Don't you wish you had known about this chapter at the beginning? But then you wouldn't have seen all of Darwin's interesting qualities and snippets of information. So, it's all worth it in the end.
Half of chapter 14 is dedicated to summarizing Darwin's argument and does not contain any new information. There is one statement that I love, though: "That the geological record...is imperfect to the degree which I require, few will be inclined to admit" (465, emphasis my own). I like this sentence because Darwin sounds so demanding of his reader, using the word "require". And he also puts any opposer of his theory in a pretty negative light, by saying they are unwilling to admit a truth.
I also want to point out a part of the "recapitulation" (as Darwin calls it) that made me doubt Darwin's objectivity in writing his argument. Darwin says of classification that "this grand fact of the grouping of all organic beings seems to me utterly inexplicable on the theory of creation...why this should be a law of nature if each species had been independently created, no man can explain" (471). It is true that logic could not reason why there would be order in a system of individually created species. However, someone who believes in special creation would likely believe that the higher being who created the species had the power to organize each on in relation to each other. Just because they are related does not mean that a higher being could not have created them that way. I saw this statement as slightly close-minded and felt that if I believed in special creation I would not have been convinced.
In the second half of chapter 14, Darwin concludes with some intriguing remarks. First, he calls out his opposition as being emotionally incapable of accepting change (481). Then he says he does not believe he'll be able to convince steadfast naturalists (481). Then he says that naturalists are unwilling to investigate the matter enough to be convinced by his argument (482-3). Pretty degrading material, there, but I think Darwin's just having fun and throwing stuff out there because he's excited to be done.
At the end of that section, he slips an interesting phrase into his speech, saying, "probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed" (484, emphasis my own). Life was breathed in the first form, huh? By whom? Was it God, perhaps? This gives me a chance to mention that Darwin was never a proclaimed atheist. He was accused of being such, but, in fact, the book is spattered with hints of a higher being. During various analyses of the book, I've come to the conclusion that Darwin believed (at least at this point in his life) in a God who set up the laws of Nature, but who allows Nature to take its course. Without God, though, Nature and all of its rules would cease to exist. But that's just my take on Darwin.
Next Darwin talks about ALL OF THE EXCITING CHANGES THAT WILL BE MADE IN SCIENCE ONCE HIS THEORY IS ACCEPTED! I write in all caps because its a very optimistic, exciting, hopeful outlook for his books reception. And though the book did have its rocky times, it has resulted in many new scientific discoveries. Darwin says, "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history" (488) and even goes as far as to say,
"The whole history of the world...will hereafter be recognized as a mere fragment of time, compared with the ages which have elapsed since the first creature, the progenitor of innumerable extinct and living descendants was created" (488).
Hold on! The first creature was created?? Yeah, Darwin definitely isn't an atheist. So if you hear someone claiming that he was, or you hear an atheist comparing his or herself to Darwin, you can put them in their place!
Now, for the sake of poetry, I'd like to end my blog with the last line of the book. But, to do that, I'll have to explain it first and then say my goodbyes and then quote the book. There are a few things to note about the sentence. 1. Darwin mentions the law of gravity, hoping to equate the truth of his theory with the truth of the law of gravity. He wants Natural Selection to be a law. 2. Darwin mentions again the idea of life being breathed into beings. I find it interesting that he has brought up that concept at least three times in the last chapter alone. How he could be considered an atheist, I just do not know. 3. Darwin ends his book with the word evolved, a word which he mysteriously has not mentioned at any other point, although his book is about evolution. I think he was just saving the best word for last - the word that includes his entire theory, now that he has explained it all. But there are other speculations to me made, and I invite you to think about it.
I sincerely hope that this blog has been informative and interesting. Please comment and leave your own opinions to be explored by future readers. There is always more to be said about the classic works of our history. And with that, I sign off.
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed 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" (490).