Concluding remarks
have argued that when seen in context, the evolutionary sciences do not present
substantial challenges for theology. The principle related challenge is the need to provide an account of special
divine action that is coherent with the natural sciences. Evolution today
appears to provide no help with this problem.
However, due to the statistical nature of the field, it is possible for
believers to see the divine hand in the particular pathways that evolution has
followed. If further research confirms that Conway Morris is correct when he
says that the emergence of something like ourselves [is] a near
will add substantial credibility to this position.
is true that the strength of the argument from design in the early nineteenth
century provided a temporary apologetic boost to theism in general and claims
of special divine action in particular. It is understandable that some scholars
lament the passing of classic natural theology and hope that it can be
resurrected. However, I would argue that once Darwin and others had neutralised
this argument, the apologetic options returned to approximately their previous
form.Convincing arguments for many Christian beliefs remain intact. Nevertheless, it
should be admitted that special providence remains central to mainstream
theology, and presently finds little support from the natural sciences.
the evolutionary sciences are not likely to provide evidence of particular
divine acts in natural history, theological reflection upon the creative
capacity of natural selection in history can be extremely valuable. As Peacocke
has observed Christian theology has been at its most creative and most vital
when it has faced the challenges of engagement with new systems of thought
encountered in new cultural contexts.
is sometimes claimed that an evolutionary account of creation means that any
perception of beauty or design in nature is mistaken, and any inclination we
may have to praise God for what we see is naïve; in reality we are looking at
the results of a process ruled by chance. A deeper understanding of the
evolutionary sciences reveals that this extreme view is false. Everywhere we
look we can see the particular (contingent) effects of general providence. As
Aubrey Moore went on to conclude, an understanding of evolution reveals that
either God is everywhere present in nature, or He is nowhere.
essay has tackled a very small part of the puzzle. A more complete analysis
should consider the following: the relation of evolution to the problem of evil
and suffering, the ongoing work on quantum indeterminacy and special divine
action, the proposal that God can use information to effect changes in
nature,as well as a more thorough investigation of the related metaphysical positions,
notably materialism and determinism.
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