Statue outside Shrewsbury Library, formerly Shrewsbury
© Shropshire County Council
Darwin was surrounded by the influence of the Church his entire life. Having attended one of the best Church of England boarding schools in the country in Shrewsbury, he trained to be a clergyman in Cambridge; was inspired to follow his calling into science by another clergyman who lived and breathed botany; and married into a staunch Anglican family (see the section Darwin and the Church).
Despite this exposure to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Darwin showed his human side by slowly losing his personal Christian faith, the erosion made complete by a need for evidence and no doubt the sad death of a beloved daughter (see Darwin and faith which collects Darwin's thoughts on faith in his own words, initially penned for his family members, and reproduced with the kind permission of William H Darwin).
It is this need for humans to think, and love, that forms the centrepiece of a retrospective by the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, called 'Good Religion Needs Good Science'. After warning of the social misapplication of Darwin's discoveries, where natural selection justifies racism and other forms of discrimination - perhaps predicted in the "misguided" over-reaction of the Church in the 1860s - Brown writes: "Christians will want to stress, instead, the human capacity for love, for altruism, and for self-sacrifice." He separates the biological and emotional further by pointing out the naivety of assuming a wholesale evolution of the human race: "Despite our vastly expanding technical knowledge, even a fairly cursory review of human history undermines any idea of constant moral progress."
To give this essay an accurate historical backdrop, Brief History of Darwin compiles easy-to-digest bulletpoints, bringing to life Darwin's rise to prominence and vast scientific advancements.
This is complemented by Further reading, which points to Darwin's major written works and their location online.
Through the absorption of this material comes the conclusion that a healthy balance between the mystery of faith and the wonders of scientific discovery is essential - as Revd Dr Malcolm Brown writes: "There is no reason to doubt that Christ still draws people towards truth through the work of scientists as well as others, and many scientists are motivated in their work by a perception of the deep beauty of the created world."