Reflections on Scientific and Religious Metaphor
The importance of scientific conflicts for theology and philosophy 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 profoundphilosophical conclusions flow from their own alternative account 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 the extent and limits of such implications.
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