February 12th, 2009
12:32 PM ET

Something Darwin didn't know

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/science/02/12/darwin.birthday/art.darwin.afp.jpg]

Rick Weiss
The Washington Post

Charles Darwin was nothing if not methodical. When the time came to consider marriage, he divided a sheet of paper into two sections, "Marry" and "Not Marry." Under the first heading he noted: "a friend in old age . . . better than a dog anyhow." In the second he tallied counterarguments: "perhaps quarreling," he fretted, and "less money for books."

Darwin's commitment to weighing the facts, even when the topic was an emotional one, would serve competing advocates of science and religion well as the world celebrates the great naturalist's 200th birthday today and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his "On the Origin of Species," with its groundbreaking explication of evolutionary theory. While Darwin himself never took his findings as definitive evidence against the existence of God, many people of faith have read that conclusion into his work. As a result, the man who first grasped biology's most unifying concept is today widely demonized as an enemy of the church, even as many scientists and others make a similar mistake and invoke Darwin in their rejection of everything theological.

Darwin was a mostly Anglican biblical literalist when he set sail on his famed voyage aboard the Beagle. Like many Americans today, he believed that God created the world as it is, with all its countless species intact from the start. But Darwin's studies of rocks and fossils opened his eyes to the immensity of geologic time. And his keen observation of life's variations and adaptations sowed the seeds of his eventual revelation that mutation and natural selection, acting on simpler forms of life, could account for all biological diversity.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Religion
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    You would have thought God would have created humans with a little more intelligence and logic than to destroy the planet on which they are dependent for life. Perhaps he did and the gene pool has just gotten too weak to sustain those traits now.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  2. Maria

    I am busy in cooking, but check this:

    Sharon Begley
    The Sins of the Fathers, Take 2
    At tributes to Darwin, Lamarckism—inheritance of acquired traits—will be the skunk at the party.
    Published Jan 17, 2009
    From the magazine issue dated Jan 26, 2009

    February 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  3. Ryan

    I believe God created the heavens and the earth- and i believe that God and Science should co-exist. The Bible, in some of the passages, is completely unaccepting of any science. I believe this is wrong. We must forge our beliefs with the ideas, theories, and laws of science. Until we do this, there will always be a bias – gap of understanding between the two. God may have created the heavens & the Earth – planted a seed (big bang theory)- and his creations needed much time to develop – (geologic time scale)

    February 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  4. Larry

    Didn't he marry a second cousin?

    February 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    God may have created this magnificant universe--and depending upon your beliefs--we are doing a good job of dissolving its creation.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  6. earle,florida

    Whose to say that we," Homo-sapiens" haven't already mutated into another higher level of species. Time has been compressed exponentially in the pass 10,000 years regarding the civilization of mankind, known only through our inquisitive archaeologist to place some merit into this epiphany,...?

    February 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm |