In the ensuing years, and even up until today, dozens of state legislatures and community school boards have repeatedly tried to ban the teaching of evolution in favour of creationism or intelligent design. Only a few years ago, for example, the Dover, Pennsylvania School District was taken to court by a group of parents when it required the presentation in the classroom of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. In 2005 the parents won their case in U.S. District Court and the members of the School Board who supported the intelligent design initiative were all defeated in the ensuing election. That same year, the Kansas State Board of Education held hearings in an attempt to demonstrate, as one board member put it, “that evolution has proven false and that intelligent design is science-based and strong in facts.” This was supported by the conservative Republican members of the board, including several born-again Christians, and the teaching of creationism proceeded in Kansas schools until it was eventually overturned by a newly elected board in 2007.
Darwin would have been amused by these ongoing controversies, but certainly not surprised. He himself harboured mixed feelings about the ways in which his own theories developed over time. In his autobiography, Darwin wrote about how he was teased mercilessly by the crew of the Beagle for his religious beliefs and for his habit of quoting the Bible to answer any unsolved questions. He also wrote of how his experiences examining the natural world led him in new directions.
One wonders, but for the death of his beloved Anne, would he have been the first theistic evolutionist?