Darwin vs. Austen – Science vs. English – Man vs. Woman

This post is going to be unlike any other of mine. For starters, it might prove to be controversial. But although this is me voicing my personal opinions on my personal blog – and thus, am I not entitled to say whatever I wish? – I will try to be fair in both my judgement and the exposition of this judgement.


I am slightly late in voicing this, given the topic of this post started in 2013. So why am I voicing this now? I read a post by another blogger – this post, to be precise – which was about Mark Twain’s hatred for Jane Austen. I had not realised until then that Mark Twain held such acrimony for the supposedly “genteel” and “dear” Jane that everybody so loves. Like, serious acrimony. Take a look at that post to see for yourself! But while I was reading this post, it was brought back to my attention that I’m kind of in the same boat as Mark Twain. I wouldn’t say anything like what he did about Austen, but that does not alter my truly potent dislike for the woman.

I do not think that I will ever know, nor understand, why I feel this way about her. I had to study Pride and Prejudice for a year once upon a time, and it was the most horrific experience of my life. I wanted to gouge my eyes out every single lesson. I hated it. I hated the plot, I hated the characters (especially Elizabeth Bennet, who, according to the back of my study copy – which I still have, surprisingly; how have I not thrown it on the fire? – is described as an “irresistible heroine”), I hated the style, I hated the alleged ‘wit’ throughout. And why do people rave so much about that opening sentence?

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Seriously, what is so great about that line? It will forever remain one of life’s greatest mysteries as to how I managed to get an A grade on the coursework for this novel, given I have never tried less on, or cared less for, a piece of work. She basically wrote chick-lit of the 19th century, stupid love-centred, romance-obsessed drivel (in case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a fan of chick-lit). However, despite saying all this, I acknowledge that for her time Jane Austen was remarkable. She pushed social boundaries and social perception, despite facing much critique and controversy, and made a point that marriage should be for love and not social advancement, status, wealth, or otherwise arranged.

And what of Darwin?

Assuming you’ve seen the title of this post, you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with Charles Darwin; unless, of course, you are British, in which case you will already know. But for those of you who are not British, and for those of you who do not know, I shall explain:

Like many countries around the world, British pound notes also have historical figures on them. Back in 2013, the Bank of England announced that they were changing the £5 from Elizabeth Fry to Winston Churchill.

This is the current £5 note featuring Elizabeth Fry, who was a prison reformer

And this is the mock-up of the new fiver featuring Winston Churchill, which will start circulation in 2016…

Not a problem, right? Well, not quite. At this announcement, people (namely women) across the UK cried out in outrage. Why? Because Elizabeth Fry not being on a banknote would mean no female historical figures would be featured. The £10 note features Charles Darwin. The £20 notes features Adam Smith (a ‘father of economics’). And the £50 note features Matthew Boulton and James Watt (an engineering partnership, I believe). Personally, I couldn’t give a flying toss about a woman being on our banknotes. Any other British woman with me there? But anyway, Elizabeth Fry was only the second female figure to be featured, and the first was Florence Nightingale. Feminists in Britain started up a campaign to make the Bank of England have another woman featured on the notes. And the Bank of England eventually caved in. So, which male figure listed above are they replacing? CHARLES DARWIN. And with whom? Jane bloody Austen.

Which now leads me onto Darwin. You know of my dislike for Austen, and now, unfortunately, I possess even more rancour towards her. It is not her fault, but she is replacing a man for whom I hold infinite respect and admiration. I absolutely love Charles Darwin, and I am honestly furious and distraught that they are replacing him with Jane Austen, OF ALL PEOPLE. I appreciate this might pose slight bemusement for some people. Am I not an author? Should I then not be on the side of English, and not that of Science? Maybe I should, but I am not. The criteria for someone to be featured on a banknote is an individual who has made an important and lasting contribution to the country – someone who is a household name, and certainly not controversial.

Disregarding her work, Jane Austen, as a woman, isn’t controversial. Right? Wrong. There was a huge, angry backlash response to the announcement that she was replacing the world-famous naturalist. If anyone in Britain actually knows why this was, I’d love to know, for as much as I would love to believe that it was due to support for Darwin, I don’t think it was… It was everyone launching abuse via Twitter at the main feminist who led the campaign to get a woman back on the banknotes. That actually got really bad, and I think some people got arrested because of it.

This is the current £10 note featuring Charles Darwin… I still can’t believe he’s being replaced…

And this is the mock-up of the new tenner featuring MY FAVOURITE PERSON (sarcasm, guys), which will start circulation in 2017. Look at her stupid face.

Why such anger?

Firstly, I keep asking myself that question. Why am I so angry about this? And why did so many other people get so angry? If they did not get angry because it was Darwin being replaced, then why? Was it because it was some feminist movement? Do they not want women to be equal to men? Or was it because half the British population secretly despises Jane Austen, unknowingly even to themselves? Is she like Marmite? Who would have thought it, eh?

But perhaps there is a more important question…

Who is more worthy?

Who should it be on the banknote? Darwin or Austen? Science or English? A man or a woman?

Man or woman?

Let’s all take a moment to be endlessly thankful that we live in this age. What abundance we have! What glorious health we are in! What equality we share! What freedom! Isn’t it great? If you are a woman, the last two probably mean slightly more. For how many centuries were women second best? For how many centuries did men have us shackled? And now, is there anything in society that we cannot do alongside a man? We are ‘equal’ now, right? Or we practically are. I am not a feminist in any way, shape or form – I could quite happily be a housewife for the rest of my life – but I would be lying if I said I were not grateful for the choice and freedom women now have. If I choose to be a housewife, then that’s fine; if I choose to be a high-flying business woman, that is also fine, and I am free to make that decision. That’s the important thing. But that said, this world will always be a patriarchal one (sorry girls), and I think we’d just be kidding ourselves to no end if we expected that to change. Even so, women are free to achieve wonderful things these days, and therefore, make history. So there is no reason why women shouldn’t feature on our banknotes. Happy days! Let’s pick a woman who has made an important and lasting contribution to the country! … Only thing is, we’re a little bit limited for choice, aren’t we?

I’m going to say something now which might raise some people’s backs (so sorry). Have you ever thought there might be a reason why there are so few female historical figures? This freedom and ‘equality’ women now have has only been with us for the fifty years or so; before then, we couldn’t really do anything. We were not free to make history. And we cannot change history, either, so although we are in a wonderful position now, we cannot pluck a female historical figure out of nowhere.

My mother is a scientist, and many years ago now she said something to me when we just so happened to be discussing why there are so few notable women in history (or at least regarding England). For some reason, it has always stayed with me: “Women can create the greatest miracle in the world: life. That is where our focus and attention will always lie, for, mostly, we are maternal and caring and do not have the competitive drive like men. Men do not create life, so they spend their time making up for that by being architects, engineers, scientists, writers, and all the rest. What a man creates is his ‘baby’.”

She said something like that, anyway. And, before any man out there gets offended, yes we all appreciate that women could not create life without a man, but a man’s body does not make a foetus grow, nor does it carry it for nine months, and nor does it give birth to it. But I think my mum raises a reasonable point. That is true, surely? I studied Sociology once, and there are many theories which reflect a woman’s biological drive not to ‘create’ and succeed as men do.

So, taking all this into consideration, if we ask: Who has made more important and lasting contributions to the country? Man or woman? The answer has to be man. And I don’t understand how anyone could argue or dispute that. It is a shame, but think of it this way: in another hundred years time, there will be so many wonderful women to choose from!

Science or English?

This one is tough, and I don’t think there can be a clear ‘winner’, per se. If you asked me, I would say Science – or at least I would in this instance. Again, there may be some bemusement here. So I am an author, so I love English and literature and etymology and linguistics, but I do not think it is life-changing.

Of course, English Literature has its place within society. Nothing can better drifting away in imagination by brilliantly constructed words and a riveting storyline, and there are many great examples of allegory which reflect many relevant and important issues and viewpoints. But… that’s about it. Have any stories changed the world? Unfortunately not. Have scientific discoveries changed the world? Well, that goes without saying. William Shakespeare is quite possibly the only writer – the only master of English – who I can think of who has changed the world with words. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, and created so many phrases and idioms that we all say to this day, and will continue to say, without even realising it. That’s pretty dramatic if you think about it, and very impressive. Who else has affected our language like that? Certainly not Jane Austen.

Historic figures have been on our banknotes from 1970 onwards, and since then, we have had three arts people – well, four if you include Jane Austen: William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Sir Edward Elgar (a composer). Art is important, for culture and for mental well-being, so I do believe that it should be represented. But how many scientists have we had? Three, including Darwin. They were Sir Isaac Newton (had to be done, right?) and Michael Faraday. Now, is it just me, or shouldn’t Science be represented more than English and the arts? If it were not for scientists and their scientific discoveries and advancements, we would not be where we are today. End of. Britain has loads of scientists they could have chosen from. Oh, wait – are they female? Here is a list of influential British women in science.

FOR EXAMPLE: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.

This lovely lady was a pioneering physician and political campaigner and was the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor, despite being endlessly thwarted and denied to study medicine. She later established a dispensary for women in London, and in 1872 she founded the New Hospital for Women in London (later renamed after her) which was staffed entirely by women.

If we had to have a woman, can someone PLEASE TELL ME why Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was not chosen? She was a woman who fought for women’s rights to study medicine, she founded her own hospital for women to work, and she was a surgeon and doctor, thus meaning she saved lives for a living. But no, instead we get Jane Austen, who wrote sappy love stories. Really? A romance author over an historic doctor? Uh…

Okay, yes, Jane Austen has done her part for English Literature and has influenced many modern works, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary – which I actually like, funnily. Even funnier considering it’s based off Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t read the book, mind… Only seen the film. But Bridget Jones is a hopeless, ordinary woman we can all relate to, and not infuriatingly pretentious like Elizabeth Bennet. But someone who saved lives? Someone who changed society and made it okay for women to be doctors? What do you think? I mean, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson isn’t exactly a household name, but she should be. It is a difficult one, choosing between Science and English.

What has made more important and lasting contributions to the country? Science or English? They are such different fields, it is nigh impossible to compare which is ‘better’. In which case, it would probably make more sense looking at the individual as opposed to the field. Who has left more of a legacy? Shakespeare or Newton? That’s a very difficult one. How about Dickens or Austen? Who left more of a legacy there? A Christmas Carol, which is told every single Christmas without fail, or Pride and Prejudice? Even with two individuals in the same field, it is hard to say. But what about…

Darwin or Austen?

Who left more of a legacy out of those two?

I don’t think it would take a genius to work out what I’m going to say here. Obviously, without question, Charles Darwin. Hands down. Which is why it’s such an insult to Darwin, and his work, that he is being replaced by Jane Austen. If he were being replaced by another scientist *cough* Elizabeth Garrett Anderson *cough*, maybe it wouldn’t seem so bad (please understand I am not disregarding the importance of humanities and the arts, I am merely saying, in the grander scheme of things, there are more significant areas of society).

Of course I’m biased with this. I love Darwin, I hate Austen. I’m obviously going to side with the one I love. Such is human nature. But I want to try to justify myself a little bit, and explain why I love Darwin so much:

I’ll let you all in on a guarded secret of mine (so please be kind)… When I was a little girl, I used to dream of being a doctor. I used to play with my cuddly toys and pretend they were sick, and I tended them back to health. Okay, more of a nurse in the photo below, but the point remains the same.

Throughout my entire school life, Science – specifically Chemistry – was my favourite subject. Not English, as people would probably expect. I got equally high grades in Science as I did in English, if not better. So, what happened? Why did I not study Medicine, or Science, at university? Well, when I was at college, things went horribly wrong for me. In every sense. I studied English Language, Biology and Chemistry… but I only left with an English qualification, which pains me deeply to say. When I was seventeen, I was back and forth from hospital all the time… and every time I was there, sitting in the waiting room, I had to force back tears. Because, you see, every time I am in a hospital, I remember that dream I had of being a doctor, of helping others, and it kills me inside.

So, if there is anything you can take from the above, it is that I have a massive soft spot for certain aspects of Science. So, do I love Darwin just because he was a scientist? Not quite. Darwin contributed to the revolutionary discovery that was evolution. He came from an age when religion and God was everything, so claiming that we ‘evolved’…? A brave man. But it’s not what he did/discovered that makes me love him. I love the man for who he was. Okay, I didn’t know him – don’t remind me – but I’ve read a fair amount about Darwin and watched documentaries about HIM – not his work. Him. His life. His emotions. (Fun fact: I SO share the same birthday as him 😉 )

I truly believe Charles Robert Darwin to be one of the most under-appreciated men in history, and he really doesn’t get the respect he deserves nowadays (for one, he wouldn’t be replaced by Jane Austen if he got the respect he is due). People just go, “Oh yeah, Darwin. The evolution guy.” That’s about it, right? But there is a side to him that few consider. Charles Darwin was emotionally tortured.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

He looks a bit like Father Christmas with the beard and all, but a sad Father Christmas. Look at his eyes. There is such sorrow buried deep within him. Do you not think? He looks like a tired, grieving soul to me. My opinions here are taken from evidence I have encountered, though, as with anyone, the conclusions I have reached within my own mind based upon this evidence are that of personal interpretation. Bearing in mind I am a writer, so maybe I embellish plain facts more than I should, and maybe I allow my imagination to delve deeper than perhaps it should.

Below this paragraph you will find a video from the BBC’s Horrible Histories. Horrible Histories is actually part of the CBBC (for children). It is, therefore, a children’s programme. However, it was the most fantastic thing going, winning numerous BAFTAs, and is (was) just as loved by adults as it is children. The programme was based off the series of books, and given History has always been one of my absolute favourite subjects, the fact there is a programme that makes it interesting and fun for children is simply brilliant. I only wish the Horrible Histories TV show was around when I was at school! Though I had the books, which were just as good. Sometimes in the show, they make ‘parodies’ of songs, linking them an historic event, figure or situation to get their point across. Although Horrible Histories gains its information form legitimate sources, I am not using it here as concrete evidence – it is just a more interesting way of sharing my point!

Unfortunately the proper video is blocked due to Copyright -_- So! You must merely listen instead:

This video is obviously about Charles Darwin and natural selection. But there are some lyrics in particular I wish to focus on:

My findings met with outrage from the Church of England and from me. The idea that we came from chimps questioned my own Christianity, but it was hard to disagree!

Charles Darwin was a Christian, which isn’t surprising given he was from the Victorian era – a time firmly revolving around religion, and in particular, the morality of the soul. In his private autobiography, Darwin himself wrote:

“Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox”

Does that not imply he was rather devout in his religious beliefs? Yes. But over time, he deeply questioned his beliefs.

“I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation.”

“But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I can remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me.”

“I was very unwilling to give up my belief”. Just think about that for a moment. If you are religious, I am sure you can understand or imagine the horrendous emotional strife resulting in such conflicting thoughts; if you are not… try your utmost to. His life passion and work ultimately led him to question and fall away from the most resolute beliefs of the heart and soul, and by the sounds of it, rather reluctantly. If that were me… I don’t even know what I would do. But I know for sure that I would not be able to face the world. But Darwin faced the world regardless. I think that takes a very special kind of someone. It is sad that his faith wavered and waned until finally he claimed “I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age”, yet even so, there is no (or very minimal) recorded evidence of him being bitter towards religion, nor resolutely against it by means of public denial; instead, he seemed to detach himself from it:

“It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science.”

He said,

“In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more & more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.”

Later in life, Charles Darwin was a self-proclaimed agnostic, yet he said, regarding his work and Origins of Species, that he had “no intention to write atheistically.” He also said that a man “can be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist”, giving Charles Kingsley and Asa Gray as examples. But, for whatever reason, he personally lost his faith throughout his years developing as an evolutionist. Going back to the quote of him saying he did not give up on Christianity until aged forty… That is a long time to be emotionally, and spiritually, torn to such a brutal extent. Obviously there was something in him that did not want to let go of the belief of God, some very deep-rooted hope or feeling, yet with his logical, analytical scientific mind, he came to HIS conclusion that he could no longer believe due to “inward convictions and feelings”. Though, this apparent deep-rooted belief is not surprising, given he had a degree in Theology from Cambridge with the intention of becoming a Clergyman.

“I may, however, have been unduly biased by the pain which it would give some members of my family, if I aided in any way direct attacks on religion.”

This is a reason he gave for keeping his public opinion on religion so quiet. His wife, Emma, was a very devout Christian, and he feared that his work would greatly upset her due to the questions it was sure to raise about God. Emma forever remained concerned about the salvation of her husband’s soul, and she wrote to him,

“May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much in other things which cannot be proved in the same way, & which if true are likely to be above our comprehension.”

They loved each other dearly (which is nice to know!), and the pain he caused his wife by not sharing her same beliefs caused him profound and lasting sadness. Apparently, at the bottom of the letter which contains the above quote, Darwin wrote upon it: “When I am dead, know that many times, I have kissed & cryed over this. C. D.”

I think my heart just shattered, and tears are in my eyes. If you are not moved by that, even by the smallest degree, then I am afraid I must question – and doubt, more significantly – your authenticity of belonging to humanity and being in possession of a heart, in all its metaphorical and lyrical perception. Imagine the distress constantly lingering over you that you will hurt the one you love because of your work. Imagine once believing in the same religion they do, and then not, knowing that your disbelief causes even more hurt. That is not a situation I would like to find myself in. Would you? You cannot help your beliefs or the way you feel, which makes it all the more worse. Darwin referred to his wife as “so infinitely my superior in every moral quality… my wise adviser and cheerful comforter”, and allowed her to bring up their children in the Christian faith despite his eventual lack of it. Does it not take a very kind, considerate man to do that, or say that? He was more morally high than he gave himself credit, and if more people had a heart like his, the world would undoubtedly be a better place.

“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.”

My life now revolves around English. I am a wordy woman, and when I studied English Language, linguistics was everything. It is what I love most. Words have their own secret language – not the language of the word, but rather the word choice and placement, and every decision has its own subtle connotation. Quite fascinating, really. Let’s look at the above quote. Why, when Darwin had free rein to write absolutely anything he so wished, did he say, “must be content to remain”? Why use the modal verb must? Why not shall be content”, or will be content”? Must implies obligation. Did Darwin feel obliged to be this way, and if so, why? Because he was a man of Science? So as not to allow any biased views of theology to obscure the theory he was developing? And why content? My dictionary says that content is ‘peacefully happy’, and some synonyms of content are: satisfied, fulfilled, at ease. If he were so certain, why not say, “I will gladly remain”?  So, with his choice of words, was Darwin indirectly saying something along the lines of this?:

“…;and I for one feel morally obliged, for one reason or another, to remain at ease and fulfilled by my decision to be a person who believes it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.”

It all leans in the direction that the war of conflicting thoughts never did stop in his heart and mind. It’s something to ponder.

On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, when Darwin was fifty years old. But, shortly after the publication, he wrote to his friend, Asa Gray, about his doubts and confusion:

“I am conscious that I am in an utterly hopeless muddle. I cannot think that the world, as we see it, is the result of chance; and yet I cannot look at each separate thing as the result of Design.”

He claimed “I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age”, which would imply, after fighting hard, he eventually came to terms with his ‘decision’, and thus his emotional war ended. But what he wrote when he was fifty would suggest that were not so. Not to say that Darwin was a liar, but we, as humans, seem to love our inclination of not saying what we truly think or feel, and he was human, after all; maybe he just said that about when he was forty. Maybe, he said that in an attempt to hide his internal war from himself. Whatever it was, I cannot help but think that his war, his torture, lasted until his death. But no one will ever know how he truly felt, or what thoughts he stowed away deep within, apart from the man himself.


Taking all that information gives the reason why I love Charles Darwin. It is not about his work, his theory. It is not about Science or Religion (though, I would be lying if I said neither of those topics spark my interest and tug at my heart). It is about how he felt, how he was as a man, and how, despite his torment, he never gave in. I do not sympathise with Darwin, for sympathy is, in my eyes, pity, and I hate pity; however, I do empathise with him, and empathy is a totally different story. My heart goes out to him, it truly does. My heart cries with his. And therefore, to me, Charles Darwin will always be more worthy than Jane Austen to be on our currency, for he achieved far more during such a trying and poignant life.

Although, that said… Darwin died at the aged of 73. Jane Austen died at the age of 41. Notably shorter. Yet, in her shorter life, Jane Austen still achieved remarkable things in the field of English Literature. Darwin was buried at Westminster Abbey – the ultimate sign of respect and admiration. If you are buried there, you have made history, and you are amongst the Kings and Queens of our nation! His funeral expressed a public feeling of national pride, and religious writers praised his “noble character and his ardent pursuit of truth”, calling him a “true Christian gentleman”, despite his agnostic proclamation and apparent loss of religious faith. Austen, on the other hand, was not a best-selling author during her time and she had a lot of critics, and was buried at Winchester Cathedral. But in 1967, a memorial plaque in her honour was unveiled in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, adjacent to Shakespeare’s memorial. Perhaps, in some way, it is more remarkable that her importance and achievements were acknowledged later, that she managed to enter the prestigious Abbey long after her death. Maybe that makes her just as worthy, but in a different way, or maybe that makes even more worthy. Does it?

I don’t know. What do you think? It is definitely a very difficult matter. Who is ever more worthy than another, when so many achieve such great things? Even so, Charles Darwin will forever have a special place in my heart, and I would always wish to see him on our banknotes. But, alas, his time is coming to an end, and soon a writer shall take his place. Whether this is for better or for worse, who can truly say? Will it not always be personal preference? Either way, I will miss seeing the naturalist an awful lot, and although all things must change eventually, I fear – though perhaps falsely – that public respect for the man will decrease even more due to his absence. Darwin was – is – arguably one of the greatest men in history, and I suppose this is me declaring my everlasting admiration for him and his achievements, and thanking him for being alive.


If you have made it down here to the end, then I can only thank you for taking the time to read my words. For who am I, and what are my opinions, at the end of the day? I hope that my opinions and biases have not proven too overbearing, and that you have taken something from this, such as provoking thought within you, or even just learning a thing or two about Darwin. I have tried to be as fair as I am able with this, and I can only hope that this is apparent.

Whatever you think of the matter, wherever you are from in the world (and it would be nice to hear some foreign perspectives), for me, I can imagine I will always feel a bubble of anger pop within me when I look at a ten pound note with Austen’s face on it, and I may feel the urge to rip it in two, which would prove to leave me rather short on finances…  I’m sorry to say it, but I cannot change the way I feel. Though, I must admit, writing this has dramatically lessened my venom towards the situation, and I do appreciate Austen, I do… She’s just not Darwin, and I do not feel that she was quite the correct replacement. Maybe if she had replaced Elizabeth Fry, it would have worked a bit better in my mind.

I still don’t know why I wrote this. I just had to express my thoughts, you know? Thank you for giving your time for them. When I read that post from the blog Concerning Writing, something just compelled me to share my love for Darwin, and to ask many questions about this situation. I have never written such a long post, nor such a weighty or profound one; it took me days to write this, for I wanted to ensure I said this as ‘well’ as I could, and that I had adequate information. I read a fair amount, brushing up on my details about Austen, Garrett Anderson and, of course, Darwin. Regarding Darwin, I read pages and pages and pages. I realise now that I probably should have linked my sources (whoops), but here is one of them. It’s an interesting read, if you like that kind of thing.

During my browsing of information, I came across this. It is a book comparing the similarities of Jane Austen and Charles Darwin! I was like… What??? And ended up reading pretty much the entire sample on Amazon. I would so buy it, but it’s 60 quid. 60 quid!? For a book? I don’t think so, somehow. Though I am afraid I am not convinced on this; I do not understand how you can possibly compare two people from such totally different fields, who achieved totally different things.

I also came across this. The author, Stephen C. Meyer, has a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science, and wrote this book called Darwin’s Doubt. – “In the origin of species, Darwin openly acknowledges important weaknesses in his theory and professed his own doubts about key aspects of it.  Yet today’s public defenders of a Darwin-only science curriculum apparently do not want these, or any other scientific doubts about contemporary Darwinian theory, reported to students. This book addresses Darwin’s most significant doubt . . . and how a seemingly isolated anomaly that Darwin acknowledged almost in passing has grown to become illustrative of a fundamental problem for all of evolutionary biology.” I cannot help but wonder what Darwin would have thought about this had he the chance to read it. It would be interesting to read this, just for the different angle it brings, though it triggers the age-old ‘Evolution/Creationism’ argument. *sigh*

Do Science and Religion really have to be such enemies?


25 responses to “Darwin vs. Austen – Science vs. English – Man vs. Woman

  1. Thank you so much for the mention and the pingback! 🙂 I really appreciate it! I was at the store today and saw a 4-in-1 book of Jane Austen novels with a lovely cover. I thought of you and was seriously tempted to get it and ship it over to the UK for you to enjoy. I, however, behaved myself and didn’t get it. 😉

    Thanks again!
    ~ Kayla

  2. Whew! lots to try and digest.

    I do believe science and religion can be friends. I do believe also that being Christian is not a religion but it is life altogether. Leave the debates to the zealots.

    I like your passion for Darwin. He had integrity to stand fervently in his belief casting off his first fervent belief – too bad he felt he had to make a choice between his theory and God – obviously painful.

    I like Austen, but don’t know much about her – or Twain for that matter.

    Watched ‘Emma’ tonight and it was more of the same. But, I like the romance and aristocratic, cultural, protocols…just me.

    Oh and men and women: Men could never be like women and it is definitely more than physiological. Women should get more credit but equality has come of late and still evolves. Women haven’t had much chance at notoriety.

    Sorry, maybe just all rubbish from California, but it is late!

    Thanks – in everyone’s writing a bit of the inner-self is revealed. 😉


    • Hi Rick, thanks for the comment 🙂 I appreciate there was a lot to read and take in! Thanks for doing so.

      I believe they can be friends too, though as you say, zealots will always hinder this, and I believe it to be a great shame. I think they have more in common than either party would care to admit.

      Christianity is most certainly a life in itself, as with any other religion. Or at least it is a WAY of life.

      Yes, despite him losing faith, I cannot help the undying respect I hold for him for staying true to his purpose. I find it so sad that he believed he had to cast out one or the other, that he had to choose between science and religion. I truly believe it pained it more than he ever wrote, and maybe even ever said behind closed doors. It is quite heartbreaking, and I won’t lie, I actually cried on a few occasions while writing this post. I like to rest in the belief that he never did TRULY let go of his faith, despite everything.

      Hey, Jane Austen isn’t ALL bad! 😉 On a more objective note, the society and culture in her work is fascinating. I just hate the romance, and believe there are other authors who portrayed society and culture just as well in their work, and in a better story – such as Dickens.

      Personally, I believe men and women will never be equal, though that is not a popular opinion *dodges propelled rotten tomatoes*. Regarding biology? Never. Psychologically? Never. As for society… Well. Only time will tell, but I’m not holding my breath. But I still believe there should be equal opportunities for both, and women finally have their chance to make their mark on the world. And that is a good thing! We excel in our differences.

      Thanks again for commenting 🙂 And sorry for another essay that is my reply!
      – Jennifer

      • I am happy to see your care-in-response 🙂 to my reply, by its length!

        Yes I agree with you – let’s believe Darwin never lost His faith – as I hold firm the impression God makes on a true believing soul is indelible and unchangeable.

        Did you cry out of compassion for the man? Or, the tragedy in general of casting off one dear love for another because of personal change in conviction – with the belief return was impossible. To me that is tragic. (not sure I am articulating what I really mean)

        I prefer Christianity as my life. The true experience – all in! I am hardly ever ‘all-in’ completely, but have my sights permanently set. For what that is worth.

        I agree with the society and culture from many sources bit. I just get drawn in to Austen. Maybe it is the English countryside in reality I am drawn to.

        No tomatoes! Sometimes maybe men and women should celebrate their differences rather than constantly try and be the same. (of course, equality in the workforce)

        A man can learn much being a gentleman and many women may agree.

        It is the same as with all people – the more we understand about one another, the more we are apt to relate or at least feel compassion.

      • I think so. To once be so orthodox, I cannot believe that you could lose ALL faith completely. I just don’t see how it’s possible. But I guess, at the end of the day, it’s all just speculation. No one is ever going to know.

        I have absolutely no idea why I cry about Darwin. I can’t work it out. It’s kind of ridiculous really. I am just so moved by his story, for some reason…

        So long as intentions are true, that’s all anyone can really ask for, isn’t it?

        Well, so long as some form of literature draws you in, that can only be a good thing in my eyes! Even if it is Austen 😉 There’s nowhere else quite like the English countryside. It is most certainly a green and pleasant land 🙂

        I agree! We should celebrate our differences. There is nothing wrong with it. If we were all the same, how boring life would be.

        Definitely. Even simply TRYING to understand another can lead to compassion.

      • …and I think it is compassion in you that makes you weep for Darwin. There is something in all of us that tugs at our heart’s strings. (sorry for my bold speculation) However, I do understand that some things just move us more than others – for me, Aaron Copland and Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto 2nd movement, or Samuel Barber. All are weepers and tuggers 🙂

        …and you are right! it is speculation at this point re Darwin – everything ends up in the hands of God trust He knows!

        Blessed day for you on your English green…

      • You’re probably right.

        Indeed there is. Beethoven’s music is wonderful. For me, his Moonlight Sonata is particularly beautiful. My heart is more with Chopin, however! Shamefully I don’t really know any 20th century composers..

        Thank you. It has been a rainy day here (are we surprised?), but thus even more green, as the rain always paints the landscape so vibrantly.

        As for your other comment, it is my pleasure 🙂 I enjoy what I read there.

        Blessings to you (:

  3. A wonderful piece of writing. You took a lot of care here and it shows! I’m with you, I wouldn’t want Darwin ever replaced. I think I like Austen more than you do, but I don’t feel she was a great writer. It seems overblown to put her image on money. But then, here in America we only have political figures on our money. I’d be thrilled to see Hamilton replaced by Austen or anyone!

    • Thank you! It certainly took me a good while to write.
      I’m glad I’m not the only one out there who would never want Darwin replaced; in some way, it’s a bit of consolation! Sometimes, I really do question why Austen became such a ‘classic’. I read somewhere once that she actually had many grammatical errors in her drafts and first editions, but I’m not sure how true that is.
      I was actually discussing with someone last night about America only having political figures! Would you rather have other notable figures? But at least only having political figures saves an awful lot of arguments. Winston Churchill is going to be the first political man on our currency! But he was also a writer… so we’ve actually had 4 writers now. That seems a tiny bit excessive if you ask me.

      Thanks for the comment! I enjoyed it 🙂

      • I read one of Austen’s unpublished juvenile novels–it was free on kindle–and it was terrible! Like you say, just full of bad spelling and grammar. She must have had a good editor…
        As for our money, people would probably love to have other faces to look at, but I doubt they really think about it much. There was some talk a few years back about popping Ronald Reagan onto one of the 1 percent bills–the 50,000 maybe– and replacing McKinley or one of those guys. But half of America deifies the man and the other half want to vomit on the Reagan worshippers, so nothing came of it.

      • She must have done! It’s strange how people like that can eventually become so popular, don’t you think?

        Yeah, I guess you get used to what you’ve got. Ah, too controversial to put on the bills? Maybe that’s for the best then! I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous that such arguments can arise just from someone’s face being on some money, and it’s good to avoid disputes if it can be helped.

  4. Wow, I had no idea Jane Austen was unseating Darwin on the tenner. This is a bit shocking… Darwin was a mighty wizard (a very lovable one too) who went against the grain (understatement) and changed everything; Austen wrote some books – okay, some very popular books, but really…. I don’t really see much of a contest – even as somebody defined as an ‘artist’ and not really all that into science, I can’t draw a reason for it to be.

    Even the design is a bit lousy in comparison! Blimey. I also agree that Anderson would make a more acceptable replacement, though, I’d still pick ol’ Charlie. Maybe we should start a petition!

    I love the Horrible Histories clip 🙂 I used to enjoy this show more than any child! Great entertainment.

    As others have said – great, passionate post.

    • You didn’t know?! 😮 Where were you last year?
      But I know, it’s just common sense. Darwin beats Austen, no contest. Just because we HAVE to have a woman on the notes. Ugh. I cannot even begin to express how much that annoys me.

      Her face is infuriating. It’s all scrunched up and stupid. I do not want to look at stupid faces when I use cash (and, unfortunately for me, I use cash waaaay more than card, so I’ll see it all the more 😦 ) Oh, I’d keep Darwin for the rest of time if it were up to me, but Garrett Anderson as a replacement certainly would have seemed like less of a blow. Jane Austen. Bloody Jane Austen. Her stories are equally as stupid as her face.

      Ha! We should totally start a petition, though it’d probably make feminists declare civil war. Don’t get me wrong, ‘equality’ is marvellous, blah blah, but you can’t sacrifice some of the greatest men for a woman just to make it ‘fair’. I don’t think it’s fair to replace Darwin. Does anyone listen to that side of the argument? No. Because women demand all. I think there are too many people who abuse that power, for lack of a better word.

      Horrible Histories was just the greatest programme ever really. It’s a little bit (very) heartbreaking that they’ve stopped the series now </3 I think adults got something from it that children couldn't!

      When something means a lot to me, unfortunately passion is the only thing that comes out. Well, is it unfortunate? I don't know. Probably. Thank you for reading the post, either way.

      I feel this reply is a bit angry. I apologise. I'm going to sulk in a corner now because this situation makes me growl to no end, and it's probably for the best, before I say something too uncalled for.

      • Not angry… just passionate, again! It’s always reassuring to hear a woman say these things, rather than just board the feminism bandwagon, and blindly cite it as a ‘good thing’ for women – abusing it, indeed. That’s completely amiss. As you say, we can’t change history, and history is male-dominated, whether we like that or not. It is so broken to think that we’re spineless enough to ‘have’ to airbrush out historical men, because there aren’t enough women.

        Equality? Yes, of course. Pandering? No.

        Oh, and I certainly don’t think it’s unfortunate to be passionate about things you hold dear! 🙂 Keep doing that!

        Haha, I’ll just leave you in your corner and back away slowly 😉

      • Yes! THANK YOU. Yes to all you just said.

        It’s got to the point in society where I feel as though I’m in the wrong for voicing these very things, all because I’m a woman and get scowled at if I say things which don’t back feminists and ‘women’s rights’. Back feminists or have no opinion at all – that seems to be a woman’s only option these days. It’s so ridiculous, I can’t stand it. IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY. Breathe, Jenny.

        You know, this very ‘passion’ of mine used to get me in an aaaaawful lot of trouble, back in the day. Nearly excluded from school trouble. But sshhhhhh, don’t tell anyone 😉 (I’m not actually joking, by the way. It’s a fact that never fails to surprise people, for it would seem I’m deemed too much of a goody two-shoes)

        Ha, that might be wise 😉

      • I agree, totally. As I said, it’s so good to see a woman say this, because the media and society would have us think that people like you don’t exist. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other, really. It’s quite sad really.

        Oh my! Wow. I am surprised. I didn’t have you down as a troublemaker. I had some brushes too, and was almost *expelled* from college at 17, for ‘extreme religious views’. Actually, I was retalliating to ‘enlightened’ religious ones who felt it was okay to hurl discrimination at others, who held different beliefs… yet, were said religious bigots chastised at all? Nope. But this is all another kettle of fish!

        I had that goody-two-shoes image too, because I did okay at most subjects, and hardly said anything. Only those that grew close found what a bad, bad boy I could be! 😉

      • I like to think there are a few of us out there, somewhere… however few. It’s very sad. And stupid. (‘Stupid’ is my word of the week). I feel we are definitely a minority, mind.

        Well, I wasn’t a ‘troublemaker’, as such… I just… Haha 😉 Oh those days were a laugh, yet awful at the same time. I did some real stupid (word of the week) things, but I got such a thrill out of doing the ‘wrong’ thing, y’know? ‘Twas the only thing that made me feel alive.. (that’s very morbid, sorry) But if my child did half the stuff I did, I would be.. very cross.. to say the least. Ahhh yeah, the old if-you’re-remotely-intelligent-you-can’t-misbehave favourite of the teachers’. That annoys me, and they try to give the guilt trip like, “You’re better than this”, all the time. I was such a jammy sod though, I didn’t deserve to get the grades I did..

        Ahh, well.. That’s something I’ve not heard before regarding expulsion. Religious people like that do my head in. “I’m going to judge you, as I am better because I see the light, even though I don’t abide by any of the ‘rules’ in the Scripture.” Assuming they’ve actually read any of the Scripture at all. People like that tarnish the good of it all. It’s such a shame…
        I once got into a load of trouble for being ‘racist’, which was totally ridiculous because I literally said one, tiny, insignificant thing the teacher then took out of context, and it was even more ridiculous because one of my closest friends at the time was a Muslim.. (and, I might add, when they found out about the situation they proceeded to laugh in my face). It was all a load of…. horse manure.

        Haha, well don’t they say it’s the quiet ones who have the most surprises? 😉

  5. The funny thing is, I never learned about Darwin in school during science class. I’ve literally never had a lesson on evolution (despite all the teachers saying they would). But yet in religion class, we’ve had to learn about him several times, and always how he was the man who sparked the evolutionism/creationism debate. Nobody ever mentioned to me that he was a devout Christian and that he struggled with his own religious views.

    Reading it here, it makes me admire him so much more. It takes someone incredibly brave to be willing to hurt himself like that to pursue something he knew was true, and it’s heartbreaking, the pain between him and his wife. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    As for the Jane Austen/Charles Darwin debate, I would personally like to see Darwin stay (even though he’s not on MY money :P). I know incredibly little about Jane Austen and have never read P&P, but I share the same bias with you and particularly dislike chick-lit/romance. So hey, there’s my two cents 😉

    • That’s crazy. I only remember covering Darwin slightly in Biology, regarding natural selection specifically, but we certainly never covered him in Religious Studies! Wow, that would be interesting to see one of those lessons.

      I think, regarding the fact he was a Christian, people just don’t know or don’t really acknowledge the situation. It changes everything knowing, doesn’t it? Really puts a different light on the whole thing. I’m glad what you’ve learnt has made you admire him more! Only a good thing in my eyes 😉 The story of him and his wife is just… it kills me, it really does. Can you imagine it? Oh, goodness, can’t even bear the thought. You should totally go around telling people all you’ve learnt and whip up a storm in any future religious class 😉

      It’s worth a lot! Knowing foreigners agree that Darwin should stay makes.. well, it’s more consolation, really. I watched a film about Jane Austen’s life once… To be fair, wasn’t that great or interesting, and funnily enough Jane Austen herself (or the actress, I guess) annoyed me! And I seriously wouldn’t recommend reading P&P. EVER. Don’t do it to yourself. Horrific experience.

      • Haha yeah, that news would be quite a wrench in the religion teacher’s lesson… It seems very easy to pretend he was always an atheist and make him into a sort of “bad guy” in the religious debate, but that really isn’t fair.

        I will gladly take your word for it and call it a pass on that book. Although, you know, the way you’ve been describing it has totally made it sound like a riveting story 😉

      • It would! That is very unfair 😦 Poor Darwin. He actually doubted his own theory – that’s another thing you can say to throw a spanner in the works! He was far, far from being a ‘bad guy’. It’s so sad that he’s so misunderstood.

        Haha, wise choice! Ha, I try to play it down with regards to how riveting it actually is, but I obviously cannot conceal its truly absorbing storyline 😉

"What does your heart tell you?" - ToO, chpt. 32

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