Conflicts between science and religion are not phenomena confined to the present day; they have been with us for a long time. It was not, however, till the epoch-making work of Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century that the biological assault upon Christian belief really began. Since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 and his Descent of Man in 1871 this assault seems only to have increased in size and power, and, in the opinion of many scientists and large numbers of informed people, it has discredited entirely the traditional Christian understanding of man’s origin and his dignity and of the character of his environment. Whether any such discrediting has in fact taken place is another matter; suffice it to say that a great many people believe it has.
But the biological assault upon Christian belief is not confined to a conflict over the historic circumstances of man’s appearance on this earth; it has spread to include our analysis and understanding of man as he now is and as he may become in the future. Since Darwin’s day, the biologist, along with other scientists in neighboring areas of specialized knowledge, has been hard at work, and a great many puzzles about the human person have been solved. Our contemporary knowledge has reached such a point that it is conceivable that within the foreseeable future man may exercise an astonishing degree of control over the future development of the human species. “The revelation of the molecular basis of heredity, protein synthesis, enzyme action and even learning and memory,” says one commentator, “is one of the truly remarkable achievements of science, providing us not only with answers to long-debated problems but also holding out the possibility of practical ...1
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