Religious Faith vs Science and Reason

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Religious Faith vs Science and Reason

Throughout history, conflicts between faith and reason took the forms of religion and free thinking. In the times of the Old Regime, people like Copernicus and Galileo were often punished for having views that contradicted the beliefs of the church. The strict control of the church was severely weakened around the beginning of the nineteenth century when the Old Regime ended. As the church's control decreased, science and intellectual thinking seemed to advance. While the people in the world became more educated, the church worked harder to maintain its influential position in society and keep the Christian faith strong. In the mid-nineteenth century, the church's task to keep people's faith strong became much harder, due to theories published by free thinkers like Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, David Friedrich Strauss, and others. These men published controversial theories that hammered away at the foundation on which the Christian church was built. As the nineteenth century progressed, more doubts began to arise about the basic faiths of the Christian church.

The impact these men had on religious thought was tremendous. Some of them are the starting points for many of the controversies existing today. Of all the scientists, historians, and philosophers in the nineteenth century, the most influential and controversial was Charles Darwin. Born in 1809, Charles Darwin always had an interest in the nature, so he chose to study botany in college. His strengths in botany led him to become the naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle. On a trip to South America, he and the rest of the crew visited the near by Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It was there he noticed many different variations of the same general plants and birdshe saw previously in South America. He also observed ancient fossils of extinct organisms that closely resembled modern organisms. By 1859, all of these observations inspired him to write down his theories. He wanted to explain how evolution had occurred through a process called natural selection. In his published work, On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, or On the Origin of Species for short, Darwin stated that, "new species have come on the stage slowly and at successive intervals."(1) He also said, "old forms are supplanted by new and improved forms," and all organisms play a part in the "struggle for life.
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