By John William Dawson
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2009
Online Publication Date:August 2010
Original Publication Year:1890
Subjects: History of Ideas and Intellectual History
Darwin's theory of evolution generated a storm of controversy within the scientific community in the later nineteenth century, and Sir J. William Dawson, a renowned geologist of his time, was one of those who vehemently opposed it. In Modern Ideas of Evolution as related to Revelation and Science, first published in 1890, Dawson maintains that it is religion alone that forms a stable base for all new ideas. He dismisses the theory of evolution as a crude and heretical hypothesis, inconsistent with religion and undeserving of acceptance. If adopted as proven truth, he argues, it would lead to unscientific and unspiritual degeneration of the mind. More than a century later, evolution is generally accepted but still not 'proven', and the debates continue. Dawson's energetic polemic remains a key document for historians of science concerned with the Victorian reception of Darwinism and the rise of evolutionary theory.