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Evolution - Charles Darwin and Christian belief

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Introduction

Evolution "Darwin did two things; He showed that evolution was a fact contradicting literal interpretations of Scriptural legends of creation and that its cause, natural selection, was automatic with no room for Divine Guidance or Design." (Britannica Encyclopaedia) The traditional Christian view of the creation of the world is that God created everything after much thought, planning and design in just six days, these beliefs are based on the narrative written in the first book of the old testament, Genesis, the design and purpose of humans within God's creation brings a sense of personal meaning and value into the lives of Christians. However, supporters of the theory of evolution have challenged their beliefs by natural selection, proposed by Charles Darwin. Darwin's theory demonstrates that humans are not sacred, unique or made in Gods image, I shall discuss how exactly Darwin challenged traditional Christian beliefs and I shall further assess how Christians have responded to the challenge that is Darwin's theory. In 1859, Charles Darwin published "The Origin of Species". It was in this book which he set out a theory of natural selection, a process of which the design of every living thing could be derived, however, the belief that the origin of the species has in fact occurred through billions of years of evolving, and not through a special act of creation by God shown in Genesis had been around for many years before Darwin's publications, and much of his work shows influence from others. ...read more.

Middle

The three specific areas in the Christian faith which Darwin's theory challenge most are, the challenge to biblical literalism, where the theory presented, does not fit in with the Genesis story of six days of creation or the fixity of species or that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Also, Darwin's theory challenged the dignity of humankind, where a large aspect of Christian faith focuses on ideas of human dignity in God's creation and humans being created on the sixth day 'in the image of god' and the belief that humans have a soul separate from their bodies. Darwin argued, at what stage in evolution did the human soul emerge? The last aspect to be challenged was the aspect of God's design and purpose, illustrated by William Paley's Telelogical Argument focussing on the evidence of Gods design and purpose within the Natural world to account for such a wide variety of species all suitably adapted to suit their environment and habitats. Contrary belief by Darwin was with natural selection, accidental chance mutations occurring in evolution provide and answer to Paley and that the design and purpose of such an intelligent being do not provide an answer. Conclusively, Charles Darwin's famous theory of evolution by the process of Natural selection attacked what are said to be the three main areas of Christian faith, Biblical literalism, gods design and purpose and the aspect of human dignity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tielhard de Chardin was a radical, and he saw evolution as a continuous process and Christ was the end product, bringing humanity closer to God. This group believe that God is evolving with us and is affected by changes in the world just like we are. God is not the God of Classical Theism; he is immanent rather than transcendent. To conclude, The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection presented by Charles Darwin unsurprisingly caused much controversy within Christian society, Darwin did tackle the main areas in Christianity and for some, his work was such an enormous claim that there was no way they could accept it, their beliefs are such an important way of life and are much older than Darwin's Theory, they most certainly had to reject it. However there are indeed groups of Christians who did accept the theory and began to hold an atheist view towards creation, or there are those who weighed up the evidence and accepted both Darwin's theory and the Christian creation texts as long as the bible is not understood exactly as it is written. With such an advance and scientific view of creation it is no astonishment that Darwin was challenged, making certain people's beliefs stronger, or people accepted Darwin making their beliefs weaken, but human nature being what it is, means if a large group of people holding strong beliefs are faced with contradicting information they will split into groups of what they choose to believe and this will continue to happen throughout time. ...read more.

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