Creation and Design in the Thought of Sir William Dawson

Type of resource
Creation and Design in the Thought of Sir William Dawson
In 1859 Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species presented a compelling argument for evolution that was to challenge the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Darwin's argument was incompatible with the idea of a supernatural, designing, and providential God; and it raised doubts about the Bible's inspiration by contradicting the Genesis account of creation. Some Christians reconciled their faith to the theory of evolution, while others rejected it as atheistic. The author examines the reaction of McGill University Principal Sir John William Dawson (1820-1899), the Canadian natural historian and Christian apologist, who rejected evolution as atheistic and spent the latter part of the nineteenth century campaigning against it. The author argues that Dawson was a Paleyite who believed in the designing God and the literal word of Genesis. . Dawson found evolution incompatible with this Christian belief and countered evolution by constructing a scientific theory of creation. The author explores the nature of Dawson's Paleyism and how it led him to defend the doctrine of creation as a theory which preserved belief in the designing God and corroborated the Genesis cosmogony. It also places Dawson's reaction to evolution in the context of Canadian thought on this issue at that time.
Master's Thesis
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC
Ballantyne, Edmund Chattan. “Creation and Design in the Thought of Sir William Dawson.” Master’s Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1978.
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