Darwin, Huxley, Ethics, Atheism, Buddhism and the Dreams Stuff Is Made Of

                                     

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Charles Darwin’s Office

After I graduated from medical school Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley became my intellectual heroes and my mentors. I admired both of them in part for their scientific achievements, but even more for their honesty and integrity.

Charles Darwin was not a revolutionary or a proto-hippie. Quite the opposite, he was an English countryside gentleman, a member of the bourgeoisie. But Darwin was an intelligent and sensitive man, one who cared deeply about justice. That was part of his family heritage. Both the Darwin side of the family and Charles’s maternal grandparents, the wealthy Wedgwoods of ceramic fame, were staunchly anti-slavery at a time when some of our country’s founding fathers owned slaves and some self-righteous clergy were justifying slavery using the Bible. Charles Darwin carried on his family tradition, writing eloquently about the suffering of slaves. Charles Darwin wrote in a letter in 1833:

“Hurrah for the honest Whigs! I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery. I have seen enough of slavery and the dispositions of the negroes, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies and nonsense one hears on the subject…. Thank God, the cold hearted Tories”  “who.. have no enthusiasm, except against enthusiasm.” Continue reading