“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
John Stevens Henslow was a highly respected scientist of the 19th century. He taught both botany and mineralogy at England’s Cambridge University. In addition to being a scientist and professor, he was also a devout Christian and ordained into the Anglican clergy.
Charles Darwin was an undergraduate at Cambridge, studying for the ministry. However, after his first year of study he found he had no interest in religion. Because of his enthusiasm for his subjects, John Henslow was one of the most popular professors at Cambridge. That probably contributed to the friendship Charles Darwin developed with him. Darwin’s friendship with Henslow was also an opportunity to see living Christianity in action. However, while Darwin learned a great deal about botany from Henslow, he rejected Henslow’s Christian faith. In 1831, when Darwin received his B.A. degree, Henslow recommended Darwin be an unpaid naturalist on the H. M. S. Beagle. It was during that five-year voyage on the Beagle that Darwin began to formalize his theory of evolution. Darwin’s book “Origin of the Species” was finalized and published almost 30 years after the voyage. The aging Henslow publicly expressed his opposition to Darwin’s theory, stating that, “Darwin attempts more than is granted to man….”
Henslow was only one of many outstanding 19th century scientists who rejected Darwin’s theory. He understood that anyone who promotes so-called knowledge that contradicts Scripture dangerously places himself above God.
Prayer: Lord, expose those who would contradict Your truth and protect us. Amen.
Notes: Creation Matters (CRS), 3-4/00, p. 2, “John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861)”. Lithograph: John Stevens Henslow. (PD)