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Religion and Evolution

We have discussed dogmatic beliefs on the part of science and religion recently in our Thursday Spiritual discussions. Dogmatic views on either part are rarely, really always, not helpful.

Almost 150 years after Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, we are still fighting over evolution. If anything, the controversy has grown in both size and intensity. In the last decade, debates over how evolution should be taught in schools have been heard in school boards, town councils and legislatures in more than half the states.

Throughout much of the 20th century, opponents of evolution either tried to eliminate the teaching of Darwin’s theory from public school science curricula or urged science instructors also to teach a version of the creation story found in the biblical book of Genesis. Those that take Genesis literally are identified as “Young Earth Creationists.” They hold to the literal reading and have placed the creation as about 6,000 years ago with humankind and animals being created as adult versions of themselves.

Midway between Young Earth Creationists and Darwinists are the Intelligent Design advocates that hold beliefs that all has been created by a Designer. There are several variations including creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) and even creation through an alien origin of life on earth. Without promoting a single cause, Intelligent Design has been introduced in some science textbooks.

These debates are prevalent in the court of public opinion. A spring 2013 Pew Research Center survey finds that six-in-ten Americans say humans and other living things evolved over time, including 32% who say that life evolved through natural processes like natural selection and 24% who say a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today. A third of Americans (33%) say that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

What do you think?

Before firming up your opinion you might want to look at God After Darwin by theologian John Haught. He makes a compelling case that Darwin’s theory, far from ruling out God or Source, gives us insight into an intelligence that pours its creative essence into the universe and gives that intelligence free rein to make things happen. Rather than pulling the puppet strings, this intelligence or consciousness or “that in which we live and move and have our being” relinquishes control so that new and novel things might arise. This enhances creation by bringing forth the unplanned, the unscripted, the random…

Haught suggests that in allowing the form to arise from the formless consciousness, there is a release of omnipotence over this realm so that free will is not interfered with. The universe is invited to participate in its own crafting. This ongoing participatory act in creation is the ultimate expression of love. He writes:

Love by its very nature cannot compel, and so any God whose very essence is love should not be expected to overwhelm the world either with a coercively directive power or an annihilating presence. Indeed, an infinite love must in some ways absent or restrain itself, precisely in order to give the world the space in which to become something distinct from the creative love that constitutes it as other. We should anticipate, therefore, that any universe rooted in an unbounded love would have some features that appear to us as random and undirected.

Join us in Spiritual Discussions on Thursday at 6:30 mountain time via Zoom. Zoom session 6239746443 with the same number as a password.







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