Natural theology included a range of ideas and arguments from the outset, and when Darwin's theory was published, ideas of theistic evolution were presented in which evolution is accepted as a secondary cause open to scientific investigation, while still holding belief in God as a first cause with a non-specified role in guiding evolution and creating humans.
This position has been adopted by denominations of Christianity and Judaism in line with modernist theology which views the Bible and Torah as allegorical, thus removing the conflict between evolution and religion.
Believers in Biblical infallibility attacked Darwinism as heretical.
However, it would rein in Catholics who proposed that evolution could be reconciled with the Bible, as this conflicted with the First Vatican Council's (1869–70) finding that everything was created out of nothing by God, and to deny that finding could lead to excommunication.
In 1996, Pope John Paul II said that evolution is "more than a hypothesis" and acknowledged the large body of work accumulated in its support, but reiterated that any attempt to give a material explanation of the human soul is "incompatible with the truth about man." Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated the conviction that human beings "are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary." Muslim reaction ranged from those believing in literal creation from the Quran to many educated Muslims who subscribed to a version of theistic or guided evolution in which the Quran reinforced rather than contradicted mainstream science.
This occurred relatively early, as medieval madrasahs taught the ideas of Al-Jahiz, a Muslim scholar from the 9th century, who proposed concepts similar to natural selection.
Evolution was at first opposed among the scientific community, notably by Georges Cuvier, and religious grounds.
The idea that laws control nature and society gained vast popular audiences with George Combe's The Constitution of Man of 1828 and the anonymous Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation of 1844.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution gained widespread acceptance as a description of the origin of species, but there was continued resistance to his views on the significance of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution.