Sunday, 1 September 2013

Did Darwin change his mind about evolution or Christ?

The thorny old issue of Charles Darwin changing his mind about his beloved theory towards the end of his life has been raised again in a new book by Randal Hedtke. For a review by Creation Ministries International see here 

Another related question that won’t quite go away is whether Darwin recovered the Christian faith that he had earlier rejected. His friends and relatives said he didn’t, and in my book that ought to be the end of the story, but a story continues to circulate about a recantation and conversion following the visit of an Australian evangelist, Lady Hope. This sometimes resurfaces as a  misrepresentation of the position of Christians, as in ‘These people are so dumb that they claim that (A) Darwin changed his views, and (B) that it would have mattered if he had done.' In fact the death bed recantation is rightly listed on creationist lists of 'arguments that should not be used.'

Of much interest in this item is a report of a discussion Darwin had a few weeks before his death. With 2 well known atheists, Aveling and Buchner, from which I paste a section... (my bold)

>>>Lady Hope was not the only person whom Darwin invited to Down House in the autumn of 1881. Two atheists, Edward B. Aveling and Ludwig Büchner (who was President of the Congress of the International Federation of Freethinkers held in London on 25, 26, and 27 September 1881) contacted Darwin after the Congress had concluded and they were invited by Darwin to lunch with him the following day, i.e. 28 September 1881. The discussion, after lunch, involved Charles, Aveling, Büchner and Francis Darwin. A report of this was published in 1883 by Aveling in a pamphlet entitled The Religious Views of Charles Darwin that sold for one penny.27 Aveling wrote:

[W]e fell to talking, on his own suggestion, about religion. … the first thing he said was, “Why do you call yourselves Atheists?”

Very respectfully the explanation was given, that we were Atheists because there was no evidence of deity … that whilst we did not commit the folly of god-denial, we avoided with equal care the folly of god-assertion: that as god was not proven, we were without god (άϑεοι) and by consequence were with hope in this world, and in this world alone. As we spoke, it was evident from the change of light in the eyes that always met ours so frankly, that a new conception was arising in his mind. He had imagined until then that we were deniers of god, and he found the order of thought that was ours differing in no essential from his own. For with point after point of our argument he agreed; statement on statement that was made he endorsed, saying finally: “I am with you in thought, but I should prefer the word Agnostic to the word Atheist.”28

Upon this the suggestion was made that, after all, “Agnostic” was but “Atheist” writ respectable, and “Atheist” was only “Agnostic” writ aggressive. … At this he smiled and asked: “Why should you be so aggressive? Is anything gained by trying to force these new ideas upon the mass of mankind? It is all very well for educated, cultured, thoughtful people; but are the masses yet ripe for it?” …

Then the talk fell upon Christianity, and these remarkable words were uttered: “I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age.”

I confess that a great joy took possession of me as I heard a statement by its implication so encouraging. … The step taken by so many of us had been taken by him long ago. … He was asked, with all deference, the reason of the long delay. With a charming frankness, he made answer that he had not had time to think about it. His time had been so occupied by his scientific work, that he had none to spare for the careful study of theological questions. …

[But] he had given attention to the matter. For, on further inquiry, he told us that he had, when of mature years, investigated the claims of Christianity. Asked why he had abandoned it, the reply, simple and all-sufficient, was: “It is not supported by evidence.” <<<

The claim that ‘there is no evidence’ for God or Christ is a simple lie. There is BAGS of evidence, and the first evidence is the creation. But people who refuse the conclusion deny the evidence. The above discussion demonstrates that at the heart of Darwinian evolutionism is a determination to eviscerate the believer’s claim that God is seen in creation, as it says in Psalm 19 and Romans 1. And as we all know in our inner person. That is why Christians must understand that Evolutionism is the enemy of the Gospel.
This discussion ties in with correspondence between Darwin and his mentor Lyell, which make it clear that the two of them were in a conspiracy to undermine the Christian religion, not by direct attacks but by undermining the historical basis of God's claims on us, the fact that He made us. Darwin was to keep quiet about this to avoid 'frightening the horses'. To this day, liberal theologians and ministers pretend that evolutionism and biblical Christianity are compatible. Richard Dawkins knows better, although even he tones it down when working with useful fools like Richard Harries, former bishop of Oxford. The suggestion that Darwin never really rejected Christ or that he returned to him blurs this issue, and should be rejected.

Further evidence comes through prophetic revelation and fulfilment concerning Christ, who is ‘the light that lightens every man’ (John’s Gospel, chapter 1 verses 1-10). We deny him at our peril and to our eternal ruin, and in defiance of the truth which God has revealed. And this was Darwin’s business and probably the cause of his mystery illness. The conversation with these 2 avowed enemies of the Gospel is revealing-Darwin had indeed rejected Christ but was being shy about revealing it in public. Dare I say perhaps due to cowardice? The same cowardice that made a recluse of him and stopped him defending his beliefs in public? 

Any claim that Darwin ‘recanted’ goes against the readily observable facts and is based on very limited hearsay and speculation, so would be in the same category as Darwin’s claims about the power of natural selection to create all life forms from a single common ancestor which jumped up from a muddy puddle struck by lightning. It is just possible to imagine Darwin secretly repenting on his death bed and telling nobody, but even if he had recanted publically, so what? As an Answers in Genesis writer says, if its leader Ken Ham were to publicly repudiate both Christianity and Creation, what difference would that make? It is the facts and arguments that matter, not the personalities.  

Having said that, persons do matter. Each of us is one person, a precious immortal soul created in the image of God but corrupted by sin. God has invited each of us to share everlasting happiness with Him in heaven, but we cannot come as we are. We are polluted by sin. If Darwin proudly held fast to his culpably ignorant rejection of God's Christ to the end, as seems all but certain, then he will have passed into eternity with a full charge sheet of his sins to be justly judged by a perfectly righteous God. That is not a position you want to be in. Read the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke's Gospel chapter 16. When a sinner arrives in God's appointed place of judgment, he can neither get free-ever-nor send a message back to warn those who still have a chance. They have already been warned, as the story in Luke tells us.
It is appointed to men once to die, and after that comes judgment. The free offer of salvation through penitent faith in Jesus Christ remains open, but for how much longer? Don't put it off, get right with God without delay.

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