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No. 57: May-Jun 1988

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Did charles darwin become a christian?

It has long been claimed by some Christians that Charles Darwin, who helped lay the intellectual foundations of secular humanism, reembraced Chris tianity as he neared death. A central figure in this tale is a Lady Hope, who supposedly visited Darwin in the months before he died. What is the basis for the Lady Hope story; and what do Darwin's own writings reveal about his religious beliefs?

Alas, Darwin's return to the fold seems an apochryphal tale. W.H. Rusch, Sr., and J.W. Klotz, well-known scientific creationists, have prepared a 38page historical study of the question -- quoting at length from Darwin himself. They conclude about Darwin:

"He had made the human mind his authority, and it led him from orthodoxy to theism to agnosticism. Indeed it appears he might well be characterized as an atheist, a doubter of the very existence of God. His caution, however, and his recognition of the impossibility from a scientific standpoint of proving a negative led him to characterize himself as an agnostic which he says he is content to remain."

(Rusch, Wilbert H., Sr., and Klotz, John W.; "Did Charles Darwin Become a Christian?" Emmett L. Williams, ed., Norcross, 1988.)

From Science Frontiers #57, MAY-JUN 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987