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Religion, Science, and Evolution: Paul Tillich's Fourth Way

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In his book God After Darwin John Haught provides a useful categorization of theological approaches to evolution: some theologians actively oppose Darwinian evolution, another group maintains that science and religion have nothing to say to one another, and a third seeks to engage evolution. Haught wishes to pursue the third way. But many theological attempts to talk about divine action in the world, including divine involvement in the process of evolution, run afoul of the scientific principle of the conservation of matter-energy. Haught's reliance on the now-familiar notion that information can have causal efficacy does not in fact escape this difficulty. I suggest a fourth approach, represented by a constructive reading of Paul Tillich's theology. The central argument is that Tillich offers a way of taking Darwinian evolution up into one's ultimate concern without claiming that God has any causal relation to evolution. God provides no historical telos for evolution, but rather a “depth teleology” that springs from the manner in which God, as the depth of the structure of finite being, is the object of Christian faith.

Keywords: John Haught; Paul Tillich; conservation of energy; depth teleology; theology and evolution

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, USA

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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