The evolution of Darwin’s soul

The topic of evolution can up during a question and answer session at my church last night. Part of the discussion touched on how embracing this controversial theory might affect your worldview and life in general.

It reminded me of a post from Justin Taylor’s excellent blog that where he shared the following excerpt from Charles Darwin’s autobiography recounting “how his soul began to shrivel throughout the years and he lost any sense of aesthetic joy:”

Up to the age of 30 or beyond it, poetry of many kinds . . . gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare. . . .

Formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great, delight.

But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.

I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music. . . .

I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. . . .

My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. . . .

The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.


6 Responses to The evolution of Darwin’s soul

  1. Jeremy says:

    I’ve thought before about how there are always unforeseen consequences to our thought patterns and our actions. Our finite minds cannot comprehend all possible directions we may end up going based off of one step. That’s why we must align our lives to something absolute, and the only thing that is absolute in this world is God’s Word (and possibly taxes…).

    Thanks for sharing this about Darwin. I feel sorry for him – you can really sense his loss in his words. But you don’t sense that he connects his loss with the reason for it…

    In college I minored in biology, and I started to fall in to the trap of listening to the logic behind natural selection – it just sounds so logical, and so perfect, that I believe it literally traps people into believing in it (as opposed to convincing people based on measurable observations, like everything else in science). It took me a few years to pull out of that trap, and I thank God for providing that solid ground for me to climb back up out of that hole and see the light again. 🙂

    • David Wilson says:


      Thanks for sharing your experience with this important topic. It’s so easy to embrace a godless worldview when we’re confronted by it day after day. Glad to see how your faith is governing your perspective now.


  2. Jane Wells says:

    Darwin’s own confession points to the truth that evolution does not exist in this world – only devolution as material wears out, grinds down or is lost. While I enjoy my Golden Retrievers, I acknowledge they are genetically nothing more than incomplete wolves – and no amount of cross-breeding can bring their offspring back to that original form.

    Only through faith in Christ can we recieve that which we cannot create and that is true joy.

    Thanks for the quote… it made me think.

  3. Doug says:

    Thanks for the post. I have not thought about it in that aspect. It seems that the proponents of evolution always tend to claim the high ground on issues of esthetic beauty. The wildlife biologist enjoying nature versus the red neck in his pick up truck running over the flower in the field. But beauty tends to lose meaning if you think hard enough about life and all just being an accident.

  4. David Wilson says:


    I appreciate your thoughts. Yes, our worldview colors everything about us. Seems like the world became a very different place for Darwin as he moved farther away from an awareness of God.


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