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Charles Darwin's use of theology in the Origin of Species

  • STEPHEN DILLEY (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This essay examines Darwin's positiva (or positive) use of theology in the first edition of the Origin of Species in three steps. First, the essay analyses the Origin's theological language about God's accessibility, honesty, methods of creating, relationship to natural laws and lack of responsibility for natural suffering; the essay contends that Darwin utilized positiva theology in order to help justify (and inform) descent with modification and to attack special creation. Second, the essay offers critical analysis of this theology, drawing in part on Darwin's mature ruminations to suggest that, from an epistemic point of view, the Origin's positiva theology manifests several internal tensions. Finally, the essay reflects on the relative epistemic importance of positiva theology in the Origin's overall case for evolution. The essay concludes that this theology served as a handmaiden and accomplice to Darwin's science.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

William Whewell , Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, London: W. Pickering, 1836

Richard Owen , On the Nature of Limbs: A Discourse, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007

Peter Dear , The Intelligibility of Nature, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006, p. 100

James Moore , The Post-Darwinian Controversies, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979, p. 318

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The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-for-the-history-of-science
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