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Friday, October 30, 2009

How the world saw Darwin's big idea

This week, Nature has launched what looks like a fascinating series of Opinion articles looking at how different people around the world reacted to Darwin's theory of evolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An accompanying editorial in this week's issue set's out some of the interesting ideas:

"In England... the Church reacted badly to Darwin's theory, going so far as to say that to believe it was to imperil your soul. But the notion that Darwin's ideas 'killed' God and were a threat to religion was by no means the universal response in the nineteenth century.

Darwin's theory reached the world at a time when many people were looking for explanations for social, political and racial inequalities, and in many parts of the world were wondering how to improve their lot in the face of Europe's global imperialism.

So from Egypt to India, China and Japan, many religious scholars embraced Darwin's ideas, often showing how their own schools of thought had anticipated the notion of evolution. Against the threat of Western imperialism and Western charges of 'backwardness', it was to their advantage to highlight the rationality of their creed."

The first article by Marwa Elshakryis discusses how people from Egypt to Japan used Darwin's ideas to reinvent and reignite their core philosophies and religions.

You can find all of Nature's Darwin200 coverage here.

(Not sure if all the articles are free -- I can't tell from where I'm typing this. Apologies if they are behind a paywall)

Posted by Mun-Keat Looi at 3:48 PM 0 Comments Make a comment

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