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Extra resources for A Book that Shook the World: Essays on Charles Darwin's Origin of Species
The illusions of Comtean voluntarism did not generate immediate perils for civilization because the elite who were to manage history were not sharply defined and there was no political program for endowing them with the omnipotence, which their destiny required. It remained for the apocalyptic creed of communism to designate such an elite, the "proletariate," with precision, and to elaborate a political program which would make their pretensions dangerous by arming them with power to manage the historical forces toward the dreamed of apocalyptic end.
The resistance of the religious community, or more precisely all religious communities, to the Darwinian discoveries in science was so stubborn and so pathetic that it was almost universally regarded as the final rear-guard action of a dying religious faith embattled with an advancing science. The religious attitude was so stubborn because Christianity had for years compounded Aristotelianism with the Biblical doctrine of creation. Of the two it was the Aristotelian science of fixed forms and species which seemed to be the most formidable opponent, particularly since many scientists challenged Darwinism for Aristotelian reasons.
If those who deny that Darwin's work had the impact which Dewey alleges rest their case on the fact that twenty-five centuries ago the early Greek philosophers, men like Thales, Democritus, Anaximander, and others, were evolutionists, they may be overlooking a very obvious point, namely, that between the early Greeks and modern times an event of unique importance had already taken place and this made all the difference in the world with respect to intellectual outlook. This event, of course, was the influx of the Judaeo-Christian world-view into the main stream of Western thought.