HOME

 

 

    NEWS

INTERVIEWS

RESOURCES

ABOUT

View by:

 SUBJECT

 THEME

QUESTION

  TERM

 PERSON

   EVENT

Evolution

To many people the relationship between science and religion is epitomized by the clash over evolution. Over the past two decades America has seen a significant rise in the number of Christian "creationists" who believe the biblical story of creation must be taken literally, and that the universe was therefore created in six days just over six thousand years ago. But although there are some Christians who insist on taking the Genesis account literally, the majority of Christian believers understand this story metaphorically. Recently, the Vatican Observatory in conjunction with the Berkeley-based Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences held a conference on the issue of evolution to which they invited theologians, philosophers, and scientists from around the world. Here, Christian participants overwhelming agreed that evolution was not in conflict with Christian faith, and that on the contrary it could be seen as the way in which God goes about being creative within the world. For these believers, an understanding of the processes of evolution could indeed enhance their faith.

Charles DarwinThe controversy over biological evolution began in 1859 when Charles Darwin published his monumental book "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection". Darwin's book suggested that instead of being specially created by God, humans were the product of biological evolution. As he later wrote: "Man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits." Many religious believers in the nineteenth century felt that Darwinian evolution had robbed humanity of its dignity, for how could humans be created in the image of God if we were the descendants of apes? Faced with this dilemma, they rebelled against Darwin's theory. Yet even in the nineteenth century there were many theologians and ministers - both Catholic and Protestant - who did not see a conflict between their faith and Darwin's science. These more liberal thinkers often went to great lengths to convince the public that evolution could be harmonized with traditional religious views and values.

Today a new generation of Christian thinkers is again stressing that an evolutionary perspective is compatible with their faith. A leading voice in this debate is the Oxford University biochemist Arthur Peacocke. Peacocke, who is now also an ordained minister in the Anglican Church, believes that evolution can even enhance understanding of the Judeo-Christian God. Whereas biblical literalists insist that creation was a once only event that happened at the beginning of time, Peacocke notes that evolution is compatible with the Christian idea of creatio continua, the notion that God is continuously creating. As he explains: "Whatever we meant by God being creator, it wasn't something that God did once in the past, and then walked off ... It's something that's going on all the time."

The point here is not that one must see God in the process of evolution, but rather that there is nothing inherently incompatible between an evolutionary view of life and a commitment to the Christian scriptures.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Margaret Wertheim

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions CD-ROM Preview...
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.