To H. N. Ridley 28 November 1878
Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway station | Orpington. S. E. R.
Nov 28 78
I just skimmed through Dr Pusey’s sermon as published in the Guardian, but it did not seem to me worthy of any attention.1 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.2 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 a 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
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.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11766,” accessed on 1 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-11766