This year marks the 160th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Darwin’s theories wield massive historic and contemporary influence. Yet, there is much about the human experience that a Darwinian view of life cannot explain. Nonetheless, many see this scientific outlook as offering a total worldview. That’s why Graham described such a view as amounting to a religious conviction or a creed.
Charles Darwin once wrote a letter to Billy Graham. Not the one you’re thinking of. The American evangelist was born thirty-six years after the British scientist’s death. The Graham to whom Darwin wrote was a Victorian philosopher and mathematician who challenged the scientific outlook of Darwin and others as a sort of religious conviction. In his 1881 book, Graham described Darwin’s view as The Creed of Science.
Graham’s book made Darwin think. So much so, he wrote a letter to William Graham to discuss his thoughts and even his own doubts. Darwin told Graham he had not enjoyed a book as much as this one in a long time. You can read the full transcript at the University of Cambridge’s “Darwin Correspondence Project.” Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
I hope that you will not think it intrusive on my part to thank you heartily for the pleasure which I have derived from reading your admirably written ‘Creed of Science,’ though I have not yet quite finished it, as now that I am old I read very slowly.