Saturday, December 08, 2007
Darwin, Francis ed. 1887. The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. London: John Murray. Volume 2, pp. 377-78:
Darwin to Asa Gray, September 17 [1861?]
Your question what would convince me of Design is a poser. If I saw an angel come down to teach us good, and I was convinced from others seeing him that I was not mad, I should believe in design. If I could be convinced thoroughly that life and mind was in an unknown way a function of other imponderable force, I should be convinced. If man was made of brass or iron and no way connected with any other organism which had ever lived, I should perhaps be convinced. But this is childish writing.
I have lately been corresponding with Lyell, who, I think, adopts your idea of the stream of variation having been led or designed. I have asked him (and he says he will hereafter reflect and answer me) whether he believes that the shape of my nose was designed. If he does I have nothing more to say. If not, seeing what Fanciers have done by selecting individual differences in the nasal bones of pigeons, I must think that it is illogical to suppose that the variations, which natural selection preserves for the good of any being, have been designed.