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Whose Evolution? Which Theology?

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The importance of scientific conflicts for theology andphilosophy is difficult to judge. In many disputes of significance, prominent scientists can be found on both sides. Profound philosophical and religious implications are sometimes said to be implied by the new theory as well. This article examines the dispute over natural selection between Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould as a contemporary instance of such a conflict. While both claim that profound philosophical conclusions flow from their own alternativeaccount of evolution, I suggest that the implication is not as great as is claimed and that the alleged implications have as much to do with their own perceptions of theology as with the actual theories themselves. Nevertheless, evolutionary theory is not irrelevant for theology. Theologians should be aware of the possible implications of evolutionary theory and at the same time theextent and limits of such implications.

Keywords: Richard Dawkins; Stephen Jay Gould; evolution; natural selection; punctuated equilibrium

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Assistant Professor of Religion at Thiel College, Greenville

Publication date: 2000-06-01

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