[asa] More on the term "TE"

From: Douglas Hayworth <haythere.doug@gmail.com>
Date: Sun Jan 25 2009 - 17:14:42 EST

OK, I've got to chime in about the merits of the label "theistic
evolution". (I know it's been batted about in a few threads lately).
Until about ten years ago, the term simply referred to the acceptance
of the compatibility of belief in a personal God with evolution as the
correct scientific description of natural history. I don't think the
general meaning was ever confusing until opponents of evolution began
using it as a derogatory term (I remember Philip Johnson calling it an
oxymoron). Now everyone (including myself) is second-guessing the term
because its plain sense has been abused and nit-picked to death.
Francis Collins, Denis Lamoureux, Keith Miller and just about everyone
of us is trying out alternatives. It's just a matter of time until
people mess up the practical use of the new terms, too.

We ought to use terminology in a manner consistent with what the
proponents of the particular view accept. If most people who
originally accepted the label "theistic evolutionist" are Christians
who believe in the personal God and Christ of the bible, then the term
should not be mischaracterized as meaning some sort of deistic form of

I think the term is still useful in context. It is the easiest answer
to a specific kind of question:

When a fellow Christian who hears that I accept evolution asks, "So,
what sort of evolutionist are you?"
I reply, "I am a theistic evolutionist."

When a fellow scientist who hears that I am a Christian, asks, "So,
what sort of creationist are you?"
I reply, "I am an evolutionary creationist."

In each cases, my answer addresses the primary concern of the
questioner. Many other descriptors and theological terms will be
needed and useful in any follow-up discussion that results, but
accepting these simple labels is still meaningful. Most laypeople,
after all, will have no idea what biologos or continuous creation
mean. And how do you turn those terms into a descriptor of what you
are? Describing yourself as a "biologosist" or a "continuous
creationist" really isn't going help people understand your basic
point of view.

Doug Hayworth

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Received on Sun Jan 25 17:14:58 2009

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