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An astonishing new portrait of a scientific icon
In this remarkable book, Adrian Desmond and James Moore restore the missing moral core of Darwins evolutionary universe, providing a completely new account of how he came to his shattering theories about human origins.
There has always been 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? Its difficult to overstate just what Darwin was risking in publishing his theory of evolution. So it must have been something very powerfula moral fire, as Desmond and Moore put itthat propelled him. And that moral fire, they argue, was a passionate hatred of slavery.
To make their case, they draw on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, unpublished family correspondence, notebooks, diaries, and even ships logs. They show how Darwins abolitionism had deep roots in his mothers family and was reinforced by his voyage on the Beagle as well as by events in Americafrom the rise of scientific racism at Harvard through the dark days of the Civil War.
Leading apologists for slavery in Darwins time argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, with whites created superior. Darwin abhorred such arrogance. He believed that, far from being separate species, the races belonged to the same human family. Slavery was therefore a sin, and abolishing it became Darwins sacred cause. His theory of evolution gave all the racesblacks and whites, animals and plantsan ancient common ancestor and freed them from creationist shackles. Evolution meant emancipation.
In this rich and illuminating work, Desmond and Moore recover Darwins lost humanitarianism. They argue that only by acknowledging Darwins Christian abolitionist heritage can we fully understand the development of his groundbreaking ideas. Compulsively readable and utterly persuasive, Darwins Sacred Cause will revolutionize our view of the great naturalist.