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Letter 12918

Browne, W. R. to Darwin, C. R.

16 Dec 1880

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    Writes on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite CD to a private conference organised in an attempt to reconcile science and religion. [Enclosed is a printed two-page memorial calling for such a conference.]


38, Belgrave Road,|London, S.W.

16 December, 1880.


I am authorized by His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury to inform you that he has consented to the request contained in the Memorial, of which I enclose a copy, and that it will give him much pleasure if you are able to attend the proposed Private Conference, which is to be held at Lambeth Palace, on Friday, January 7th, 1881, at 3 p.m.

A reply to the above address will be a favour.

Yours truly, | Walter R Browne

The Archp particularly hopes you may find yourself able to to be present.

The names attached to the Memorial are as follows:


[Enclosure: 1]

We, the undersigned, respectfully solicit the attention of Your Grace to the following Statement.

1. Almost the whole of intelligent modern Infidelity rests on the assumption that the proved conclusions of modern Science are hopelessly at variance with the fundamental doctrines both of natural and of revealed religion.

2. We believe this assumption to be unwarranted by the facts of the case; and we have reason to think that our belief is shared by a large number of men of high eminence in all departments of knowledge.

3. Nevertheless, while those who hold the assumption to be true are continually impressing this fact upon the world, those who, like ourselves, hold it to be false, are mostly found from various motives, to keep the belief to themselves.

4. The result of this is that the case in favour of Religion is very much left to go by default; and the reading public are naturally led to conclude that the breach between Religion and Science is admitted by all Scientific men.

5. In these circumstances it seems to us desirable that men of Science who do not hold the above assumption should confer together as to the means of accomplishing two objects:

(1) to bring the weight of their authority to bear on the judgement of the reading public, as a counterpoise to the authority of those who maintain and promulgate the above assumption;

(2) to investigate fully the real relations between Religion and modern Science, and this under two heads, (a) an examination into the conclusions of Science, especially those of the inexact Sciences, to determine which are really proved and which are not; (b) an examination into the doctrines of Religion to determine where they come in contact with the proved conclusions of Science, whether they are at variance with them, and if so, whether they can be modified into accordance with them: and if not, how far the two can be held together.

6. We respectfully submit that these objects are of the very first importance to the interests of Religion, and therefore may claim the attention of all those to whom those interests are confided.

7. Recognizing the sympathy which Your Grace has already evinced towards these objects, and the steps you have taken towards realising them, we venture to solicit you to summon and preside at a Private Conference, as suggested above, where the best means of attaining them may be discussed.


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