In Evolution We Trust?: England Puts Charles Darwin on the Back of Its Ten Pound Bank Note

If you’re not British, or rarely handle English money, perhaps you’ve never noticed that Charles Darwin is on the back of the ten pound note:

 

 

Along with the depiction of Darwin, we get compass markers, a ship (presumably the Beagle), and a curious image of a hummingbird agitated by the magnification of a flower.

And notice that Darwin’s bald forehead and flat expression visually echoes the sun and calmed sea on which the Beagle floats. In other words, Darwin’s head is bulbous, like the sun, and his mouth is represented by a horizontal line, like the sea.

This is Darwin as an institutional Apollo taming nature’s “seas”—its once confusing Dionysian mysteries.

I also see, in this representation of Darwin, echoes of the ancient Mesopotamian image of Marduk taming the sea dragon, Tiamat:

 

 

In short, Darwin is an authority figure who brings order to nature.

He is thus a logical representative of the glory days of British exploration, intellectual innovation, and imperial power. Further, his scientific insights have carried, for over a century and a half, like the Bank of England, a certain all encompassing, global weight.

Nestled in the lower corner of the British ten pound note, Darwin thus makes for a comfy fit with Britain’s institutional and cultural self-image as a nation committed to reason and global order.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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33 Responses to In Evolution We Trust?: England Puts Charles Darwin on the Back of Its Ten Pound Bank Note

  1. Stacy S. says:

    I love this! Thanks for teaching me something today! :-)

  2. Thomas Hubbard says:

    England will be vanquished, just as Rome because it has become immoral, and a haven for gays and so called progressives (degenerates as they are called in the USA).

    I love my English brethren, but unfortunately many of them trust in an unsubstantiated theory that has neither start, nor finish, and has forgotten that her “Glory Days” were encompassed by great revivals, and the reformation of not throwing off the Catholic Church, but understanding GOD in a more PERSONAL way.

    Unfortunately the USA is heading that direction, and eventually, we will be shadows and dust in history, a memory of what a great Godly Society WAS and COULD BE.

    • Robert Coles says:

      biggest load of bullshit i have ever heard, why you people actually form opinions of your own instead of the crap you are told/indoctrinated to believe

      • Robert Coles says:

        biggest load of bullshit i have ever heard, why don’t you people actually form opinions of your own instead of the crap you are told/indoctrinated to believe

      • Howard says:

        Robert, can you be certain that your opinions are nothing more than indoctrinated rubbish that you have read and believed or have you worked out for yourself what caused the universe to appear from out of nothing. Your bold statement is not backed up with anything to support it rather it is all noise without substance.

    • You are simply a retarded degenerate asshole…

    • Thorum says:

      Thomas, still struggling to deal with the modern world? I can help. Leave the credulous masses and throw away your gods…

  3. Hempenstein says:

    “Unsubstantiated theory”? Really, Thomas, you ought to try to read a few books. It’s not that hard. For starts, I recommend “Why Evolution Is True” (just released), an excellent, up-to-date introduction.

    • Howard says:

      How about reading the Bible (in far greater circulation) about why evolution is untrue. The author is God so a much more reliable source of information.

      • John says:

        You do know the bible is bullshit right? I find FOX NEWS more factual than that book of fairy tales.

  4. aunty dawkins says:

    Thomas .
    Are you confusing ‘England’ with the UK which was the home of the ‘British Empire’. If you think England or the UK for that matter is the new Whore of Babylon I suggest you look a little closer to home for a better contender. Unfortunately the UK takes its cultural, economic, foreign policy etc etc cues from the US nowadays. We only learn how to be bad from you!

    Santi
    Well done for a very interesting analysis of £10 note.

    Hemp
    Evolution remains a THEORY.

  5. citizenkn says:

    “And notice that Darwin’s bald forehead and flat expression visually echoes the sun and calmed sea on which the Beagle floats. In other words, Darwin’s head is bulbous, like the sun, and his mouth is represented by a horizontal line, like the sea.”

    Ummm..Or maybe that is just what he looks like..lol

  6. santitafarella says:

    Citizenkn:

    Okay, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!

    —Santi

  7. Durga says:

    hello i would like to use the picture of the £10 note i am doing an IT project it will be not used for anyother use can you get back to me within 3 days it can be assumed i can use it

  8. santitafarella says:

    Durga:

    I took the photo of the British note. I’m okay with you using it for a class project.

    —Santi

  9. Kiz says:

    Thats why im proud to be british, the most atheist country on earth :)

  10. Fred W. Hill says:

    Thomas, if the U.S. declines, it will be due to nuts like you who are devoted to propogating befuddled myths at the expense of reality. Darwin was a great man who helped open the eyes of humanity to our true origins.

    • santitafarella says:

      Fred,

      I agree with you. Since when did irrationality become synonymous with American patriotism? The true patriot is the critical thinker.

      —Santi

  11. Fred W. Hill says:

    Thanks, Santita. A book I’ll be reading for a discussion group in March is Idiot America, by Charles Pierce about the very topic of equating irrationality with patriotism.
    Also, regarding Thomas’ assertion about the fall of the Roman Empire, it’s a historical fact that the entire empire had already been forcibly converted to Christianity before it fell apart. In 380 CE, Theodosius, last emperor of the empire in the east and west made Christianity the state religion. After his reign, the empire was permanently divided and the last western emperor, Romulus Augustus, was deposed in 476, while the last emperor in the east, Constantine XI, fell to Ottoman forces under Mehmed II in 1453. True, their was much evil in the empire throughout, but they were also unquestionably Christian (and, yes, Thomas, you can be both Christian and very evil by any rational standards).

  12. Bob says:

    Thomas, you are an ignorant man and no further explanation is needed to explain your views.

  13. liggamite says:

    Okay, see, this is the same thing we were talking about in Santi’s “Are the New Atheists Insufficiently Serious?”. Thomas is being radical, so we just bash him relentlessly. He’s not going to change his views, so we’re just wasting our time and energy on steadfast irrationality. At some point, one has to give up (I’m guilty of the same bashing, I’m just trying to make a point).

  14. lucinda-rose says:

    I may seem very stupid at this point, but why is charles darwin on the back of english money? What makes him so important? I have read what is above but I still don’t understand. I have only just relised today who he is and that he is on a english ten pound note, and im 18 years old and only just relised.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How cool is that. Wish I lived in England ppl seem more open minded and less ignorant over there.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Evolution is science fact,

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