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Darwin's Final Recantation

By Editorial Staff
Published December 22, 2007

See note below: Some have written to disputed the accuracy of Lady Hope’s story.

Lady Hope, who visited Charles Darwin during his last days on earth, has the following to say regarding his views on evolution towards the end of his life:

It was on a glorious Autumn afternoon when I was asked to go and sit with Charles Darwin. He was almost bedridden for some months before he died. Propped up with pillows, his features seemed to be lit up with pleasure as I entered the room. He waved his hand towards the window as he pointed out the beautiful sunset seen beyond, while in the other he held an open Bible which he was always studying.

“What are you reading now?” I asked.

“Hebrews,” he answered, “still Hebrews. The Royal Book, I call it.” Then he placed his fingers on certain passages and commented upon them.

I made some allusions to the strong opinions expressed by many unbelievers on the history of the creation and then their treatment of the earlier chapters of the book of Genesis. He seemed distressed, his fingers twitched nervously and a look of agony came across his face as he said, “I was a young man with unformed 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 at the time, he said:

“I have a summer house in the garden which holds about thirty people. It is over there (pointing through the open window). I want you very much to speak here. I know you read the Bible in the villages. Tomorrow afternoon I should like the servants on the place, some tenants and a few neighbors to gather there. Will you speak to them?”

“What shall I speak about?” I asked.

“Christ Jesus,” he replied in a clear emphatic voice, adding in a lower tone, “and His salvation. Is not that the best theme? And then I want you to sing some hymns with them. You lead on your small instrument, do you not?”

The look of brightness on his face I shall never forget, for he added, “If you take the meeting at 3 o’clock this window will be opened and you will know that I am joining with the singing.”

Quoted from the Bombay Guardian, 25th March 1916, by Prof. H. Enoch in Evolution or Creation (Union of Evangelical Students of India, P.O. Box 486, Madras 7, India, 1966), pp. 165-167.

Response: Shortly after Darwin’s death, Lady Hope told a gathering that she had visited Darwin on his deathbed and that he had expressed regret over evolution and had accepted Christ. However, Darwin’s daughter Henrietta, who was with him during his last days, said Lady Hope never visited during any of Darwin’s illnesses, that Darwin probably never saw her at any time, and that he never recanted any of his scientific views (Clark 1984, 199; Yates 1994).


» » Science

Your comments are welcome!

So, in spite of evidence to the contrary, you continue to propagate this dubious story. No wonder the world doesn’t trust us Christians. Let the truth stand on its own. It is not threatened.

Posted by Rob on 10/15/2012 04:28 PM #

Rob,

See the note. The story is disputed, but Lady Hope spoke shortly after Darwin’s death. It’s a case of one person’s word against another. I post the story here for the sake of record. That Darwin often doubted his own theory is corroborated elsewhere.

See:

http://www.windowview.org/sci/pgs/09doubts.html

Posted by Jay Rogers on 10/16/2012 10:15 AM #

Charles Darwin was a very smart man and if he was alive today he would not believe in the theory that he is credited with starting. Since the invention of the electron microscope, he could see about 5 irreducible complexes. All of the parts to these organs and items are like a mouse trap. All of the five pieces of it has to be in place at the same time for it to work. Charles said he had never seen an organ that could be called irreducible (starting from parts and with little changes over time it has become what it is today). Now there are many instances of such a complex thing. There is more than this, however, and there has been a change in the view of many scientist since 1994. Man has always walked on two feet is their conclusion. No ape or chimp or ancestor that did. They have not found an ancestor yet that came before this recent discovery. No walking on knuckles.

Posted by Gary on 04/02/2013 03:16 AM #

@Gary

I’ll note that you didn’t provide any examples of irreducible complexity- it’s rather sad that some people, like you, continue to cling to that notion even after it was shot down during Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005). That “idea” was disputed when it was pointed out that a specific organ does not necessarily need to have the same purpose throughout its existence- the bacterial flagellum, which was touted as an example of irreducible complexity, was shown to have at one time functioned like a syringe, even in the absence of several parts that, according to you “has to be in place at the same time in order to work”.

At the same time, irreducible complexity does nothing to explain vestigial organs or elements of poor/unnecessary “design”.

The fact that this story of Darwin recanting continues to get propagated even after it’s been disproved soundly is appalling. Even Answers in Genesis, a staunch creationist advocate, acknowledges that the story is definitely false.

Posted by Spoonman on 05/01/2013 08:30 PM #

I can’t help but wonder out loud, why is Darwin buried in a place where the Word of God is referenced. Is this a gesture to receive mercy from the God that he wants served? The fact that his body rests inside a church lends credence to the story on this page.

Posted by Marcellus Maximus on 08/16/2014 08:12 AM #

And we wonder why Americans are getting decapitated, thousands are murdered in the Middle East, and religious zealots are causing havoc and mayhem all over the world. Most of these comments show how “nuts” people can get over religion.

Posted by Nick Sanders on 09/28/2014 05:38 PM #

Even if Lady Hope’s story were true (and it is most certainly not), it does not in any way compromise the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural and artificial selection and random mutation. Evolution is a fact. Period. Species change over time. The theory of evolution is the explanation of how it works.

I can understand how a person who was likely steeped in the religious fervor of the time, might panic when death was near and decide to give in to Pascal’s Wager and seek redemption in Jesus Christ who has already been demonstrated to a high degree of certainty to have never existed. Read “Nailed” by David Fitzgerald for a start.

Posted by Bob on 05/01/2017 08:36 AM #

Since none of us currently living on this earth, Christian or otherwise, were there to witness what truly happened, we shall not know. Opinions and stories are owned by us all. It is the perception of the writer and the individual in what to believe.

Posted by M. Brown on 07/08/2019 02:04 PM #

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