The wingnuts are at it again, according to PZ, pushing that ridiculous story about how Darwin converted to Christianity on his deathbed. It’s time to set the record straight and explain how it really happened. There was no Lady Hope that visited Darwin on his deathbed, but there was Lady Ross and this is her story.
It was one of those glorious autumn afternoons, the kind that can get you out of bed even after staying out all night dancing, when I was asked to go in and sit with the well known professor, Charles Darwin. He was almost bedridden for some months before he died. I used to feel when I saw him that his fine presence would make a grand mural for our local gay club; but never did I think so more strongly than on this particular occasion.
He was sitting up in bed, wearing a soft embroidered dressing gown, of rather a rich purple shade with more than a hint of sparkle and a dash of sequins.
Propped up by pillows, he was gazing out on a far-stretching scene of woods and cornfields, which glowed in the light of one of those marvelous sunsets which are the beauty of Kent and Surrey. His noble forehead and fine features seem to be lit up with pleasure as I entered the room.
He waved his hand toward the window as he pointed out the scene beyond, while in the other hand he held a vinyl copy of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack while “How Deep Is Your Love” played softly in the background.
“What are you listening to now?” I asked as I seated myself beside his bedside. “The Bee Gees!” he answered — “still the Bee Gees. ‘The Angels of Disco’ I call them. Aren’t they grand?”
Then, sticking his finger in the air to mark the time in a particular part of the song, he commented on them.
I made some allusions to the strong opinions expressed by many persons on the subject of whether or not disco sucks, if it’s totally gay, and who dances around so shamelessly like that anyway.
He seemed greatly distressed, his fingers twitched nervously, and a look of agony came over his face as he said: “I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything, and to my astonishment, the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.” He jerked his thumb towards an unfortunate collection he’d set aside in the shame pile that included Bad Company, Peter Frampton, and Simon and Garfunkel.
Then he paused, and after a few more sentences on “the funky beats” and the “grandeur of a properly done falsetto,” looking at the record which he was holding tenderly all the time, he suddenly said: “I have a summer house in the garden which holds about thirty people. It is over there,” pointing through the open window. “I want you very much to throw a party there. I know you worship the one true god, the Disco Ball in many nightclubs and house parties. To-morrow afternoon I should like the servants on the place, some tenants and a few of the neighbors; to gather there. Will you party with them?”
“What shall I play?” I asked.
“I don’t care, as long as it’s got some funk,” he replied in a clear, emphatic voice, adding in a lower tone, “and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Is not that the best theme? And then I want you to sing some Kool and the Gang with them. You know the words to ‘Ladies Night’, do you not?” The wonderful look of brightness and animation on his face as he said this I shall never forget, for he added: “If you throw this party at midnight this window will be open, and you will know that I am shaking my thing here on my mattress.”
How I wished I could have made a picture of the fine old man and his beautiful surroundings on that memorable day!
And so there you have it, the actual story of Darwin’s conversion. Of course, he didn’t actually have to give up science or atheism to worship the Disco Ball. And all other converts since have followed his hallowed path of refusing to believe in our own stupid religion. While shaking our asses in celebration.