Quote 5

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

This passage from Chapter XIV concludes The Origin of Species. After summarizing his theory of natural selection, Darwin returns here to the theme of the wonder of nature. The “beautiful and wonderful” forms that natural selection has created illustrate nature’s power. The imagery in this passage evokes the naturalness of natural selection itself. Just as the planet cycles naturally, “according to the fixed law of gravity,” so too does nature select and shape species into their divergent forms. It is in this passage, most importantly, that Darwin finally uses the word “evolved” to describe his theory of descent with modification. The use of this word links Darwin’s theory to past theories of evolution. Significantly, Darwin once again leaves room for a creator in the formation of species. The image of someone “breathing life” into the original species is a direct allusion to biblical notions of creation.