W. E. Lyte

The Forum

Trotsky on Darwin

Source: The Communist Review, January 1924, Vol. 4, No. 9.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


Under this heading readers are invited to state their personal opinion upon any question of vital importance to the working class.


Dear Comrade,

Our Comrade Trotsky writing in the “Review” (November, Page 326), states that Darwin “did not lose his belief in God, etc.” This, I believe, is incorrect, and offer some proofs:—

“I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation . . . this disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete.”
(Autobiography of Charles Darwin—from Life and Letters, Vol. 1, pages 308-9).

“I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age”—and again—“I am with you in thought, but I should prefer, the word ‘Agnosticto the wordAtheist.’”

From the “Religious Views of Charles Darwin”—a pamphlet written by Dr. Aveling recording an interview between Darwin, Aevling and Buchner—of which Francis Darwin writes, “Dr. Aveling gives quite fairly his impressions of my father’s views.”
(Life and Letters, Vol. I, page 317).

Aveling’s “impressions” have nothing to do with it. A fact is a fact. So then, Darwin was not only not a Christian, but an unbeliever in Deity, though, like Huxley, he preferred the word Agnostic—but as regards the two militant atheists he was “with them in thought.”

Francis Darwin was very unwilling to admit his father’s position, and Darwin himself was very reticent. They buried him in Westminster Abbey—but he had no part in that—and the roof all but collapsed a few years afterwards—poetic justice, but no moral to be drawn.


[We hoped to have had Comrade Trotsky’s observations on the above letter in time for this issue, but we expect it will be forthcoming in due course.—Editor.]