Note: As a clergyman and natural historian, Francis Orpen Morris (1810-1893) adamantly opposed the theory of evolution. These excerpts come from a copy of his tract, All the Articles of the Darwin Faith available in the Internet Archive (see details in bibliography). Morris's tactic was to present Darwin's ideas as a false creed, making it sound as ridiculous as possible, and giving examples of the variety of nature from his great store of knowledge as a naturalist. The selections have been formatted for the Victorian Web, and illustrated from Morris's own Bible Natural History, by Jacqueline Banerjee, who has put "I believe" in bold, for ease of reading, and added the captions. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the contributing library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on all the images to enlarge them.]

I believe that all the wisest men in the world for the six thousand years since it is commonly supposed to have been created, or six hundred thousand million years, or any number more, as I believe, have been altogether wrong, and that it has been reserved for me in this so-called nineteenth century to set them all right and lay down the law for ever. [17]

I believe that an Infidel or an Unbeliever is "of all men most miserable"; nevertheless I have done all I could to make others as wretched as I am myself, and have given, and can give them nothing in return but a dreary blank. If you ask me about the future, there, I confess, I am in the dark; all I can say is that you and I will "melt into the infinite azure of the past" (Tyndall) (whatever that may mean). I repeat that I believe that Christian Believers have a peace of mind which I have not myself. They have "a good hope" for the future, which I must admit I have not myself, "having no hope, and without GOD in the world." I do my little best or worst, to shake their faith and rob them of their peace of mind, but I have nothing better, because I have nothing at all to give them, in the place of it. I cannot offer them any happiness in this world or in any future state, because I do not believe that there will be any future state, so that if you ask me what is the cui bono of all I have written, I cannot tell you. If you ask me what is the cui malo! that is quite another question, and much more easily answered. I offer you no happiness here or hereafter, and all I can do is to rob those of you who are fond and foolish enough to take up with the idle conceits of my "vain philosophy," of their present hope, and therewith of their expectation of future happiness, which but for me they might have. [18]

Three illustrations from Morris's Bible Natural History: (a) The elephant, facing p. 15. (b) The ostrich, facing p. 9. (c) The spider, facing p. 101.

I believe that there must have been, and therefore were, an infinite number of previous forms of the large elephant and the mighty mammoth, though the fragment even of the remains of not one of these has ever been discovered, while those of the most fragile and delicate shells are found in abundance in the chalk in the lower rocks.

I believe anything and everything as it suits my purpose. [25]

I believe that the ostrich came from a bustard, by using its legs more and its wings less, until it got to have no wings to fly with. I do not pretend to tell you what it has gained by this loss. You may say that wings would be very useful to it, hunted as it is. That I cannot help. My theory requires it to be as it is. Whatever is, is. That you cannot dispute. I like a piquant argument.

I believe that bustards still exist, though elsewhere I have said that in all such cases of improvement by Natural Selection the original species is "exterminated." You may ask me to reconcile those two contradictory statements. It is no business of mine to do so. You must take things as you find them, for me.

I believe that a wingless bird comes by degrees, though we have never seen the "transitional grade," at first to "float along the surface of the sea," and "ultimately to rise from its surface and glide through the air." I hope you do not mean to doubt it, for I myself am a standing proof of a far greater [39/40] flight of fancy than even this. You may ask how a bird, that gets its living by flying, could exist for a day without being able to fly, until perhaps one wing at first, or half of one, or only a quill feather or two, or only the remainder of one. Ask! [39-40]

I believe, "I do not doubt, that some domestic animals vary less than others, yet the variety or absence of distinct breeds of the cat, the donkey, goose, &c., may be attributed in main part to selection not having been brought into play." Don't laugh. Its no laughing matter. It may be a difficulty with you, but it is none with me, though it seems (to you I say) very unaccountable that no change should have taken place in these interesting animals — the cat to wit, with its caterwauling — in all the millions upon millions of ages that my theory supposes, down to the present time. Nor is it any difficulty with me that, as I allow, the cats in the mummies of Egypt are precisely the same as those of to-day; for what is five thousand years in my scale of time? [43]

I believe that the spider was once without the instinct which now prompts it to spin its web, without the legs it now has, without the habits it now has, without its spinnerets, and fore without the power of catching insects to live on How it lived then, I am not quite prepared at present to say, nor whether it was a spider at all or not. Nor can I say, as to its "complex instincts," how it could have done with only the beginning of a web to support it through all the thousands and millions of ages that it took to come to its present state. You may suggest that it must have been created a spider to be able to act as a spider, but that does not fit in with my notions. Don't tell me. [44]

Related Material


Morris, Francis Orpen. All the Articles of the Darwin Faith. London: W. Poole, 1882. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California Libraries. Web. 7 December 2016.

_____. Bible Natural History: containing a description of quadrupeds, birds, trees, plants, insects, etc. mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. Manchester: J. Ainsworth, 1856. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California Libraries. Web. 7 December 2016.

Created 7 December 2016