Dr. Douglas Kelly explains the history of the church’s relationship with Evolution and the Bible.
DEL: Where do you see all of the sudden the thought beginning to work its way in, that there is something less than historical record found in Genesis?
DOUG: Dr. Nigel Cameron, who did a book a number of years ago which unfortunately it’s out of print, Evolution and the Authority of the Bible, in which he shows convincingly to me after serious study on his part that the whole church as far as commentators and creeds on into Protestant confessions held straight six day creation, until the European enlightenment. And particularly two things happen, well many things happened in the European enlightenment but two things particular reference to creation. One is there was the introduction of the thought of vast geological ages being evidenced by geological structures. That was happening largely in the 18th Century, late 18th Century. And then in the 19th Century of course we have Charles Darwin. It was not that theories of evolution were totally novel. They weren’t, because if you go back to certain pre-socratic philosophers, Democritus, Lucretius and others, they held some kind of evolution, but that Christianity had purged that out and said it’s ridiculous and it goes way underground.
DOUG: It’s able to come back to the surface by the European enlightenment. Geology first and then with particularly Darwin and his grandfather was teaching Erasmus Darwin but Charles Darwin’s major work came out in 1859 and sold out in about two days because people were so desperate to find an intellectual alternative to divine creation. Well Cameron shows that when about five years, five or six years after Darwin’s book became popular i.e. by the late 1860s there was scarcely a protestant commentator, a protestant commentator that didn’t accept some form of evolution or at least say this is a matter best left to the scientists. Let’s deal with the spiritual.
DEL: It happened that fast.
DOUG: It happened that fast within six or seven years. Now there were exceptions. Good Bishop Wilbur Force resisted it, but that’s how quickly it happened.