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Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins$
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Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226608402

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226608426.001.0001

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Creationism, intelligent design, and modern biology

Creationism, intelligent design, and modern biology

(p.302) Chapter Twelve Creationism, intelligent design, and modern biology
Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins

Ronald L. Numbers

University of Chicago Press

Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, published in 1859, was a revolutionary attempt “to overthrow the dogma of separate creations,” a declaration that provoked different reactions among the religious, ranging from mild enthusiasm to anger. Christians sympathetic to Darwin's effort sought to make Darwinism appear compatible with their religious beliefs. Two of Darwin's most prominent defenders in the United States were the Calvinists Asa Gray, a Harvard botanist, and George Frederick Wright, a cleric-geologist. Gray, who long favored a “special origination” in connection with the evolution of humans and questioned whether natural selection can account for the formation of organs, the making of eyes, etc., embraced natural selection as the primary mechanism underlying the production of most species. He also went so far as to invoke divine providence, rather than randomness, to explain the variations on which natural selection acted. This chapter discusses creationism, intelligent design, and modern biology.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, creationism, intelligent design, biology, Asa Gray, George Frederick Wright, divine providence, natural selection, evolution

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