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Can Darwinism Rule Out Truth in Religion?

The reasons supporting this idea are twofold:

Darwinism, particularly when combined with modern molecular biology, is a system both ultimately simple, and of great explanatory power. This tempts scientists to apply it much more widely than can be strictly justified. See Richard Dawkins and E.O.Wilson against the possibility of the truth of religion.

A central ingredient of Darwinian evolution is chance. Again, this has tempted some thinkers to see the process as incompatible with the work of a purposeful creator (but see law, chance and divine action for a contrary view).

It is this irreducible element of chance in biology of which the great molecular biologist Jacques Monod wrote:

Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, (is) at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.Monod, J, Chance and Necessity transl. by A. Wainhouse (London: Collins, 1972) p110

The ancient covenant is in pieces; man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he emerged by chance.Monod, 1972, 167

These much-quoted sentences reveal much about the debate between biological atheists and those who want to defend a theistic account. Monod, on the basis of his own existential presuppositions, makes a large step from the existence of chance within a process to asserting that the process is determined by nothing other than chance. He confines the categories of possible explanation to the natural, and then infers that there is no super-natural meaning to the world.

Click on different understandings of chance to understand more about the meaning of the term.

Or see law, chance and divine action to understand why theologians now regard chance as an essential element in divine creation.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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