Gleanings: Readings at the Intersection of Culture and Faith: Pastoral Resources for the Debate over Darwin

By Wallace, Catherine M. | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Gleanings: Readings at the Intersection of Culture and Faith: Pastoral Resources for the Debate over Darwin


Wallace, Catherine M., Anglican Theological Review


Gleanings: Readings at the Intersection of Culture and Faith Pastoral Resources for the Debate over Darwin

Books Discussed:

The Hand of God: Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of the Universe. Edited by Michael Reagan. Introduction by Sharon Begley. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 1999. 160 pp. $24.95 (cloth); $15.95 (paper).

Inside the Mind of God: Images and Words of Inner Space. Edited by Michael Reagan. Introduction by Sharon Begley. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2002. 160 pp. $24.95; $19.95 (paper).

Reflections on the Nature of God. Edited by Michael Reagan. Introduction by Martin E. Marty. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2004. 160 pp. $19.95 (paper).

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime. Compiled by Phyllis Tickle (New York: Doubleday, 2000). xvi + 651 pp. $29.95 (cloth).

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime. Compiled by Phyllis Tickle (New York: Doubleday, 2001). xvi + 671 pp. $29.95 (cloth); $18.95 (paper).

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime. Compiled by Phyllis Tickle (New York: Doubleday, 2000). xv + 647pp. $29.95 (cloth); $18.95 (paper, scheduled release May 2006).

Cultural controversy about Darwinian evolution has arisen in part because modern biology contradicts biblical literalism. Darwin elicits the same outrage as Copernicus or Galileo once did, But I suspect there's more to the controversy than that. Our day-to-day vision of reality is based upon a paradigm at whose heart one finds something like a simple metaphor. We have a picture in our heads of how the world works, how we relate to the world, and where God fits in. When scientific discoveries appear to disrupt this paradigm, some believers will refuse point-blank to consider the evidence that is offered-evidence that may, of course, demand more science literacy than they can muster.

In this case, the metaphor being disrupted is the simple but profound way in which the beauty and elegance of the natural world appear to the believer as emotionally convincing evidence for the reality of God-never mind the natural savagery of hurricanes or epidemics. I confess that when the magnolia outside my study window blooms each spring, I'm as convinced as if a choir of angels had landed on the roof singing "Alleluia." It affirms my intuition that the cosmos proclaims the glory of God. But that's not a scientific conclusion. They misunderstand both faith and biology who think it should be, or could be, otherwise. Natural beauty illustrates or illuminates my relationship with God but it doesn't prove a thing. Faith is not subject to proof.

The Asian tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina alike attest to the fatal flaw of "intelligent design" theories: why build in the potential for such disasters? Why build in the bugs that cause AIDS, plague, Ebola, malaria, meningitis, or influenza? The beauty of my magnolia in bloom offers no answer to the suffering such realities entail.

I'm baffled that anyone is drawn to such theories: the theological implications of "intelligent design" are not less appalling than the pseudoscience. But I suspect that "intelligent design" arises more from the culture wars than from either biology or theology. What fuels this particular culture-wars battle is the sad fact that literal-minded believers face grandiose sociobiologists variously proclaiming that science has in effect proved there is no God. Their assertions turn natural theology on its head.

In Freedom Evolves (New York: Viking, 2003), for instance-which is in many ways quite a thoughtful and interesting book-Daniel Dennett begins with a sarcastic dismissal that is typical of what one finds on his side of the issue:

One widespread tradition has it that we human beings are responsible agents, captains of our fate, because what we really are are souls, immaterial and immortal clumps of Godstuff that inhabit and control our material bodies rather like spectral puppeteers.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Gleanings: Readings at the Intersection of Culture and Faith: Pastoral Resources for the Debate over Darwin
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?