What was the effect of Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell?
Charles Darwin (1809-1902), more than anyone in history, has given shape what has become a significant debate about the existence of God. From his two most famous books, The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, many came to understand that there was remove the need for God in the creation of the world and living animals and plants. This included mankind. The Theory of Evolution completely contradicted a literal understanding of the biblical narrative of creation as found in Genesis.
“Darwin made it possible,” said Richard Dawkins, “to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
Another important person who figured in the debate was Charles Lyell (1797-1875). He determined that the earth was constantly changing. From his idea many sought to estimate the age of the earth; estimates which ranged from 20 to 500 million years. Far from accurate, as we now know, these estimates nonetheless were dramatically different from what one might calculate from Biblical narratives. Darwin's theory required a very old earth, and this seemed probable. It would not be until the development of radiometric dating of the uranium content in minerals that we would realize that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.
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