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Home > Christian Urban Legends

Darwin repudiated evolution and accepted Jesus before he died.

Claim:
Charles Darwin, the author of THE SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION in 1859 and the champion of evolution, renounced his evolutionary theory and became a Christian on his deathbed.  This was reported by noblewoman Lady Hope who said she visited Darwin at his home in England at the close of his life.  She described him as reading the book of Hebrews in the New Testament of the Bible.  She also said that he regarded his writings about evolution to be questions that people made into a religion.  Lady Hope said Darwin asked her to conduct a meeting outside a summer house he owned so he could hear the singing of the hymns.

The Truth:
This story appears in an evangelistic tract. It would be nice if it were true, but there is no verified evidence that Darwin rejected his ideas before his death. His friends and family deny it.

The question of whether Charles Darwin accepted Christianity and rejected evolution is an emotional and intense one.  To many Christians, Darwin is a villain who articulated a godless creation.  To others, he is a brilliant hero who led the way to an enlightened view of where we came from.  There are researchers and authors who have worked hard to prove and disprove any notion that he converted to Christianity and TruthOrFiction.com's conclusion is that when all is said and done, there is not enough good evidence that the story is true.  We stop short of declaring it fiction, but regard it as not sufficiently proven.  The report about Darwin's change of heart comes from one person, Lady Hope, an energetic Nineteenth Century Christian, while many members of Darwin's family denied it and there is nothing from Darwin's friends, colleagues, his own statements or writings to substantiate it.  If Darwin did experience something so dramatic as a conversion to Jesus Christ and a complete revision of the theory of evolution that characterized his life and work, there isn't a shred of evidence of it outside of the claims of Lady Hope.

The book THE DARWIN LEGEND by James Moore is one of the most recent and cautious analyses about the Darwin conversion story.  For many years, detractors claimed that Lady Hope either didn't exist or never visited Darwin.  Moore demonstrates that she did indeed exist and may very well have visited him.  He also concludes, however, that her account of what happened is not reliable.  

A response to Moore's book is TRUE SCIENCE AGREES WITH THE BIBLE by Malcolm Bowden.  His attention to detail is valuable reading, but in trying to argue that the conversion story may be true, he has to do a lot of speculating about what Lady Hope, Darwin, or Darwin's family might have been thinking.

For more information:

THE SURVIVAL OF CHARLES DARWIN, by Ronald W. Clark (Wiedenfeld & Nicholson, 1985)

THE DARWIN LEGEND, by James Moore (Baker Books, 1994)

DID CHARLES DARWIN BECOME A CHRISTIAN?,  Wilbert Rusch and John Klotz, (Norcross, 1988)

TRUE SCIENCE AGREES WITH THE BIBLE,  Malcolm Bowden, Sovereign Publications, 1998

 

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