Saturday, February 14, 2009

Darwin and Dingbats

I missed Charles Darwin's birthday last week; he and Mr. Lincoln share the twelfth. It was his 200th too. Two men with dour, full-bearded faces, etched into the annals of history. Their youth and education were vastly different- Darwin the son of a well-to-do doctor. Neither found much joy or comfort in 'the church.' Darwin's father, though, sent the young Charles to Christ’s College, Cambridge hoping that the lad would become a parson. There is no record of Lincoln attending church services at all.

Darwin toyed around with William Paley's idea of Natural Theology but was attracted to natural sciences rather than natural theology. The lure a 5-year voyage on the HMS Beagle snagged young Charles and sent him on a lifetime journey to study the laws and circumstances of nature.

One can only imagine the loss to science had the young Darwin spent his life as his father had wished- as an Anglican parson in some parish church in the English countryside. Lincoln's father, Doris Kearns Goodwin reports in her book, A Team of Rivals, wanted young Abe to work as a laborer on the farm all of his life. Luckily for us, young men follow different dreams than those of their father.

To all but the few cave-dwellers, Lincoln was a hero yet, as we all know, Darwin is both a hero and a villain, depending on the eyes of the beholder. To the scientist, Darwin is a legend who opened the doors of discovery to those who came after him. To the righteous church folks, he is evil incarnate.

On the website, RaptureReady, an article by Ron Graham boldly opens with this:

"When Charles Darwin wrote his famous book on the theory of evolution, he probably had no idea where that ugly lie would take mankind and what a major falling away from faith in God would occur."

Rapture Ready. Funny stuff, except for 'the believers.' By the way, that website has some reading information for some of us non-believers. Check out the section titled, Information For Those Left Behind. I didn't check into the info. I don't have time.

Well, Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin and thanks for your masterful works which help us to figure out who we are and where we came from.

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