Charles Darwin and Annie
July 31, 2006
Two spiritual events can be traced in the life of Charles Darwin, originator of the natural selection evolution theory. Had those events turned out differently, one wonders what effect it might have had on science interpretation.
The first…..the second will be dealt with in another post…..came with the death of Darwin’s favorite child, his daughter Annie. At age 10, the child contracted scarlet fever, and agonized for 6 weeks before dying. Also a casualty was Darwin’s faith in a beneficent Creator. The book Evolution: Triumph of an Idea, by Carl Zimmer, tells us that Darwin “lost faith in angels.” That’s an odd expression. Why would it be used?
They probably told him that God was picking flowers.
Is there any analogy more slanderous to God than the one in which God is picking flowers? Up there in heaven He has the most beautiful garden imaginable. But it is not enough! He is always on the watch for pretty flowers, the very best, and if He spots one in your garden, He helps himself, even though it may be your only one. Yes, He needs more angels, and if your child is the most pure, the most beautiful, happy, innocent child that can be, well….watch out! He or she may become next new angel. Sappy preachers give this illustration all the time, apparently thinking it gives comfort.
Not surprisingly, the picking flowers analogy is nowhere found in the Bible. However, a close parallel analogy is found in 2 Samuel, where it is used to make exactly the opposite point: that the flower picker should be executed. The setting is when King David took the pretty wife of one of his subjects, and had that subject killed.
The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."
Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! 2 Samuel 12:1-7, NIV
Now, this analogy appeals to us. This is just. The man is not expected to take comfort that the king stole his wife. No, he deserves execution! So how is it that when we're told God has done the same, we’re expected to feel all warm and fuzzy?
Wasn't it Abraham Lincoln who said that he was not smart enough to lie? His meaning was that if you lie, you have to adjust every subsequent statement to be consistent with that lie, otherwise you will get caught. Telling the truth presents no such challenge.
The picking flowers analogy is an attempt to cover a lie, and as we have seen, it doesn’t satisfy. The lie is that, when we die, we don’t really die because the soul lives on, going straight to heaven if we’ve been good. Thus, death is a friend. It is a chance for promotion, and we are all happy to see good people promoted.
In this context, the Bible’s hope of a resurrection is meaningless. (Acts 24:15) How can someone be resurrected if they never actually died?
Better to tell the truth from the start, and then you don’t have to invent ridiculous stories to cover your tracks. Death is not a friend, it’s an enemy. Nor is it God’s purpose for humans; it came upon us due to rebellion. Nor does it bring us into a new state of consciousness; instead we become nonexistent, and can be likened to unconscious or asleep. Nor does God purpose to leave us in this sad predicament, but he’s taken steps to eliminate death.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— Rom 5:12
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Cor 15:25
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten……Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Eccles 9:5,10
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."
His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead… John 11:11-14
(all verses from the New International Version)
How different history might have been had Darwin known the truth about death. Not just Darwin, of course, but everyone of his time, as well as before and after. Instead, fed a diet of phony pieties….junk food, if you will…..he and others of inquisitive minds searched elsewhere in an attempt to make sense of life.