Did Darwin Die a Christian?
While this is a well-circulated story, I personally came across this 30 years ago and had no reason to doubt it then, it has subsequently been thoroughly investigated and found to be problematic with regard to the historical accuracy of this claim.
This in no way invalidates the reality of deathbed confessions. My own father had long resisted placing his faith in Jesus as his Messiah, but thankfully made a profession of faith before he closed his eyes in death.
It has become a practice of mine to check these things out before circulating them as fact. I often get emails and other communications that upon further investigation have proven false.
The story of Darwin’s deathbed conversion was circulated, by Lady Hope, a vocal Bible-believing English aristocrat. It was widely circulated among Christian groups as are many testimonies of famous people who repent in the end, bowing the knee to the Savior shortly before meeting Him face to face.
The story circulated by Lady Hope was challenged by many of Darwin’s family when it first was told. I understand that one might think them protective of the reputation of their loved one; however, if the record of Lady Hope was indeed true, someone close to the family would have corroborated it. Sadly, that is not the case. Darwin’s three last letters, dated 1882, after Lady Hope’s alleged visit contain nothing that could be construed as a new found faith in the Savior.
For a balanced discussion and an excellent overview of this matter click on the link below and read the article by CARM, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry:
Because of God’s amazing grace,
Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D. (c)
Chief Technical Advisor
Creation Studies Institute