A Charles Darwin letter in which he states he doesn't believe in God has sold for $197,000 - a record for a Darwin letter.
Written to a young barrister named Francis McDermot, it beat an estimate of $90,000 by 118.8%.
McDermot wrote to Darwin in 1880 to enquire as to whether the great scientist believed in God, as "...if I am to have pleasure in reading your books I must feel that at the end I shall not have lost my faith in the New Testament."
Darwin replied, in full: "Dear Sir, I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the son of God."
The letter is hugely rare, as Darwin took great pains to separate his personal beliefs from his public persona.
While his work on natural selection was almost fully formed by the late 1830s, he did not publish his findings until 1859. It's believed that he was worried about ostracising himself from both his community and his wife, who held strong religious convictions.
Matthew Chapman, Darwin's great-great-grandson, explained: "You have to remember this was written two years before he died.
"You say what you mean. I don't think you are inclined to lie or showboat. You know you are facing death at that point and so I think this is a clear and honest expression of his atheism."
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