Did Darwin Kill God?

WELL, did he? That irreverent question is asked at the website of Theos, a public theology think tank, where we read Did Darwin kill God?

Who is Theos? According to Theos (think tank) in Wikipedia:

It [Theos] was launched in November 2006 with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

Now that you know the source, here are some excerpts from the article, with bold added by us:

800 people attended Westminster Abbey last night for a Theos debate entitled “Did Darwin kill God?”

Good turnout, but the setting is a bit macabre. Darwin is buried at Westminster Abbey, so they were discussing whether Darwin was guilty of deicide while — figuratively speaking — they were standing on the man’s grave. Let’s read on:

The event, chaired by the Today programme’s Sarah Montague [obviously not the American show of the same name], explored the compatibility of belief in God and Darwinian evolution. On the panel were Lord Winston (a Jew), Professor Steve Jones (an atheist or ‘non-theist’ to use his preferred term), Dr Denis Alexander (a Christian), and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (an agnostic).

No one from the Discovery Institute? We suspect that the Discoveroids tried to get in but were rebuffed. Theos wanted to have a worthwhile discussion. We continue:

The debate was is [sic] part of a wider project on Darwin and Religion that Theos has been undertaking with he Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, an academic research enterprise based at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge.

There’s not much more to the article, but they promise that a podcast of the debate will soon be posted. It’s not there at the moment.

They also have a few links to some news coverage of the event. For example, the Guardian has this story, with a peculiar subtitle: A debate at Westminster Abbey on Darwin’s legacy failed to get beyond the tired stereotype of religion as rigid and unquestioning. Here’s just one excerpt:

[D]efending the motion, Did Darwin Kill God?, was Professor Nancy Rothwell. In the God corner were Professor Denis Alexander and Lord Robert Winston. But the reality is that the whole debate was staged in the God corner for we were sitting, as I’ve indicated, in Westminster Abbey, a sign of national religiosity if ever there was one.


Did Darwin kill God? Of course he didn’t. Rothwell really made no attempt to defend the motion but spoke instead about why she does not subscribe to the God hypothesis. Jones, in contrast, made a very brief attempt arguing, as does Dawkins, that evolution seriously challenges the biblical account, and therefore biblical Judaism and Christianity. Lord Winston and Professor Alexander responded by pointing out that the Genesis account has always been considered allegorical, and certainly long before Darwin came on the scene. Moses Maimonides in the 12th century and Augustine in the 4th century both argued for a non-literal interpretation of Genesis, and can hardly be accused of doing so out of some kind of acquiescence to Darwinism.

Interesting stuff. The promised podcast should be even more interesting. Until we can view it, we tentatively suggest that Darwin is innocent of deicide.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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3 responses to “Did Darwin Kill God?

  1. > failed to get beyond the tired stereotype

    That doesn’t sound particularly objective to me. Is that a reporter or a commentator?

    The whole idea sounds absurd. The man published his book well over a century ago. Religion is still going strong, so obviously he did not kill God or the idea of God.

  2. Humans have been creating and killing gods for as long as we have been able to communicate. Each time we have done so, we have jumped ahead in our quest for understanding, and have progressed towards an rational equality based culture.

    The smell of godly death has been in the air for a long time, but only recently have the fallen, the diseased, the degraded* recognized the stench for what it is, the death of their souls.

    And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group.

    * Mutation can only increase entropy, or so they tell us.

  3. Tundra Boy says: “Humans have been creating and killing gods for as long as we have been able to communicate”

    Nah, we don’t kill them. We just leave them for another. The old gods are still around, somewhere.