35 Charles Darwin Quotes on Life to Contemplate

, Staff Writer
Updated August 31, 2021
Charles Darwin Quote
    Charles Darwin Quote
    General Photographic Agency / Stringer / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
    Used under Getty Images license

Imagine being the father of the current theory of evolution. Given the divide between religion and science, you would have a lot of weight on your shoulders. And, Charles Darwin did. Through his experiments and studies in nature, Charles Darwin made a few keen observations of life, evolution and man. Explore a sampling of Charles Darwin quotes.

Charles Darwin Quotes on Evolution

When you think of evolution, you probably think of Charles Darwin. But Darwin didn’t set out on his scientific journey to discover the theory of evolution. In fact, Darwin started out as a naturalist and scientist interested in plants and animals. However, along the way, he revolutionized the creation of man and animals. Explore some evolutionary quotes from Darwin.

  • “As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.”

  • “It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter.”

  • “Although much remains obscure, and will long remain obscure, ... I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification.”

  • “Mere chance ... alone would never account for so habitual and large an amount of difference as that between varieties of the same species.”

  • “I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection.”

  • “From the first dawn of life, all organic beings are found to resemble each other in descending degrees, so that they can be classed in groups under groups. This classification is evidently not arbitrary like the grouping of stars in constellations.”

  • “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.”

  • "I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic."

  • “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.”

  • “Nothing can be more hopeless than to attempt to explain this similarity of pattern in members of the same class, by utility or by the doctrine of final causes.”
  • “Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits.”

Darwin Quotes About Survival

During Charles Darwin’s investigation into species, one dominant theory began to take shape. It’s only the fittest that will survive. Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection changed the thinking of the world. In fact, he wrote 53 different books during his lifetime about his studies, including a few dedicated to natural selection. See a few quotes from Charles Darwin on the survival of the species.

  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

  • “We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence.”

  • “Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure.”

  • “It may be doubted whether any character can be named which is distinctive of a race and is constant.”

  • “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world.”

  • “Man tends to increase at a greater rate than his means of subsistence.”

  • “The very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason.”

  • “One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”


Darwin Quotes on Man

During his exploration of evolution and science, Darwin stumbled onto some interesting insights about man. See this naturalist’s thoughts on man through these gems.

  • “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

  • “A republic cannot succeed, till it contains a certain body of men imbued with the principles of justice and honour.”

  • “A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections a mere heart of stone.”

  • “The highest stage in moral culture at which we can arrive, is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts.”

  • “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist. ... I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.”

  • “A man's friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.”

  • “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

  • “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

  • “I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men”

  • “Man has an instinctive tendency to speak, as we see in the babble of our young children, but no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew, or write.”


Charles Darwin Quotes on Animals

Charles Darwin had a love for animals. He devoted a large part of his life to studying animals and the natural world. Therefore, he had some astute observations to discuss in his letters and books. Dive into a few different Darwin quotes specifically about animals.

  • “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”

  • “I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable.”

  • “Physiological experiment on animals is justifiable for real investigation; but not for mere damnable and detestable curiosity.”

  • “Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is, humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions.”

  • “Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.”

  • “Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”


The Words of Charles Darwin

Though Darwin studied theology in school, he realized through his studies that species evolve. This lead to his study and presentation of evolution, natural selection and animal origins. After reading the wise words of a famous scientist, browse some empowering quotes from the famous humanitarian and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.