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Darwin and the Modern World View (Rockwell Lectures Series) Paperback – February 1, 1973
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In the 18th and 19th century there was a general decline in theology. Revelation according to John Baillie is not a body of supernaturally-communicated propositions but a series of events of God's disclosing. Inspiration is the divine illumination. In Darwin's time natural theology was in high vogue. In William Paley's NATURAL THEOLOGY (1802) there was a conviction of the permanence and wise design of the world. At the same time, paleontology and geology were giving rise to the view of perpetual change. Darwin's belief in God as the creator slipped slowly away from him. Henry Ward Beecher was confident evolutionary science would provide a basis for natural theology.
Karl Barth rejected natural theology and evolutionary modernism. Paul Tillich erased the distinction between revealed and natural theology. Etienne Gilson claimed that science describes what natural things are. Catholic thought distinguished between scientific theories and philosophical views. To Henri Bergson and William James the universe was a dynamic flux. To Alfred North Whitehead ideas of organism served to correct ideas of mechanism when considering universal processes.
Modern biologists generally do not care for theistic explanations. R. A. Fisher and Theodosius Dobzhansky both emphasized the creative aspects of organic evolution. Chance may determine combination, but there is necessity of mutual reactions to the whole ecological situation. Father Teilhard de Charden attempted to cast evolutionary theory into Christian perspective.
Comte, Rousseau, and Marx all developed theories of social evolution independently of theories of biological evolution. In the work of Herbert Spencer social evolution is linked to organic evolution. Both Darwin and Spencer had to face the problem of measuring progress in social science. Early in the 20th century a strong reaction set in against social evolutionism. Cultural evolution has been propounded by Alfred Louis Kroeber and others. Kroeber's anthropology distinguished between the historical and the scientific approach.