Charles Darwin and Christianity

Darwin:  Hallo. My name is Charles Darwin. Unless you have been living in a cave since you were born, you would most probably have heard of me. I travelled the world in order to discover the origin of species and I then produced the theory of evolution.

Atheist: Of course I know you and I know I am speaking to a remarkable man. I have read all your books and as a result I am now an atheist.

Charles Darwin and Christianity

Darwin: I beg your pardon; what did you say?

Atheist: I said I have read all your books.

Darwin: I mean the second part. How could you conclude from my writings what I could not, when the very theory of evolution is my theory?

Atheist: What do you mean?

Darwin: I mean, I have always believed in God. Even when I experienced some doubts, these were not connected with the theory of evolution.

Atheist: Yes, but you wrote after that: ‘I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age’. This means that you lost your faith in Christianity. I saw a letter in which you wrote: ‘I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, and therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God’.

Darwin: Indeed, but what has that got to do with belief in God? I always believed in a Creator, but I doubted all religions. These are two separate issues. To use my doubts in Christianity so as to make conclusions about my faith in God is unacceptable.

Atheist: Do you mean that there is no contradiction between belief in God and the theory of evolution.

Darwin: Certainly. To try to set the two as mutually contradictory is absurd. I said this in my letters: ‘It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist.

Atheist: This is strange indeed. All evidence we see of evolution and the variety of species lead directly to atheism.

Darwin: The fact is that I say the exact opposite. I wrote: ‘I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God’. I also wrote: ‘The strongest argument for the existence of God, as it seems to me, is the instinct or intuition which we all (as I suppose) feel that there must have been an intelligent beginner of the Universe; but then comes the doubt and difficulty whether such intuitions are trustworthy.’

Charles Darwin and Christianity

Atheist [rather sharply]: You see? You see? You doubted the justice of such God. You see? According to the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, you ‘could not see the work of an omnipotent deity in all the pain and suffering such as the ichneumon wasp paralyzing caterpillars as live food for its eggs’.

Darwin [Calmly]: Yes, but why is this related to the existence of God? I have experienced doubts because of certain philosophical arguments, such as good and evil in our world, and the relations between species. This is something that has nothing to do with the origin of species. Nor did I invent this.

Atheist: You mean that your study of evolution did not make you an atheist.

Darwin: In no way. I wrote in 1897, three years before my death: ‘I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.’

Atheist: So you were neither a complete believer nor a complete atheist. What was your real attitude?

Darwin: My stand was highly controversial after my death. However, no one can say that I became an atheist as a result of the theory of evolution. I will give you a clue: my favourite book was Natural Theology. I even said: ‘I do not think I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s Natural Theology. I could almost formerly have said it by heart.

Atheist: and What does this book say?

Darwin: It presents the well-known concept that may be summed up as that natural laws constitute God’s chosen method for running His universe. I will leave you to contemplate this…………… see you later.

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