The book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin.
It was originally published in 1859. I read the paperback Penguin Classics 2009 edition. I read it in April of 2022.
I read this because I want to learn more about the origin of the world. 6-day creationism seems more and more to be a close-handed issue in Christianity. I want to learn more about the theories and how it all works. In setting out to land on a specific position, it’s important to steel-man the opposing worldview. Reading Origin is my way of doing that. I want to know exactly what the Darwinists believe.
Being fully aware of how biased this sounds, I have to say, I did not enjoy reading this book. It’s pretty dull and “inside baseball” regarding naturalism and evolutionary biology. It was supposedly written for the general public but I would not say it’s accessible to the casual reader. It’s understandable but dull. Darwin dwells in the minutia of species and adaptation and genus of plants and animals.
He barely touches on the evolution of humanity. I was surprised at how little he discusses human evolution. He basically presents his theory on natural selection and how this method is responsible for the variations within kinds of living organisms, and the different species and types we find in the family tree of all living things.
My main takeaway from this book is how impossible it is for evolutionists or naturalists to avoid speaking in language of purpose or meaning in nature. It’s always “natural selection did this because…” or “this adaptation took place so that…” They cannot escape language of design and meaning when in actuality, the story of this godless worldview is that evolution and natural selection is the process of absolutely meaningless, directionless, purposeless, random, arbitrary mutations that led to one offspring surviving while another did not. But when people like Darwin talk about it it’s always framed as if natural selection is some kind of mindful entity that is picking and choosing which creature deserves to survive or not. It’s the language of paganism. Personifying and effectively deifying nature as some sort of being with a plan.
I plan to read more books about evolution and origins from all sides of the argument.
From reading Origin, it almost seems as if Darwin was a naive character who was taken advantage of by some other more atheistic minds like Thomas and Aldous Huxley. I need to investigate this angle more but what I suspect happened is that Darwin had an idea and made a good-faith argument that was then commandeered by other bad-faith characters with a more overtly godless agenda. I want to follow the through-line from Darwin to full-fledged God-hating atheism, because I don’t get that from Darwin’s book.
I’d recommend this to Christians with a fortified, biblical presupposition, who want to steel-man the opposing naturalist worldviews. It’s good to have done the homework and really understand what the other side is saying. To the average reader, I can’t recommend this book. It’s very dull and inaccessible. It’s old and academic. It was written for the scientifically minded general audience of 1859. You are not that audience.