Darwin’s Conversion and Recantation

John 8:24

“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

Lady Hope

I often speak on the subject of Charles Darwin, analyzing his views from a biblical perspective. One of the most frequent questions that I get asked, following my talks on Darwin, is this: Is it true that Darwin became a Christian and recanted his evolutionary views on his deathbed?

It would appear that the rumors of Darwin’s deathbed conversion began to circulate very shortly after his death. Within days, a theologian in Glasgow was reporting that he had received a letter from Darwin, in which he stated, “I can with confidence look to Calvary.”

The main source of the story appears to be one Lady Hope, widow of Admiral Sir James Hope, and a Christian evangelist. She is reported to have told a church service while visiting Massachusetts that she had visited Darwin on his deathbed in the fall of 1881, when the evolutionist made his confession and recantation.

Unfortunately, there are many problems with the story. First, Lady Hope’s visit must have been at least seven months before Darwin’s death, if it were true, and Darwin was not bedridden for that long. Second, the account was vigorously denied by Darwin’s family. His son Francis said that no one in his family had been told of such a change, and surely they would have known.

It would be nice to think that Darwin had made such a conversion, but there is no evidence at all of its truth, and we have to conclude that Darwin never recanted, never repented, and never became a Christian.