sex
    . He’s got to state, at last,
    his vision of 1838, before they married.
    ‘I shall be well abused.’ She studies the first draft.

    ‘I think it will be very interesting, but I
    shall dislike it very much. It is again putting God
    even farther off.’ He thinks of an orang-utang
    in a pink frock and frills, looking in his eyes,
    being generous. Opening his palm
    to gift her treasure to him. Many moments in this marriage
    have been saved – by both of them – with laughs.

    (Editor’s note: In 1868 Darwin published The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, and started the book on specifically human origins)

    • Aloysius says:

      Never see much merit in the exclusivity of Faith & Science myself – they are two different modes of ‘knowing’, certainly; but they are both susceptible to dogmatic hurdles when ‘seeking’ ceases, and are at their most inspired when in a state of growth through openness to the new; which is the same as the always-was, not hitherto known, or forgotten.
      Surely the discovery that space & time are not absolutes is enough to credit ‘creation’ as an ongoing process; ie; evolution; enabled through the creative responses of the forces which drive life to the situations in which they find themselves; much as an artist or writer’s creative methods & responses are continuously modified by balancing the particulars with the general (itself a mass of particulars creating an environment).
      Whether or not you wish to ascribe a religious, or providential cause to these factors as they are, were & will be in Time, (pre- or ex- to it), depends ultimately on whether you believe this procession of moments to be subject or object to the mind that attends to them, which comes down to whether or not to believe in the actual modes of your own thought and whether or not any type of meaning – including all scientific models – themselves exist. So a choice between 0 or 1, then.

    • Fiona says:

      Aloysius: What a keen and well-articulated examination of Faith and Science, and the lack of merit in pushing them into some kind of artificial dichotomy. (I almost tripped myself up semantically by using a reference to binary mode that would have confused things even further. Which is perhaps the point.)

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