c. 1876: Warfare
Warfare between science and Christianity? Andrew Dickson White's
History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom is a popular
but slanted account. It is published in an era when there is little hostility
between scientists and theologians, and it overemphasizes conflicts of the past.
White, the first president of Cornell University, is a passionate advocate of
teaching science without reference to religion, and he stresses points of
controversy rather than reconciliation. His work, first published as a slim
pamphlet and later as an expanded book, may fuel strife between evolutionists
and fundamentalist Christians in the early 20th century.
1882: Darwin's Burial
Darwin buried in Westminster Abbey. Darwin's body is laid to
rest in a place of honor, near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton. His burial -- in
the most prominent abbey in England -- is attended by Britain's leading politicians,
scientists, and clergy. The Anglican Church has accepted evolution, and many people
reconcile Darwin's view of life on Earth with their religious faiths.
c. 1876: Horse Fossils
(Rise of Evolution)
Horse fossils reveal a story of evolution. Passionate advocate
of evolutionary science Thomas Huxley journeys to the U.S. to give public lectures.
Looking for a dramatic example to capture the public's imagination, he visits fossil
hunter Othniel Charles Marsh at Yale. Marsh has recently discovered stunning fossils
of ancient horses. Huxley and Marsh piece together the story of the evolution of the
modern horse from a four-toed ancestor. They predict that a more ancient, five-toed
animal likely existed, and months later, fossils of such an animal, called
Eohippus, are discovered.
c. 1887: Theistic Evolution
(Reconciliation) (Battle in the Schools)
Theistic evolution stresses God's role. Many scientists and
theologians argue that evolution is not incompatible with a belief in God, and
some proclaim that God has an explicit role in evolution. Harvard's Asa Gray, a
devout Christian and one of Darwin's greatest advocates in the United States,
writes a popular school textbook stressing the importance of evolution. The fact
of evolution is now widely accepted, although many scientists in Europe and America
doubt Darwin's idea of natural selection. And many traditional and modernist
Christians in the 1890s and 1910s find ways to embrace evolutionary theory.
c. 1895: Social Darwinism
(Rise of Evolution) (Evolution Challenged)
Social Darwinism stirs backlash. Even before Charles Darwin
publishes his On the Origin of Species, the English social scientist Herbert
Spencer proclaims that a struggle for existence in human society leads, in effect,
to its evolution. Spencer argues that struggle is valuable because it gives rise
to fit individuals and institutions. He argues against policies, such as charity,
that might interfere with this process. Spencer's ideas lay the foundation for
Social Darwinism, a philosophy never directly espoused by Darwin himself. Social
Darwinism is embraced by John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and other
laissez-faire capitalists around the turn of the century, and critics charge
that it encourages cutthroat capitalism and other ills.
(Rise of Evolution)
Radioactivity points to an ancient Earth. The discovery of
radioactivity by physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel leads to stunning
calculations of Earth's age. Failure to understand radioactivity within
Earth threw off earlier calculations. With a new understanding of radioactivity,
rock-dating techniques show that Earth is more than 4.3 billion years old --
ample time for Darwin's gradual evolution to occur. Had Lord Kelvin known about
radioactivity 50 years earlier, he might have calculated an older age for Earth
and spared Darwin from what he called "one of my sorest troubles."
-> Go to 1900