Quantcast

«

»

Aug 21 2013

The Entirely Non-Startling Conversion of a Darwin Descendant

The National Catholic Register bizarrely thinks it’s “startling news” that one of the great-great-great-granddaughters of Charles Darwin is now a Catholic. I can’t really imagine why they would think it the least bit startling, unless they believe that religious belief is passed down in one’s genes.

According to the commonly held view about her great-great-great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, Laura Keynes has apparently broken all the rules in developing a passionate Catholic faith.

Apart from her family lineage, which includes her great-great-uncle, economist John Maynard Keynes, Laura also holds a doctorate from Oxford University in philosophy.

But in mid-June, the Catholic Herald reported the startling news that this highly educated Darwinian descendant had evolved into a Catholic apologist, joining Britain’s Catholic Voices.

This is ignorant twaddle. Even if it were true that one’s Christian beliefs could be passed down in genes, why would her agnostic great-great-great-grandfather have any more influence on her genes than her devoutly Christian great-great-great-grandmother?

21 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    cgilder

    And Catholics believe in evolution….

  2. 2
    Larry

    Boo-yah! Take that, atheists!

  3. 3
    aaronbaker

    @2: Exactly. Somehow or other, “Atheism sucks” must be our conclusion.

  4. 4
    Modusoperandi

    “Even if it were true that one’s Christian beliefs could be passed down in genes, why would her agnostic great-great-great-grandfather have any more influence on her genes than her devoutly Christian great-great-great-grandmother?”

    Um, because ladymoms only pass down Sin? Duh.

  5. 5
    colnago80

    Even if it were true that one’s Christian beliefs could be passed down in genes, why would her agnostic great-great-great-grandfather have any more influence on her genes than her devoutly Christian great-great-great-grandmother?
    Share this:

    It is my understanding that Darwin’s wife was a Unitarian (her father was, apparently, an atheist). I don’t think that most Christians consider Unitarians to be Christians, although I’m sure that MH will beg to differ.

  6. 6
    Doug Little

    Darwin was baptized Anglican, doesn’t that make him a Christian when it matters, you know when counting members of your faith for statistical purposes.

  7. 7
    Raging Bee

    Given that (at the official-written-policy-statement level at least) the Catholic Church both rejects literal interpretation of the Bible and accepts evolution and scientific inquiry in general, this doesn’t seem surprising at all. My only question is, does this person have anything to say about the child-rape-enabling and other appalling misdeeds her Church is so well known for?

  8. 8
    Larry

    does this person have anything to say about the child-rape-enabling and other appalling misdeeds her Church is so well known for?

    Of course. The priests were either homosexual or they weren’t True Christians®

  9. 9
    exdrone

    if it were true that one’s Christian beliefs could be passed down in genes

    … then this could be an example of a harmful random mutation.

  10. 10
    John Pieret

    Laura Keynes has apparently broken all the rules in developing a passionate Catholic faith.

    There are rules in Britain against becoming a Catholic? Who knew? Or are there rules within Darwin’s family against becoming a Catholic” Again, who knew. Or are there rules within the highly educated community against becoming a Catholic. Well, there their surprise might be justified.

  11. 11
    iknklast

    According to EvoPsych, religious belief IS in our genes. If you believe EvoPsych, well…

    I heard Stephen Pinker once argue that religious belief is genetic. He actually made the argument that atheists were mutants (I’m not sure that’s the exact word he used – he might have said “less fit”)

  12. 12
    David Hart

    To be fair, iknklast@11, I don’t think the idea that there is inherited variation in our propensity to believe in the supernatural, or indeed to continue to believe as adults that which we were indoctrinated into as children, is self-evidently silly. I just can’t think of a good way of testing it.

  13. 13
    mvemjsun

    A person has 32 great-great-great grandparents, even if they were stupid enough to think it could be genetically inherited, what about the other 31. Religion is somewhat hereditary but via indoctrination.

  14. 14
    Gretchen

    According to EvoPsych, religious belief IS in our genes.

    No. You will not find a proponent of evolutionary psychology alive who would claim that Catholicism is genetic.

    You will find proponents of evolutionary psychology who maintain that we have evolved brains which are not just capable of but disposed toward religious thought under the right circumstances– that is, that we are literally unable to conceive of non-existence so we imagine a life beyond death, we detect unseen agency around us, we anthropomorphize as a means of survival and in some cases a last resort attempt to understand our circumstances, we extrapolate some kind of innate justice in the universe….that our tendency to do these things might be innate.

    You’ll find that. But that’s just a tad more complicated and harder to pillory.

  15. 15
    cottonnero

    You sure they weren’t thinking of the throne of Great Britain? That one, you actually can’t be a Catholic.

  16. 16
    cptdoom

    @ cottonnero – to be fair, Ms Keynes is also barred from marrying a royal. So I guess she can’t snag Prince Harry either. That has nothing to do with evolution of course unless you consider how few ancestors had to be gingers for Harry to have that hair color.

  17. 17
    Erp

    @cptdoom – I believe the rules have changed recently on royals and catholics. Even before, a royal could become Catholic or marry a Catholic but they lost their right to inherit the throne when they did so.

    Plenty of Darwin relatives have been religious. Ralph Vaughan Williams (a double great nephew of Charles and Emma) composed church music (admittedly he remained an agnostic). And then there is their cousin, J. I. Wedgwood, Liberal Catholic Bishop. Note Laura Keynes grew up with a name and family connections that meant people expect great things from her and her kin, some react oddly to this (Matthew Chapman, another Darwin descendant, details some of this in his book or read Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece). She also was raised Catholic by her mother so isn’t an out of nowhere convert (though according to her her mother later became Buddhist).

  18. 18
    sezme

    She’s got a doctorate in philosophy and yet has become a fervent Catholic? That Ph. D. must have a very short half-life.

  19. 19
    lofgren

    But in mid-June, the Catholic Herald reported the startling news that this highly educated Darwinian descendant had evolved into a Catholic apologist, joining Britain’s Catholic Voices.

    I like how even the Catholic Register finds it startling that a highly educated person would convert to Catholicism. You get the feeling she announced her conversion and they were like, “…Wait, really? Maybe you want to think about it a little bit more? I mean, we’ve got no choice. It’s right there in the name. Well, I guess… if you’re absolutely sure…”

  20. 20
    oranje

    I love mentioning the doctorate bit. Like they’re saying, “Look, she’s even SMART and she believes our bullshit!”

  21. 21
    tsig

    “Highly educated is an affirmative when they’re on the religious side, it’s a pejorative when they’re on the atheist side.

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site