Charles and Emma: Darwins’ Leap of Faith


charles and Emma      So different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner…


     Charles Darwin, well-known for his masterpiece The Origin of Species, wrote that on creatures, but might express about his marriage, too.

     Look at the book cover of Charles and Emma: Darwins’ Leap of Faith. You see silhouettes of an ape, a man with his arms crossed a woman with a cross in her hand. In the 19th century, it meant a kind of rebellion on Christianity to put up evolution theory because it challenged Genesis. His wife Emma was a religious person. The cover depicts a confrontation between Charles as a scientist and Emma as a believer in Christianity.

     This book, Charles and Emma: Darwins’ Leap of Faith written by Deborah Heiligman in 2008, is a kind of biography, but is not an ordinary one. The author has focused on Darwin’s conflicted feelings among faith, science, society and love, and his personal life.

     I used the word of “confrontation” above, but Charles and Emma really loved each other. That’s why they were in torment. Emma believed in God and in the after world: heaven and hell. She couldn’t bear of thinking if she would not be able to see his husband in heaven after their death. Charles knew very much about Emma’s religious devotion and her love for him, but couldn’t give up his conviction that the Bible is not true literally: God didn’t create all of creatures as they are. The first human was not Adam…

     Charles Darwin was serious and sober. He studied specimens carefully over the years and tried to avoid his opinions making a big fuss in the world. Interestingly, his habitude reflected not only his books but also his marriage. He made a list of the pros and cons of settling down in his late twenties. He divided into two a line on a piece of paper and wrote Marry on the left side and Not Marry on the right side, and wrote his ideas for both as follows:

Marry: Children, constant companion (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, Home & someone to take care of house, Charms of music & female chit-chat, Terrible loss of time, etc

Not Marry: Freedom to go where on liked, choice of Society & little of it, Conversation of clever men at clubs, Not forced to visit relatives & to bend in every trifle, etc

     This book is full of his personal ideas and life with quotes Charles left in his large amount of notes. As like thinking of marriage, it seems that he wrote anything, everything he came up with in his mind on his notebooks. In addition, he wrote so many letters, maybe thousands of. Emma also. Those are important factors for the book, too. This book illustrates the hidden side of famous Charles Darwin and which will spellbind you.


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