Quoting Charles Darwin

Whilst browsing another site, I found this:

In a passage excised by his wife Emma and son Francis from the published version of his Autobiography, Darwin commented that

the scientific community must not “overlook the probability of the constant inculcation [of] a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong [an] effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”

You can find it at Biography Base, on the Charles Darwin page, near the bottom and just before the Resources.

For a more complete version, see Darwin’s Autobiography with original omissions.

4 Responses to “Quoting Charles Darwin”

  1. monado Says:

    Here you go: http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Darwin_Charles.html
    near the bottom and just before the Resources.

    I’ve added the link to the post.

  2. darwinsbulldog Says:

    This is up on Darwin Online:

    Darwin, C. R. 1958. The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882. With the original omissions restored. Edited and with appendix and notes by his grand-daughter Nora Barlow. London: Collins

    Go to page 93, footnote 2 says:

    Added later. Emma Darwin wrote and asked Frank to omit this sentence when he was editing the Autobiography in 1885. The letter is as follows:—

    “Emma Darwin to her son Francis. 1885.

    My dear Frank,

    There is one sentence in the Autobiography which I very much wish to omit, no doubt partly because your father’s opinion that all morality has grown up by evolution is painful to me; but also because where this sentence comes in, it gives one a sort of shock—and would give an opening to say, however unjustly, that he considered all spiritual beliefs no higher than hereditary aversions or likings, such as the fear of monkeys towards snakes.

    I think the disrespectful aspect would disappear if the first part of the conjecture was left without the illustration of the instance of monkeys and snakes. I don’t think you need consult William about this omission, as it would not change the whole gist of the Autobiography. I should wish if possible to avoid giving pain to your father’s religious friends who are deeply attached to him, and I picture to myself the way that sentence would strike them, even those so liberal as Ellen Tollett and Laura, much more Admiral Sullivan, Aunt Caroline, &c., and even the old servants.

    Yours, dear Frank,

    E. D.”

    • monado Says:

      Thanks very much for this excellent reference. I notice how Emma Darwin tries to sneak in this edit without consulting the other editor.


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