Today in 1831 HMS Beagle (pictured above) set off from Plymouth Sound for the Galapagos Islands, with a (till now) convinced Christian called Charles Darwin as one of the ship’s two naturalists. His voyage of discovery was to uncover immeasurably more than he bargained for: he set off to check out the wildlife and came home with the origins of the human race. The result for Christianity was the gravest intellectual challenge it has ever faced.
‘The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.’ Charles Darwin, Autobiography
And while we’re on the subject of revelations, this is the feast of St John the Divine, who wrote the Book of Revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos.
Hagia Sophia (the Church of Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople was inaugurated today in the year 537 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. The largest building in the world at the time, and an engineering marvel, the church served as an Orthodox cathedral until the conquest of the city by the Ottomans in 1453. It was then turned into a mosque, and is now a museum.
Today in 1521 the Zwickau prophets turned up in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the home of the Protestant Reformation, but Martin Luther was currently being held at the local prince’s castle for his own safety. In his absence, these three claimed that God had told them that the clergy should be abolished, compulsory religion finished, and the rich killed. ‘Do not believe them,’ was Luther’s verdict. ‘The Divine Majesty does not speak directly to men.’
Image: Wikimedia Commons