I came across this quote by Charles Darwin in a set of books my daughter borrowed from the college library. I have heard of many quotes saying that Darwin had recanted of his theories on his death bed and returned to faith in God. This turns out to be “evangelical wishful thinking”. There is not any proof of this. Even his son says that it was impossible. One author I read says that he became more atheistic as he grew older. This is also not provable. This quote brings out a lot of discussion but most can not be believed outside of the whole text of writings together. Like scripture this portion has to be read along with the rest of his writings to get a clear picture of his true beliefs and how they evolved. But one belief mentioned in this quote that stands on it’s own and that’s the one I want to look at. Here is the quote:
“But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidre with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the excessively complex action of natural laws. A child (who may turn out an idiot) is born by the action of even more complex laws, and I can see no reason why a man, or other animal, may not have been aboriginally produced by other laws, and that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event and consequence. But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I have probably shown by this letter.”
Charles Darwin from: “Life and letters of Charles Darwin”Vol. 2 Letter to Asa Gray 1860 pg. 312 Johnson Reprint Corp. 1969
I have heard this argument for the “non-existence” of God for a long time. I remember one episode of a well known sit-com called Home Improvement were the character “Randy” announced to his parents that he was atheist. When asked why, he replied (as I remember it) that he could not believe in a God that allowed so much suffering in the world, or in words implying this. When Randy’s parents got upset and he asked them why he should believe, Tim answered that,”it was the right thing to believe”. I know Tim’s answer was pretty stupid and shallow. And made the believer character look pretty foolish. Now as I’ve gotten older and studied some on the subject I see how Randy’s answer was just as stupid. Just as Darwin and others who just can’t bring themselves to believe in a God that let’s bad things happen or create organisms that kill other organisms. This argument is so unscientific that I’m surprised that people claiming themselves smart and demand such a high proof of evidence from believers would use such a weak argument. And for an atheist to use the words “if” and “God” together would likely make him or her agnostic.
The newest phrase I’ve learned is “malevolent design”. How ever educated this sounds, it is not evidence and will not prove anything. Once again atheists demand that we prove our beliefs but offer no proof for themselves. To say that you believe that there is no God and if there was one, He would be an evil one not worthy of worship. Does this show a little bias to anyone? And they get their info from the Bible which they say they don’t believe is reliable. SOoo, they don’t believe in God because if he was true He would be bad because the Bible which they don’t believe says so. How confusing is this? And we as Christians are told that we do not use our brains and we believe in fairy tales. I really must ask, where is the proof?
Would you like to hear the Christian explanation. If not, quit reading here. In the book of Genisis we are told that God created everything (I am simplifying this down for you thinkers) and said, ”It is good”. Now God had given instructions for the created humans that they were free to eat anything in the garden but the fruit from one tree. The day they ate it, they would spiritually die. Now the tree was not poison or deadly. It was good. God gave the humans a free will, but limits to their freedom. Who knows why. That is not an issue. Anyway, they disobeyed and they, the garden and the earth was cursed with the result of sin. The results of this sin cursed the earth all the way down through history. It changed animals. Lions could no longer lay down with lambs. They ate them. Roses were more than just beautiful, they had thorns. Gold was no longer transparent as mentioned in the description of heaven’s golden streets. It became a crude yellow. This also corrupted bacteria and organs. One good example is that one type of cell rebelled and did it’s own thing in the human body instead of working with the rest. It is known as cancer. So all that God created is good. It is man that is responsible for all the bad on earth. They just like to blame God, who they don’t believe in. It is funny how we tell God to get out of our schools and our lives then blame Him when He doesn’t step in to divert a disaster. But, we humans are like that. Until we are “born again” (not reincarnation but as explained in the Book of John Chapter 3) with a new spirit to replace the one that died in Eden. We will remain that way and blame our Creator.