SRSP 16-19 Topic 3 Unit 1b – The 19th Century
During the 19th century, evolutionary ideas of the natural world were further developed and gradually replaced static concepts. Christian responses arising from Natural Theology were challenged by a range of thinkers, some agnostic, some atheistic and some deistic. Not all Christian thinkers were impressed by Paley’s argument.
Amongst the many major scientific inputs to the debate were those which arose from new discoveries and theories in Geology and Biology (Theory of Evolution; Charles Lyell; Charles Darwin) apparently challenging the status of scripture, particularly the Genesis story and the need for a God to account for the origin of the species. The conflict between the Sciences and Religion increased especially through the input of the ‘professionalisers’ such as Thomas H Huxley who wished to raise the status and authority of the scientist above that of the clergy, especially in the context of education. Other scientists such as Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell and Lord Kelvin argued for a complementary approach to Science and Religion and showed it was possible to be both a professional scientist and a committed Christian.
The 20th century developments in both the sciences and in religion cannot be fully understood without an awareness of the discoveries and debates in the 19th century.
This unit consists of 5 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 16 to 19 years
- Where do dinosaurs come from?
- What can fossils tell us about the development of life on earth and of humans in particular?
- Are we related to the lower forms of life?
- What are the implications of ‘survival of the fittest’ for society?
- To what extent can the Bible be an inspiration for scientists?
- What, if anything can we learn from the Genesis creation narrative?
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