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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

6. Contrasts of Religion and Science

Haught, John. God After Darwin. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1999. The Georgetown University theologian conceives an evolutionary dimension rooted in Whitehead and Teilhard which can then find purpose in an unfinished cosmos with a Divine future. Its emergent, defining quality is seen as the sequential rise of a spiritual information.

Haught, John. Is Nature Enough? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. In his latest book Haught takes the paradigm of scientific naturalism to task since it concludes all entities that exist are insensate accidents, there is neither a transcendent or incarnate creative (Divine) agency. (Compare with Gary Drescher’s Good and Real just posted) What results is a soulless, material universe of random selection. Once more, the alternative to this gloom, and to a mistaken return to a primordial Eden, is a vista of anticipatory emergence, empowered and tracked by formative information, toward a new future creation.

Haught, John. The Boyle Lecture 2003: Darwin, Design and the Promise of Nature. Science & Christian Belief. 17/1, 2005. A succinct statement of Haught’s endeavor to conceive “a revived natural theology,” with roots in Teilhard and Whitehead, by way of an expanded evolution that includes symbiosis, cooperation and self-organization. By this holistic vision, nature’s seemingly contingent excesses and harshness can be leavened by the providential promise of a numinous future. Simon Conway Morris and Alister McGrath offer favorable responses but Paul Helm and R. J. Berry, with some acrimony, find this a theological bridge to far. Haught then answers with a vigorous defense of his thoughtful position.

Hefner, Philip. Technology and Human Becoming. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003. This profound edition is the text of Hefner’s chapel talks at the 2001 Star Island IRAS conference: “Human Meaning in a Technological Age.” The University of Chicago theologian seeks to meld and leaven the technical prowess of our age with traditional religious doctrines. In this regard is offered some of the most insightful meditations on the revolutionary human abilities to transform, for better or worse, themselves and this earthly realm. Amongst the pages is a consideration of artificial intelligence in light of a painting of the Cosmic Mestiza, a Mexican woman seen as a symbol of integral resolution.

Howard, Damian. Being Human in Islam: The Impact of the Evolutionary Worldview. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. After the author notes he is neither scientist nor Muslim, but a Jesuit theologian at Heythrop College, London, the work proceeds with a respectful and thorough treatment of this historic struggle between eternal heaven and temporal earth. In the case of Godly belief, worldly standing, life’s developmental path, and our place in things, a humanum or “anthropological imaginary,” is engaged. In such regard, a central chapter explores the strong influence of Henri Bergson, (1859-1941), via the writings of Muhammed Iqbal (1877-1938), who is seen to represent a Romantic, Naturphilosophie school of “vitalist cosmic progressivism,” in contrast to Western mechanical materialism.

But divisive splits and factions remain between those in pious thrall to a transcendent God, known as an anti-science, perennialist school, or those enamored with a Divine immanence, the Word incarnate, whereof self-realizing people have a creative or sustaining value and purpose. Heaven and/or earth, sacred vs. secular, vertical or horizontal, often as a teleological unfolding, along with other themes, are threaded out in scholarly depth. Islamic thought over the past decades, in its druthers, proceeds to grapple with these quandaries that continue to daunt the Abrahamic dream.

Ijjas, Anna. Quantum Aspects of Life: Relating Evolutionary Biology with Theology via Modern Physics. Zygon. 48/1, 2013. The astrophysicist author is a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics. The curious “quantum cosmology” from which we sentient persons lately appear in wonder must then be graced by a deep generative oneness between human and universe. Somehow life, organisms, animate systems, ought to be creatively written into a foundational domain in between “blind Darwinian chance and pure Laplacian determinism.” The article is a unique, innovative contribution to a growing project to trace and explain a numinous, motive activity to explain and mitigate our fraught, remarkable existence. Hints along the way include a convergent evolution and persistent nonlinearity, so the old default to “randomness” may just be cover for heretofore being unable to rightly read.

In the present paper, I shall argue that quantum theory can contribute to reconciling evolutionary biology with the creation hypothesis. After giving a careful definition of the theological problem, I will, in a first step, formulate necessary conditions for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. In a second step, I will show how quantum theory can contribute to fulfilling these conditions. More precisely, I claim that (1) quantum probabilities are best understood in terms of ontological indeterminism, but (2) reflect nevertheless causal openness rather than divine indifference or arbitrariness, and (3) such a genuinely creative universe can be considered as the work of a loving Creator. I ask subsequently whether these necessary conditions are also sufficient for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and the creation hypothesis. Finally, I will show that relating evolutionary biology with theology via quantum theory could also shed some light on the nature of life. (Abstract)

Impey, Chris and Catherine Petry, eds. Science and Theology: Ruminations on the Cosmos. Vatican Observatory, 2004. Authors include George Coyne, SJ, Owen Gingerich, Ernan McMullin, Nancey Murphy, Lynn Rothschild, and Trinh Xuan Thuan. Coyne, for example, draws on Thomas Aquinas’ view that a transcendent God can be known by analogy to suggest a parental Creator and the immanent universe as a developing, maturing child.

Perhaps God should be seen more as a parent. Scripture is very rich in this thought. The universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does. A parent must allow the child to grow into adulthood, to come to make its own choices, to go on its own way in life. (31)

Iqbal, Muzaffar. Islam and Science. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002. The diametric separation of faith and research in the west is unthinkable for Muslims. The luminous history of early Islamic science and mathematics is reviewed so as to reach a necessary corrective today to again unite cosmology, physics and the many disciplines with a seamless creation.

Kaplan, Stephen. Vidya and Avida: Simultaneous and Coterminous? Philosophy East & West. 57/2, 2007. A visit to the Advaita Vedanta website (via Google) would be a helpful entry to this Vedic Upanishad Indian wisdom. A Manhattan College scholar offers a current analogy as a way to grasp the essence of these esoteric yet vital concepts. In this regard, the unmanifest implicate and worldly explicate realms of David Bohm’s holographic physics can be seen to have much affinity. Their most attractive feature may be a universal redundancy since every shard of a hologram contains a modicum of the whole source image. Brahmin and Atman, if one might say, may then be imagined to accord with these roles.

Kaufman, Gordon. A Christian View of Creativity. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy. 6/2, 2007. In a special section on Confucian and Christian Conceptions of Creativity, the eminent Harvard Divinity School theologian ventures an innovative view of “God as Creativity.” Three dimensions or phases then accrue – an original act of Big Bang proportions, the interim self-organizing evolutionary dynamics of complex adaptive systems, and lately a phenomenal human contribution as “co-creators.” A companion article by Harvard-Yenching Professor Tu Weiming goes on to explain how the traditional Chinese cosmos of spontaneous self-generation can accommodate, through its on-going interplay of Heaven and human, various anthropo – morphic, centric, and cosmic realms. Along with papers by Robert Neville and Thierry Meynard, a numinous issue.

Lightman, Bernard, ed.. Rethinking History, Science and Religion: An Exploration of Conflict and the Complexity Principle. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019. A latest collection from an international conference in Rio de Janeiro in mid 2017 about this multifaceted, recalcitrant issue. The “complexity” theme was meant to consider whether a common resolve could be possible, or a diverse, pluralist view is more apt. Some entries are History and the Meaning(s) of Evolution by Ian Hesketh, The Instantiation of Historical Complexity, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s Interpretation of Science in Islam by Sarah Qidwai.

McGrath, Alister. Science and Religion. London: Blackwell, 1999. One of many books by the prolific British theologian. An introductory review of paths to convergence that cover epistemology, natural theology, the doctrine of Creation. While the book touches on cosmology, physics, biology and psychology, it is light on thematic coherence and more preoccupied with God than a consideration of human significance.

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