The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities presents



30 May 2019 

Evolution and Morality in Charles Kingsley’s Water-Babies

The Anglican theologian, poet, novelist and science populariser Charles Kingsley readily embraced the theory of evolution by natural selection that Darwin outlined in his Origin of Species in 1859; indeed, he spent the best part of the next decade promoting it. Where many of his contemporaries found it an immoral work that undermined orthodox religious belief, Kingsley embraced Darwin’s conception of evolution as a deeply moral affair that spoke to the ethics of the individual, the nation and the empire. When Darwin published his ideas about the evolution of morality in Descent of Man, however, Kingsley was scandalised, and his ardent embrace of Darwin challenged. 

Piers J. Hale is the Deisenroth Presidential Professor in the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma in the United States. His previous works include a number of essays on the politics of biology; on British socialist responses to Darwin; and on the Anglican theologian Charles Kingsley’s evolutionary orthodoxy. His book Political Descent. Malthus, Mutualism, and the Politics of Evolution was published by Chicago University Press in 2014.


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Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower
The University of Queensland
St Lucia
Seminar Room 402