Darwin's Sanitized Idea

Arts, entertainment, and more.
Sept. 24 2001 11:30 PM

Darwin's Sanitized Idea

PBS's Evolution is an exercise in Creationist appeasement.

(Continued from Page 1)

The series repeatedly frames this passage as evidence of Darwin's "fundamentally religious" view of nature. But later in life Darwin explicitly disavowed this view of nature's "grandeur." Furthermore, the words "by the Creator" only showed up in the second edition of the Origin, released several weeks after the first. Why this change? Because after Darwin came under vicious attack for his views—science versus religion—he went back and stuck in references to God as a form of appeasement. Evolution, possibly unaware of the Origin's different texts, uses the original sentence at the close of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" but the more godly version at the close of "What About God?"

Advertisement

After the publication of the Origin, Darwin steadily grew even more skeptical. In his autobiography, begun in 1876, he puzzled through various arguments for the existence of God, but finally concluded, "I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic." PBS never cites this passage, perhaps because it puts Darwin far closer to Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins than rare theistic evolutionists like Kenneth Miller. The series strives to present a charming picture of a scientific theory that leaves religion relatively unchallenged, but Darwin's life itself suggests otherwise.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.