Understanding Dawson’s Worldview and Science in the Mid-to-Late-1800s
Prior to delving into the arguments put forth in the book, it is pivotal to sketch Dawson’s worldview and, then, to compare it to common scientific thought during the time in which he wrote his book. Dawson was a Christian committed to a rigid and literal interpretation of the Bible to include the Genesis creation story. Not all or even most of his contemporaries held the same religious convictions, and many were more than willing to losing interpret or completely abandon the bible in order to privilege science (Witchell, Page 7).
Starting with the enlightenment, the scientific community had been separating itself from religious dogma. Scientists and society at large were beginning to question the Bible as a factual book. Darwin’s theory of evolution highlighted the new trends and norms concerning scientific thought and the origins of life. Dawson viewed much of his contemporaries’, to include Darwin’s, theories as problematic and flawed on both religious and scientific grounds. Dawson even went so far as to claim that Darwin’s theory of evolution was grounded in theological and scientific misunderstandings and, ultimately, wrong.
Ultimately, Dawson wanted to combine science and theology but, like many of his contemporaries, was not willing to allow the scientific facts to lead his research (Bowler, Page 14-20).