Darwin, an Agnostic

On April 26, 1882, a four-horse funeral carriage carried Charles Darwin to Westminster Abbey in London. Darwin lies just a few feet from the burial place of Sir Isaac Newton in an area of the Abbey known as Scientists’ Corner. Emma, his wife, refused to attend the funeral activities planned by Parlimentary decree.

Darwin’s tombstone simply reads – “CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN BORN 12 FEBRUARY 1809. DIED 19 APRIL 1882.”

Westminster Abbey, although originally founded as a Christian church during the first-century, has since emerged simply as a cultural center for the Church of England and the British Monarchy.

Like Westminster Abbey, Darwin beliefs changed over his lifetime. Four-years before his death in 1878, when challenged by a sermon published by the popular theologian E. B. Pusey, Darwin responded in a letter to N.H. Ridley: “Many years ago, when I was collecting facts for the ‘Origin’, my belief in what is called a personal God was as firm as that of Dr. Pusey himself.” Notice Darwin’s verb choice in the sentence: “was” not “is”.

Even though christened as a child at the Church of St Chad’s, graduated from Christ’s College of Cambridge University, and buried at Westminster Abbey, Darwin is thought of as an agnostic today based on his own words. In his autobiography, Darwin wrote – “The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

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Darwin, Then and Now is a journey through the most amazing story in the history of science - the history of evolution; encapsulating who Darwin was, what he said, and what scientists have discovered since the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.

With over 1,000 references, Darwin’s life, climaxing with the search for a natural law of evolution, is investigated in the context of the scientific evidence since discovered in the fossil record, embryology, molecular biology and genetics. Darwin The and Now is a historical chronicle of the rise and fall of biological evolution.

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