Darwin: The Believer

by Oswald J. Smith

 It may surprise students of Evolution who do not know, to learn that in the closing days of his life, Darwin returned to his faith in the Bible. Many a man as he approaches the end and consequently into the presence of God and Eternity, has regretted both his views and his conduct. Such a man was Darwin.
 The story is told by Lady Hope, of Northfield, England, a wonderful Christian woman who was often at his bedside before hi died. She herself writes it, and not only is it interesting, it is more enlightening. Here it is in her own words:
 "It was one of those glorious autumn afternoons that we sometimes enjoy in England, when I was asked to go in and sit with the well known professor, Charles Darwin. He was almost bedridden for some time before he died. I used to tell when I saw him that his fine presence would have made a grand picture for our Royal Academy; but never did I think so more strongly than on this one particular occasion.
 "He was sitting up in bed, wearing a soft embroidered dressing gown of rather a rich purple shade. Propped up by pillows, he was gazing out on a far-stretching scene of woods and cornfields, which glowed in the light of a marvelous sunset. His noble forehead and fine features seemed to be lit with pleasure as I entered the room.
 "He waved his hand toward the window as he pointed out the scene beyond, while in the other hand he held an open bible, which he was always studying.
 "What are you reading?" I asked as I was seated by his bedside. 'Hebrews." he answered - 'still Hebrews, The Royal Book, I call it.' Then placing his finger on certain passages, he commented on them.
 "I made some allusions to the strong opinions expressed by many persons on this history to the Creation, its grandeur, and then their treatment of the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis.
 "He seemed greatly distressed, his fingers twitched nervously, and a look of agony came over his face as he said, 'I was a young man with unframed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.'
 "Then he paused, and after a few more sentences on 'the holiness of God' and 'the grandeur of this Book,' looking at the Bible which he was holding tenderly all the time, he suddenly said, "I have a summerhouse in the garden which holds about thirty people. It is over there,' pointing through the open window. 'I want you very much to speak there. I know you read the Bible in villages. Tomorrow afternoon I should like the servants on the place, and a few of the neighbors to gather there. Will you speak to them?"
 " 'What Shall I speak about?' I asked. 'Jesus Christ," he replied, 'and his salvation. Is not that the best theme? And then I want you to sing some hymns with them.'
 "The wonderful look of brightness and animation on his face as he said this, I shall never forget, for he added, 'If you take the meeting at three o'clock this window will be open, and you will know that I am joining in with the singing.'
 "How I wished that I could have made a picture of the fine old man and his beautiful surroundings on that memorable day.'"
 Was there ever a more dramatic scene? The very soul of tragedy is exposed to us. Darwin enthusiast for the Bible, speaking with glowing enthusiasm about the "grandeur of the Book," reminded of that modern evolutionary movement in theology which, linked with skeptical criticism, has become a blight in all the Churches and has destroyed Biblical faith in multitudes--Darwin, with a look of agony, deploring it all and declaring: "I was a young man with unformed ideas."
 This remarkable truth of Darwin is a challenge to every Modernist. What an overwhelming criticism; the "unformed ideas" of the young man are the basis of modern evolutionary theology."