The challenge and stimulus to theology that is constituted by the scientific version of Genesis which will prevail for the foreseeable future is expounded in relation to the significance of the succeeding stages of the life process and to the general features of biological evolution. A responsive theology of evolution is discerned as involving a renewal of insights associated with the themes of immanence, panentheism, the Wisdom and Word of God, and a sacramental universe. Such a revitalized theology allows one (...) to conceive of humanity and Jesus the Christ in a fully evolutionary perspective without loss of an emphasis on the particularity of the Incarnation. (shrink)
Sir Thomas Browne's reflection on the synthesis between his Christian religion and his practice as a medical doctor, made over three centuries ago, leads into reflections on the present relation between religion and science in the personal experience of the writer. An account is given of how the actual practice of scientific investigation led the author to theistic inferences and how the study of DNA provoked questions concerning reductionism and emergence. This evoked the need for a map of knowledge, and (...) an attempt is presented in a figure which also serves to clarify what kind of realistic reference is involved in both scientific and humanistic contexts–especially with respect to personal language. Theological investigations thereby receive at least provisional legitimization and, with this encouragement, the article pursues the questions of the nature of the divine Source (“God”) of the world's being and becoming, of God's interaction and communication with the world, especially with human beings in that world. The penultimate section outlines why the writer considers an explicit communication from God to humanity in Jesus of Nazareth is coherent with the foregoing and what this implies for human fulfillment, individually and corporately. The article concludes with a plea for humility before God and nature in our inquiries in the spirit both of Sir Thomas Browne and of the arch “agnostic” T. H. Huxley. (shrink)
The broad character of the arguments used by sociobiologists is assessed, particularly in relation to criticisms coming from anthropology. The implications of sociobiology for theology are developed with respect to the general impact of evolutionary ideas, the reductionist assumptions of sociobiologists, whether or not “survival” can be a value, and more holistic accounts of the physical and biological grounding of the mental and spiritual lives of human beings.
The basic features of thermodynamics as the “science of the possible” are outlined with a special emphasis on the role of the concept of entropy as a measure of irreversibility in natural processes and its relation to “order,” precisely defined. Natural processes may lead to an increase in complexity, and this concept has a subtle relationship to those of order, organization, and information. These concepts are analyzed with respect to their relation to biological evolution, together with other ways of attempting (...) to quantify it. Thermodynamic interpretations of evolution are described and critically compared, and the significance of dissipative structures, of “order through fluctuations,” is emphasized in relation both to the evolutionary succession of temporarily stable forms and to kinetic mechanisms producing new patterns. (shrink)
The present malaise of religion—and of theology, its intellectual formulation—in Western society is analyzed, with some personal references, especially with respect to its history in the United Kingdom and the United States. The need for a more open theology that takes account of scientific perspectives is urged. An indication of the understandings of God and of God's relation to the world which result from an exploration starting from scientific perspectives is expounded together with their fruitful relation to some traditional themes. (...) The implications of this for the future of theology are suggested, not least in relation to the new phase, beginning in 2003, of the development of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science. In a concluding reflection the hope is expressed that the shared global experience and perspectives generated by the sciences might form a more common and acceptable starting point than hitherto for the exploration towards God of the seekers of many religious traditions and of none. (shrink)