Christianity and science used to be united. They shared the same perspective but shortly before the Renaissance era, Chrlstlenlty and science had slowly parted to Its own way (Moses).
The gap grew even wider atter the 18th century when Charles Darwin Introduced the theory of evolution. Since then. there were many debates amongst the supporter of the theory of evolution and the supporter of the Idea of creation for over two centuries until now (Moses). The reason for the gap is believed to be that they both convey different kinds of perspective to explain the origins Of life, where most Christian believed in the story of Genesis. For example the verse “And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the skym (New International version, Genesis 1. ) Implies that God created living creatures instantaneously. Having such gap did not mean that there was no In-between since there were also Christians Ilke Asa Gray and Warfield, who believed in evolutionary theory and deny that evolution theory is the same as believing In no God, which is Atheism (“How have Christians Responded to DarwinS orlglns ot species”). other Christians, however, used to believe strongly In the Idea of creation, where God creates the universe as it is. In response to the idea of evolution, many Christians had offered many explanations that either rejects the Idea of volution, or tried to consolidate with the theory.
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The responses varies depending on when the responses were given: early 1800s, mid 1950s, end modern responses (year 2000s). , and can be categorized to three types ot responses: rejection (denying evolutionl reconciliation (accept that evolution and Christianity can coexist), and integration (proposing a theological basis for evolution). This report will focus on the responses given in the early 1800s and mid 1950s. 2. THE PRE-DARWINISM The first person thet proposed the basic framework of creationism was James Ussher, an Anglican archbishop trom the 17th century (Dennis O’Neil).
He was the first to propose the idea that the age of the earth was only 6000 years old. Since then, during his lifetime, he had numerous debates that focused only on whether or not his addition was correct or that he did not miss any descendent mentioned in the bible rather than whether his method Is reliable or not (Dennis O’Neil). These suggest that at that time, people believed strongly in Christianity and had little objection or not at all to scientific assertion that was derived from the bible.
Ever since James Ussher proposed the Idea, 17th and 18th century European biologist had ot developed any further than the description of plants and animal. Later, one scientist named Carolus Linnaeus created a system to structurally classify all living Naturae (Dennis O’Neil). It discussed about how to name an organism using binomial system. He used that technique to name human as “Homo Sapiens”. “The concept of genus and species was actually developed in the late 1600’s by John Ray, an English naturalist and ordained minister” (Dennis O’Neil).
The discovery could be said to have led to the early basic framework for evolution, which suggests that living organism ay share similar attributes if they are categorized in the same group. 3. Early Responses to Darwinism The idea of evolution was not invented from Charles Darwin. It was something that most scientists at that time refer with the term “development” (“How have Christians responded to Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’? “). It was only after November 24, 1859 when Darwin published his book “The Origin of Species” which was targeted for the general audiences (Dennis O’Neill), the idea of evolution became popular.
After Darwin published his book, the very first Christian’s response to Darwin’s theory came rom Asa Gray, who actually agreed with him instead of despising his idea. While Darwin worked on animals, Asa worked on American and Japanese plants. Grays research on American and Japanese plants suggested that the plants found in America and Japan came from the same ancestor, hence his strong defense of Darwin’s theory. (“How have Christians responded to Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’? “). In contrast with Grays view of evolution were several Christians like Enoch Fitch Burr, John William Dawson and Luther Tracy Townsend who rejected Darwin’s theory.
Enoch Fitch Burr was a also a scientist but he did not reject evolution with scientific xplanation, but rather rejected it because the fear that evolution could lead to a life in which people will reject the idea of creation and will see life as a “survival of the fittest”. On the other hand, John William Dawson believed that evolutionary theory is just a figment of Darwin’s imagination and was not scientific because it was only a hypothesis and based on probability instead of fact.
Similar to John William Dawson, Luther Tracy Townsend also assumed that evolutionary theory was a weak hypothesis because there were not many scientists at that time that can confirm his theory. The onsensus at that time was that many scientists were against evolution (Stuehrenberg). The last response to Darwin’s theory can be seen from people like Joseph Le Conte, James McCosh and Minot Judson Savage. Joseph Le Conte believed that evolution happen because of God. He was trying to suggest that evolutionary theory intersects with God even without any biblical reference.
He defines evolutionary theory as a process that is continuously happening. Minot Judson Savage believed in the evolutionary theory as the American Pastor. However, he tried to reconcile evolutionary theory with creationist’s perspective. McCosh did not occupy his new post for a week before expressing to the upper classes of the College that he was fully in favor of evolution, provided that it was properly limited and explained Save for his views on human descent, McCosh might be called a Darwinian. He attributed much to natural selection when others found it impossible.
He could do so because it never occurred to him that natural selection should diminish the force of the argument from design. ” (Stuehrenberg) From the excerpt above, one can tell that the way McCosh reconcile with and the argument that support evolution. These views than later developed to upport Christian’s responses to evolution in the next century. 4. Mid 1950s Response During the mid 1950, one of the strategies of the response of integration by the Christian can be seen from an essay titled “Christology and Evolution” in the book “Christianity and Evolution” that was a compilation of essay compiled by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
In the essay, the author argued “if a Christ is to be completely acceptable as an object of worship, he must be presented as the savior of the idea and reality of evolution”. The author was trying to combine the theology of Christology with evolution, essentially creating a “Christian evolution”. The author argued that the essence of Christology: redemption, incarnation, and the message of gospel are clue or sign that may help to give evolution a Christian’s nature (Pierre, page 74).
In the meantime in United States, Christian’s rejection toward evolution was seen apparent after the federal government financially supported the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). Most of the vocal Christian’s group rejected the effort because they thought it was an attempt of evolution propaganda to children. Most of those Christians at that time were still in support of the “young earth” theory as the asis of their rejection to evolution.
Some other Christian like John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, however, clarified the problem by using one of the stories that is written in Genesis, about Noah’s arc and flood to prove that the earth is old. Even so, the “young earth” movement continued to expand until the term “Creationist” became popular to explain Christian’s who support “young earth” theory (“How have Christians responded to Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’? “). The response of reconciliation, however, was not popular in the mid twenty- century. This is because of the growth of Creationism at that time as explained in the revious paragraph.
However, the Catholic pope at that time published encyclical letter Humani generis that states that the Genesis cannot be translated literally (McCarthy). This position taken by the Catholic churches further states that at least for the case of Catholicism, their reconciliation with the theory of evolution was through a fgurative translation of the account of Genesis. (McCarthy) 5. Conclusion Christian’s response to evolution can be traced back to a root of almost two centuries ago when James Ussher first proposed the idea that the earth was 6000 years old.
The same idea was still strongly defensed by some groups of Christian’s minority that were against evolution. However, throughout the early 1800s until mid 1950s, we can see the changes in the response to evolution by many different Christians. The responses also vary from rejection, to reconciliation, and finally integration. This can be seen because the responses were from each of the author’s perspective.