How to misquote Darwin
Misquoting Darwin is a cottage
industry amongst creationists and, sadly, others use their methods.
It's easy to do, just take the first sentence (or part of one as Morgan
did) and pretend it's the point he was making.
This quote is one
of the most famous misquotes of Darwin in this style, as used by many many
They quote the first sentence only: "To suppose that
the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to
different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for
the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed
by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
This, however, is merely Darwin's rhetorical setup; they have to stop fast
before they get to what he was actually saying.
From On the Origin
of Species, on the subject of the evolution of the eye:
ORGANS OF EXTREME PERFECTION AND COMPLICATION.
To suppose that the eye with
all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances,
for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical
and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection,
seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.
When it was
first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common
sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox
populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science.
Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect
eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being
useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye
ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the
case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing
conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and
complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by
our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.
How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than
how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest
organisms in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving
light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their
sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with
this special sensibility.
Charles Darwin, On the Origin
of Species, 6th Edition (above from Project Gutenberg)