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Charles Darwin's Religious Views: From Creationist to Evolutionist Paperback – Feb 6 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Sola Scriptura Ministries International; Rev Exp edition (Feb. 6 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894400305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894400305
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,308,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"This book['s]...intent is to demonstrate how Darwin's rejection of the Bible led him to adopt the naturalistic assumptions [actually scientific facts] that were foundational to his belief [actually scientific theory] in evolutionism."

The above is found in the preface of this book by Dr. David Herbert, a retired elementary and secondary school history teacher who also received a Master of Divinity degree from the a theological seminary in Canada.

As a biography of Charles Darwin's (1809 to 1882) life, this slim book is one of the best I have ever read. It is scholarly yet quite readable. As well, it is well footnoted (the footnotes appear at the bottom of each page) and has a wide spectrum of references.

This book also details quite well the religious and non-religious influences on Darwin. By the end of the book, the reader will see clearly that Darwin's religious thinking and views went through four distinct stages. The author refers to his religious life as a "four-part drama."

Personally, I was unaware that the environment Darwin was in was so supercharged with religiosity. It's even more amazing that in such an environment that he was able to formulate and publish is masterpiece of scientific insight whose full title for the 1859 first edition was:

"On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."

In the book's preface the author states, "Although I am presenting my research on Charles Darwin's Christianity, my own religious perspective will be continually before the reader. Consequently, I believe that it is my very important for me to declare my particular bias."

When I read this, I thought to myself, "Oh No!
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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa20e2018) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
HASH(0xa20e5dbc) out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT HISTORICAL STUDY OF DARWIN’S CHANGING VIEWS ON RELIGION June 12 2015
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Herbert is a retired school teacher; he has written other books such as The Faces of Origins: A Historical Survey of the Underlying Assumptions from the Early Church to the Twenty-First Century, The Key to Understanding Origins: The Underlying Assumptions, etc. He acknowledged in the Preface, “I still maintain a firm commitment to the Bible as the inerrant Word of the living God, and the only reliable source in answering the three eternal questions of life.” (Pg. xiv)

He wrote in the Preface to this 2009 book, “This book---a spiritual biography---focuses primarily on the religious experiences of Charles Darwin’s life. More specifically, its intent is to demonstrate how Darwin’s rejection of the Bible led him to adopt the naturalistic assumptions that were foundational to his belief in evolutionism.” (Pg. xii)

Of the younger Charles Darwin, he says, “we can conclude that Darwin was not committed in any way to the orthodox teaching of Christianity… Charles Darwin, prior to his university days, received a mixed message concerning a belief in God. It ranged from his father’s impassioned skepticism to the ardent Unitarian faith of his mother and sisters. The Wedgwood tradition… convinced young Charles that there was a Supreme Being and that the Bible was a book to be valued for its high moral principles; beyond that, there is little evidence of any deeper understanding.” (Pg. 15-16)

Of Darwin’s university entrance, he asks, “Why did Darwin choose to become a minister?... His father, knowing that his son loved natural science and that many ministers were also naturalists, realized the Anglican ministry offered his son ‘comparative security of position, opportunity for leisure, absence of any risk of failure.’ … the ministry as a profession still opened doors to the cultured and highly respected circles of British society… Neither Charles nor his father for one moment ever entertained the thought that ‘a man of the cloth’ was called by God to bring glory to his name through their service in the ministry.” (Pg. 23)

He notes, “In his Autobiography, Darwin referred to himself as being quite orthodox (or biblically Unitarian). During a discussion with the officers of the Beagle, he quoted the Bible ‘as unanswerable authority on some point of morality.’ These men chided him for resorting to the Scriptures.” (Pg. 45) Later, he adds, “Darwin also credited Christianity with the abolition of drunkenness, human sacrifices, infanticide and the brutality of tribal wars that had occurred so regularly in the past. But even though he praised the ethical and educational efforts of the missionaries, he never once mentioned their work of evangelization among these people of the Pacific.” (Pg. 47)

He observes, “The Beagle docked back in England on October 2, 1936. When the twenty-seven-year-old world traveler returned home after a five-year absence, did his family notice any change in his religious views? The answer is no. His… Unitarian heritage with its belief in a Creator who played an important role within his universe and its view of biblical morality was still, at least for the moment, intact… But one thing definitely HAD changed: Charles had abandoned forever any notion of a career in the Anglican Church.” (Pg. 51)

Soon after, “The fixity of kinds or the biblical belief that dogs produce only dogs, and cats produce only cats… was considered by Darwin to be totally spurious… Charles Darwin, the evolutionist, was now whole-heartedly converted to Naturalism… a world controlled by natural laws devoid of any Divine interference… when Darwin peered into the small world of the Galapagos, he perceived it as being, in miniature, a replica of what had been occurring universally over eons of time. The species barrier had been broken and the Bible could be cast aside! Charles Darwin rejected the fixity of kinds and, for the same reason, denied a global flood---because of lack of faith in the biblical record.” (Pg. 54)

He points out, “Darwin’s animosity towards ‘biblical’ Unitarianism evidenced itself concerning the question of divine justice… Divine justice on unbelievers, he realized, would include ‘his Father, brother and almost all his best friends…’ … Darwin’s rejection and repugnance of divine judgment was totally consistent with his newly-acquired belief in Naturalism. His lack of spiritual discernment was most evident here. Dismissing the Bible as the Word of God, Darwin had no basis upon which to believe that a holy, righteous god abhorred sin and would judge men and women for their rebellion.” (Pg. 60-61)

Of Darwin’s wife Emma, he observes, “many scholars are convinced that Emma was an evangelical Christian. But this question must be asked: Who was this Jesus in whom she had placed her faith? As a ‘biblical Unitarian,’ Emma believed in one eternal God; Jesus was a creation of God. Living a perfect life, this same Jesus provided eternal life through his death, burial and resurrection for all those who were morally good. During the morning church service, the Darwins regularly showed their disdain for the Trinitarian doctrine so clearly taught in the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles. ‘When the congregation turned towards the altar to recite the Creed, the Darwins faced the other way and sternly looked into the eyes of the other church-goers.’ It should be noted that Emma’s view of the Scriptures was anything but orthodox.” (Pg. 65)

He asserts, “[The Bible and The Origin of Species] both address two mutually exclusive religious viewpoints on origins: Naturalism and Supernaturalism. Even though Darwin wrote… ‘I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone,’ readers, particularly of today, should not be duped into seeing ‘Origin of Species’ as solely a scientific manual. Rather, it should be viewed as a sacred writing which propagated a naturalistic theology.” (Pg. 85-86)

Of Darwin’s decision to add the words, ‘by the Creator,’ into the closing paragraph of the second edition of ‘Origin,’ he quotes Darwin as saying, “I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion and used the Pentateuchal term of creation, by which I really meant ‘appeared’ by some wholly unknown process…’” He adds, “The question that is difficult to answer is: Was this ‘truckling’ a lack of courage of Darwin’s part to go all the way and declare himself to be an avowed atheist who was completely committed to a naturalistic worldview, or was there a deep-seated desire to recognize a Supreme Being?”(Pg. 116)

Of rumors of Darwin’s supposed “deathbed repentance,” he notes, “It would be a spectacular revelation if the ‘father of evolutionism,’ in his last days, had indeed become a follower of Jesus Christ and rejected his belief system… But, as we have seen, the evidence of either of these being a reality is highly questionable.” (Pg. 153-154)

This is an excellent and detailed study of Darwin’s religious views and their development over time. Those interested in this subject may also want to read Darwin's Religious Odyssey and The Evolution of Darwin's Religious Views.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa289f750) out of 5 stars an excellent, balanced, well documented work Oct. 22 2010
By Darwin Researcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent, balanced, well documented summary of Darwin's religious evolution by a historian with a doctorate from the University of Toronto. He also covers Darwin's wife Emma and his father, Robert, and other persons that were very influential in Darwin's life. Some time is also spent on Darwin's morbid fear of death and his major psychological problems. It is one of the best biographies of Darwin I have read (and I have read close to 100). Although Janet Browne's two volume magnum opus is also excellent, most readers can get the basic story from Herbert's book.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa289f618) out of 5 stars An important study of CHARLES DARWIN, one of the most SIGNIFICANT FIGURES of our time!! June 26 2009
By STEPHEN PLETKO - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
XXXXX

"This book['s]...intent is to demonstrate how Darwin's rejection of the Bible led him to adopt the naturalistic assumptions [actually scientific facts] that were foundational to his belief [actually scientific theory] in evolutionism."

The above is found in the preface of this book by Dr. David Herbert, a retired elementary and secondary school history teacher who also received a Master of Divinity degree from the a theological seminary in Canada.

As a biography of Charles Darwin's (1809 to 1882) life, this slim book is one of the best I have ever read. It is scholarly yet quite readable. As well, it is well footnoted (the footnotes appear at the bottom of each page) and has a wide spectrum of references.

This book also details quite well the religious and non-religious influences on Darwin. By the end of the book, the reader will see clearly that Darwin's religious thinking and views went through four distinct stages. The author refers to his religious life as a "four-part drama."

Personally, I was unaware that the environment Darwin was in was so supercharged with religiosity. It's even more amazing that in such an environment that he was able to formulate and publish is masterpiece of scientific insight whose full title for the 1859 first edition was:

"On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."

In the book's preface the author states, "Although I am presenting my research on Charles Darwin's Christianity, my own religious perspective will be continually before the reader. Consequently, I believe that it is my very important for me to declare my particular bias."

When I read this, I thought to myself, "Oh No! Herbert (the author) is going to ask the reader to accept the supernatural and attempt to change the facts, in this case, with respect Darwin's life." (I've evaluated other books on science and religion or science versus religion and these two things seem to always occur.)

The fact is that the supernatural or "supernaturalism" (which uses creationism) was a prominent part of the religious environment back in Darwin's time and mentioning it was an essential ingredient of Darwin's biography. Thus, I can't fault this book on mentioning the supernatural.

Also, Herbert did not change any of the facts regarding Darwin's life. In fact, he presented some things I never knew about Darwin and his life.

Therefore, when the author says he is going to "declare [his] particular [religious] bias," I found that this bias was not obvious and very subtle (at least to me). Yes, he tells us he is a true believer in a Creator (and other things like this) but he does not let this bias interfere with the true facts regarding the story of Darwin. As well, any bias the author did present was not convincing (again, at least to me).

This book has many illustrations especially portraits that seem to bring the main narrative alive. Also, the historical writings of not only Darwin but other significant people are presented.

Finally, personally I admired Darwin even more after I read this book (which I'm sure was not what the author intended). In spite of the supersaturated environment of religiosity that he found himself in, he clung to his scientific insights with their reason and rationality until his death. In fact, one person during this time wrote:

"[Darwin] seemed to recognize the approach of death, and said, `I am not afraid to die.' And thus he went out into the dark, without God in all his thoughts."

In conclusion, this is an excellent biography of Charles Darwin's life which also superbly details his religious thinking!!

(revised and expanded edition first published 2009; foreword; preface; 9 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 160 pages; appendix; select bibliography; index)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

XXXXX
8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa289fa98) out of 5 stars Musings of a muddled religionist May 16 2010
By Marc Andre Lachance - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One would have hoped that David Herbert's religious biography of Charles Darwin might be more than a variation on the slanderous themes exploited by Ray Comfort or Benjamin Wiker in recent months. At first glance, one gets the impression of a dispassionate and endearing narrative. Herbert's agile pen would seem to paint a warm portrait of what he regards as Darwin's religious journey. But this work is a deception, a carrier wave for a disparaging message; not entirely surprising, as Herbert is candid enough to confess his allegiance to biblical inerrancy and the resultant frame of mind.

We're off to a particularly bad start with the foreword by one Heinz G. Dschankilic, who writes: "Darwin is no longer taken seriously. Any reasonable and consistent scientist, regardless of religious stripe, is distancing himself or herself from the sheer logical folly that randomness and nothingness can explain life in any rational manner." This preposterous statement demonstrates that Dschankilic knows nothing about evolution or its place in science and sets the stage to Herbert's false dichotomy opposing biblical fundamentalism to Darwin's science as if they were equally defensible explanations for the diversity of life on earth. The truth is that the bible never claimed authority in matters of mathematics, chemistry, or physics, and that its naive pronouncements in matters of astronomy, geology, and biology have not survived scientific scrutiny, as anticipated long ago by Saint Augustine.

Herbert pursues his conflation by treating evolution as a religion. He strangely redefines religion as a response to the fundamental questions of our origin, our existence, and our destiny, at great variance with the definition offered by the Oxford dictionary: "The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power". The confusion continues as Herbert applies the term "spiritual" to William Paley's Natural Theology. Paley was an excellent naturalist and his biology was of high quality. But his theology was frail. Any biological phenomenon that could not be explained was attributed to a divine designer who ensures, as did Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss, that all is best in the best of worlds. Herbert tells us that by "the age of thirty, Darwin had rejected Paley's supernaturalism and embraced Naturalism in which Natural Selection would be the creative genius rather than God" (note the author's dextrous use of lower case and capitals). The truth is that Darwin rejected a failed explanation for the diversity of life and conceived of a plausible one.

Instead of evaluating Darwin's ideas for their immensely rich content, Herbert pigeonholes them into facile "isms". Evolution metamorphoses into "evolutionism." John Henslow's (and Charles Lyell's and Charles Darwin's) scientific thinking is reduced to a beatific fervour, the doctrine of uniformitarianism. "Darwin rejected the fixity of species, and for the same reason, denied a global flood", all because of his "lack of faith in the biblical record." "The deistic influence of Lyell [...] had undoubtedly taken its toll. Deism with its appeal to reason as the sole arbiter of truth regarded any type of divine revelation as suspect." Herbert should at least contemplate the possibility that logic and evidence, and not some -ismic ganglionic reflex, led Darwin to recognize the value of Lyell's geology and the absurdity of Noah's flood.

The worst " ism" of all is "Naturalism", a "worldview [that] answers the three eternal questions of life" - which, you may recall, constitutes Herbert's (but not Oxford's) definition of religion. Naturalism (with a capital N) is the heresy of those who seek the truth from observational evidence (science). Even worse, Naturalism is, according to Herbert, a religion. In Herbert's word, The Origin is no less than "a sacred writing which propagated naturalistic theology," an "encapsulation of Darwin's new Gospel." Darwin's self-indictments as a naturalist ("You are a theologian, I am a naturalist") and a "zealous disciple of Lyell" finalize his case. And by repeating incessantly that Darwin's scientific journey is a sacred crusade, Herbert hopes that his fable will become fact: "In reality, when Darwin was wrestling with the problem of the origin of species, he was engaged in a religious endeavour, not a scientific one."

Darwin, Herbert's "scientist turned evolutionist", allegedly recruited Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer to be the "missionaries" of his new religion. In Darwin's own words, punctuated by Herbert's exegesis, "Natural Selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations [omnipresence]; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good [omniscience]; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life [omnipotence]." Again, Herbert shows no interest in the evidence. On he goes: a "new theological framework [...] had been established. In reality, Darwin's research occurred within a new framework of which he was unaware. First, there was the doctrine of uniformitarianism which provided the necessary time for evolutionism to occur, and second, the principle of gradualism. Everything, he postulated, developed little by little over a long period of time." It would seem that Dr. Herbert got lost on his way to the Science Library, for he concludes: "Neither of these two positions can be demonstrated scientifically but rather are faith positions."

From Naturalism to Evolutionism, and now, Deism. In Herbert's fanciful universe, James Hutton "discounted the supernatural biblical flood" because he was a Deist, as did Adam Sedgwick and Charles Lyell, also Deists (but not uniformitarians, I must add). The truth is that these pioneers of modern geology rejected the notion of the biblical Deluge simply because of the utter absence of evidence. But in Herbert's words, Darwin reached this conclusion because he was "looking through Lyell's eyes." Not so. All sensible scholars, be they deists, theists, uniformitarians, Unitarians, Trinitarians, or vegetarians, reach the same conclusion, based on the evidence.

Having wondered whether Darwin was a Theist, a Deist, an Atheist, or an Agnostic, Herbert thought it "best to conclude that the father of modern evolutionism was a `muddled religionist'." A survey conducted by Herbert on the campus of the University of Western Ontario (no doubt with the approval of the Office of Research Ethics) indicated that students believed that Darwin advocated a "naturalistic" origin of the universe. This upset Herbert because it is at variance with his demonstration that "Darwin was never an Atheist". Quoting Darwin's own words: "I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God." Isolated quotes are a dangerous thing. One could wonder what Darwin meant when he exclaimed: "Why do you call yourselves Atheists" ... "I am with you in thought, but I should prefer the word Agnostic to the word Atheist." Is he confessing to being an atheist in substance, albeit not in title? But then again, consider his very last words: "Oh God! Oh Lord God!"

Those interested in a serious Darwin biography should read Janet Browne's magnum opus. Those wishing instead for a short but scholarly account of his religious views should peruse relevant articles in the Darwin Correspondence Project, published on the Internet by a group at the University of Cambridge. Neal Gillespie gives a thorough analysis of the epistemology underlying Darwin's dealings with creation. Those curious to see yet another muddled religionist's attempt to conflate science and religion in a vain hope of discrediting one of our greatest thinkers will be well served by Herbert's recycled musings.


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