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Darwin’s doubts

June 2001 | by Juliet McIntosh

Charles Darwin
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Professor Andy McIntosh recently gave the annual Darwin lecture on ‘A designer world’ at Darwin College, University of Kent, in Canterbury. He spoke on creation at further meetings at the University campus and in Margate. He and his wife Juliet write: ‘It was a most interesting occasion. There were about 50-60 guests, including the Mayor and the ex-curator of Downe House (now taken over by English Heritage). But on this occasion there were no members of Darwin’s family present!’

Christianity in a scientific age

Among the guests were clergy and senior academics from the college. They listened attentively to the presentation, which was speckled with references to Darwin’s thinking in early and late years.

Having explored various aspects of the natural world which cannot be explained without invoking design, the talk ended by considering the doubts that often came over Darwin in his later years.

This was contrasted with the way Wesley could say 100 years earlier: ‘Our people die well’, and the testimonies of Darwin’s contemporaries, the scientist Michael Faraday and Lord Shaftesbury (known for immense philanthropy), who were firm in their belief in the Bible, and commitment to Christ as their sinbearer and Lord.

People were invited to accept a copy of Verna Wright’s booklet The relevance of Christianity in a scientific age. We were quite taken aback by the number of requests for this book. About 20 copies were taken that evening, which was very encouraging.

Still searching

The meal following the lecture saw many conversations taking place until late in the evening. One man stood out – a Professor of Social Science who quizzed my wife and me as to how we could be sure that the Bible was reliable.

Married to a staunch Methodist, he was evidently still searching for a firm basis of belief. He wants to ‘write a book about God’ in his retirement, and knew that his whole basis of thinking had been challenged by the talk and hearing Juliet’s testimony of conversion from atheism!

Interesting evening

Frank van der Linden, with others at Margate, works hard at evangelism from a church right on the High Street. It was a privilege to be with them for the Saturday afternoon.

About 30 or so folk attended the meetings and one lady brought her unconverted husband who was certainly made to think. She said, ‘It’s going to be an interesting evening at home tonight after this!’

I would like to have been a fly on the wall for what actually transpired in conversation! She herself had only been a Christian a few weeks.

Missing link

On the Sunday there was a good opportunity at the University of Kent campus when about 70 or so students from all over the world listened to a presentation on why creation is important to the gospel.

A considerable amount of literature was given away and we would value prayer that the seed sown will bear fruit.

Bob Bain has a good ministry as chaplain to many students in Darwin College and the University as a whole. Many of the buildings are named after places associated with Darwin, such as ‘Beagle’, ‘Fitzroy’ etc. The building where Bob’s church meets is aptly called ‘The Missing Link’!

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