When reading and writing about the Copernican revolution and the religious opposition to it (see here, here, here, here, here, and here for that story in sequence), what immediately struck me were the similarities that that episode in scientific history had to the more recent religious opposition to Darwin’s ideas.
Edward Larson in his book Summer for the Gods from which he has published an extended excerpt points out that (in America at least) there was little formal opposition to Darwin’s ideas from the time of publication of Origin of Species in 1859 until about 1920 or so. (Opposition in England started much earlier and I will explore that question in a later posting.)
So as in the case of Copernicus, there was no religious opposition to a seminal work of science until about sixty years after its publication, and the initial religious opposition once again came from the Protestant camp. Initially, the fundamentalist Protestant movement was focused only on fighting “modernism” in the form of the so-called “higher criticism” which consists of “the study of the sources and literary methods employed by the biblical authors.” Such critical methods are not favored by the religious fundamentalists, who see the Bible as divinely inspired and infallible and thereby beyond any criticism. It was only later that Darwinism came to be included under the modernism umbrella.