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The Darwin Deathbed Conversion Conspiracy

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posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:52 AM
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The Darwin Deathbed Conversion Conspiracy



The topic of evolution vs. creationism comes up here quite a bit. Occasionally it is referenced that Charles Darwin converted to christianity on his deathbed. He is also said to have recanted evolutionary theory (also debunked), but that is another topic.

The conspiracy is sourced to Lady Hope who claimed that Darwin had recanted his theory of evolution on his deathbed and accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour. The Lady Hope Story first appeared in an American Baptist newspaper the Watchman Examiner on 15 August 1915. The text as it first appeared is as follows:


It was one of those glorious autumn afternoons, that we sometimes enjoy in England, when I was asked to go in and sit with the well known professor, Charles Darwin. He was almost bedridden for some months before he died. I used to feel when I saw him that his fine presence would make a grand picture for our Royal Academy; but never did I think so more strongly than on this particular occasion.
He was sitting up in bed, wearing a soft embroidered dressing gown, of rather a rich purple shade.
Propped up by pillows, he was gazing out on a far-stretching scene of woods and cornfields, which glowed in the light of one of those marvelous sunsets which are the beauty of Kent and Surrey. His noble forehead and fine features seem to be lit up with pleasure as I entered the room.
He waved his hand toward the window as he pointed out the scene beyond, while in the other hand he held an open Bible, which he was always studying.
"What are you reading now?" I asked as I seated myself beside his bedside. "Hebrews!" he answered - "still Hebrews. 'The Royal Book' I call it. Isn't it grand?"
Then, placing his finger on certain passages, he commented on them.
I made some allusions to the strong opinions expressed by many persons on the history of the creation, its grandeur, and then their treatment of the earlier chapters of the Book of Genesis.
He seemed greatly distressed, his fingers twitched nervously, and a look of agony came over 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 all the time, he suddenly said: "I have a summer house in the garden which holds about thirty people. It is over there," pointing through the open _ "I want you very much to speak there. I know you read the Bible in the villages. To-morrow afternoon I should like the servants on the place, some tenants and a few of the neighbours; 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 wonderful look of brightness and animation on his face as he said this I shall never forget, for he added: "If you take the meeting at three o'clock this window will be open, and you will know that I am joining in with the singing."
How I wished I could have made a picture of the fine old man and his beautiful surroundings on that memorable day!


Darwin's family vehemently denied this account. His son Francis wrote this letter as a follow up:


Lady Hope's account of my father's views on religion is quite untrue. I have publicly accused her of falsehood, but have not seen any reply. My father's agnostic point of view is given in my Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. I., pp. 304–317. You are at liberty to publish the above statement. Indeed, I shall be glad if you will do so."


Darwin's daughter, Henrietta Litchfield also followed up in 1922 stating:


I was present at his deathbed, Lady Hope was not present during his last illness, or any illness. I believe he never even saw her, but in any case she had no influence over him in any department of thought or belief. He never recanted any of his scientific views, either then or earlier. We think the story of his conversion was fabricated in the U.S.A. ... ...The whole story has no foundation what-so-ever."


This has not stopped certain christian organizations from repeating this false deathbed conversion story. Interestingly enough, the pro-creationist anti-Darwin organization Institute For Creation Research debunked this myth in their Science, Scripture and Salvation radio program on 1999-APR-17: (taken from this website)


Charles Darwin's deathbed conversion: A woman by the name of Lady Hope allegedly visited Darwin shortly before he died and heard his deathbed conversion to Christianity. This event might have happened, but it is extremely doubtful. Lady Hope did visit Darwin, but it was originally believed to be "in the fall of 1881, about 6 months before Darwin died." 2 Many historians believe that he had lost his faith completely some 30 years before his death, when his beloved daughter Annie died. One researcher, Richard Rorty, tracked down over 100 occurrences of the legend, and successfully showed that Lady Hope (Elizabeth Cotton) did exist, and probably did visit Darwin near the end of his life. But he discounts the possibility that Darwin abandoned his Agnostic beliefs. His family energetically denied his conversion. His daughter Henrietta commented in 1922: "I was present at his deathbed. Lady Hope was not present during his last illness, or any illness. I believe he never even saw her, but in any case she had no influence over him in any department of thought or belief. He never recanted any of his scientific views, either then or earlier. We think the story of his conversion was fabricated in the U.S.A. . . . The whole story has no foundation whatever." 3
The fable appeared in the 1955-OCT issue of the Reformation Review and in the 1957-FEB issue of the Record of the Free Church of Scotland. It circulates widely on the Internet via Email and is seen on many creation science web sites.


I find the "deathbed conversion" tactic a rather pernicious and dishonest maneuver from evangelical christians. We continue to see this tactic employed, most recently with noted atheist Anthony Flew in a book ghost written by christian apologist Roy Abraham Varghese, wherein he is suspected to have fraudulently claimed another deathbed conversion.

Either way, it appears that although these conversion conspiracies still occur, they are easily debunked and we should confidently eliminate the "Darwin conversion" claim from the lexicon of evolution vs. creation debate issues.

[edit on 5-6-2010 by traditionaldrummer]




posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:57 AM
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if the deathbed conversion actually worked, then there would be havoc, who needs religion untill we are just about to die? i also doubt that darwin converted on his death bed, he doesn't come across as a man who is afraid of the unknown by any means.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 10:10 AM
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Drummer sources from skeptic websites are informative but they also take things out of proportion and sometimes lie. I am not talking about this article, but there are things that skeptic forums and sites lie about. Just a heads up, when you look at those sites in the future, make sure you get your information from a scientific source. (If you want me to U2U you, just msg me, I will tell you through a message a site I can show you to show you that *Some* skeptic sites and forums are utterly ignorant and stupid(but you probally already know the source)


But keep up the great work good article none the less.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 10:27 AM
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Originally posted by Maddogkull
Just a heads up, when you look at those sites in the future, make sure you get your information from a scientific source.


Thanks for that suggestion. I'll remain vigilant about pseudo-skeptical sites. I believe the only skeptic website I linked was "skeptic.com" which is highly regarded, and this was only in regard to Dr. Flew. Most of the links actually came from Wikipedia. Feel free to alert us to any bad skeptic websites that should be avoided.

I find that the Darwin Conspiracy being debunked by a creationist organization to be surprisingly significant, as well as delivering an unexpected level of honesty coming from a biased institute. It appears that we should all consider the Lady Hope claims debunked, yet the myth persists.....



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 12:57 PM
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Richard Dawkins has a plan to combat this.





Originally posted by traditionaldrummer
It appears that we should all consider the Lady Hope claims debunked, yet the myth persists.....


The people who still believe in the Lady Hope claims are the same people who believe the bible is factual or at least seem to have the need to believe the bible is factual . No real surprise that they believe the Lady Hope BS.

It is amazing how people can ignore all facts about a complete subject (Evolution in this case) just to hold on to there beliefs. This includes (for no reason at all) the man of the theory.

Even if Darwin did convert on his deathbed, this still does not turn the mountains of supporting evidence we have supporting evolution we have gathered during and after his life.





[edit on 5-6-2010 by nophun]



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 03:09 PM
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Thomas Paine, a definitely unChrisitan American Founder, is another famous "deathbed convert," utterly fabricated.

What difference would it make if it were true? The established church that Darwin tilted against, the Anglicans, accept evolution by natural selection today. And, as other posters have pointed out, Darwin's personal beliefs are irrelevant to the acceptance of his ideas by other scientists.

When a Christian does something like that, that makes me wonder why they aren't worried that their lie will catch up with them. Do they figure that their God's a liar, so he'll be pleased? Or is that they think that once he's dead, nothing remains of Charles Darwin's spirit to object?

Although you generally cannot sue someone who defames the dead, this is is not a victimless exploit. The distress of the surviving family is real, and readily understandable. Why the liar ignores that escapes me, too.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 04:20 PM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Thomas Paine, a definitely unChrisitan American Founder, is another famous "deathbed convert," utterly fabricated.

What difference would it make if it were true?


That's what I wonder also. It takes neanderthal thought processes to assume that if some great atheist converted magically at the last minute then it somehow validates the religion.


When a Christian does something like that, that makes me wonder why they aren't worried that their lie will catch up with them.


Ultimately it doesn't matter. Once the lore becomes part of the worldwide conscience it will never go away. People still refer to the Darwin conversion and they're trying it again with Dr. Flew. There was a thread on it this morning.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by Maddogkull
Drummer sources from skeptic websites are informative but they also take things out of proportion and sometimes lie. I am not talking about this article, but there are things that skeptic forums and sites lie about.


How pathetic.
A vague claim that your oponents lie - without any evidence at all.

Meanwhile you ignore the point of THIS THREAD - which is a well-known lie spread by creationists.

A classic example of creationist lies and projection.


Kap



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 06:40 PM
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I am not a creationist. I don’t even have opponents. What is this atheists vs. believers square off. I was merely pointing out skeptic sites have fallacy’s. I am no creationist thinking the world was made in 6000 years. Maybe you’re just mad that your skeptic sources are not as perfect as you think. At least drummer addressed what I said as a respectable opened minded person. You just jump to ignorance and arrogance because I said something that disagreed with your views.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 06:46 PM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


Even if he had recanted it wouldn't matter, subsequent discoveries in every field of biology have proven Evolution.

What this amounts to is an appeal to authority, Creationists mistakenly assume that Evolution is a religion an that those that believe in it worship Darwin like a God. This is one of the reasons I dislike Darwin Day because it gives the Creationists an excuse to hoot and holler about Evolution being a religion. They believe that Darwin was the ultimate authority on Evolution neglecting to realize how far we've come since Darwin's day.

Our discovery of DNA and unlocking the secrets of genetics allowed us to further prove Evolution and granted us a window on how it works that Darwin could scarcely have dreamed of in his time.

Its as if Creationists think Darwin recanting would erase the mountains of scientific evidence compiled since his death, the kind of evidence Creationists usually ignore anyway.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 06:53 PM
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We need to stop trying to educate the village idiot, it's useless!! They will believe whatever fits their world view, and no logic or rationality can beat them because they don't apply it themselves.



Again, stop talking to the village idiot who refuses to accept facts if they contradict his beliefs!



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 11:42 PM
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It really is pointless it argue about if he converted to christianity or not on his death bed as it would really not change the theory at all. Scientific theory being objective in most cases and the personality involved should not influence the legitimacy of the theory in the least. These are basic critical thinking skills not being used here. If darwin converted to christianity on his deathbed and said his theory was bunk would that really change the theory? Not at all. Im not going to get into what is right or wrong about evolition but only highlight the fact that this deathbed conversation of darwin is a total red herring that sadly christians throw out there and atheists fall for all the time.
In the above posted Video of Dawkins he even adresses it. If he was 1/2 as smart as he thought he was he would have said he really does not care as the personal religious preferences of an individual would hold no bearing on accuracy of any theory.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 11:42 PM
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sorry double clicked delete please

[edit on 5-6-2010 by zaiger]



posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 12:39 AM
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This is the last sentence in The Origin of Species (a paper copy of which I am looking at right now)


There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.


It is unlikely he would conclude a book by invoking the Creator (God) if he did not believe in Him. I do remember reading somewhere once (not sure where) that Darwin was very surprised that his evolutionary theory met with so much opposition in the religious community.


From en.wikipedia.org...

In his autobiography written in 1876 he recalled that at the time of writing the On the Origin of Species the conclusion was strong in his mind of the existence of God due to "the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist."


Looking at that and a few other wiki articles about Darwin, he seems to have believed in a God, or at least believed in the possibility of one, but did not subscribe to any particular religion in his adult life. I suspect, however, that the story of Darwin converting to Christianity on his deathbed is false, and it sounds to me like something a fundamentalist creationist would make up to discredit him.

On a personal level, I have no problem believing in both science and religion, though I have some issues with some beliefs on the extreme ends. (a literal 7000 year earth seems unlikely to me, but so do certain aspects of evolutionary theory, like how would asexual organisms evolve into ones with two genders?)

The bottom line, though, is Darwin's religious beliefs, if any, have little bearing on his scientific theories, so long as they did not bias his work in one direction or the other.



posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 12:46 AM
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Originally posted by zaiger
It really is pointless it argue about if he converted to christianity or not on his death bed as it would really not change the theory at all. Scientific theory being objective in most cases and the personality involved should not influence the legitimacy of the theory in the least. These are basic critical thinking skills not being used here. If darwin converted to christianity on his deathbed and said his theory was bunk would that really change the theory? Not at all. Im not going to get into what is right or wrong about evolition but only highlight the fact that this deathbed conversation of darwin is a total red herring that sadly christians throw out there and atheists fall for all the time.
In the above posted Video of Dawkins he even adresses it. If he was 1/2 as smart as he thought he was he would have said he really does not care as the personal religious preferences of an individual would hold no bearing on accuracy of any theory.


^This basicly ends the entire debate.

The theory holds a lot of ground ,certaintly more then the theory that the world is no older then 5000 years and that dinosaurs where planted by god to test us.






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