For not having read the book, you're right on target. Bowler deals with the
reconciliation of science and religion as expressed by liberal Anglicans
(Modernists) and non-materialist scientists. The reconciliation is crucially
dependent on the thesis that both these groups shared a faith in Progress.
This faith, and the 'second age' of sci/rel dialogue (we're in the third)
survived World War I but ended for several reasons: 1) the rise of fascism,
2) the Depression and related suffering, 3) evangelical voices from the free
churches, and 4) the rise of Barthian neo-orthodoxy with its disdain for
But even to say that is to oversimplify and Bowler introduces a wonderful
collection of characters (in several senses of that word!) in a most
enjoyable presentation. Other interesting tidbits include the fact that the
philosopher Joad found A.N. Whitehead's Process and Reality to be
incomprehensible, and that by the time Whitehead finished giving the Gifford
lectures (from which the book resulted), there were only about half a dozen
people in the audience!
Hope you get to read the book soon. I think you'll like it.
Karl V. Evans
In a message dated 1/10/02 4:46:08 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
<< Sorry I havent read it yet , but it is on my list. Anything by Bowler is
usually excellent as he is always careful and fair.
The book as I gather (partly from talking to Bowler) is largely about
Anglican attitudes from 1900 to c1950 As a result there will be little on
evangelcals as the Cof E was dominated by either a moderate Modernism or
Liberal Anglocatholicism until the 50s when the terrible evangelicals came
back and upset everyone.
The theology of these was trinitarian with some iffy on the Virgin Birth and
empty tomb. The bible was most fallible and Genesis was basically myth. Most
assumed no conflict of science and faith as they had put behind them the
literalism of the 19th century (and overlooked the fact that in the 19th
century most were not literalsit!) They had a soft view of the Fall and
emphasised Incarnation rather than Atonement and rejected Substitutionary
Atonement. The more liberal/modernist often had a very exemplarist view of
the atonement - if at all.
When you read these Anglican theologians William Temple, Gore, NPWilliams,
Raven and many others you will find a confident liberal optimism which has
been reroded since WWII as the basis of their weak religious authority was
undermined. I cannot help seeing them as living off the inherited Christian
capital of previous generations and thus when questions arose and arose they
did the whole confident theology was eroded.
Bowler's best example is Bishop EW Barnes of Birmingham who rejected much
more in the way of belief but looks orthodox compared to Bish Spong. Bowler
reckons he was the only really to consider the theological implications of
evolution and I think he was right. I finfd the others cosy and also adopt a
very non-darwinian evolution allowing in optimistic progress.
Now Barnes flung out orthodox belief , the task for us is to demonstrate
whether or not evolution can be compatible with orthodox belief
particularly of Fall/sin and atonement.
I will leave you all with that and will have to read the book
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