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Letter 8837

Darwin, C. R. to Doedes, N. D.

2 Apr 1873

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    The impossibility of conceiving that the universe arose through chance is the chief argument for the existence of God, but CD has never been able to decide whether this is an argument of real value. Safest to believe that the subject is beyond man's intellect, "but man can do his duty".

Transcription

Down, Beckenham, Kent.

April 2 1873

a mon. N. D. Doedes | The University | Utrecht | Holland.

Confidential.

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for the photograph of yourself and friend. I am sure that you will excuse my writing at length, when I tell you that I have long been much out of health, and am now staying away from my home for rest. It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence it came and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man's intellect; but man can do his duty.

With my best wishes for your success in life, I remain, dear Sir, | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 8837.f1
    The name and address of N. D. Doedes are given at the top of the letter copy from which this transcription was made. However, it is the opinion of the editors that these were probably copied from the original letter's envelope rather than from the letter itself. In parentheses alongside the address of N. D. Doedes, the copyist has written, ``Postmark: London.''
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    f2 8837.f2
    See letter from N. D. Doedes, 27 March 1873.
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