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Charles Darwin Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Charles Darwin.

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Famous Quotes By Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 586918

The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 714624

As the species of the same genus usually have, though by no means invariably, much similarity in habits and constitution, and always in structure, the struggle will generally be more severe between them, if they come into competition with each other, than between the species of distinct genera. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1760569

If worms have the power of acquiring some notion, however rude, of the shape of an object and over their burrows, as seems the case, they deserve to be called intelligent; for they act in nearly the same manner as would man under similar circumstances. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2196145

Man is more courageous, pugnacious, and energetic than woman, and has a more inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger, butwhether or not proportionally to his larger body, has not, I believe, been fully ascertained. In woman the face is rounder; the jaws and the base of skull smaller; the outlines of the body rounder, in parts more prominent; and her pelvis is broader than in man; but this latter character may perhaps be considered rather as a primary than a secondary sexual character. She comes to maturity at an earlier age than man. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 896836

Nothing before had ever made me thoroughly realise, though I had read various scientific books, that science consists in grouping facts so that general laws or conclusions may be drawn from them. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1971775

Music was known and understood before words were spoken. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 476067

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 433507

Great as the differences are between the breeds of pigeons, I am fully convinced that the common opinion of naturalists is correct, namely, that all have descended from the rock-pigeon (Columba livia), including under this term several geographical races or sub-species, which differ from each other in the most trifling respects. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1315175

It may be conceit, but I believe the subject will interest the public, and I am sure that the views are original. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1390495

I trust and believe that the time spent in this voyage ... will produce its full worth in Natural History; and it appears to me the doing what little we can to increase the general stock of knowledge is as respectable an object of life, as one can in any likelihood pursue. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1641232

A cell is a complex structure, with its investing membrane, nucleus, and nucleolus. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1837932

I worked on true Baconian principles, and without any theory collected facts. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 133368

I believe man . . . in the same predicament with other animals. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 665290

It is a truly wonderful fact - the wonder of which we are apt to overlook from familiarity - that all animals and all plants throughout all time and space should be related to each other in group subordinate to group. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1260967

Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under a different form in my 'Origin of Species. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2178094

I find in the domestic duck that the bones of the wing weigh less and the bones of the leg more, in proportion to the whole skeleton, than do the same bones in the wild duck; and this change may be safely attributed to the domestic duck flying much less, and walking more, than its wild parents. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 946073

Sexual selection acts in a less rigorous manner than natural selection. The latter produces its effects by the life or death at all ages of the more or less successful individuals. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1286591

On seeing the marsupials in Australia for the first time and comparing them to placental mammals: "An unbeliever ... might exclaim 'Surely two distinct Creators must have been at work'" — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 757609

Thus we have given to man a pedigree of prodigious length, but not, it may be said, of noble quality. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 414694

I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 585669

The moral faculties are generally and justly esteemed as of higher value than the intellectual powers. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 743492

As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1634897

I think it inevitably follows, that as new species in the course of time are formed through natural selection, others will become rarer and rarer, and finally extinct. The forms which stand in closest competition with those undergoing modification and improvement will naturally suffer most. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 783724

When primeval man first used flint stones for any purpose, he would have accidentally splintered them, and would then have used the sharp fragments. From this step it would be a small one to break the flints on purpose and not a very wide step to fashion them rudely. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1705132

After my return to England it appeared to me that by following the example of Lyell in Geology, and by collecting all facts which bore in any way on the variation of animals and plants under domestication and nature, some light might perhaps be thrown on the whole subject. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 106306

This fundamental subject of Natural Selection will be treated at some length in the fourth chapter; and we shall then see how Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life and induces what I have called Divergence of Character. In the next chapter I shall discuss the complex and little known laws of variation and of correlation of growth. In the four succeeding chapters, the most apparent and gravest difficulties on the theory will be given: namely, first, the difficulties of transitions, or in understanding how a simple being or a simple organ can be changed and perfected into a highly developed being or elaborately constructed organ; secondly the subject of Instinct, or the mental powers of animals, thirdly, Hybridism, or the infertility of species and the fertility of varieties when intercrossed; and fourthly, the imperfection of the Geological Record. In — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2185606

Great is the power of steady misrepresentation — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2044217

So in regard to mental qualities, their transmission is manifest in our dogs, horses and other domestic animals. Besides special tastes and habits, general intelligence, courage, bad and good tempers. etc., are certainly transmitted. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1299128

Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 868297

As natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress toward perfection. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1346126

The most powerful natural species are those that adapt to environmental change without losing their fundamental identity which gives them their competitive advantage. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2063530

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 999140

Humboldt's glorious descriptions are & will for ever be unparalleled: but even he with his dark blue skies & the rare union of poetry with science which he so strongly displays when writing on tropical scenery, with all this falls far short of the truth,he averred. The delight one experiences in such times bewilders the mind; if the eye attempts to follow the flight of a gaudy butter-fly, it is arrested by some strange tree or fruit; if watching an insect one forgets it in the stranger flower it is crawling over; if turning to admire the splendor of the scenery, the individual character of the foreground fixes the attention. The mind is a chaos of delight, out of which a world of future & more quiet pleasure will arise. I am at present fit only to read Humboldt; he like another sun illuminates everything I behold. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 252569

On the ordinary view of each species having been independently created, we gain no scientific explanation. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 872530

I am dying by inches, from not having any body to talk to about insects ... — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 97794

A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives - of approving of some and disapproving of others. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 112210

I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 113926

Whilst Man, however well-behaved,
At best is but a monkey shaved! — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 263294

I look at the natural geological record as a history of the world imperfectly kept and written in a changing dialect; of this history we possess the last volume alone, relating only to two or three countries. Of this volume, only here and there a short chapter has been preserved; and of each page, only here and there a few lines. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 266896

immutable productions — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 285378

We have happy days, remember good dinners. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 304217

But Geology carries the day: it is like the pleasure of gambling, speculating, on first arriving, what the rocks may be; I often mentally cry out 3 to 1 Tertiary against primitive; but the latter have hitherto won all the bets. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 357005

I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 380970

It is a fatal fault to reason whilst observing, though so necessary beforehand and so useful afterwards. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 400704

One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 444071

The theory which I would offer, is simply, that as the land with the attached reefs subsides very gradually from the action of subterranean causes, the coral-building polypi soon raise again their solid masses to the level of the water: but not so with the land; each inch lost is irreclaimably gone; as the whole gradually sinks, the water gains foot by foot on the shore, till the last and highest peak is finally submerged. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 483924

I have just finished my sketch of my species theory. If as I believe that my theory is true & if it be accepted even by one competent judge, it will be a considerable step in science. I therefore write this, in case of my sudden death, as my most solemn & last request, which I am sure you will consider the same as if legally entered in my will, that you will devote 400£ to its publication & further will yourself, or through Hensleigh [Wedgwood], take trouble in promoting it. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 537345

At last gleams of light have come, and I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a 'tendency to progression', 'adaptations from the slow willing of animals', &c! But the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his; though the means of change are wholly so. I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 580793

The more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become, - that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us, - that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events, - that they differ in many important details, far too important as it seemed to me to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eye-witnesses; - by such reflections as these ... I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 604785

The moral faculties are generally esteemed, and with justice, as of higher value than the intellectual powers. But we should always bear in mind that the activity of the mind in vividly recalling past impressions is one of the fundamental though secondary bases of conscience. This fact affords the strongest argument for educating and stimulating in all possible ways the intellectual faculties of every human being. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 619096

I fully agree with all that you say on the advantages of H. Spencer's excellent expression of 'the survival of the fittest.' This, however, had not occurred to me till reading your letter. It is, however, a great objection to this term that it cannot be used as a substantive governing a verb; and that this is a real objection I infer from H. Spencer continually using the words, natural selection.
(Letter to A. R. Wallace July 1866) — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 628623

The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely that man is descended from some lowly-organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many persons. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 662911

Life is nearly over with me. I have taken no pains about my style of writing. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 717839

To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God's word, or in the book of God's works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience in both." - Bacon: "Advancement of Learning". — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 721728

An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 727918

When the views entertained in this volume on the origin of species, or when analogous views are generally admitted, we can dimly forsee that there will be a considerable revolution in natural history. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 741324

But when on shore, & wandering in the sublime forests, surrounded by views more gorgeous than even Claude ever imagined, I enjoy a delight which none but those who have experienced it can understand. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 762533

The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly plowed, and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 768208

A grand and almost untrodden field of inquiry will be opened, on the causes and laws of variation, on correlation of growth, on the effects of use and disuse, on the direct actions of external conditions, and so forth. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 782257

About weak points [of the Origin] I agree. The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradations, my reason tells me I ought to conquer the cold shudder. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 805566

The several difficulties here discussed, namely our not finding in the successive formations infinitely numerous transitional links between the many species which now exist or have existed; the sudden manner in which whole groups of species appear in our European formations; the almost entire absence, as at present known, of fossiliferous formations beneath the Silurian strata, are all undoubtedly of the gravest nature. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 905871

But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 919773

[Reason tells me of the] extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 948934

Who can explain why one species ranges widely and is very numerous, and why another allied species has a narrow range and is rare? Yet these relations are of the highest importance, for they determine the present welfare, and, as I believe, the future success and modification of every inhabitant of this world. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1030916

Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1144471

The tree of life should perhaps be called the coral of life, base of branches dead; so that passages cannot be seen-this again offers contradiction to constant succession of germs in progress. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1208368

Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1242560

It strikes me that all our knowledge about the structure of our Earth is very much like what an old hen would know of the hundred-acre field in a corner of which she is scratching. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1267304

Now when naturalists observe a close agreement in numerous small details of habits, tastes and dispositions between two or more domestic races, or between nearly-allied natural forms, they use this fact as an argument that all are descended from a common progenitor who was thus endowed; and consequently that all should be classed under the same species. The same argument may be applied with much force to the races of man. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1289409

Language is an art, like brewing or baking ... It certainly is not a true instinct, for every language has to be learnt. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1307794

Every one must be struck with astonishment, when he first beholds one of these vast rings of coral-rock, often many leagues in diameter, here and there surmounted by a low verdant island with dazzling white shores, bathed on the outside by the foaming breakers of the ocean, and on the inside surrounding a calm expanse of water, which, from reflection, is of a bright but pale green color. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1329696

The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1345436

Man, wonderful man, must collapse, into nature's cauldron, he is no deity, he is no exception. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1346670

If about a dozen genera of birds had become extinct or were unknown, who would have ventured to have surmised that birds might have existed which used their wings solely as flappers, like the logger-headed duck (Micropterus of Eyton); as fins in the water and front legs on the land, like the penguin; as sails, like the ostrich; and functionally for no purpose, like the Apteryx. Yet the structure of each of these birds is good for it, under the conditions of life to which it is exposed, for each has to live by a struggle; but it is not necessarily the best possible under all possible conditions. It must not be inferred from these remarks that any of the grades of wing-structure here alluded to, which perhaps may all have resulted from disuse, indicate the natural steps by which birds have acquired their perfect power of flight; but they serve, at least, to show what diversified means of transition are possible. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1368800

He who understands baboons would do more towards metaphysics than Locke. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1374110

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1512068

What wretched doings come from the ardor of fame; the love of truth alone would never make one man attack another bitterly. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1517696

Natural selection rendered evolution scientifically intelligible: it was this more than anything else which convinced professional biologists like Sir Joseph Hooker, T. H. Huxley and Ernst Haeckel. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1557265

Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1574249

Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man; whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where Death and decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature:
no one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1608326

Let it also be borne in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life; and consequently what infinitely varied diversities of structure might be of use to each being under changing conditions of life. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1695237

But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice ... I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1723757

[Herschel and Humboldt] stirred up in me a burning zeal to add even the most humble contribution to the noble structure of Natural Science. No one or a dozen other books influenced me nearly so much as these two. I copied out from Humboldt long passages about Teneriffe and read them aloud on one of [my walking excursions]. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1804266

A bad earthquake at once destroys the oldest associations: the world, the very emblem of all that is solid, has moved beneath our feet like a crust over a fluid; one second of time has conveyed to the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which hours of reflection would never have created. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1831124

One may say there is a force like a hundred thousand wedges ... — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1874746

May we not suspect that the vague but very real fears of children, which are quite independent of experience, are the inherited effects of real dangers and abject superstitions during ancient savage times? — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1887134

I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1895714

I have described, in the second chapter, the gait and appearance of a dog when cheerful, and the marked antithesis presented by the same animal when dejected and disappointed, with his head, ears, body, tail, and chops drooping, and eyes dull. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1908398

A pleasurable and excited state of mind, associated with affection, is exhibited by some dogs in a very peculiar manner, namely, by grinning. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1909831

[T]he young and the old of widely different races, both with man and animals, express the same state of mind by the same movements. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1929425

Consequently, if my theory be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Silurian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than, the whole interval from the Silurian age to the present day; and that during these vast, yet quite unknown, periods of time, the world swarmed with living creatures. To the question why we do not find records of these vast primordial periods, I can give no satisfactory answer. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1944120

As natural selection acts by competition, it adapts the inhabitants of each country only in relation to the degree of perfection of their associates; so that we need feel no surprise at the inhabitants of any one country, although on the ordinary view supposed to have been specially created and adapted for that country, being beaten and supplanted by the naturalised productions from another land. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1955571

We are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 1978573

I am not very skeptical ... a good deal of skepticism in a scientific man is advisable to avoid much loss of time, but I have met not a few men, who ... have often thus been deterred from experiments or observations which would have proven servicable. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2005181

In regard to the amount of difference between the races, we must make some allowance for our nice powers of discrimination gained by a long habit of observing ourselves. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2055960

I long to set foot where no man has trod before. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2119540

I had also, during many years, followed a golden rule, namely that whenever published fact, a new observation of thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2182440

I think an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind. The whole subject [of God] is beyond the scope of man's intellect. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2243691

I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. — Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin Quotes 2257702

A novel according to my taste, does not come into the moderately good class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love - and if a pretty woman, all the better. — Charles Darwin