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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Controversy over Charles Darwin's Religious Views

The religious views of Charles Darwin have been in the news over the last few days. They even prompted a "Thought for the Day" this morning on BBC Radio 4 Today by Bishop Tom Butler. Like Bishop Butler, I do not consider the text of the letter that has come to light to mean he was an atheist as, for example, The Times described him.yesterday in a short item.

The letter was in response to Francis McDermott, a barrister and committed Christian. Darwin’s reply, penned on 24 November 1880 – exactly 21 years after the publication of On the Origin of Species – was to the point:

"Dear Sir,

I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the son of God.

Yours faithfully

Ch. Darwin"

It is not wise to determine the religious views of any individual by a few words. Rev Cliff Reed, a retired British Unitarian minister, has traced the evolution of Darwin's religious thinking throughout the course of his life. The results of his work, in the Lindsey Press publication "Till the Peoples All Are One": Darwin's Unitarian Connections" (2011) may surprise many readers.

The book can be obtained from Essex Hall or all major online booksellers.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Welfare Reform Bill - Letter to the Editor in The Daily Telegraph

This Letter was published in today's Daily Telegraph from a number of faith leaders and others:

SIR – The extensive cuts being debated by MPs this week as part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill include restricting child tax credits, removing the work-related activity component of the Employment and Support Allowance and further reducing the benefit cap.

Despite a welcome increase in the minimum wage, it is now widely understood that this Bill will make low-income working families worse off and penalise disabled people who are taking their first steps back to work.

An effective social safety net based on dignity and compassion is vital in any just society, yet this Bill will make the lives of already vulnerable households ever more precarious.

Paul Parker
 Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Niall Cooper
 Director, Church Action on Poverty
Cathy Ashley
 Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
Dave Prentis
 General Secretary, Unison
Jonathan Arkush
 President, Board of Deputies of British Jews
Amanda Batten
 Chief Executive, Contact a Family
Megan Dunn
 President, National Union of Students
John Ellis
 Moderator, General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
Duncan Exley
 Director, The Equality Trust
Lt-Col Melvin Fincham
 Secretary for Communications, The Salvation Army
Sally Foster-Fulton
 Convener, Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland
Alison Garnham
 Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
Rev Steven Keyworth
 Team Leader of Faith and Society, Baptist Church
Derek McAuley
 Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
Judith Moran
 Director, Quaker Social Action
Helen O'Brien
 Chief Executive, CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network)
Mohammad Shahid Raza
 Founder Trustee, British Muslim Forum, and Head Imam, Leicester Central Mosque
Chaya Spitz
 Chief Executive, The Interlink Foundation
The Rt Rev David Walker
 Bishop of Manchester
The Rev Steven Wild
 President, Methodist Conference