While Charles Darwin, in his writing,1 made it very clear that he did not accept the Genesis account of creation,2 the picture we have of Darwin’s views about the existence of a Creator is, at best, confusing. In the 1st edition of his Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, in his Conclusion:
That almost sounds like biblical language (Genesis 2:7). However, Darwin cannot be referring to the God of the Bible, as the biblical Creator breathed life into the first human directly—Adam was not “descended from some one primordial form” along with “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth”. Nevertheless, it does seem that Darwin was leaving the reader with the impression that he believed in some kind of a creator. In fact, in the 2nd edition, Darwin added “by the Creator” to the end of the sentence.4
Why the addition?
Perhaps science historian James Strick’s observations about Darwin are pertinent here.5 He writes that Darwin’s public writing was framed so as to not alienate people who, while taking a liberal view of the Bible,6 nevertheless believed in a Creator:
If so, given the controversy that erupted with the publication of the 1st edition of Origin, Darwin might well have considered that adding “by the Creator” would be strategically prudent.
Darwin’s private dealings present a different picture. His famous advocate Thomas Huxley, often dubbed “Darwin’s bulldog”,7 was a man “anxious to banish from science all supernatural explanations for the origin of life”.5 According to Strick:
Perhaps some of today’s evolution-accepting church leaders would be well-advised to read some of that private correspondence. For example, in a letter to the American biologist Asa Gray, Darwin wrote:
In light of that, the polite concession made sometimes by creationists today that, “If Darwin had known what we know today about biology and genetics,10 he might not have become a Darwinist”, appears overly generous.11
In contrast, Romans 1:20 is unquestionably hard-hitting: anyone who denies the existence of God, given the evidence of what has been made, is “without excuse”. And that applied just as much in Darwin’s time as it does today.