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Charles Darwin - a Letter to Asa Gray

Two spiritual threads can be traced in the life of Charles Darwin, originator of the natural selection evolution theory. Had those threads turned out differently, one wonders what effect it might have had on science interpretation.

The first has been dealt with in a previous post. Here is the second:

In a letter to American colleague Asa Gray, Darwin stated: ….I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I should wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.

Plainly, this statement concerns, not science, but God. His question was spiritual, or at least philosophical: why is there so much misery? How does that square with a God who is supposed to be all-loving and all-powerful?

Bear in mind that, in younger days, Darwin trained to become a clergyman. This is not to say he was especially devout. Rather, he was undecided as a youth; he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. Most of us go through such a phase. Some of us never emerge. At any rate, the clergy represented a respectable calling for people who didn’t find a place anywhere else, yet didn’t want to do manual work, which represented a lower social class.

But why didn’t he know why God permitted suffering? It’s not as if an answer doesn’t exist. If he was familiar with the answer, yet rejected it, that would be one thing. But it’s clear that he had no clue.

The fault is not his. It is that of the Church, which was charged to make certain truths, or teachings, known, but which failed to discharge that commission, choosing paths more self-serving. You might say that Darwin was spiritually starved.

Had he known the Bible’s answer regarding misery and suffering, it may be that he, and other active minds of his day, might have put a different spin on discoveries of rocks, fossils, and finches.

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Tom Irregardless and Me                 No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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