Table of Contents:
Part 1: Introductory Essays:
- “A Delineation of Models Regarding the Relationship Between Theology and Science.”
- “Triangulating Peirce, Gould, and Conway Morris to Derive a Thematic Evolutionary Developmental Philosophy of the Theology & Science Relationship.”
- “Charles Sanders Peirce’s Evolutionary Developmental Teleology.”
Part 2: Kenosis & Emergence:
4. “Making Sense of Emergence: A Critical Engagement with Leidenhag, Leidenhag, and Yong.”
5. “Kenosis and Emergence: A Wesleyan-Relational Perspective.”
6. “The Kenosis of the Spirit into Creation.”
7. “Thomistic Personalism in Dialogue with Modern Depictions of Kenosis.”
Part 3: Teleology & Theology:
- “Divine Action in an Evolutionary World: Toward a Teleological Model of Causality in the Science & Theology Dialogue.”
- “Aquinas, Teleology, and the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis.”
- “Evolution, Emergence, and Final Causality: A Proposed Pneumatico-Theological Synthesis.”
Part 4: Pneumatology & Process Theism:
- “A Modern Depiction of Natural Theology in Dialogue with Aquinas, Darwin, and Whitehead.”
- “A Critical Analysis and Response to Hume from a Pneumatological Perspective.”
- “Causation, Vitalism, and Hume.”
Impressed by William Paley’s logic and eye for detail, the young Charles Darwin accepted the conventional observation that organisms were adapted exquisitely to their environments. This remarkable fact, Darwin agreed at the time, could only be explained by reference to the existence of an intelligent and benign creator. Having overcome the initial objections of his father, Charles accepted Capitan Fitzroy’s offer to be his gentlemanly companion on an exploration of various unknown lands, setting sail in 1831 on what would turn out to be an endlessly fascinating five-year voyage around the globe on the Beagle. It was a journey that would give surprising new direction to Darwin’s own life and also provide information about nature that has agitated the religious sensibilities of many Christians ever since.
After returning home, Darwin’s earlier belief in the special creation of each distinct species transmutated into a strong suspicion that the origin of different living species had occurred gradually, in a purely natural way. Among the many questions that Darwin and other naturalists who thereafter studied the specimens he collected on the voyage began to ask was, Why do small but distinct variations appear among geographically distributed species of birds and other animals? Specific differences in species, Darwin began to suppose, could be accounted for without divine special creation if there had been minute, cumulative changes in living organisms over an immensely long time. In fact, following his return from the voyage of the Beagle, Darwin writes of his own views, “The old argument from design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows.”
In offering the mechanism of natural selection, Darwin gave a new kind of answer to what had previously been viewed as a strictly theological question. After he published his theory in 1859, Darwin effectively made natural science the new kind of ultimate explanation by making science itself able to provide a new answer to a very old theological question. Indeed, in the wake of the Origin of Species, religion underwent a significant reformulation. God, who had been seen as the primary artist of nature in the former years, began to be viewed as a more distant deity—even more so than the developments of Newton had relegated him. Responses to the theory of evolution by religious communities proceeded along several lines, from outright rejection by the fundamentalists, to cautioned acceptance by the religious moderates, to unquestioned acceptance by theological liberals. Fundamentalists viewed Darwinism as an attack on the tenets of Christianity, and therefore rejected the insights gleaned from the science of evolution. Scientifically, there were also mixed reactions to the advent of Darwinism, ranging from outright rejection, to qualified acceptance, to full embrace.
Following his famous teacher Georges Cuvier, Louis Agassiz asserted that the major groups of animals do not represent ancestral branches of a hypothetical evolutionary tree but, instead, document a great plan that was used by the Creator to design the many different species in existence today. Asa Gray, however, was a Presbyterian Christian scientist who heartily accepted Darwinism. Gray spent much of his life arguing on both a popular and a scientific level for the compatibility of evolutionary theory and religion by contending that natural selection was not inconsistent with a deity superintending the process of evolution. Another response to Darwinism comes from the likes of Thomas Henry Huxley, who represented a ferocious attack on the tenets of Christianity, veiled in the guise of his newly coined terminology of “agnosticism.” After all, if natural science can account for something as complex as living organisms, including things as simple as the fish’s eye and eventually as complex as even the human brain, had not science then taken over theology’s place in the task of making life’s designs fully intelligible? If natural selection is the ultimate cause of apparent design, do classic theological explanations matter at all? What good is theology if science can provide a satisfying answer to one of humanity’s most burning questions? These questions are still quite alive today—over one hundred and fifty years later.
People throughout the ages have attempted to understand the universe and their place within it. In attempting to develop a worldview that explicates their position in the world, religions have typically played a very important role, but since the scientific revolution, and particularly since the biological revolution onset by Darwin, science has also played a crucial role. How should we attempt to understand the relationship between religion/theology and science? In this book, I will attempt to answer this overarching question by examining several attempts in the past to classify the theology and science relationship. I will also develop my personal view of the relation between theology and science, and thereafter I discuss some contributions to this project of understanding theology in an evolving world from extant literature. I then argue that kenosis and emergence can add to the discussion of understanding the theology and science relationship, particularly when viewed through Wesleyan-Relational lenses.
Whenever one collects various essays for (re-)publication, especially when their composition spans over a decade, the methods and manner of their presentation inevitably arise. Where and in what order are they best presented, one queries. While I concede that another presentation of these disparate essays is possible, I have chosen the present format intentionally, and this introduction will attempt to make this placement apparent. Part one of this book is comprised of three programmatical chapters that constitute introductory essays toward a modern relation of theology and science. In the first chapter, “A Delineation of Models Regarding the Relationship Between Theology and Science,” I review some contributions from other scholars that directly impacts and/or illustrates my advocation of a monistic Process-based view of the overlapping relationship between theology and science. In light of the current worldview, marked by the scientific notion of evolution, new models of divine action are necessary. I contend that Process philosophy is an apt mediator between theology and science. Indeed, Process philosophy is based on the conviction that the central task of philosophy is to construct a cosmology in which all intuitions grounded in human experience can be reconciled. In the broadest sense, the term “Process philosophy” refers to all worldviews holding that process or becoming is more fundamental than unchanging—or static—being. The task of reconciling theology and science involves the replacement of the materialistic worldview with “panexperientialism,” which allows religious experience to be taken seriously.
In the second chapter, “Triangulating Peirce, Gould, and Conway Morris to Derive a Thematic Evolutionary Developmental Philosophy of the Theology & Science Relationship,” I attempt to construct an introductory (of sorts) relation between Charles Sanders Peirce, Stephen Jay Gould, and Simon Conway Morris. I note that two themes regarding the nature of evolutionary thought—that of it being pictured as descent with modification and as it being marked by an over-reliance on genetics and a high emphasis upon contingency—mark the historical development of Darwinism broadly construed. As I develop it in this chapter, I would like to hope that we, in the twenty-first century, can move beyond these two models, and enter into a Darwinism as being marked by an evolutionary developmental philosophy assisted by Charles Sanders Peirce, which would result in a proposed period of stability between the competing extremes of an overemphasis on contingency on one side and strict predictability on the other.
In “Charles Sanders Peirce’s Evolutionary Developmental Teleology,” which constitutes chapter 3, I constructively dialogue with Peirce in order to derive from him a novel conception of teleological causation. In fact, this chapter reaps insights from Peirce that are critical to a modern relation of theology and science. Peirce was a novel thinker in terms of both originality and in application. One area of his originality was his evolutionary developmental teleology. Another area of originality is his novel conceptioning of evolutionary causation, which is founded upon his foundational and fundamental three categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. Herein, I argue the notion of a “developmental teleology” is applicable to Peirce’s idea of teleology in general. Seen as such, final causes evolve, and they are not static. This contention means that teleology emerged out of the increasing complexification of life on earth, and continues to be general, not specific in its derivation. Moreover, in Peirce’s agapasm, as explicated in part two of this chapter, God gives himself away in acts of uncontrolling love without any conditions as to the potential responses to that love, as well as to what responses may fulfill that love. Rather, it is completely reckless and overflowing. Seen as such, the many and varied manifestations of complexity that macroevolution has given rise to are to be seen as a fulfillment of the teleological goals of God.
Part two of this title is constituted by four chapters. It explores Kenosis & Emergence in view of a modern relation of theology and science. In the fourth chapter, “Making Sense of Emergence: A Critical Engagement with Leidenhag, Leidenhag, and Yong,” David Bradnick and I argue that Amos Yong’s teleological understanding of emergence, largely, goes untouched by a recent critique of the same. In fact, we argue that Pentecostal theologian Amos Yong employs emergence as a framework to discuss special divine action as well as causation initiated by other spiritual realities, such as angels and demons, which bears directly on how one may view the relation of theology and science in the (post-)modern world. Mikael and Joanna Leidenhag, however, have issued some reservations about the use of emergence in the theology and science dialogue. In this chapter, Dr. Bradnick and I provide a summary of emergence and address each of the criticisms set forth by Leidenhag and Leidenhag.
Chapter 5 is comprised of essay entitled, “Kenosis and Emergence: A Wesleyan-Relational Perspective.” This essay is the fulcrum upon which the entire book depends. As fundamentally relational, God both affects and is affected by those with whom he relates. This is essential to the notion of a loving God, which I repeatedly, following Thomas Jay Oord, refer to as “uncontrolling love.” In this chapter, after reviewing and interacting with Philip Clayton, I suggest that he contributes four things, principally, to a Wesleyan-relational perspective on emergence: first, emergence is in direct opposition to reductionism. Second, any position on creation in an evolving world must take seriously both evolutionary continuity and the increase in organizational complexity marked by organisms within the natural environ. Third, strong emergentism focuses more so upon the whole than upon the parts, yet is inherently monistic. And fourth, emergence theory represents an explanatory ladder of nature that eventually leads outside the natural sciences, opening up new avenues to possibly speak of a deity.
In chapter 6, I note that recently a collection of essays by theologians and scientists explored creation as The Work of Love, pointing to divine action as kenosis. The resurgence of kenotic theology has been helpful in reformulating divine action in an evolutionary world. The kenotic theology that I advocate in this fifth chapter, “Kenosis of the Spirit into Creation,” maintains that the Spirit of God, who is uncontrolling love, completely shares and imparts himself into creation. Indeed, the Spirit “poured himself out” into creation, thereby causing it to leap forth from chaos and become a structured and orderly system of life-bearing entities. Affirmed in this chapter is the notion that creation is a kenotic act of self-offering insomuch as the creation of matter and the world has its ontological origin in and through the agency of the Spirit.
Chapter 7 is constituted by an essay that delineates what Thomistic Personalism, especially drawing upon Karol Wojtyla’s Love and Responsibility, may contribute to a modern relation of theology and science. In that particular work, Wojtyla characterized love as the inherent affirmation of the value of the person. Yet, there is a form of love that is pre-eminent, which Wojtyla refers to herein as betrothed love, the defining characteristic of which is self-donation. I build on Wojtyla’s characterization of betrothed love as self-donation, noting that the bible gives good grounds for illustrating the Spirit as the active agent of God in the world, particularly regarding the Spirit as life-giver and animator of all creation through self-donation (or self-giving). In this chapter, I note that the Spirit is the effectual arm of the Trinity that was active as the Son spoke each word in the primal creating moments. The Spirit, I postulate, is ultimately responsible for both the conditions for life, as well as life itself.
Part three is again constituted by three chapters. This section covers teleology and theology broadly considered, and how teleology applies to a modern relation of theology and science. This section begins an exploration of theology and science in chronological terms, which will also extend to the fourth part of this book. In chapter 8, “Divine Action in an Evolutionary World: Toward a Teleological Model of Causality in the Theology & Science Dialogue,” I investigate whether contemporary models of divine action are coherent and kosher. If they are, that is well, and my book is not needed. If they are not, I suggest herein that a turn to teleological explanations is more than warranted and fruitful for further research. This development of a teleological perspective on divine action will be the foundation of research for the foreseeable future.
In chapter 9, I explore “Aquinas, Teleology, and the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis.” Because the modern evolutionary synthesis is still the paradigm in evolutionary biology, the question of whether Thomistic teleology is inconsistent with the modern synthetic theory of evolution is an important one. In conducting this investigation, Aristotelian philosophy is employed, since Aristotle is the father of teleology and his philosophical system relies on the concept of function. In this chapter, I explore whether Aquinas’s teleology—which includes an intentional agent—is compatible with the modern synthetic theory of evolution. I contend that no modification of Aquinas’s system of theology is necessary to render it compatible with Neo-Darwinian orthodoxy.
The tenth chapter is entitled, “Evolution, Emergence, and Final Causality: A Proposed Pneumatico-Theological Synthesis,” and it argues that an unprecedented challenge and opportunity for philosophy today is to mediate the emerging dialogue between science and religion. It has been said that creation and evolution, between them, exhaust the possible explanations for the origin of living things. However, this chapter offers another option—a pneumatological (re-)interpretation of emergence, one that “reads” the philosophical concept of emergence through theological lens, which is beneficial because it opens up the possibility of teleology (or final causality). This chapter makes a key presentation of the metaphysical basis of emergence theory.
In the fourth section of this title, which is comprised by three chapters, I interact with pneumatology and Process Theism, lifting principles from each of them in working toward a modern relation of theology and science. In fact, chapter 11 discusses a revised form of natural theology in dialogue with Thomism, Darwin, and Whitehead. It argues that in order to be kosher and pertinent, a modern relation of theology and science informed by natural theology must “read” nature as giving reasons that are promotive of belief in a God, not proof that there is a God. I glean insights regarding how the enterprise of natural theology has, if anything, been given a new lease of life through the rise of evolutionary thought. The traditional approach to natural theology is merely one option among many; the rise of evolutionary thought supplemented an existing and vigorous theological critique of this approach. Natural theology needs to emerge from the shadows of this traditional approach and rediscover, retrieve, and renew alternative approaches. Natural theology cannot be understood to concern proving God from nature.
Chapter 12 is the first of two chapters that react to David Hume’s contributions to a modern relation of theology and science. In this chapter, I discuss how a pneumatologically informed position can effectively circumvent the criticisms levelled by Hume toward Christianity. Indeed, in the course of the history of Christianity, one of the most advocated and denigrated concepts is the verity of the miraculous. One finds that the opponents of Christianity have perpetually attempted to belie the status of the miraculous in order to overturn the entire worldview of the Christian. On the other hand, one also finds that at various times Christians have overemphasized the importance of the miraculous to their worldview in general. The situation in which the Scottish philosopher Hume lived (1711–1776) was riper for the apparent refutation of the miraculous than any time in the history of the movement. After a lengthy critical analysis of Hume, it will be argued in this chapter that he did not successfully negate either the possibility or the plausibility of the miraculous.
In chapter 13, we again dialogue with Hume, noting especially how causation has troubled philosophers at least since the time of Aristotle. The main reason for the quest to clarify causation concerns its implications for other philosophical issues, as clarity regarding causation is intrinsically vital for clarity in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of language, as well as the philosophy of logic. To believe in causation is simply to believe that there is something fundamental about nature in virtue of which the world is regular in its behavior and that something is what causation is, or is at least is an essential component of what causation involves. In the seventeenth century, there was much debate regarding the notion of vitalism, and this debate heavily influenced the discussion regarding causation. During this early modern period many philosophers questioned the intelligibility of causal interactions and the notion of causation itself. As a consequence of this debate, causes were no longer seen as the active initiators of a change, but as inactive nodes in a law-like implication chain instead.
 Haught, Making Sense of Evolution, 6.
 Charles Darwin, Autobiography, http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F1497&viewtype=text&pageseq=1.