Clergymen betraying the faith they profess is not new. But perhaps none was as destructive as the famous author who smoothed the way for Darwin.

Quisling: a person who aids the enemy, a traitor (after Vidkun Quisling (1887–1945), Norwegian army officer and politician who collaborated with the Nazis occupying his country during WWII).

The first edition of 1,250 copies of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published on 24 November 1859. The book caused something of a public uproar and was promptly denounced from pulpits across England, despite the popular story that the entire first edition was bought by an eager public on the day of publication.1

A Collaborator Found

This ecclesiastical hostility to an idea that blatantly opposed the Creation account in Genesis was not altogether unexpected by Darwin and his ‘managers’, Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker. So they eagerly sought a prominent clergyman who knew something of science to promote their cause. They found one in the Rev. Charles Kingsley. Kingsley was an amateur naturalist who had been ordained as an Anglican curate in 1842, and two years later as a priest. He was a founding member of the Christian Socialist movement; he was becoming known as a writer of novels that promoted the cause of the poor, and even better known for his historical novels, e.g. Hypatia (1853) and Westward Ho (1855). In 1859, he was appointed Chaplain to Queen Victoria.

Darwin sent Kingsley a copy of the first edition of his Origin.Kingsley, in his letter of thanks, was fulsome in his praise. ‘All I have seen of it awes me,’ he wrote, ‘both from the heap of facts and the prestige of your name, and also with the clear intuition, that if you be right, I must give up much that I have believed and written.’2 This apparently posed no problem to him, for he went on to say that he was now free from the ‘superstition’ that God needed a fresh act of creation for each type of creature….

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