Evolutionary and Molecular Biology
Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action
Paperback | 9780268027537 | January 2006
This collection of twenty-two research papers explores the creative interaction between evolutionary and molecular biology, philosophy, and theology. It is the result of the third of five international research conferences co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory, Rome and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley. The over arching goal of these conferences is to support the engagement of constructive theology with the natural sciences and to investigate the philosophical and theological elements in ongoing theoretical research in the natural sciences. Contents: An extensive introduction (Robert John Russell), two recent statements on evolution and Christian faith by Pope John Paul II, and an interpretive essay by the Director of the Observatory, George V. Coyne, S. J., Section One: Scientific Background—evolutionary and molecular biology (Francisco J Ayala and Camilo J. Cela-Conde) and the possibility of the evolution of extraterrestrial life (Julian Chela-Flores); Section Two: Evolution and Divine Action-philosophical analyses of teleology in light of biology from the perspectives of a scientist (Francisco J. Ayala) and a theologian (Wesley J. Wildman), assessments of the evidence for teleology by scientists (Paul Davies and William R. Stroeger, S. J.), and theological arguments on divine action and evolution focusing on special providence (Robert John Russell) and on process theism (Charles Birch); Section Three: Religious Interpretations of Biological Themes—critique of evolution-based arguments for atheism and of science-based religion (George F. R. Ellis), Darwin's relation to natural theology and a feminist perspective on metaphors in evolution (Anne M. Clifford), evolution from a naturalist perspective and the challenge to religion (Willem B. Drees), bicultural evolution and the created co-creator (Philip Hefner), continuity and emergence, propensities, pain, and death in light of evolution, and constructive Christology from and Anglican perspective (Arthur Peacocke), original sin and saving grace in light of evolution from a trinitarian perspective (Denis Edwards), divine kenosis and the power of the future from an evolutionary and process perspective (John F. Haught), and a comparison of models of God in light of evolution (Ian G. Barbour); Section Four: Biology, Ethics, and the Problem of Evil-an evolutionary model of biological and moral altruism (Camilo J. Cela-Conde and Gisele Marty), supervenience as a response to the reduction of Morality to biology (Nancey Murphy), ethical and theological issues raised by gem-line genetic therapy (Ted Peters), and the problems of divine action and theodicy in light of human sinfulness and suffering in nature (Thomas F. Tracy). This series of conferences builds on the initial 1987 Vatican Observatory conference and its resulting publication, Physics, Philosophy and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding (1988), and on the previous Jointly-sponsored conferences and their publications, Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature (1993) and Chaos and Complexity (1995). Future conferences will focus on scientific topics including the neuroscience's, quantum physics, and quantum field theory.
Robert John Russell is the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science in Residence at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.
William R. Stoeger, S.J., is Staff Astrophysicist at the Vatican Observatory, Vatican Observatory Research Group, Steward Observatory, The University of Arizona, Tucson Arizona. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.
Francisco J. Ayala is the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine.
“The essays in this volume represent the real cutting edge in discussions between Christianity and biology. They provide a careful, sober assessment of biological story in all its complexity. One can only hope that churchpeople will enter into the debate with the care and reasonableness these authors have shown.” —The Christian Century