iSoul In the beginning is reality.

Evolutionary theology

The problem with evolutionary theology — theology that accepts universal evolution — is not that it denies the creation of the universe (it doesn’t) but that it minimizes the role of the creator. From the evolutionary position that’s exactly the point: explain as much as possible without reference to God, the supernatural, or the miraculous. In short, affirm naturalism.

The result of evolutionary theology is that other doctrines must be sneaked in later and kept as undetectable as possible. Human beings, for example, must have a soul. Christian theologians must affirm the resurrection of Christ at a minimum, and other cases of the miraculous or supernatural are hard for a theologian to avoid without sliding into deism or gnosticism.

The transcendence of God and the independence of God from creation are safe with all but the most extreme evolutionary theologies. So that is not the issue, despite what many keep saying. Rather, the issue is whether “the difference of man and the difference it makes” (to use Mortimer J. Adler’s phrase) is detectable at all.

Adler makes a philosophical case that mankind is detectably different from other animals in his book. There is a simple scientific case as well. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on negation:

Negation is a sine qua non of every human language, yet is absent from otherwise complex systems of animal communication.[1] While animal “languages” are essentially analog systems, it is the digital nature of the natural language negative operator … that allows for denial, contradiction, and other key properties of human linguistic systems.

Footnote 1. Some research suggests that apes and even non-primates can be trained to understand the functions of rejection, refusal, and even non-existence, corresponding to stages attested in children’s acquisition of negation, but not those of denial or truth-conditional negation (Heine and Kuteva 2007: 141–2). [Heine, B. and T. Kuteva, 2007, The Genesis of Grammar, Oxford: Oxford University Press.]

Other than apophatic (negative) theology I haven’t seen the theologians take up this difference but they should. It’s unnecessary to use the sledgehammer of Revelation when the mallet of science will do.

There are alternatives to naturalism in which types or kinds take a leading role. Where do these types or kinds come from? The same question could be asked of chemical elements or fundamental particles: they must have been created. There is no other answer for how the structure of the universe came about.

There is no need for theologians to retreat when the scientific consensus turns against theology. Scientists have been wrong before, even for decades and more. There is no magic in consensus.


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