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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Tearle   [before 16] April 18801

Cambridge Street | St Neots | Hunts.

Ap 1880


Having taken great interest in your work “The Origin of Species” and regretting, that its doctrine, as far as man is concerned, is antagonistic to the strict reading of the Bible; I have been trying if some solution to the two first chapters of Genesis cannot be found, which might bring those chapters in accord with your Theory.2

Whether my theory has been made before, or whether great minds will think it tenable, I leave you to judge. Briefly then I will explain.

1st. “Let us make man in our image” May man not have been previously created, as an animal of a superior order, and God seeing that all living creatures required a head, and earthly master, he marked man as the most suitable, and then fashioned him after his own image. Had the text stood “Let us make man, and let us make him in our image” we could hardly argue that man had been previously created among the animals; but as the text now stands, and considering that the higher order of animals were created on the same day as man was I think my theory is not far fetched. It does not say that woman was made after gods own image, and the fact that she was not made as woman until afterwards, and then out of a man, helps to make my theory good, and to reconcile what has been considered two distinct creations. Man, male and female created he them, man after his own image afterwards, then he required a superior female and one was accordingly made. If any fossil remains have been found of the highest order of Mammalia, of which the male is wanting, such might have been the female to man in his primeval condition. For it is possible that the male being elevated from his original state would not be replaced but be entirely destroyed, leaving the females to die natural deaths. From what I have now said you may see the drift of my argument, which, after all may be worthless, but in the space of a letter I am afraid that I have not made it so clear as I intended. I must apologise for trespassing on your time, but I hope the interest that I have taken in reading your works may be some excuse for the liberty that I have taken in addressing you.

I am sir | Your humble servant | William Tearle.

Professor C Darwin LLD FRS, Etc


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to William Tearle, 16 April 1880.
CD did not discuss human evolution in Origin, but his work implied that humans, like other animals, were a product of evolution by natural selection.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Attempts to reconcile accounts of man’s creation in Origin and in Genesis, to both of which he is devoted.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Tearle
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St Neots
Source of text
DAR 201: 38
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12578,” accessed on 22 September 2023,