The Spirit of Beauty

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was first published on November 24, 1859.  This was a year and a few months before the start of the American Civil War.

Henry Webster Parker was a poet and a preacher.   At the end of the Civil War he sought to change his career and took a position as a professor at Iowa College, started by his classmate at Auburn Seminary.  He taught many subjects, including Natural History.  He also published the description of a new butterfly, now called Oarisma poweshiek, the Poweshiek skipperling.

So if your religion teaches that the world was created in six days a few thousand years ago and that sometime after that there was a flood that covered the entire world and that species were saved by being transported on a large boat there might be a conflict between your religion and the theory of evolution as argued by Darwin.

There would only be three choices—abandon the religion, ignore the theory of evolution and stick to the six days and a flood idea, or find some other path.  Must you abandon a belief in God if you agree with the premise of evolution by natural selection?

In 1888 Henry Parker published The Spirit of Beauty, Essays Scientific and Aesthetic.   In it, he argued for the presence of a higher power based on the existence of beauty in the world.  His arguments were detailed and scholarly, and he was clearly in the “I believe in God” camp.

In 1896 he published The Agnostic Gospel:  A Review of Huxley on the Bible; With Related Essays.  In the forward to the book, Henry Parker described himself as a “theistic evolutionist.”

I think I would like to have met him and had a conversation….


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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1 Response to The Spirit of Beauty

  1. Yes, an interesting conversation that would be 😉

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