“There is grandeur in this view of life ….”

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”


the author's first copy of Darwin's Origin

the author’s first copy of Darwin’s Origin

Not my quote, but I wish it was.  This is the concluding paragraph of The Origin of Species and I have long considered it one of the finest paragraphs written anywhere.  It is a grand view; that life on Earth has persevered for eons as the planet makes innumerable trips around the sun and travels unimaginable distances in space, always refining itself to the present condition and creating endless varieties of beautiful and wonderful forms, but in any event, always persisting.  It is also a view not inherently at odds with that of a Creator, as Darwin himself, the right-wing’s would-be anti-Christ, acknowledges.

I bought my first copy of his great work almost a year after graduating with a bachelor’s in science, a cheap paperback version I underlined heavily, and it has guided my thought since then.  I wrote “April 1977” on the last page because it’s more important when you finish a book than when you start it.