On July 1, 1858, papers were read to the Linnean Society of London by A. R. Wallace and Charles Darwin on the subject of natural selection. These lectures were followed by the publication on November 24, 1859, of the first edition of Darwin’s monumental work, The Origin of Species.
This forthcoming centenary is the subject of a paper by Dr. A. J. Friend, senior lecturer in chemistry of the University of Tasmania, in The Reformed Theological Review (June, 1958).
Dr. Friend is a graduate of Sydney, Australia, and Cambridge, England, and he was organizing secretary of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Australia prior to his present appointment. He is an able scientist and a competent theologian.
He points out that Darwin’s doctrine that “species undergo modification, and that the existing forms of life are the descendants by true generation of pre-existing forms” was not original. What Darwin did was to describe a plausible mechanism, that of natural selection, supported by much evidence, to show how the changes might have taken place. Writers, such as Lamarck, had adopted the hypothesis that acquired characteristics were transmitted.
At first, opposition came largely from scientists, notably Richard Owen and Adam Sedgewick. The attitude of clerics was not unsympathetic and T. H. Huxley was forced to confess himself “pleasantly disappointed; there has been far less virulence and much more just appreciation of the weight of scientific evidence than I expected.”
The situation, however, soon altered. Many scientists and philosophers (e.g., Huxley and Herbert Spencer) carried Darwinism further, and erected a complete world view which had no need of a Creator. (It is no coincidence that in the U.S.S.R. Darwinism and Marxism are taught ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more