Re: God and evolution statements from Harrisburg paper

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Mon Oct 03 2005 - 13:11:00 EDT

I can speak for Ted. :-)

I meant this as an implicit reference to what George calls "the theology of
the cross," which he explains in part below. I put it this way myself: IF
the primary revelation of God's character is found in the person of the
crucified and resurrected Jesus (and this is what I believe), THEN it is not
so surprising to me that some aspects of the creation would reflect this
aspect of God's character. I am frankly still exploring this line of
thinking myself and do not yet see exactly where I will come out in full,
once I've considered it for several more years. The fall is, as Ian rightly
notes (and John Polkinghorne also notes) is the great difficulty here. I do
not want to minimize the fall, let alone overlook it. But how precisely to
understand it, in light of both the theology of the cross and earlier
theological reflection on the relevant biblical texts, is still unclear to
me. Edward Hitchcock (e.g.) felt in the 1840s, that God foresaw the fall
and planned for it by having death already present in the garden before
human sin. He was a Calvinist natural theologian of the highest order, and
the resources of his tradition (supralapsarianism, if I'm not mistaken)
allowed him to take that step. I am not about to call George's view below
"supralapsarianism," since George is the theologian and I'll let him sort
that out, but it does seem to have some overlap in spirit with what
Hitchcock argued.

In my statement for the ASA ballot (I've agreed to run for council this
fall), I put it like this:
I know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, the highest and clearest revelation
of the person and character of God. My understanding of Christian faith is
best expressed in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. Turning to more
contemporary expressions of faith, I have found the writings of N.T. Wright
and John Polkinghorne to be especially helpful spiritually and
intellectually. I will borrow Polkinghorne's eloquent words to supplement
those of the classical creeds: "For me, the fundamental content of belief
in God is that there is a Mind and a Purpose behind the history of the
universe and that the One whose veiled presence is intimated in this way is
worthy of worship and the ground of hope." And, in reference to Jurgen
Moltmann's concept of the crucified God: "This profound and difficult
thought meets the problem of suffering at [the] level which its deep
challenge demands. The insight of the Crucified God lies at the very heart
of my own Christian belief, indeed of the possibility of such belief in the
face of the way the world is. But this can only really be so if God is
indeed truly present in that twisted figure on the tree of Calvary." I
look with hope to the resurrection of the dead, to a time when there will be
no time.

>>> "George Murphy" <> 10/03/05 12:25 PM >>>
I can't speak for Ted but IMO he's on target here. OTOH if God did create
a dynamic world in which life would develop through evolution (as the
scientific evidence indicates) then surely God realized that suffering would
be involved in the process even before any moral agents came on the scene.
OTOH there are good theological reasons for arguing that the Incarnation was
not contingent upon sin but was God's purpose for creation (cf. Eph.1:10).
Going further, since the development of moral agents via evolution would
almost inevitably mean the occurrence of sin as part of the process, it
seems legitimate to say that in creating the universe as he did God intended
the cross as the means of bringing the creation to its fulfillment - cf. I
Pet.1:19-20 & Rev. 13:8.

Of course Ted did not have space to go into a detailed argument & I am by
no means trying to put words into his mouth & suggest that he would agree
with all of what I've said here. This is simply my own way of fleshing out
his statement.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Iain Strachan
  To: Randy Isaac
  Cc: Ted Davis ; asa
  Sent: Monday, October 03, 2005 3:24 AM
  Subject: Re: God and evolution statements from Harrisburg paper

  Ted wrote (Patriot news):

  Biological evolution, with its long and twisted path, suggests further
that the creation reflects the character of the suffering servant who
upholds it now.

  This is an interesting viewpoint & one I've not seen before. Are you
saying that the suffering in the world ( e.g. Richard Dawkins makes much of
the amount of suffering due to evolution and struggle for survival) mirrors
the suffering of Christ? I'm trying to get my brain round this one - is
there not a problem in that it suggests that God deliberately created an
evolving world that would suffer, rather than the traditional view that
suffering is the result of the Fall ( not necessarily literal, but our
deliberate choice to disobey God)? Maybe I've misread what you said
Received on Mon Oct 3 13:12:22 2005

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