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Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution Paperback – November 5, 2002
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Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is primarily about Darwin's family life, his religious convictions, and how his scientific work affected both.
Nearly everyone in early 19th century Britain believed in a all-powerful, all-knowing God who monitored and regulated and judged everything that happened down to the smallest detail. (As in America's Bible Belt, where putting a Darwin Fish on your car is an invitation to vandalism, people who didn't accept the majority view tended to keep a low profile.) God had created all the species, exactly as they were, all at once about 6,000 years ago. Whatever you did, God was watching and might punish you in horrible ways for some small infraction. Most people accepted the idea that if your child came down with some hideous disease it was because God was punishing you for some transgression. (It didn't seem odd to anyone that they were worshiping a God who behaved like a vengeful psychopath.) However, if you followed the rules and did what you were supposed to do (if you were a woman, that meant endless pregnancies and utter, unthinking obedience to your husband, no matter what), after you died you got to go to Heaven where you would finally be happy.
Emma Darwin, wife of Charles, although her faith became strained, believed this. Charles, although in many ways a man of his time, is more complicated.Read more ›
Privy to notes, letters, journals, and other information heretofor unseen, Keynes casts the familiar image of Charles Darwin in a new light. The man who emerges from this portrait is unexpected in many ways. A singularly devoted father and husband, Darwin's greatest joys came from ordinary family life. Romping with his large brood, noting details small and grand in their development and children, tenderly corresponding with his beloved wife Emma during their few seperations, Darwin was no cold and ruthless scientist out to cripple the faith of the believers. Keynes portrays him as a man brimming with affection, kindness, and love. Annie, the daughter alluded to in the book's title, remains mysterious in many ways; but what is entirely evident is that grief over her untimely death haunted Darwin until the end of his days.
Keynes so sensitively discusses Darwin's struggles with faith, God, and the human condition that he manages to obliterate the undeserved assumptions I carried with me to the biography. Darwin did not, as many assume, dismiss out of hand the notion of God. Quite to the contrary, he struggled with profound questions about God and lived out his life with a healthy respect for his wife and family's religious ideology even after he could no longer conscientiously participate in it.Read more ›
Randal Keynes did not disappoint. His access to a veritable treasure trove of family journals, letters, and records allows Keynes to develop a fully dimensional, complex individual who far exceeds the simple titles of "Evolutionist", "atheist," or any other ordinary label. Far from being a simple scientist (one of the myths dispelled in the book) or a once devout minister-in-training-turned-atheist (another myth), Darwin here is presented as a man of great warmth, devotion, and intellect.
Especially appealing to me was the emphasis Keynes places on Darwin's family life, as opposed to a lengthy discussion of his evolutionary theory. Darwin comes across as a fun, playful, adoring father whose very real grief over the death of his daughter may well have been a turning point in his thinking about God and the nature of the human condition.
Anyone who dismisses out of hand Darwin's theories as mere instruments by which to bring about the fall of Christianity must read this book. Darwin's struggles with the deepest philosophical issues, i.e. human suffering, the nature of evil, God, and redemption, are all discussed with sincerety even as they are backed up with evidence from Darwin's journals and letters. Those who insist on tagging Mr. Darwin with simple labels will be surprised by this revealing look at the real man.
The writing is clear, clever, and refrains from striking a tone either too sentimental or one inclined toward evolutionary apologetics. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The item was just as described, well packaged, and promptly shipped. Thank you!Published 6 months ago by Linden Hills Girl
It's the same book as Annie's Box!!! I ended up buying both books thinking they were different.
It is a boring book. Read more
I have read a lot of Darwin biographies and this is by far my favorite. The book is written by one of Darwin's descendants using some personal letters Darwin wrote during his... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Geeky Teacher Parent
I bought this book after seeing the movie "Creation." It is a beautiful and intimate portrait of one of the most brilliant minds and gentle souls in modern history. Read morePublished on November 24, 2012 by Todd
The Origin of the Species and Darwin's theory of evolution is one that is so pervasive in our lives than one can not imagine there are many people on the planet who don't know what... Read morePublished on June 2, 2012 by Ann B. Graham
i couldn't put this book down, simply ate it up!....loved it! one of the best books i've ever read...let's your imagination go!Published on September 2, 2011 by Gabyluss
I love this book for a number of reasons: I like books that are about real people, and their real struggles; I enjoy learning about the Human traits of societies icons, like... Read morePublished on August 20, 2011 by Wendy Marie
As other reviewers have noted, this is a very intimate book, and full of familial information. It is a lot like spending a long weekend in a late Victorian home among a big... Read morePublished on August 4, 2011 by toronto