Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Apr 28 2005 - 12:56:24 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>; <>;
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 9:02 AM
Subject: Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

> Bob's comments on (and quotations from) Theodosius Dobzhansky are
> interesting. I've never looked at that article, though I knew that D was
> an
> Orthodox believer. I like that tradition in many ways, having just
> finished
> a fairly lengthy article on the spiritual life and intellectual life of
> Michael Idvorsky Pupin, probably the leading American scientist in the
> Orthodox tradition before Dobzhansky.
> As for YECs playing fair with Dob, frankly most YECs don't play fair with
> much of anything, at least in my experience. Nor do quite a few IDs, when
> it comes to sorting out very important (if sometimes subtle) differences
> among types of TE. They lump everyone in together as "mushy
> accommodationists" or some such label. Of course they also paper over
> canyons in their own landscape, esp regarding the earth's great age (which
> nearly all IDs accept along with death before the fall).
> However, and this is a very important "however," you need to recall Bob
> that theistic evolution (in any form one wishes to offer) is the worst
> case
> scenario for a genuine creationist. Bryan saved his heaviest
> condemnations
> for theistic evolution in his own day, and Morris and company do likewise.
> Bryan called theistic evolution "the anesthetic that dulls the pain while
> the faith is removed," (quoting from memory, but this is darn close if not
> dead on) and to some extent I feel his pain, as it were. Let's be frank.
> The acceptance of TE in any form raises very important theological
> questions
> about soteriology, theodicy, biblical hermeneutics, and (above all) divine
> sovereignty and providence. Many Christians I know are unable to accept
> evolution and keep their faith in God at the same time--in which case my
> advice is always, invariably, not to accept evolution. Someone like
> Dobzhansky, with his deep sympathy for process theism (Peacocke would be
> similar), is simply evidence that proves the argument for
> creationists--and
> also for many IDs. I myself am unable to accept process theism and if I
> felt that evolution demanded it I would not accept evolution, for my faith
> in God also means more to me than my faith in science.
> In fact the acceptance of evolution does not entail, logically or
> historically or theologically, the acceptance of process theism. IDs are
> having a very hard time seeing this, let alone accepting it or even
> admitting it publicly. Judging from private conversations I've had, a
> number of theologians also have a hard time seeing this--which doesn't
> help
> the public converastion, IMO.

Ted et al -

Yes, acceptance of evolution requires some theological rethinking. The
problem is that too many Christians are just too lazy to do any theological
thinking beyond what they learned as children in Sunday School. The result
is not just that they're unaware of possibilities for TE that maintain
continuity with the Christian tradition but that they never see the
shortcomings of traditional interpretations of scripture & theological
formulations that assume a static view of creation - & this even before
getting to the scientific evidence for an old universe & evolution.

Of course it isn't surprising that many laypeople don't go in for a lot of
theological work. What is tragic is that too many people that they look to
for their theology (under whatever name) are so poorly informed.

I would add that process theology is not all bad. (It is, after all, hard
to be wrong about everything!) While there are certainly problematic
aspects of it, PT's insistence on God's involvement with temporality and the
suffering of the world are correct, & in those regards it's more
satisfactory than much of philosophical theism that passes for Christianity.
But genuinely incarnational & trinitarian theologies are able to express
those themes without abandoning the uniqueness of Christ, /creatio ex
nihilo/ & justification /sola gratia/.

Received on Thu Apr 28 12:58:47 2005

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