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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-12041

To John Fordyce   7 May 1879

Down Beckenham | Kent

May 7th 1879

Private

Dear Sir

It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.— You are right about Kingsley. Asa Gray, the eminent botanist, is another case in point— What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to any one except myself.— But as you ask, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates. Moreover whether a man deserves to be called a theist depends on the definition of the term: which is much too large a subject for a note. In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin

Summary

Believes it absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent theist and evolutionist; gives the examples of Kingsley and Asa Gray. As regards CD’s own views, his judgement often fluctuates but "I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God". Thinks that "generally (and more and more as I grow older) … an Agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind".

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-12041
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Fordyce, John
Sent from
Bassett Down letterhead
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (Quentin Keynes Collection)
Physical description
3pp & 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12041,” accessed on 1 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-12041

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