The Short Road to Irrelevance

Westminster Abbey will probably survive, at least for a while. While other churches in England are being converted and bulldozed by the dozens, this stunning and sprawling cathedral will continue to stand tall. It was first built to house a group of Benedictine monks in A.D. 1065. For the last 900-plus years it has been attacked, renovated, desecrated, and consecrated over and over, earning it a permanent place in history. Century after century, architects and craftsman have been adding to its grandeur. When I walk through the corridors beneath the breathtaking expanses of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, I get an entirely different feel than I did in the nearby church where only a few gray-haired parishioners sat in the dusty front rows. Westminster Abbey is alive with people and activity. Yes, it will survive — but not necessarily for the right reasons. Westminster is part monastery. Its religious life revolves around a daily pattern of worship, prayer, song, and the Eucharist. Until the 19th century, Westminster was the third seat of learning in England, surpassed only by Oxford and Cambridge. It was here that the first third of the King James Old Testament and the last half of the New Testament were translated. But the thousands of people who come to visit every day rarely stop to pray, worship, or contemplate the Scriptures, because the Abbey is also part museum. The architecture, artwork, and icons are timeless and priceless; the architecture is unsurpassed. The cathedral is also part mausoleum. The throngs of camera-clad, backpack-toting tourists that flock here come to see the graves of leaders in the fields of religion, literature, and science. It is a pilgrimage of sorts — people coming from around the globe to pay homage before the graves of the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer, David Livingstone, Charles Dickens, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin? The founder of modern evolutionary theory? Buried in the floor of Westminster Abby? It's hard to believe, but I have stood there and looked at the grave myself. Isn't this the man who popularized the philosophy of evolution taking place over millions of years? What is he doing in here? He not only abandoned his church, but he strategically introduced ideas that were contrary to God's Word. Isn't it strange that the man credited with founding modern evolutionary theory should be buried in the same place that the King James Version of the Bible was translated?

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