Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a "cold bath" for theology, but also a stimulus to Christian theologians to think bold and enlivening new thoughts about God, says a Georgetown University professor.
While evolutionary atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Jerry Coyne claim that Darwin's science has destroyed any basis for religion, and especially Christian faith, John F. Haught argues that evolutionary science and a robust faith in God are not mutually exclusive, but, in fact, go quite well together.
In Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life, published next month by Westminster John Knox Press, Professor Haught suggests that evolution makes sense both scientifically and theologically when we connect the idea of God to the drama of life - rather than attending to the question of whether life is intelligently "designed."
Contemporary theologians often speak of creation as God 'letting be' that which is not God, rather than 'manufacturing' a world in the way that some popular religious thought speaks. They argue that this is truer both to the way the world is, and to the way God is discovered to be in the Christian tradition.
In his new book, Professor Haught also argues that only after those such as Dawkins, Dennett, and Coyne "realise that Darwinian science has no business in answering ultimate questions, will biology be fully liberated from the clutches of theology" (p. 20).
The Georgetown professor says that Christians who find evolution contrary to faith often do so because they are focusing mainly on the issue of life's adaptive design and the notion of the gradual descent of all life from a common ancestry. In doing so, he argues, they overlook the significance of the dramatic narrative going on beneath the surface of life and the entire universe.
In Making Sense of Evolution, Haught offers instead a focus on evolution as an ongoing drama and accepts the possibility that we simply cannot — perhaps need not — make complete sense of it all until it has fully played out.
John F. Haught is a Senior Fellow specialising in Science and Religion at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, and Emeritus Professor of Theology, Georgetown University.
A leading voice in the field of science and religion, Haught, a Catholic, is the author of eighteen books.
Books by John F. Haught available through Ekklesia: Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life (Westminster / John Knox, March 2010), God and the New Atheism (Westminster / John Knox, 2008), Christianity and Science (Orbis, 2007), God After Darwin (Perseus, 2007), Deeper than Darwin (Perseus, 2004).