Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was the author of the book Origin of the Species. Darwin played a last minute but decisive role; he convinced the scientific world that the whole array of nature's species had evolved from simpler forms during vast periods of time. The challenge to belief in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible was uppermost in the first stage of the modern conflict between science and religion, to the doctrine of creation. The progress of science and technology enhanced the prestige of human reason and intoxicated men with the hope that society was capable of indefinite progress in this world if only individuals could be freed from institutional restraints and allowed to pursue happiness in their own way. Redemption was something which would take place here and now by man's own efforts in history. As for revelations, nature and its laws were a sufficient revelation of the Creator, exhibiting His wisdom, omnipotence, and benevolence.

Darwin went to Cambridge University to study for the ministry. Men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us. Science and religion: if the two cannot be reconciled, the fault is ours. On Darwin's The Descent of Man, the whole doctrine of inspiration was shaken to its very foundations. Roman Catholic scholars began to accept Darwin as being compatible with inspiration, but he was condemned by the church. In the United States, it began a long controversy between fundamentalists and modernists. Among the modernists, the doctrine of absolute inerrancy was abandoned in favor of ideas of progressive revelation, revelation itself was an evolutionary development. The six days of creation were to be considered as geological ages. Darwin thought there was too much misery in the world. He felt his belief in God as the Creator slip slowly away from him in his old age.

Modernists preferred to regard history as a redemptive process in which man evolved through higher and higher stages of culture. There was a revelation in nature and a revelation in history. Tillich finds an element of revelation in all religious experience; the Newtonian concept of nature as a law-bound system of matter in motion. But when evolution was traced back to its beginnings, however remote, there must have still been an original act of creation.

Although Darwin contributed powerfully toward shaping the dominant world view of the 20th century, he settled nothing in either philosophy or theology. Never again could Darwin accept as credible the teachings of Genesis, that every species was created whole and came down unchanged. Rudimentary though it was, Darwinism afforded a scientific justification of faith in progress. So Darwin is relevant after all, what he did was to help focus the issues more sharply. Darwin, in other words has rendered a great service to theological thinking, and made it possible for us to apprehend shades of meaning in the New Testament which generations of our predecessors scarcely noticed, especially the concept of an unfinished creation. What scholars must do is to separate fact and fiction from Darwin's theories. While it is true that God used evolution in the creative process, it is absurd to think that each species evolved from common sources. The fact is that there is no scientific basis in believing in missing links when they are not there. Man did not descend from animals and animals did not descend from lower forms, they were created whole and then evolved. All the missing links are still missing and will remain so. The evolutionists do not believe this but neither do the fundamentalists and so this controversy between science and religion remains.
[72, 83, 129, 141, 153]

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