Darwin and God (continued)

How could you reconcile evolution, Darwin’s theory of natural selection, with religion? Many Victorians found solace in the idea that Darwinism was compatible with the eighteenth century school of “natural theology” or the argument for God’s existence based on Providential Design. Scholars have pointed out that Darwin’s theory itself owed much to William Paley’s concept of universal natural laws that were beneficial. As part of God’s great Design, animals and plants adapted themselves to their environment. Paley’s “teleology” pictured an evolving universe, but all heading to a Divine goal, with humanity at the centre of God’s creation. The world was purposeful and essentially benevolent.
For many traditional Christians, the idea that God worked through natural selection was abhorrent. There was disquiet from a range of thinkers that Darwinism had expelled Man from the centre of God’s creation, making him one with the animals, replacing a purposeful and benevolent world with a purposeless and violent one. Nature was simply the product of blind chance and struggle. Even non-Christian progressives like John Stuart Mill worried that Darwinism would have a disintegrative effect upon values and social stability.

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