Theistic evolution is the effort to reconcile Darwin’s theory of undirected evolution with belief in God in general and Christian theology in particular. Analogous terms to theistic evolution include “evolutionary creation,” “fully gifted creation,” and “biologos.” Ambiguously Defined Theistic evolution encompasses a wide array of different approaches and views, which has generated considerable confusion about the actual meaning of the Read More ›
1. Cards on the Table In the movie Dream Team starring Michael Keaton, Keaton plays a psychiatric patient who must feign sanity to save his psychiatrist from being murdered. In protesting his sanity, Keaton informs two New York City policemen that he doesn’t wear women’s clothing, that he’s never danced around Times Square naked, and that he doesn’t talk to Read More ›
Abstract: According to Howard Van Till, the early Christian fathers Basil and Augustine taught that life appeared as a consequence of creaturely capacities which God bestowed on the world from the beginning, in contrast to special creationism, which teaches that God intervened in the creation to make living things. To reconcile Christian faith with modern science, Van Till advocates recovering “the historic creationist tradition,” which he characterizes as the “forgotten doctrine of Creation’s functional integrity” taught by Basil and Augustine. Basil, however, believed that God intervened in the creation to make living things, and was thus a special creationist. According to Augustine, God created everything simultaneously and placed causal principles into the creation which subsequently produced creatures in time. But Augustine proposed his theory of causal principles to emphasize that every species was created in the beginning by a special act of God, and he denied that creaturely capacities could produce anything new. Therefore, Van Till’s “forgotten doctrine of Creation’s functional integrity” has no basis in Basil’s theology, and its emphasis on creaturely capacities is alien to Augustine’s theology; so “the historic creationist tradition” is not what Van Till represents it to be.
Some Christians believe that the major features of living things could not have arisen through Darwinian evolution, but must have been specially created by God. Physicist Howard J. Van Till criticizes this position on the grounds that it relies on a “God-of-the-gaps” who must “act directly in the course of creation’s formative history to compensate for gaps or deficiencies in the capacities of created substances.” According to Van Till, the world is characterized instead by “functional integrity,” meaning that it “has no functional deficiencies, no gaps in its economy of the sort that would require God to act immediately.”1
Van Till maintains that his position is rooted in the theological writings of St. Basil of Caesarea and St. Augustine of Hippo. According to Van Till, these two early Christian fathers taught “that at the beginning God created, from nothing, all substances and forms, but that the forms of creatures became actualized only in the course of time. Most importantly, these creatures appeared in the course of history not as a consequence of some new, direct and ‘special’ act of God (an ‘intervention’), but as the consequence of created substances employing their God-given capacities to bring about in time what the Creator had in mind from the beginning.”2Read More ›
On February 11-16, 1993, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) met in Boston for its 159th National Meeting. While several sessions addressed topics of great interest, one in particular — “The New Anti-evolutionism” — focused on issues which have long been featured in OR publications and correspondence.1 This report concentrates on that section.
Transcript of Michael Ruse’s 1993 Speech to the AAAS
(transcript added 5.98)
The Case of the Missing Speaker
Michael Ruse, a philosopher and biology historian at the University of Guelph in Ontario, was probably the best-known speaker featured at the session, “The New Anti-evolutionism.” As session organizer Eugenie Scott remarked before Ruse spoke, “He is almost a person who needs no introduction in this context.” Yet a recent article describing the session in the London Times Higher Education Supplement omits Ruse entirely.2 Although the Times provides the identities and views of all the other speakers in some detail, they make no mention — even in passing — of Ruse nor his talk.
Why the glaring omission? Was Ruse’s talk so commonplace or forgettable that it warranted no mention? Hardly: indeed, the opposite is the case. Ruse is often controversial, but he is rarely boring, and his talk entitled “Nonliteralist anti-evolution as in the case of Phillip Johnson” was true to form; it was (for this correspondent) easily the most memorable and surprising of the meeting. Thus I speculate that Ruse’s conspicuous absence from the Times article may be due to a certain uneasiness about his main point, which, Ruse argued (and I agree) “is an important one.”
This eyewitness report may help to repair the Times complete neglect of Professor Ruse. Let’s begin by reviewing the other speakers’ remarks.Read More ›