Theistic Evolution

Home > Science & Religion Articles > Theistic Evolution
  • File

    Alexander, Denis R.

     (63K)

    Can a Christian Believe in Evolution?

    "So is it possible to be a Christian and believe in evolution? Certainly, as long as ‘evolution’ refers not to some secular philosophy, but to the biological theory describing how God has created all living things. This explains why the vast majority of Christians who are active in biological research today have no problem with incorporating evolutionary theory within their belief in God as Creator."
  • File

    Alexander, Denis R.

     (221K)

    Does Evolution have any Religious Significance?

    "It has often been thought that the biological theory of evolution has religious implications. This lecture presents the case that the religious significance of evolutionary theory is in fact rather limited, and that as a biological theory it can readily be accommodated within a robust version of Christian theism. Evolution as a biological theory is distinguished from the various ideologies which historically have been subsumed under the term 'evolution'. Basic concepts in evolution, such as natural selection, mutation and speciation, are explained. Biological evolution is then related to Christian theism, with its twin emphases on the transcendence and immanence of God in the created order."
  • File

    Barr, Stephen M.

     (208K)

    The Design of Evolution

    "The possibility of an evolutionary process that could produce the marvelously intricate forms we see presupposes the existence of a universe whose structure, matter, processes, and laws are of a special character...I personally am not at all sure that the neo-Darwinian framework is a sufficient one for biology. But if it turns out to be so, it would in no way invalidate what Pope Benedict has said: 'We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.'"
  • File

    Bugajak, Grezgorz

     (162K)

    Human Origins: Continuous Evolution versus Punctual Creation

    "One of the particular problems in the debate between science and theology regarding human origins seems to be an apparent controversy between continuous character of evolutionary processes leading to the origin of Homo sapiens and punctual understanding of the act of creation of man seen as taking place in a moment in time. The paper will elaborate scientific arguments for continuity or discontinuity of evolution, and what follows, for the existence or non-existence of a clear borderline between our species and the rest of the living world. In turn, various possibilities of theological interpretations of the act of creation of man will be pointed out and a question will be considered to what extent theology is interested in ‘momentarily’ account of this act. After having cleared the respective positions of science and theology with regard to human origins, a particular proposal of reconciliation of the two views will be shown and its accuracy and acceptability will be reflected upon."
  • File

    Carreira, Emmanuel M.

     (204K)

    Evolution in Living Forms: Determinism, Chance, Purposeful Design

    "The fact of evolutionary change taking place across the full range of plant and animal life is imposed on us by the fossil record from the most primitive single-cell organisms of 3.5 eons ago to the amazing variety of present-day life on Earth...The basic sufficient reason for the development of specialized organs within each species, and for the specific evolutionary jumps, can be sought either in the laws of material interactions: necessity of an outcome given the initial conditions and the chance coincidence of unrelated events at the quantum or macroscopic level, or in the development of a purposeful plan by an Intelligent Creator who uses the forces given to matter at the beginning of the Universe, foreseeing the development of structures for all the future history of nature at all levels."
  • File

    Choong, Ron

     (424K)

    Why Are We Moral?

    "I shall argue that moral cognition does indeed exist and it is evolved. This comes up against the problem of reconciling the evolution of morality with the doctrine of original sin and the ‘Fall.’ Is sin the result of a genetic or a cultural evolution? Following W. Mark Richardson, I shall call for a revisioning of the biblical story of the fall as the origin rather than the consequence of sin and seek a theistic evolutionary model of morality that comports with the Bible while finding convergence with the natural sciences."
  • File

    Clouser, Roy A.

     (196K)

    Genesis on the Origin of the Human Race

    "It has long been suggested that Genesis and the sciences look at human origins from differing, but compatible, points of view. Nevertheless, it has generally been left disconcertingly vague as to just how the viewpoint of Genesis differs from that of the sciences. This article maintains that the key to clarifying the biblical view of human origins lies in the definition of 'human' that is both taught and presupposed in Scripture. Since the Scriptural definition is that a human is essentially a religious being, the Genesis account is taken to refer primarily to the appearance of religious consciousness in beings who thereby become fully human. Seen in this way, the Genesis account is not only compatible with the idea of a biological evolution, but that idea turns out to be the best explanation of at least one part of the Genesis text."
  • File

    Clouser, Roy A.

     (209K)

    Is Theism Compatible with Evolution?

    "[T]heists need not throw out evolutionary theory on religious grounds, and still less should they be tempted to do so because of a materialist confession of faith that may be expressed in conjunction with it. We should never let a scientist who is not a theist get away with passing off his naturalist Faith as science...[A] theist may appropriate every element of truth that evolution or any other scientific theory may uncover, so long as it is regarded as the creation of God and for that reason is interpreted within a nonreductionist conceptual framework."
  • File

    Earley, Joseph E.

     (138K)

    A Novel Approach to Biological Evolution and Some Theistic Notions of Creation

    In Origins of Order (1993) and At Home In the Universe (1995), Stuart Kauffman...advances the view that currently-accepted versions of Darwinian evolutionary theory are radically incomplete. He contends that such accounts of biological evolution require supplementation by explicit recognition of the importance of coherent structures - the prevalence of 'order for free'. Kauffman's approach contrasts markedly with standard evolutionary doctrine, especially with 'selfish-gene' concepts advocated widely and persuasively by Richard Dawkins - who has claimed evident superiority of naturalistic modes of understanding over theistic ones. This paper explores, in a preliminary way, relationships that might exist between this current scientific (or meta-scientific) diversity of opinion and some theistic notions of 'creation'."
  • File

    Finlay, Graeme

     (371K)

    Homo Divinus: The Ape that Bears God’s Image

    "Some Christians believe that to allow room for God they must disallow room for evolution. However, aspects of the evolutionary paradigm have been established conclusively, and can be adduced to demonstrate the complementarity that exists between scientific and theological views of the world...This compelling...evidence must inform our understanding of what it means for God to create, of the place of chance in the creative work of God, and of the nature of humanity. It illustrates the way in which God works, and demonstrates his grace as seen in creation and redemption."
  • File

    Harbin, Michael A.

     (121K)

    Theistic Evolution: Deism Revisited?

    "Theistic evolution...has not proven to be the mediating position once hoped for. On the one hand, many naturalistic scientists have attacked theistic evolution because God, a supernatural Being, has been incorporated into an otherwise totally naturalistic process. On the other hand, some conservative scholars have attacked theistic evolution for a variety of reasons. A number of scientists have argued that the entire evolutionary concept is false, including theistic evolution. Many Biblical scholars have raised objections in terms of the problem of reconciling a theistic evolution position with a literal hermeneutic of Scripture, most specifically in the early chapters of Genesis. Furthermore some scholars have expressed the fear that the position tends toward a view of God that is more deistic than theistic. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate this last criticism—namely, that theistic evolution tends toward deism."
  • File

    Lamoureux, Denis O.

     (196K)

    Evolutionary Creation

    "Evolutionary creation claims the Father, Son and Holy Spirit created the universe and life through an evolutionary process. This position fully embraces both the religious beliefs of conservative Christianity and the scientific theories of cosmological, geological and biological evolution. It contends that God ordains and sustains the laws of nature, including the mechanisms of evolution. More specifically, evolution is 'teleological,' and features plan, purpose and promise."
  • File

    Lamoureux, Denis O.

     (150K)

    Theological Insights from Charles Darwin

    "Regrettably, both secularists and numerous evangelical Christians have painted a dark and sinister picture of the religious implications of Charles Darwin’s theory of biological evolution. This has led to a cultural myth that sees him as one of the modern apostles of unbelief. However, the primary historical literature reveals that Darwin was thinking theologically throughout his career and that his reflections were sophisticated. In particular, he dealt with the religious themes of intelligent design in nature, the problem of pain, and Divine sovereignty over the world. Theological insights from Charles Darwin are valuable in understanding the challenges that biological evolution presents to religion."
  • File

    McMullin, Ernan

     (292K)

    Cosmic Purpose and the Contingency of Human Evolution

    "Does God anticipate the future by extrapolating from a knowledge of the present, as we do? Does God have to rely on the predictability of a particular physical process in order to make use of that process to achieve a Divine end? Is God's relationship to past, present, and future sufficiently like ours for these analogies to go through? This is the topic I want to address, not in the context of early-universe cosmology where the processes involved in the first primitive stages of the universe's expansion are barely understood, but rather in the context of evolutionary accounts of human origins where the fortuitous character of the outcome has been debated since Darwin first proposed his theory of natural selection a century and a half ago."
  • File

    Miller, Keith B.

     (110K)

    Theological Implications of an Evolving Creation

    "In the debate over the proper understanding of the Genesis account, most attention has seemed to focus on the scientific merits of various creation scenarios. What has largely been lacking in these debates is a consideration of the theological implications of these various interpretations for our understanding of the character of God, the relationship of God to His creation, and the relationship of us to the rest of creation. After all, it is to these basic issues that the Genesis account is primarily, if not exclusively, addressed."
  • File

    Miller, Keith B.

     (107K)

    "An Evolving Creation: Oxymoron or Fruitful Insight?", Chapter 1 of Perspectives on an Evolving Creation

    "There is a desperate need to diffuse the heated conflict that has grown up around the issue of evolution. The evolution/creation 'warfare' view has effectively inhibited productive popular dialogue on important theological issues. Furthermore, it has drivenanun necessary wedge betweenthe Christianan d scientific community, and has generated division and personal attack within the body of Christ."
  • File

    Mills, Gordon C.

     (178K)

    Theistic Evolution: A Design Theory at the Level of Genetic Information

    "The author has recently proposed a theory of theistic evolution as an alternative to the naturalistic theory. If one accepts the possibility, as most Christians do, that God has been involved in the origin and development of living organisms, then the question becomes: when and in what manner has divine agency acted? I believe that there are a minimum of three possible positions, l each affirming the sovereignty of God over all his creation and over all natural law but differing in regard to the manner of that divine activity."
  • File

    Mills, Gordon C.

     (213K)

    A Theory of Theistic Evolution as an Alternative to the Naturalistic Theory

    "The author considers recent papers by Howard Van Till, Phillip Johnson, and Ian Thompson dealing with God's sovereignty and the origin and evolution of living organisms. He then presents a theory of theistic evolution as an alternative to the current naturalistic theory. He insists that the origin of new genetic information is the major unanswered question of a naturalistic theory and proposes an intelligent cause (God) as a continuing provider of new genetic information. He affirms the traditional statement of Christian theism that God is the author, sustainer, and finisher of all natural processes. His theory of theistic evolution is considered in regard to (a) a 'God of the gaps' theology, (b) hypotheses of common ancestry and punctuated equilibrium, and (c) the direction of current research in molecular evolution."
  • File

    Murphy, George L.

     (42K)

    Evolution -- Cosmic and Biological

    "How are Christians to view the scientific realities of cosmology and biological evolution? We need to know the basic facts and theories of physics and biology, but we also need an adequate theological standpoint from which to view science...Let’s begin here with an appropriate context in which to put these matters, the theology of the cross. Calvary is where we know God in the greatest depth. Luther said that the true theology is that of the cross because that is where we recognize the true God. But God is paradoxically hidden even in the revelation in the cross, so we should expect that God’s presence and activity in the world will generally be hidden. And if that is the case God will not be observable by scientific means, and will be unnecessary for scientific explanations of the world, even though God is continually present and active."
  • File

    Murphy, George L.

     (171K)

    Chiasmic Cosmology and Creation's Functional Integrity

    "The belief that the character of God is most fully revealed in the cross of Christ is proposed here as the basis for Howard Van Till's concept of the functional integrity of creation. A theology of divine action in which the kenosis, or self-limitation, of God plays a central role is described and applied to our understanding of the world today and to the origins of the universe and life. The emphasis of this approach on the Incarnation then makes it possible to speak theologically about the design of a universe which displays functional integrity."
  • File

    Newman, Robert C.

     (330K)

    Some Problems for Theistic Evolution

    "Most readers of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith are acquainted with the terms 'young-earth creation,' 'old-earth creation,' and 'theistic evolution.' These reflect the fact that, among Christians in general and within the American Scientific Affiliation in particular, there is considerable disagreement on how to relate the biblical and scientific data on origins. Some feel that theistic evolution is not the best solution. Here I wish to suggest why, by examining some problems for theistic evolution, both scientific and theological. Before looking at these problems, we will need to consider what theistic evolution is, and try to sort it into its various versions. After all, different forms of theistic evolution may face different problems."
  • File

    Peters, Ted and Martinez Hewlett

     (24K)

    Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

    "Christians should consider two reasons for investigating Theistic Evolution. First, inherent to the Christian faith is a bias toward good science. The Christian faith seeks understanding, said St. Anselm; and the seeds of science were sown and fertilized in the garden of Christian intellectual history. The pursuit of science has for centuries been a noble Christian vocation. With this in mind, it is a grave disappointment to hear religious voices trumpeting that Christians today need to be anti-Darwinian, perhaps even anti-science. Unfortunately, young people of deep faith are entering our universities and detouring around the sciences. They avoid science, fearing that it will contaminate if not destroy their faith. Who told them that?"
  • File

    Pruss, Alexander R.

     (321K)

    Divine Creation and Evolution

    "It is widely accepted that divine creation of human beings, except maybe for the souls thereof, is compatible with neo-Darwinian evolution. I shall argue that, on the contrary, neo-Darwinian evolution is at least rationally and perhaps logically incompatible with a plausible understanding of what it means to say that God intentionally created human bodies. I will do this by examining three different accounts that try to make compatible the idea of creation with a neo-Darwinian account: determinstic evolution with God setting initial conditions, stochastic evolution with God having middle knowledge and stochastic evolution without God having middle knowledge."
  • File

    Pruss, Alexander R.

     (169K)

    How Not to Reconcile Evolution and Creation

    "It is widely accepted that divine creation of human beings is compatible with evolutionary theory, except perhaps in regard of the human soul, and that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory provides an explanation of speciation and of complex features of organisms that undercuts Paley-style teleological arguments, whether or not the evolutionary mechanisms are truly random or deterministic. I will argue that a plausible understanding of the doctrine of creation of human beings is either logically or rationally incompatible with full evolutionary theory, even if one does not take souls into account. Consequently, a theist needs to move to a weaker version either of the creation doctrine or of evolutionary theory, or both."
  • File

    Rota, Michael

     (120K)

    Evolution, Providence, and Gouldian Contingency

    "Stephen Jay Gould and others have argued that what we know about evolution implies that human beings are a ‘cosmic accident’. In this paper I examine an argument for Gould’s view and then attempt to show that it fails. Contrary to the claims of Gould, Daniel Dennett, and others, it is a mistake to think that what we have learned from evolutionary biology somehow shows that human beings are mere accidents of natural history. Nor does what we know about the contingency of evolution give us good reason to reject the view that human beings came to be according to a divine providential plan."
  • File

    Rust, Peter

     (259K)

    How Has Life and Its Diversity Been Produced?

    "With complementarity, a fully harmonic interpretation of Bible and nature is, in principle, possible. Both atheistic evolutionism and young-earth anti-evolutionism are unrealistic. Macroevolution is still fully speculative: evolutionary mechanisms are inadequate, evolutionary evidences ambiguous. There are fundamental limits to empirical investigation in the transastronomical size of the combinatorial space of genomes and in the contingency of elementary events. But biblical evidence allows for evolution. The all-embracing providential activity of the Creator and the personal dignity of the human creature are tentatively presented as theological arguments in favor of evolution as God's method of creation."
  • File

    Schroeder, Gerald L.

     (89K)

    Evolution? Looking at the Bigger Picture of Life's Development

    "The National Academy of Sciences recently referred to evolution as the best theory to explain how life developed...We are the condensed energy of the creation. We witnessed that creation and its genesis, first as light beams, then as parts of stars and the star dust of supernovae, then as the rocks and water on the surface of the earth, which in a geological blink of the eye became alive. And tucked within that wonder of the first life was the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is purpose driven, the preservation of the species. The first forms of life had purpose within their genetic make-up...The basic problem in teaching evolution is that we get so involved with the minutiae, that we neglect the really crucial questions. When you give all the facts, even those for which there are no facile answers, you come up with an answer that smacks of teleology."
  • File

    Sloane, Andrew

     (109K)

    Theological Boundaries on Theistic Evolution

    "I have been asked to address the question of how theistic evolution can be articulated in a manner consistent with Christian faith. 1 That is to say, I have been given the task of briefly exploring the theological boundaries on theistic evolution. Before I can do that, however, I must deal with a fundamental objection. Some say that the very idea of theistic evolution crosses crucial theological boundaries...Are they right? I think not. But to see why they’re wrong, we need to look at what the boundaries are and how they function, and then seek to present a ‘story’ of origins that fits within the boundaries of faithful Christian belief."
  • File

    Stenmark, Mikael

     (79K)

    Evolution, Purpose and God

    "A number of biologists maintain that the recent developments in evolutionary biology have profound implications for religion, morality and our self-understanding. The author focuses on the issue whether evolutionary biology has any relevance for a religious understanding of the meaning of life. First, the question about the meaning of life is clarified. Second, the argument of biologists such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould and Edward O. Wilson, that evolutionary theory undermines the religious belief that there is a purpose or meaning to the existence of the universe and to human life in particular, is evaluated. The author maintains that this argument has some merit, but that it nevertheless fails both to be a purely scientific argument and to establish the intended conclusion."
  • File

    Van Till, Howard J.

     (250K)

    Basil, Augustine, and the Doctrine of Creation’s Functional Integrity

    "Contemporary scientific theorizing regarding the formative history of the universe (including its multifarious forms of life) presumes that the developmental economy of the physical world is gapless-that is, that material systems lack none of the form-producing capacities needed to actualize, in the course of time, all of the physical structures and biotic forms that have ever appeared. Hence divine acts of special creation in time, although not proscribed, are not incorporated into scientific theories regarding the world's formative history. Some Christian critics of modem science have argued that this approach, by its appearing to transfer the agency of creative action from God to matter itself, constitutes an abandonment of the historic Christian doctrine of creation and an 'apologetic capitulation to philosophical Naturalism. In this paper we will examine this verdict in the light of works by St. Basil and St. Augustine and find it to be contrary to early Christian thought regarding the character of the created world. These patristic writers re-focus our attention on what may be called 'the doctrine of Creation's functional integrity'."
  • File

    Wacome, Donald

     (153K)

    Evolution, Foreknowledge and Creation

    "Perhaps not from a 'generically theistic' point of view, but from a specifically biblical, Judeo-Christian perspective, we should be disposed to find evidence that God did not select us in the sense required by a traditional understanding of creation, and instead left the 'selection' a matter of indeterministic natural processes. We may view the evolutionary account of human origins as antecedently probable, rather than improbable. While this gives us no license to accept uncritically current evolutionary theories, ignoring their alleged inadequacies or denying whatever real deficiencies they have, we should be at least as ready as intellectually honest non-theists to accept the 'Grand Evolutionary Hypothesis.' If it is essentially correct, it can be an important component of a powerful, winsome account of this world as made by a gracious God."
  • File

    van Woundenberg, René

     (110K)

    Darwinian and Teleological Expanations: Are They Incompatible?

    "It has often been remarked that the true genius of Darwinism is that it offers non-teleological explanations in a context where teleological explanations had always been presumed essential...Darwinian explanations, it is often claimed, have made teleological explanations obsolete; their very possibility shows that teleological explanations must be false. This paper is an investigation of this claim. More specifically, it investigates whether or not teleological and non-teleological explanations are incompatible. Still more specifically, it investigates whether or not teleological explanations are incompatible with so-called evolutionary psychological explanations (EP explanations, for short) of certain specific human traits such as moral behavior."