In the third century CE an Alexandrian philosopher by the name of Ammonius Saccus, whom some consider to be one of the founders of Neo-Platonism, worked to reconcile the philosophical schools of the followers of Plato and Aristotle. About this same time two Christians, Clement of Alexandria, and his pupil Origen, formulated an allegorical method of interpreting the Bible. They also believed Plato and Aristotle and Pythagoras originally based their philosophies on the Old Testament, so, according to their interpretation of the ancient philosophers, Plato and Aristotle could be used to interpret Christian doctrine.
Later in the 13th century the ancient philosophies had a rebirth and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) sought to reconcile the ancient philosophers with Christianity. Other Philosophers who kept the ancient philosophies alive and current were Leibniz (1646-1716) called “The German Plato” and John Locke (1632-1704).
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is considered by many to be the founder of Modern Freemasonry, and was also involved in the secret Royal Society. Bear in mind that, after the Protestant Reformation, the Christian worldview was very strong in public circles. Therefore, opposing ideas would need to go underground. So, some groups kept a veneer of being Christian, but continued to keep alive the ancient philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Pythagoras. Freemasonry was one of those groups. Many assume it is a Christian organization, but its philosophies say otherwise:
The Ladder of Enlightenment in Freemasonry: “In the Scottish Rite you will be taught that our ancient ancestors who knew all the Mysteries left enough traces so that we today with diligent labor and teaching may renew them and bring them to light for your enlightenment. We now come to the great symbol of Pythagoras. Our symbols have descended to us from the Aryans, and many were invented by Pythagoras, who studied in Egypt and Babylon.” (Lecture for the Initiation of 32nd Degree Freemasons)
Voltaire, also a Freemason, in his ‘Dictionary of Philosophy’, 1764, 1st edition, wrote,
“When I first read Plato and came upon the gradation of beings which rises from the lightest atom to the supreme being, I was struck with admiration.”
Around the same time, James Burnet (Lord Monboddo) was active and very influential in the revival of classical learning in the north of Scotland. He was later called the ‘Scottish Father of Evolution’ and he lived cir. 1714-1796. All the essentials of Darwinism were already present in Burnet. In fact, some would credit Burnet with anticipating the principle of Natural Selection a half century before Darwin wrote his book, The Origin of Species (1859). Burnet wrote,
“The Oran Outan… that is an animal betwixt a monkey and a man” (1768).
“There are, I know, many who will think this progress of man, from a quadruped and an Ourang Outang to men such as we now see them now a days, very disgraceful to the species. But they should consider their own progress as an individual in the womb, man is no better than a vegetable… If, therefore, there be such progress in the individual, is it not to be that there should be progress also in the species, from the mere animal up to the intellectual creature.” (Lord Monboddo; Ancient Metaphysics, Vol. 4, page 32, 1795).
Monboddo believed that humans had developed from orangutans, and that they were a link between men and monkeys. Again, this was over 60 years before Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, and clearly shows that the theory of evolution is really a philosophy presented with scientific window dressing.