Monday, February 09, 2009

Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, 2a - Evolution and Creation

#2 in an ongoing series on Perspectives on an Evolving Creation edited by Keith B. Miller. Previous post in this series: Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, 1 - Introduction.

From Miller's opening essay, An Evolving Creation: Oxymoron or Fruitful Insight?

Let's start with the definition of creation, as Miller understands it. He says, "'Creation' refers to everything to which God has given being. As a verb, 'creation' refers to the past and continuing action of God to bring into existence all that is and has been. A closely related theological concept is that of 'Providence.' This doctrine include several distinct aspects: God's sustaining and upholding of creation; defined cooperation with creaturely action; and the governance of creation toward God's desired ends."

Having defined creation in this manner, let us move on to the concept of evolution.

Miller defines evolution as "the descent with modification of all living things from a common ancestor. That is, the history of life can be envisioned as a branching tree of life in which all living things are linked together in a genealogical relationship that extends back to the first living cells."

For someone like me, coming from a young-earth creationist social milieu, I have to confess this definition almost takes my breath away! Does he really intend to try to justify such a thoroughgoing, all-in definition? I mean, there are no holds barred, are there?!

Having provided this kind of bold definition, however, Miller then seeks to help us come along on his journey:
  • Understood in this way, the word "evolution" includes any of a number of proposed mechanisms by which evolutionary change [may have] occurred.
  • [E]volutionary theory does not address whether, or how, God might act to guide such processes.
  • Despite the long theological dialogue with evolutionary theory, many people continue to view evolution as inherently anti-theistic and inseparably wedded to a worldview that denies God and objective morality.
  • Although this understanding of the meaning of evolutionary theory is widely promoted by individuals both inside and outside of the scientific community, its conflation of a physical naturalism with evolution should be rejected on philosophical, theological, and historical grounds.
  • The equation of evolutionary theory with a philosophy that denies the reality of anything beyond matter and energy not only is false but is an impediment to quality scientific and theological thinking.
It is my intention, in my next post, to address some of the key ramifications of these last two items.
blog comments powered by Disqus