Was Darwin a Creationist?

Throughout the Origin of Species, Darwin contrasts his theory of natural selection with the theory that God independently created each species. This makes it seem as though the Origin offers a scientific alternative to a theological worldview. A few months after the Origin appeared, however, the eminent anatomist Richard Owen published a review that pointed out the theological assumptions of Darwin's theory. Owen worked in the tradition of rational morphology, within which one might suggest that evolution occurs by processes that are continuous with those by which life arises from matter; in contrast, Darwin rested his account of life's origins on the notion that God created one or a few life forms upon which natural selection could act. Owen argued that Darwin's reliance on God to explain the origins of life makes his version of evolution no less supernatural than the special creationist that Darwin criticizes: although Darwin limits God to one or a few acts of creation, he still relies upon God to explain life's existence.