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← I am Darwin

NMcC's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by NMcC

At the risk of appearing ‘curmudgeonly’, I must say that I’m more than a little bemused at this desire to elevate Darwin in this way. I am particularly tickled by Professor Dawkins’ almost genuflecting at the mention of Darwin’s name. Darwin was nothing like the person Professor Dawkins, if you take his views at face value, should admire. Darwin may have had ‘the single best idea that anyone has ever had’ (which, of course, is debatable), but he certainly wasn’t the fearless, free-thinking defender of truth and justice and opponent of religious tyranny that Professor Dawkins would almost have us believe.

Should we laud to the sky a man who came up with an idea (brilliant and earth-shattering as it was) but who then, by all accounts out of fear, sat on it for twenty years and was only forced to publish through the promptings of someone else having come up with the same idea? I don’t think so. If Darwin was alive today and showed any of the timid (some would say ‘cowardly’) traits he famously possessed, I suspect that Professor Dawkins, as far as Darwin’s misgivings as to how his theory would impact on religion, at least, is concerned, would be the first to ridicule him. And rightly so, in my opinion.

There were many people who suffered for the cause, and, most importantly, specifically around Darwin’s time. Some to a lesser degree than others. After having published his The Necessity of Atheism, for example, the poet Shelley was punched in the face in a post office in Italy by a fellow Englishman who snarled ‘You’re that damned atheist Shelley, aren’t you’. Braudlaugh,(who was born into abject poverty and as an 11 year old worked as a clerk in an office and certainly never enjoyed any of the benefits of being born into the Darwin clan), among others, of course, went to jail. Yes, Professor Dawkins, many people suffered to further scientific knowledge and freedom to think and express oneself without the goons of the church or the gendarmes sticking their noses in – Darwin wasn’t one of them.

Will there be the same celebrations for Wallace? I doubt it.

Tue, 18 Nov 2008 04:18:00 UTC | #272255