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Does evolutionary creation lend itself to self-transcendence?
During our conversation last Sunday, we had a hard time trying to grasp Southgate’s meaning of the word “transcendence”. We also had a hard time defining the word “love” as well in a philosophical sense. Seems simple enough until you get down the deep theological and philosophical aspects of it rather than the simple everyday notions of the word “love”.
Here are our essays.
Is God Responsible for extinctions that happen throughout nature? Does he cause them? Is there something good that can come about through the extinction of a species? Or is it a total waste?
Yesterday, we discussed how extinction may not be a total loss, the role of humans in God’s creation, an eschatological ‘need’ for redemption, a response to Ivan Karamazov, and whether or not God played a direct role in the evolution of homo sapiens.
Our response are here.
Above is a reading from a scene between Ivan (a skeptic) and his religious brother Alyosha from Fydor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov regarding the difficulty of believing in a loving God in the face of the abuse and suffering of innocent children.
Though Southgate’s book focuses primarily on the suffering of animals, he uses the illustration above in this chapter to convey his thesis that “[T]he crux of the problem is not the overall system and its overall goodness but the Christian’s struggle with the challenge to the goodness of God posed by specific cases of innocent suffering.”
We will begin a new semester this year as we focus on topics in theology and science. This time, we will cover Christopher Southgate’s The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil.
We will finish up the rest of Chapter 24 and discuss the impact World War II had upon Christendom.
Please read the last three sections: The Churches and Nazism: The Second World War, World Christianity Realigned: Ecumenical Beginnings, and World Christianity Realigned: Pentecostals and New Churches.
Chris wanted to clarify his position on the post i made here about the conversation we had during our last meeting last month that concerned evolution – human evolution in particular.
Here is his statement:
“Perhaps I was unclear in my comments. I apologize.
With respect to whether God directly intervened to make man or it was done by strict
evolution, I am AGNOSTIC. We simply lack the knowledge to decide at this time.
MUCH MORE CRITICALLY, my real point may have been missed.
Whether by God or evolution may not be the real question. The real question is who or
what gives us humans eternal worth?
The real ‘Adam and Eve story’ may be that God DOES directly intervene to imbue us with
eternal value as a totally free gift by His infinite and unknowable Love and through pure fiat.
What does evolution have to do with it? Whether a man or a cockroach what value
without God’s Desire and Will? We could evolve for an infinite amount of time and
reach stupendous levels of intellect, cognition and morality, we will still be (star) dust
and to (star) dust we will return. We will not even possess consciousness of our existence.
(These are not statements but questions. I appreciate comment, if any. Thanks.)”
We’re still alive! Trust me.
We were on hiatus because everyone’s schedule seemed quite packed last month, but we’re itching to come back.
Next Wednesday, we’ll finish up with the last three sections of Chapter 22: British Protestantism and the Oxford Movement, Orthodoxy: Russia and Ottoman Decay, Masters of Suspicion: Geology, Biblical Criticism and Atheism.
Please write a one page summary of one of the following questions:
- Describe the aims of the ‘Oxford Movement’ during the 1830s in England. What were its aims? Who were the Tractarians? What was the relationship between the Church of England and the State like at this time? What was John Henry Newman’s role during this period? And what were their fears about the Roman Catholic Church?
- Discuss the relations between the Ottoman Empire and the Orthodox Church (especially the Russian Orthodox Church) after the Russo-Turkish War of 1768 – 74. Why did the Russian Church tolerate the tsar’s tight control over the Church? How did Jews and Greek Catholics fair during the ‘Holy Alliance’ formed by Tsar Alexander in 1815? Why was the ‘Holy Alliance’ formed in the first place?
- Describe the role the Russian Orthodox Church played in the independence of Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire. How was the Ottoman Empire affected afterwards, especially the Ottoman rulers’ pursuit of Tanzimat?
- Discuss the impact of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection. How did his books, On the Orgin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), change how humankind was looked upon versus the biblical view of humankind? How are Darwin and his theory tied with his role in the anti-slavery/abolitionist movement? How did the relatively new science of geology change the perception of the Bible?
- Describe the rise of biblical criticism during the 19th century. Discuss the works of pastors and missionaries, like David Strauss and Albert Schweitzer, in their quests for the ‘historical Jesus’. How did perceptions of the Bible change because of higher criticism?
- Discuss the development of ‘Fundamentalism’ during the 1870s. What was it a reaction against? How and why did it form? How did it get its name? Discuss the roles Ira Sankey and D. L. Moody played in its rise. What are the central tenets of Fundamentalism?
- Discuss the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Describe his ‘God is dead’ philosophy. Discuss how his Lutheran upbringing molded some aspects of his anti-Christian rhetoric.
Hope to see everyone next Wednesday.
This HBO documentary takes a look into the beliefs of creationists and biblical literalists to understand why they so vehemently oppose evolution and Darwinism. That’s one half of the documentary.
The other half looks into the life and beliefs of Charles Darwin, and how so often he is misunderstood.
I would’ve liked if they could have interviewed Christians who embraced evolution or had no problems believing in the comparability of evolution (by natural selection) and Christianity, but they may be in the minority or not as vocal as creationists and evolutionary atheists.
This is a huge topic within American culture, society, and religion that gets really heated at times.