Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Was Charles Darwin an Agnostic Atheist?
Let me say, right at the start, that I really don't care whether Charles Darwin was a deist, an agnostic, an atheist, or something else entirely. He died on April 19, 1882. That was a very long time ago. And the truth of evolution does not depend on what Darwin may or may not have believed about God.
Still, it's of some historical interest to learn what Darwin thought of religion. My own opinion is that these speculations are never going to be satisfactorily answered because Darwin was not always candid about his beliefs, for Emma's sake.
It may come as a bit of a surprise to find me favorably recommending an article on Uncommon Descent but this article by Flannery deserves your attention: Theist, Agnostic, Atheist: Will the Real Charles Darwin Please Stand Up?.
It's not going to make my agnostic friends happy but I think it's a pretty good analysis of Darwin's beliefs. I especially like the emphasis on the fact that his grandfather wasn't religious and his father (Robert) was an atheist. I'm pretty sure that his brother, Erasmus, was a nonbeliever as well. It strains credibility to imagine that Darwin was ever a religious man.