With the triumph of Galileo came the opening of the floodgate of mechanical explanations of how the universe woks. All the mysteries previously attributed to God became phenomena with simple mechanistic explanations. The expected effect of all these is a progressive removal of God from intellectual discussions. The 18th century witnessed the substitution of theistic thoughts for deism. While theism is a belief in a personal God, deism is a view of God as just the “first cause” underlying the principle of rationality in the universe. Leading this movement was Voltaire who made his trademark an open attack on religion. David Hume and his cohorts pushed the lid further and gradually enshrined atheism- a belief in no God at all. All these in the 18th century.
Yet in the 19th century, a whole lot of people and even intellectuals still remained theists until the advent of the two historical sciences- Geology and Biology. Previously, Christian scientists held that the bible gave a literal account of the early history of the universe. With the first books of the bible, they gave the history of the earth and computed the age of the earth based on the biblical genealogies. The bible ridiculously claimed that the world was created 4004BC. Irregularities of the world were to them a consequence of the great flood of Noah. This view known as Catastrophism was to its proponents the vindication of the belief in God with respect to nature. In 3 volumes of never before seen arguments, Charles Lyell’s ‘Principles of Geology’ murdered the views of the Catastrophists. He showed how normal forces of nature accounted for the irregularities of the natural landscape so long as we assume the world older than the bible suggested.
Now, Lyell became the Galileo of Protestantism. Thus, the two Christianities became vulnerable to scientific attacks. Christian minds were being troubled; a major shift in thoughts was once again forming. A certain bible – believing young man left for a voyage on the ‘Beagle’ in 1831. With him was a copy of the first volume of Charles Lyell’s work; ‘Principles of Geology’. A short while after the voyage, he became agnostic. His name: Charles Darwin. In 1859, he published the work that would forever shape metaphysical thoughts- ‘The Origin of Species’. Therein, he gave modern science what it had been dying to find: a simple mechanistic explanation of the origin of life and man. Darwin became the reviver of atheistic thoughts and became well known the world over.
Concluding part

Advertisements