Absence of Faith (February 8, 2009)It was extremely disturbing to hear Ms. Tippett falling all over herself to repeatedly reasure her listeners that Darwin really believed in God. It echoes the contentions of the Evangelicals that all our founding fathers believed in God. The truth in both cases is that Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — and Darwin — did not believe in the God of the Bible, nor the God of the Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews.
Attempting to support the contention that Darwin, Galileo, and others believed in God by quoting their statements or writings ignores the reality that statements to the contrary would have subjected them to extreme sanctions. Had Galileo added to his statement that the Earth revolved around the Sun, "and thus the Bible is not accurate," he surely would have been burned at the stake.
All through Darwin's life, blasphemy — which included any matter that tended to impeach the evidence of the Christian faith — was a crime in England. (In 1834, the Royal Commission on Criminal Law issued a report re-affirming the necessity of retaining the crime of blasphemy.) In 1883, three men responsible for publishing a satire suggesting that the story of Jesus was itself blasphemy were convicted of the crime of blasphemy and sent to prison, the actual author for a year.
Use of the word "God" does not indicate the speaker's belief in a Supreme Being who created and monitors mankind. Even I, an atheist, have been heard to say, "God damn it!" after hitting my thumb with a hammer.
The facts are that Galileo, Darwin, and most of our founding fathers rejected faith as a method of determining the ultimate truth. It's time you publicly admitted that, when speaking of such persons, you are not "speaking of faith", but the absence of it.
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