Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution
There is a mystery surrounding Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman, a pillar of his parish, come to embrace one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? Darwin risked a great deal in publishing his theory of evolution, so something very powerful--a moral fire--must have propelled him. That mor ...more
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1. I am astonished at the prevalence of racist thought, to the point of obsession, among Caucasians who inhabited the Atlantic world during the 19th century. The theory of plural origins, i.e. that God made the races in separate acts of creation - in opposition to the conviction of common origin of homo sapiens, phrenology leading to cranial science by which races were ranked by cranial capacity, the religious pro-slavery argument, and on and on dominated this thoroughly revolting ...more
"In Darwin's Sacred Cause, Adrian Desmond and James Moore contend that abhorrence of slavery inspired and shaped Darwin's theory of evolution. To grasp his grand project, we have first to understand one of the great scientific battles of the mid-19th century. "Polygenists," such as the American physician Samuel George Morton, held that the human races were each a distinct species, and ...more
I love the irony of the fact that the hideous practice of American plantation slavery was vigorously advocated and defended by the religious community while Darwin was just as vigorously against it. Science v. Religion indeed. It is a sad but humbling truth that much of the defense of slavery in America was done in the guise of science. We who practice ...more
Darwin's theories had on him. It explores his committement to the abolition of slavery and the drive this gave him to prove without doubt, the origin of all races came from a common ancestor.
At times, I found myself frustrated at Darwin's hesitation to publish his theories of evolution but this book shows the struggles and battles he was up against. The sheer horror of such acute racism and elitism in the majori ...more
Based on a painstaking study of Darwin's private papers -- correspondence, notebooks, journals, ship logs, and even scribbled remarks in the margins of books and pamphlets he had read -- this compelling book endeavors to redeem and humanize the often misunderstood man. Critics uniformly praised Darwin's Sacred Cause, describing it as thoroughly researched, absorbing, and even "thrilling" (Independent). Only a few had misgivings: some critics noticed that the authors gloss over evidence of prejud...more
And, it's a good reminder that science isn't carried out by "objective observers" - science is carried out by human beings, with opinions and points of view. The work isn't invalidated by it, but enriched by it. ( ...more
He studied physiology at University College, London, and went on to study history of science and vertebrate palaeontology at University College London before researching the history of vertebrate palaeontology at Harvard University, under Stephen Jay Gould. He was awarded a PhD in the area of the Victorian-period contex ...more