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A Pilgrim’s Regress: George John Romanes and the Search for Rational Faith

I present to you this wonderful account of a faith lost, then regained. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Timothy McGrew for bringing the story of George Romanes back to light. Dr. McGrew is the founder of “The Library of Historical Apologetics,” an effort at “Rediscovering Forgotten Defenders of the Faith.”

Wikipedia opens up the entry on George Romanes with these two paragraphs:

George John Romanes FRS (20 May 1848 – 23 May 1894) was a Canadian-born English evolutionary biologist and physiologist who laid the foundation of what he called comparative psychology, postulating a similarity of cognitive processes and mechanisms between humans and other animals.

He was the youngest of Charles Darwin’s academic friends, and his views on evolution are historically important. He invented the term neo-Darwinism, which is still often used today to indicate an updated form of Darwinism. Romanes’ early death was a loss to the cause of evolutionary biology in Britain. Within six years Mendel’s work was rediscovered, and a whole new agenda opened up for debate.”

The story of George Romanes, who lived a short 46 years, is a remarkable one in that it describes a serious faith lost due to his reading of Darwin, then regained near the end of his brief life after rethinking the issues. George had a clear insight into the implications of Darwinian theory upon Biblical theology and ethics, and these issues bothered him throughout his adult life. Only a serious reflection, prompted by respected Christian friends, with a dose of apologetics, guided him back to his first convictions of faith.

His health failed him early in life and prompted an earnest reconsideration of all that “science” had taught him. George’s story parallels the life of Anthony Flew in that some questioned his (Mr. Romanes’s) sanity at the return of his faith, just as some questioned Dr. Flew’s rejection of atheism. A sober reading of the evidence in both cases reveals that each had full control of their mental faculties at the time of their change of mind.

There is much to this story, and I leave you a link to Dr. McGrew’s website (and others) where you can complete your reading at leisure. You will not be disappointed.

The Story of George Romanes at The Library for Historical Apologetics

The Life and Letters of George John Romanes, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S.

Thoughts on Religion by the late George John Romanes, edited by Charles Gore, D.D.