Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Role Christianity Played in Darwin's Popularity

After reading all of the Darwin pieces and our discussion in class, I really began to think about why the theory of evolution became so influential in such a short period of time. To really consider this point I think it is essential to look at Paley's attempt to defend the doctrine of Creation.

Growing up in the church I always had a tendency to lean towards Creation, since that is what I had always been taught. However, after reading both Darwin's arguments and Paley's arguments there is no way I could subscribe to Paley over Darwin. Paley completely failed to convince his readers of the inaccuracy of Darwin's ideas. Paley used the concept of a watch to disprove Darwin's ideas about animals. Any logical person can see that these two items simply cannot be compared. Paley argued that since an artificer had to create a watch for it to come into existence, Creation must be true as well. All organisms must need a similar artificer for them to exist. However, this argument does not line up. There is no logical connection between an inanimate object like a watch and an animate object like a cat. Why should the method in which one comes into existence have any effect on the way the other comes into existence? To the rational mind it can't.

I believe this may have been one of the reasons why Darwinism caught on so quickly; the religious groups seemed to have failed to provide adequate arguments to convince people of the illegitimacy of evolution. They may have even made themselves look more foolish by creating such illogical arguments are the one present by Paley. Had Christians been able to provide better reasoning to support their own ideas they may have been able to prevent Darwinism from becoming so widely accepted.

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