20091204

Charles Darwin

We are right now passing the 150 year anniversary of Charles Darwin's epochal book On the Origin of Species from 1859. Darwin lived between 1809 to 1882.

Darwin started out in life as a unitarian, ie., he, like Newton, did not believe in the trinity but well in God. However, as his life progressed he became less and less religious and around 1849 he took a walk instead of joining his family at Church stating "absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist". He had started to lay down the theory of natural selection already in 1838. In 1879 he wrote "I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally... an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind".

I firmly believe that many scientists will have a problem with the trinity, ie, that God exists as three persona, Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. That unfortunately leaves Jesus out of the picture and severely dents Christendom since the resurrection would not occur.

His father, himself a physician, sent the young Darwin to University of Edinburgh 1825 to study medicine but Darwin did not like it. His father then sent him to Christ College, Cambridge 1828 for a Bachelor of Arts as the first step of becoming an Anglican parson, a priest in an independent parish. He became a close friend and collaborator to botany professor John Stevens Henslow. People around him saw scientific work as religious natural theology. He graduated in 1831 and after some further studies of Natural Theology Henslow suggested that he'd go on HMS Beagle that sailed around the world during five years.

During the trip he was acquainted with new geological concepts of creation taking place a long time ago and thus he slowly came out of his literal belief in the Bible. He collaborated all the time with Henslow on collecting plants. After returning home he became Secretary of the Geological Society in March 1838. In October 1838 he wrote:

"In October 1838, that is, 15 months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus' on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everyone goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones would be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work..."

He proposed to Emma Wedgwood on November 11 the same year. An accomplished soul. After a fellow scientist Alfred Russel Wallace had arrived at the same conclusion on natural selection Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859. By the end of the next decade most scientists agreed that evolution occurred, but only a minority supported Darwin's view that the chief mechanism was natural selection. An intense debate on the implications for theology ensued.

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