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Letter 11766

Darwin, C. R. to Ridley, H. N.

28 Nov 1878

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    Does not think sermon by E. B. Pusey [see 11763] is worth a reply. HNR may quote CD as saying that Pusey is "mistaken in imagining that I wrote the Origin with any relation whatever to Theology". Pusey's attack will be powerless to retard belief in evolution.


Down, | Beckenham, Kent | — | Railway station | Orpington, S. E. R.

Nov 28

Dear Sir,

I just skimmed through Dr Pusey's sermon as published in the Guardian, but it did not seem to me worthy of any attention. As I have never answered criticisms excepting those made by scientific men I am not willing that this letter should be published; but I have no objection to your saying that you sent me the three questions, & that I answered that Dr Pusey was mistaken in imagining that I wrote the Origin with any relation whatever to Theology. I should have thought that this would have been evident to anyone who has taken the trouble to read the book, more especially as in the opening lines of the Introduction I specify how the subject arose in my mind. This answer disposes of your two other questions; but I may add that many years ago when I was collecting facts for the Origin, my belief in what is called a personal God was as firm as that of Dr Pusey himself, & as to the eternity of matter I have never troubled myself about such insoluble questions.—

Dr Pusey's attack will be as powerless to retard by a day the belief in evolution as were the virulent attacks made by divines fifty years ago against Geology, & the still older ones of the Catholic church against Galileo, for the public is wise enough always to follow scientific men when they agree on any subject; & now there is almost complete unanimity amongst Biologists about Evolution, tho' there is still considerable difference as to the means, such as how far natural selection has acted & how far external conditions, or whether there exists some mysterious innate tendency to perfectibility

I remain dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 11766.f1
    Pusey's sermon was reprinted in the London Guardian edition of 20 November 1878 as it had appeared in the Undergraduate's Journal edition of 7 November 1878; that is, without the notes in which Pusey criticised CD in detail. See letters from H. N. Ridley, [13-28] November 1878, and J. B. Innes, 27 November 1878.
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    f2 11766.f2
    HNR quoted this part of CD's reply in a letter to the Undergraduate's Journal (Undergraduate's Journal, 5 December 1878, p. 144).
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