xviii Introducing “The Trial of the Century” school textbook after the publication of On the Origin to include Darwin’s ideas. Gray, who embraced Darwin’s ideas without sacrificing his own religious convictions, did more to popularize Darwin’s ideas about evolu- tion than any other American in the 1800s. Other religious leaders also weighed in. For example, in 1885, New York Congregationalist preacher and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)—whose church housed “the most important pulpit in the United States”—“hailed [Darwin’s] evolutionary philosophy with joy” because it could purify religion and bring people “nearer to the spirit and form of Christ’s own teachings.”6 Beecher, a self-described “cordial Chris- tian evolutionist,” promised that evolution would strengthen religion because evolution is “the divine method of creation.”7 In his sermon titled “Two Revelations,” Beecher even predicted “that in another generation evolution will be regarded as uncontradictable, as the Copernican system of astronomy or the Newtonian doctrine of gravitation can scarcely be doubted. Each of these . . . were charged by the Church, as is evolution now, with fostering materialism, infidelity and atheism.”8 Decades later, New York Unitarian pastor Charles Francis Potter (1885–1962)—who came to Dayton to help Scopes’s defenders—sponsored an “Evolution Day” in his church because scientists were “the prophets of today” and evolution “has given us an infinitely higher idea of God.”9 Like Gray, Beecher, Potter, and others, the scientists that Scopes’ defense team would bring to Dayton all sold evolution by presenting it in theologically palat- able wrapping. But other theologians were outraged, claiming that Darwin’s theory had made Christianity irrelevant by producing what had once been ascribed only to God namely, the appearance of new species. Some other preachers claimed that Darwin had diminished Adam and Eve to “a cou- ple of baboons,” and Southern Baptist preacher Clarence P. Stealey (1867–1937) warned that “when evolution is proved true, Christ will have been proven untrue.”10 When Princeton theologian Charles Hodge (1797–1878) asked What Is Darwinism? (1874), he praised Darwin as a careful naturalist, but answered emphatically that “It is atheism.”11 Car- dinal Henry Edward Manning (1808–1892), England’s highest-ranking Catholic official, denounced Darwin’s idea as a “brutal philosophy—to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam,” and American historian Andrew White (1832–1918) concluded that it hit theology “like a plough into an anthill. Everywhere those thus rudely awakened from their com- fort and repose . . . swarmed forth angry and confused.”12 For many people, evolution was another example of the inherent conflict between science and religion.
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