Charles Darwin quotes page 1
1809 - 1882, English naturalist
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the
most responsive to change.
A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.
To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a
new truth or fact.
In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they
succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.
The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly
organized form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a
doubt that we are descended from barbarians.
If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to
some music at least once a week.
A man's friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.
An American Monkey after getting drunk on Brandy would never touch it again, and thus is
much wiser than most men.
As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.
Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he
now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to
complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the
immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.
Each organic being is striving to increase in a geometrical ratio... each at some period of its
life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle
for life and to suffer great destruction... The vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive
We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be
governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.
The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us. And I for one must be content to
remain an agnostic.
In the long history of humankind, and animalkind too, those who learned to collaborate and
improvise most effectively have prevailed.
Mathematics seems to endow one with something like a new sense.
I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A
dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly
created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of
The western nations of Europe, who now so immeasurably surpass their former savage
progenitors, and stand at the summit of civilization, owe little or none of their superiority to
direct inheritance from the old Greeks, though they owe much to the written works of that
A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on
both sides of each question.
A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, a mere heart of stone.
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
One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely: Multiply, vary, let
the strongest live and the weakest die.
The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.
I have rarely read anything which has interested me more, though I have not read as yet
more than a quarter of the book proper. From quotations which I had seen, I had a high
notion of Aristotle's merits, but I had not the most remote notion what a wonderful man
was. Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they
were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle.
Such simple instincts as bees making a beehive could be sufficient to overthrow my whole
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed
into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to
the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most
wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly
exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to
check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick;
we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every
one to the last moment.
It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance.