Friday, February 13, 2009

A Christian Progressive Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin

Yesterday, February 12, marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. The naturalistic view of life that Darwin introduced during his time has changed the way we see our world. His controversial theory of evolution through natural selection has survived for 150 years, amidst the constant deluge of attacks from conservative religious groups and theologians, and has become the foundation of the many new biological sciences we know today.

I found this very interesting article on the Washington post yesterday about a christian progressive's view of Charles Darwin. It talks about the clash between Theology and Darwinism. It is a very good article, and well worth reading.

From the Washington Post: A Christian Progressive Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin

In my own work as a Christian progressive, I have found evolutionary biology, and especially the Human Genome Project, a source of rich dialogue between theology and science. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, however, the norm for the relationship between religion and science is anything but productive and respectful. Instead, anti-Darwinist views in conservative and even moderate-to-conservative Christianity have been increasing, especially in the last quarter century.

As a Christian, an advocate of human rights, and a person strongly committed to democratic ideals, I believe Darwin's work was of consummate importance for human progress. I further believe that religious progressives need to speak out more directly against a religious campaign against evolutionary biology. We need to say clearly that this targeting of evolution by conservative Christianity is far more political in origin than it is purely theological.

There is no doubt that Darwin's legacy in science has been vast; the theory of natural selection that gave rise to the Darwinian revolution underlies both theory and method in science. The Darwinian upheaval is just this: the origin of species is bottom up, through natural forces, rather than top-down and fixed like conservative Christian theology in particular would contend.

This is where all the trouble arises. The idea that human life is continuous with other creatures and indeed with the whole planet is a profoundly destabilizing idea for religious and political practices of dominance and control. This whole struggle is more about politics than it is about abstract issues like religious faith and secularism. In the 200 years since Charles Darwin's birth, this has changed very little.

Read more. It is very good.

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