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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Grant   16 March 1878


16th. March 187⁠⟨⁠8⁠⟩⁠

Dr. Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S. | Down, | Beckenham, | Kent.


I received your letter of 11th. inst.1

I am much obliged to you for your having written me, for the kindly spirit in which you have done so, and for your mind upon the question the solution of which interested me. I do not feel that I can place any reliance upon instinct or intuition in relation to the existence of God; but is there no analogy betwixt the organisation of some plants and animals on the one hand, and mechanical constructions put together by the mind and hand of man on the other, which, whatever be the method of the creation of the former, would justify the inference that they have had an intelligent first Cause?2 This I will still give thought to.

I do not presume to ask for another reply.

If your doctrine is wrong and dangerous, may I say that I wish you cleared of it and all error, and that I also wish your best welfare—that other-than frail life which God in Revelation offers.

I am, Sir, | Yours sincerely, | James Grant.


The analogy between organic structures, such as the eye, and human productions was used as evidence for a divine creator by William Paley (Paley 1802). For a discussion of CD’s work in relation to Paley and the tradition of natural theology in Britain, see Brooke 1991, pp. 219–25, 275–317.


Brooke, John Hedley. 1991. Science and religion: some historical perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Paley, William. 1802. Natural theology; or, evidences of the existence and attributes of the Deity, collected from the appearances of nature. London: R. Faulder.


Thanks CD for his kind reply. JG does not feel he can rely on instinct or "intuition" in relation to existence of God. Is there no analogy between natural organisations and mechanical constructions to justify an intelligent first cause?

Letter details

Letter no.
James Miller (James) Grant
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 165: 90
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11428,” accessed on 27 October 2021,