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The Will To Meaning: Protestant Reactions To Darwinism In Nineteenth-Century Germany

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Chapter Summary

This chapter intends to map out the boundary disputes between Protestant German theology and Darwinism. It discusses positions ranging from monistic-idealistic approaches that totally converged with Darwinism to orthodox approaches that claimed the absolute incompatibility of science and religion, as well as various attempts at stressing their epistemological complementarity or independence. Darwin?s originality, according to Ernst Haeckel, merely consisted in having introduced natural selection as a second mechanism alongside Lamarck?s inheritance of characters acquired through the use and disuse of organs. Provoked by the polemical position of Haeckel and his followers, many theologians did not follow David Friedrich Strauss?s Speculative Christology, but openly denied the possibility of reconciling Darwinism and Christianity. The teleological interpretation of evolutionism becomes even more evident in Albrecht Ritschl?s disciple Rudolf Otto, professor of systematic theology in Göttingen.

Keywords: Albrecht Ritschl; Christianity; Darwinism; David Friedrich Strauss; Ernst Haeckel; Protestant German theology



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