Humanist Voices in Verse: “Who Said Science Isn’t Poetry?”

This week’s poem is by Joshua Preston. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota-Morris where he earned his degree in political science and history. Currently, he is a Research Fellow at Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He was a student researcher for the American Humanist Association’s A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century (published by Humanist Press, 2012) and his poetry is forthcoming in MAYDAY Magazine. His website is

Who Said Science Isn’t Poetry?
A Chromos(p)oem on the occasion of Darwin’s 204th Birthday

From so simple
a beginning
endless forms most
and most wonderful
have been,
and are being,

Natural selection
is the only theory that is
in principle


of explaining

the existence

of organized


Instead of a tree,
we got a bush
where many branches
sprout close together.3

The million, million, million
to one chance happens


in a million, million, million


no matter how surprised we may be

that it results in us.4

We are glorious
of an unpredictable process
with no drive to complexity,
no yearning to produce a creature
capable of understanding
the mode of its own construction.5

This is the assembly of life.
It has eaten the storms,
folded them into its genes
and created the world that created us.6

We must, however, acknowledge
that man with all of his              noble qualities
still bears in his bodily frame
the indelible stamp of his          lowly origin.7

Human beings are splendid
in their array of moral equipment
tragic in their propensity to misuse it,
and pathetic in their ignorance of the misuse.8

The tabula of human nature was never rasa
and is now being read.9

—Joshua Preston

Still, man should not be ashamed
to have an ape for his grandfather.10


1. Charles Darwin
2. Richard Dawkins
3. Sean Carroll
4. R. A. Fisher
5. Stephen Jay Gould
6. E. O. Wilson
7. Charles Darwin
8. Robert Wright
9. W. D. Hamilton
10. T. H. Huxley