Darwin vs God

Darwin I listened to a CD of talk by Nick Spencer of Theos given at LICC about Darwin's beliefs about God. Nick Spencer has published a book Darwin and God on the topic but this was the first time I had had a chance to hear Darwin's religious views. Darwin would have been bemused to find himself the posterboy of the aggressive atheists because although he moved away from a belief in a Christian God he believed in some kind of deity and resigned himself to agnosticism at the end of his life. Interestingly he would have utterly repudiated the Christian fundamentalist argument from intelligent design. If there is a creator then natural selection was the process he used to create.

What I also found interesting was the way in which Darwin's obsession with science seemed to eventually cauterise any other ways of knowing which didn't involve scientific proof. His wife remonstrates with him that lots of things are true that can't be proven scientifically. And one point he seems to have got stuck on which is the contradiction between the human brain as something that evolved in order to survive and the ability of the human mind to grasp truth. the one does not equate to the other. A naturally selected brain doesn't necessarily come up with the theory of natural selection and is not able to know whether natural selection is true.  What was so interesting about Nick's talk was discovering in Darwin a human being who became gripped with proving a theory which was around long before he arrived. But which he was the first to deliver a scientific proof for. He never considered this theory pretext for ethical relativism, eugenics, genocide or any of the horrors which some of those who followed claimed were logical extensions of the theory. Nor did he see natural selection leading inexorably to atheism.  An interesting man. Here's a Guardian article by Nick which you may want to read if you can't get hold of the CD and haven't time to read the book.

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