Several articles in the June 2011 issue of the religion journal Zygon deal with Darwin and evolution:
Brooke, John Hedley
Abstract The purpose of this essay is to introduce a collection of five papers, originally presented at the 2009 summer conference of the International Society for Science and Religion, which explore the reception of Darwin’s science in different religious traditions. Comparisons are drawn between Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Indian responses to biological evolution, with particular reference to the problem of suffering and to the exegetical and hermeneutic issues involved.
Abstract Augustine, and following him some major theologians of the early Christian church, noted the apparent discrepancies between the first two chapters of Genesis and suggested an interpretation for these chapters significantly different from the literal. After examining a selection of the relevant texts, we shall follow the later fortunes of this interpretation in brief outline, figuring in particular an unlikely trio: Suarez, St. George Mivart, and Thomas Henry Huxley. Moral: Darwinian theory might plausibly be construed as implementing, unawares, a suggestion from that other Christian tradition.
Abstract This article offers one response from within Christianity to the theological challenges of Darwinism. It identifies evolutionary theory as a key aspect of the context of contemporary Christian hermeneutics. Examples of the need for re-reading of scripture, and reassessment of key doctrines, in the light of Darwinism include the reading of the creation and fall accounts of Genesis 1-3, the reformulation of the Christian doctrine of humanity as created in the image of God, and the possibility of a new approach to the Incarnation in the light of evolution and semiotics. Finally, a theodicy in respect of evolutionary suffering is outlined, in dialogue with recent writings attributing such suffering to a force in opposition to God. The latter move is rejected on both theological and scientific grounds. Further work on evolutionary theodicy is proposed, in relation in particular to the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.
Abstract Darwinism has attracted proportionately less attention from Jewish thinkers than from Christian thinkers. One significant reason for the disparity is that the theodicies created by Jews to contend with the catastrophes which punctuated Jewish history are equally suited to address the massive extinctions which characterize natural history. Theologies of divine hiddenness, restraint, and radical immanence, coming together in the sixteenth-century mystical cosmogony of Isaac Luria, have been rehabilitated and reworked by modern Jewish thinkers in the post-Darwin era.
Abstract Over the last century and a half, discussions of Darwin in Arabic have involved a complex intertwining of sources of authority. This paper reads one of the earliest Muslim responses to modern evolution against those in more recent times to show how questions of epistemology and exegesis have been critically revisited. This involved, on the one hand, the resuscitation of long-standing debates over claims regarding the nature of evidence, certainty, and doubt, and on the other, arguments about the use (and limits) of reason in relation to scripture. Categories of knowledge and belief, alongside methods of scriptural hermeneutics, were repositioned in the process, transforming the meaning and discursive reach of the former as much as the latter. Indeed, this paper argues that the long-run engagement with Darwin in Arabic led to the mutual transformation of both “science” and “religion,” whether as objects of knowledge (and belief) or as general discursive formations.
Gosling, David L.
Abstract The introduction of English as the medium of instruction for higher education in India in 1835 created a ferment in society and in the religious beliefs of educated Indians—Hindus, Muslims, and, later, Christians. There was a Hindu renaissance characterized by the emergence of reform movements led by charismatic figures who fastened upon aspects of Western thought, especially science, now available in English. The publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 was readily assimilated by educated Hindus, and several reformers, notably Vivekananda and Aurobindo, incorporated evolution into their philosophies. Hindu scientists such as Jagadish Chandra Bose were also influenced by Darwinian evolution, as were a number of modern Hindu thinkers. The results of an investigation into the religious beliefs of young Indian scientists at four centers were also summarized. The view that “what goes around comes around” appears increasingly to be open to doubt. Many educated Indians, not only Hindus, are raising more probing questions that call for deeper dialogues between science and religion, especially about what each believes it means to be truly human.