God and Evolution

God and Evolution: Fundamental Questions of Christian Evolutionism

JÓZEF ŻYCIŃSKI
KENNETH W. KEMP
ZUZANNA MAŚLANKA
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 269
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284z2t
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  • Book Info
    God and Evolution
    Book Description:

    Written by Archbishop Józef Zycinski of Lublin, this book offers an important and insightful examination of the basic philosophical questions involved in the relation between evolutionary theory and the Christian religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1598-3
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Introduction: INTERDISCIPLINARY DIALOGUE IN PLACE OF PATHOLOGY
    (pp. 1-8)

    Over the course of time, the question of the harmonious unification of scientific theories of anthropogenesis with Christian faith in a Creator who directs the processes of evolution has received new and more insightful answers. This development is possible thanks to new discoveries concerning both cosmic and biological evolution. The introduction of new concepts and subtle distinctions allows one to avoid those oversimplified contradictions of the past, in which God was supposed to act on nature only through extraordinary interventions while the application of deterministic explanations was supposed to exclude definitively the possibility of appeal to any kind of teleological...

  4. PART ONE
    • chapter 1 BIOLOGY AND METAPHYSICS IN CHARLES DARWIN’S CONCEPTION OF EVOLUTION
      (pp. 11-31)

      Darwin’s view of an evolving nature is rightly interpreted as a completion of the Copernican revolution in science.¹ Attempts to define the philosophical consequences of that revolution give rise to sharp controversies even today. In contemporary polemics, references to the philosophical views of the creator of the theory of natural selection are only natural, but they are also insufficient, since Darwin himself consistently emphasized that metaphysical speculations were completely foreign to his thought. For this reason, in defending scientific theories, he never tried to force onto them any particular philosophical interpretation as the only one possible. In contemporary discussions, one...

    • chapter 2 FUNDAMENTALISMS AND EVOLUTION
      (pp. 32-44)

      In the dispute over the possibility of reconciling evolutionary and theistic interpretations of the world, substantive discussion is sometimes replaced with bombastic appeal for the rescue of the foundations of our culture. At least two opposite forms of appeal have been employed. When, in order to save religion and culture, war has been waged on the theory of evolution, a pseudoreligious fundamentalism results. When, however, in defense of a scientific picture of the world, theistic evolutionism has been attacked as unacceptable, atheistic fundamentalism has been the result.

      Both fundamentalisms from the start exclude the possibility of elaborating a theory in...

    • chapter 3 ELEMENTS OF FUNDAMENTALISM IN ATHEISTIC EVOLUTIONISM
      (pp. 45-59)

      The fundamentalist critique of evolutionism can appear to be well-grounded when we take as the statement of evolutionism the philosophical theses found in the works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Lewontin, Carl Sagan, and Edward O. Wilson. A relatively large number of those sympathetic to Phillip E. Johnson got interested in his critique of Darwinism as a consequence of reading reviews in which he subjected the metaphysics of Dawkins and Lewontin, which they presented as a component of the biological theory, to a sharp critique. Such a combination of the natural sciences with philosophy has become quite common...

    • chapter 4 EVOLUTION AND CHRISTIAN THOUGHT IN DIALOGUE ACCORDING TO THE TEACHING OF JOHN PAUL II
      (pp. 60-76)

      In his teaching, John Paul II consistently emphasizes that “the Church’s dialogue with culture has a decisive role for the future of humanity.” He has said, “More than once I repeated this with conviction and I appealed to all the Church’s institutions to see to it that their activity in regard to culture may always be more enlightened, lively, and fruitful.”¹ The natural sciences occupy a special place in contemporary culture. It would be hard to point to another pontificate in modern times in which dialogue with the world of science was as intense as is the dialogue conducted by...

  5. PART TWO
    • chapter 5 ONTOLOGICAL NATURALISM AND THE ROLE OF SUPERVENIENCE IN EVOLUTION
      (pp. 79-94)

      To avoid raising what are only apparent conflicts between Christianity and evolutionism, it is necessary to distinguish those formulations inspired by the methodology of naturalism from formulations asserting ontological naturalism. The former, on the basis of the present paradigm of science, constitute a necessary component of the scientific method of research. The latter are an expression of metaphysics which, relying as it does on a different epistemological basis, cannot be a component of a scientific theory. Methodological naturalism is accepted both by those who accept a theological interpretation of nature and by those who do not. Ontological naturalism is in...

    • chapter 6 VARIETIES OF TELEOLOGY IN THE PHILOSOPHICAL INTERPRETATION OF NATURE
      (pp. 95-111)

      Modern science developed when scientists stopped thinking of the universe as a living organism in which all processes were supposed to serve goals defined by God the Creator. The critical discoveries occurred when, in place of teleology, they began to concentrate their attention on causal connections. That change in intellectual perspective is expressed in the generalizing thesis: Modern science replaced teleological interpretations (also called purposive or final) with deterministic interpretations (also called causal). As a consequence of the scientific revolution of Galileo and Newton, deterministic dependencies were introduced in place of previously presumed teleological processes, and that made possible the...

    • chapter 7 PHYSICAL NECESSITY AND THE TELEOLOGICAL STRUCTURE OF THE UNIVERSE
      (pp. 112-129)

      Consideration of the role of global supervenience in cosmic evolution makes it possible to overcome the methodological oversimplifications of the past, which prohibited the combination of evolutionism with any kind of formulation which applied either teleological categories or any directedness of the processes of evolution at the global or large-scale level. The introduction of new conceptual categories has made possible both analytic philosophical formulations in which the charge of anthropomorphism is avoided and new terminology for understanding the structural directedness of an evolving nature. The reconciliation of evolution and teleology requires great precision in the concepts both of law of...

    • chapter 8 DISCONTINUITY AND NON-LINEARITY IN EVOLUTION
      (pp. 130-144)

      The traditional opposition of a cosmic end or purpose and an inexorable determinism turns out to be an oversimplification. The process of evolution can follow a model in which the traditional concepts of end and cause turn out to be inadequate, since one can speak about the supervenience of certain processes at a given stage of development. One should not understand the process of supervention, however, as the realization of one possible scenario of evolution, since non-linear and discontinuous properties play an important role in the development of nature. A consideration of analogies from thermodynamics is important to a more...

  6. PART THREE
    • chapter 9 THE GOD OF AN EVOLVING NATURE
      (pp. 147-164)

      As our ideas about the structure and laws of nature develop, our ideas about the presence and role of God in the processes of nature also undergo significant change. Before the emergence of modern science, nature—in Greek mythology and in the homilies of leading theologians— was understood to be a domain of Divine presence. The description of that presence combined poetic reverie with commonsense philosophy, contemplative wonder about the world, and an experience of awe in which God also reveals His hidden presence. In places where Christian thought was an important influence, that view was shaped by biblical passages...

    • chapter 10 THE ONTOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE IMMANENCE OF GOD IN NATURE
      (pp. 165-180)

      In contemporary discussions on the theme of the operation of God in nature, much attention is paid to “top-down” operations, in which extraordinary interventions of God into the order of nature occur, as well as to “bottom-up” interventions in which God acts through the laws of nature and their limitations.¹ In the second of the above-mentioned groups, particular attention is given to stochastic processes or limitations connected with the Heisenberg Indeterminacy Principle, which create the physical possibility of Divine cooperation without the characteristic of explicit determination. Works on this topic join an extensive literature dedicated to the immanence of God...

    • chapter 11 THE COSMIC KENOSIS OF GOD
      (pp. 181-194)

      Philosophical treatments of the harmonious evolution of the cosmos, of God’s immanence in nature, and of the program of development directed to Divine ends contrast sharply with the reality of the struggle for survival. This reality manifests itself not only in the tooth and claw of biological survival, but also in the experience of psychic struggles, which attain a special status in human suffering. The question of how to reconcile the reality of human suffering with faith in the meaning of evolutionary development is much more difficult than any biological question about the mechanisms of evolution. It connects the great...

  7. PART FOUR
    • chapter 12 THE PREHISTORY OF RATIONAL MAN
      (pp. 197-211)

      The thesis about the biological bonds connecting the species Homo sapiens with our animal ancestors has become the subject of a heated emotional critique on the part of the opponents of evolutionism. One can understand its cultural and psychological context, which has caused them to emphasize the feeling of the special cultural position of man more than biological genealogy and has led them, in extreme cases, to question that genealogy itself. The domination of culture over biology is an essential trait of the human species. That domination does not, however, authorize us to question our biological roots or to touch...

    • chapter 13 SOCIOBIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF THE ESSENCE OF HUMAN CULTURE
      (pp. 212-229)

      The essential discontinuity in the evolutionary view of development appears at the level of human culture. The moral consciousness of man, our experience of a comparative freedom of will, religious experiences, aesthetic appreciation, abstract thought (expressed both in mathematics and in metaphysics), and theoretical reflection in the particular sciences seem to go far beyond the level of biological struggle for existence and authorize statements about the unique dignity of the human species. Michael Ruse, who had been trying for a long time to give an evolutionary explanation of the origin of science, now admits “[N]o Darwinian is claiming that grasping...

    • chapter 14 THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL MEANING OF THE TRUTH ABOUT ORIGINAL SIN
      (pp. 230-248)

      The attempt to provide an evolutionary interpretation of the truth about original sin has already seen an extensive literature in which a wide variety of opinions continue to be maintained. Neither entering into biblical hermeneutics nor appealing to detailed elaborations of theological anthropology,¹ I would like to limit myself to philosophical reflection on the biblical description of the drama which marks the beginning of humanity. From that perspective, programmatically accepted methodological limitations do not allow the raising of many of the questions which attract the attention of theologians. There is, however, the possibility of raising the question of the cultural...

  8. Afterword: SOLIDARITY AND MEANING
    (pp. 249-252)

    In 1885, in his lecture on systematic theology, the rector of the Rochester Theological Seminary, Augustus H. Strong, tried to formulate the fundamental theses of a theistic evolutionism. He emphasized that the principle of scientific evolution is a fundamental manifestation of Divine wisdom, revealing its presence in the order of nature and in that order’s laws. A similar opinion was also defended by Henry Ward Beecher (died 1887), who emphasized the necessity of a coherent connection of the principles of evolutionism with the general intellectual view which formed the foundation of contemporary theology. If that approach had found a consistent...

  9. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 253-258)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-259)