Taking stuff out of context and using it to strengthen your views is … let’s just say, not nice. This is one of the things creationists and various religious apologists like to do very much.
A particularly blatant example of this is misquoting Charles Darwin’s “On the origin of species” to make it seem like Darwin himself had huge doubts about his theory.
Photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull (1829–1914) and John Fox (1832–1907) (Maull & Fox)
Case in point:
To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.
Charles Darwin, On the origin of species (1859.)1
This is one of the quotes Creationists love to use to try to show that supposedly Darwin didn’t trust his own theory. This is, of course, very far from the truth.
People who use this quote to try and show that there are problems with the evolution, happily ignore the continuation of this text about the evolution of the eye:
Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.
Charles Darwin, On the origin of species (1859.)
This is the quote taken from the first edition of the “The origin of species”. How about later editions? Well, Darwin went even further and the previous quote started with:
When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms in which nerves cannot be detected are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.
Charles Darwin, The origin of species (1872.)2
As you can see, in the later edition Darwin even tells us that it’s reasonable to think that minor, gradual changes are responsible for the development of the eye. He even compares doubting the evolution of the eye to the fact that once was doubted that the Earth orbits the sun. I would say this is the writing of a man with confidence in his ideas.
This means, whenever you see someone posting nonsense that Darwin himself had huge doubts about Evolution, you can rest assured this is not true.
Nice try, though.
As, a side note, Evolution of the eye is actually illustrated nicely on Wikipedia:
Basically, if you think about it, 540 million years (first fossils that have eyes are from about 540 million years ago) is a very, very long time for the eye to develop. Development was gradual, and each development improved the eye. The individuals with improvement had better chance to pass on their genes. This is the very essence of evolution and one can see how it is not only possible, but reasonable.
- Darwin, C. R. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. [1st edition] (p.186) (http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=204&itemID=F373&viewtype=side)
- Darwin, C. R. 1872. The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. 6th edition; with additions and corrections. Eleventh thousand. (p.143) (http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=172&itemID=F391&viewtype=side)