The Darwinian Struggle

Catholics, pay attention

Charles Darwin has never been more popular than today," writes John Durant in the July 11 New York Times Book Review. "His theory of natural selection is all but universally accepted as the correct explanation for the diversity of life on earth." Much of the religious world, however, still struggles with Darwin. On August 11, for example, the Kansas Board of Education, bowing to pressure from Christian "creationists," decided that the topic of evolution (as well as reference to Big Bang cosmology) will no longer be included in statewide tests for evaluating students’ knowledge of science. Appropriately lamenting the decision, Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould commented in Time magazine (August 23) that the deletion of evolution from the required biology curriculum is comparable to teaching chemistry without the periodic table, or American history without mentioning Lincoln. Both the Kansas decision and Gould’s essay provide the occasion for a few remarks on the question of evolution and theology.

To a large number of American Christians (over 40 percent), Darwin’s vision of nature still seems irreconcilable with their most cherished beliefs. Even apart from the obvious challenge by evolutionary science to biblical literalism, it is not terribly difficult to understand why. For one thing, the variations that compose the raw material for evolution are said to be completely accidental, undirected by any...

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About the Author

John F. Haught, author of God after Evolution and many other books, is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University.