C – Evolutionary theology

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In a post from two days ago entitled “How beliefs about life influenced Darwinism” I described some trends in theology that led up to the Scientific Revolution. My claim was that the assumptions from theology just before the birth of biology shaped assumptions that are still part of our view of life. These include assumptions that: 1) god was an active agent rather than a generalized, creative process; 2) organisms tell us all about life without having to understand any deeper questions about the nature of life; and 3) humans too are best understood as individuals (organisms) rather than as facets of any larger or smaller constellations (seen in the bottom left group of blue circles in chart below).

But biology is changing. Themes (A) and (B) are discussions about these changes and the potential for further changes. In my own posts I have come out strongly to forecast significant changes in evolutionary theory. These include our conception of civilization’s place within evolution as being radically changed and improved. This would mean understanding modern human life – all of it including skyscrapers and the internet – as integrated into the theory of evolving life. If this is true, then these will have momentous implications for theology. If the forecast for theme (A) and evolutionary

How beliefs about life influenced Darwinism

Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared at an auspicious moment in history. The exploration of the whole globe with its strange creatures as in Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle was in full swing, and the hopeful sense of human progress following the Industrial Revolution was in full blossom. But the sciences of mechanics and mathematics as from Descartes and Newton formed a legacy that themselves descended from changing notions of god, humans, and agency. The discussions of evolutionary theory (A) and the evolutionary significance of civilization (B) are inextricably tied to these scientific and theological roots.

Three long term themes in the West are worth tracing. The first is a shifting focus in the life sciences from the general question of the nature of life versus the investigation of specific organisms. The second is the shift in theology over the Middle Ages and into the age of science from a concept-less and name-less view of god to a view of god as having specific powers. The third is