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It may be worth noting that Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection encountered vehement opposition among scientists as well, but for different reasons.

There are many thoughtful discussions of the dialogue between Darwinism and Christianity; for example, David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (eds.), God and Nature (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986), chs. 13-16.

Charles Hodge (1793-1878), an influential Protestant theologian, published in 1874 What is Darwinism?, one of the most articulate attacks against evolutionism. Hodge perceived Darwin's theory as "the most thoroughly naturalistic that can be imagined and far more atheistic than that of his predecessor Lamarck". He concluded that "the denial of design in nature is actually the denial of God". However, a principle of solution was seen by other Protestant theologians in the notion that God operates through intermediate causes.

The origin and motion of the planets can be explained by the law of gravity and other natural processes without denying God's creation and providence. Similarly, evolution could be seen as the natural process through which God brought living beings into existence. Thus, A.H. Strong, president of Rochester Theological Seminary, wrote in his Systematic Theology: "We grant the principle of evolution, but we regard it as only the method of divine intelligence". The brute ancestry of man was not incompatible with his excelled status as a creature in the image of God. Strong drew an analogy with Christ's miraculous conversion of water into wine: "The wine in the miracle was not water because water had been used in the making of it, nor is man a brute because the brute has made some contributions to its creation".

Arguments for and against Darwin's theory came from Catholic theologians as well. Gradually, well into the 20th century, evolution by natural selection came to be accepted by the enlightened majority of Christian writers. Pius XII accepted in his encyclical Humani Generis (1950) that biological evolution was compatible with the Christian faith, although he argued that God's intervention was necessary for the creation of the human soul. In 1981, Pope John Paul II addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

"The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer ... Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how the heavens were made but how one goes to heaven."

The Pope's argument is that it is a blunder to mistake the Bible for an elementary book of astronomy, geology and biology. The argument goes clearly against the Biblical literalism of Fundamentalists and shares with most Protestant theologians a view of Christian belief that is not incompatible with evolution and, more generally, with science.

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