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The tremendous impact of evolution upon Western religious thought resulted in large part from the sweeping implications of the theory itself, which challenged the basic tenets of traditional dogma. It is difficult to understand the nature and intensity of the controversy that developed, however, if it is not understood that the challenge was given additional weight by the ascendency of science in the nineteenth century. In considering the influence of Darwin's findings on religion, as on other areas of thought, it should be kept in mind that the theory of evolution was presented to a world that was observing a period of scientific achievement far surpassing anything witnessed during any earlier epoch in history. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XV: Biology and the Rise of the Social Sciences. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.