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I am reading through Walter Moberly’s recent book, The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith. Chapter 3 presents the bulk of his argument for the Bible as a privileged set of writings, through the Spirit and about God and his engagement with his creation and creatures. The chapter deserves more than one post and I will only dabble into the beginning here. Moberly uses Charles Darwin and his well known (although less well understood) loss of faith. Although much has been made in recent biographies of the effect that the death of Darwin’s daughter at age 10 had on his faith, Moberly suggests that this was not a root cause. Rather, two related ideas played a major role.
First, Darwin’s view of the Bible did not encourage much nuanced thinking about the texts. In his autobiography he wrote that when contemplating a clerical career he “did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the Bible.”
Darwin - Work - William - Paley - Argument
Second, Darwin was “deeply indebted to the work of William Paley.” The argument from design formed a foundation for at least part of his faith. In this context, his careful study of biology raised serious questions. If the diversity of life was meticulously designed, what are we to make of examples like the ichneumon wasp. (The following is from the Wikipedia article on the wasp, although I’ve seen in in a number of sources). In an 1860 letter to the American naturalist Asa Gray, Darwin wrote:
I own that I cannot see as plainly...
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