Are Evolution and Religion Compatible?
First, evolution does not prove that God is a delusion, as some articulate scientists aim to demonstrate. However, evolution does radically change many people's concept of God. For some people (Francis Collins and Joan Roughgarden are notable examples) evolution enlarges their concept of God.
Evolution clearly shows that the Bible or any other scripture is not to be taken as scientific text books, but rather as traditional records of how our predecessors saw their relationship to God. Scriptures are a great source of history, inspiration, compassion and wisdom, not science. The stories of the Bible are so much more relevant and hence meaningful when they are read as metaphors, not as scientific fact.
Process Theology, taught in many seminaries, is a theology influenced by quantum mechanics and by evolution. Although not well know to most lay people, this is the theological foundation of many Christian leaders. In a nutshell, this theology states that God is a process, not a thing (or person). To use the language of Buckminster Fuller, "God is a Verb." Evolution and Process Theology inform a growing number of congregations, as demonstrated by the growing participating churches in Evolution Sunday (evolutionsunday.org)
For many religious people, faith in God does not mean belief in events that are contrary to the laws of nature. Rather, faith is certainty of grace despite uncertainty of circumstance. That is, although a person cannot predict the outcome of certain events, a person can have faith that he or she can find joy in life no matter what the outcome. Victor Frankl, and others who survived unspeakable horrors in Nazi concentration camps, are evidence of this. Despite horrendous circumstances which should have led to terrible, lifelong depression, these people of faith were able to find joy in life (if this is not a miracle, I don't know what is.)
For a growing number of people of faith, evolution shows that the universe flows in a direction (not toward a destination) and that this direction is toward complexity, toward cooperation, toward consciousness. This concept of God is similar to the concept of the Tao in Eastern philosophy.
The study of language makes it easy to understand how different cultures perceive God in different ways. Different cultures have different words to describe the same things. Different geographical regions have different metaphors to describe Ultimate Reality, what some call God.
As you can see, my passion for reconciling faith and science continues. I agree 100% with Dawkins that God - as a man with a long white beard hurling thunderbolts and tsunamis at sinners of different religions - is a delusion, and an extraordinarily dangerous delusion at that. I side with Dawkins in that I have no tolerance for this dangerous nonsense. I am perhaps more strident that Dawkins on this point. Persecuting others in the name of God is the cause of many of the problems in the world. However, this is not what religion is necessarily about, either. Most religious people are concerned with kindness, compassion and seeking wisdom. Contrary to Dawkins, I think that ridding the world of religion is a delusion, a grand delusion that will never happen on this planet. Because religion will never disappear, and because it is an institution that on the whole does a great deal of good in the world, I think it is a waste of time to convince people there is no use for it. Instead of eliminating religion, we need to enrich it with the insights of science. This is the goal of this web site.
~ Cathy Russell, March, 2007
Evolution and Christianity
More and more theologians, scientists and others find that evolution and Christianity are mutually enriching worldviews. Following are links that explore evolution and Christianity:
Evolution and Judaism
Evolution and Buddhism
Evolution and Spirituality
- What Is Enlightenment: Redefining Spiritualtiy for an Evolving World - a spiritual, cultural, philosophical, and otherwise category-busting magazine committed to bringing a new perspective to politics, business, science, the arts, and the environment.
- Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) - "Working for a dynamic and positive relationship between religion and science."
- Evolve - web site for Barbara Marx Hubbard and Conscious Evolution.
- Open Source Theology
- Integral Institute - both science and mysticism (or spirituality) are necessary for complete understanding of humans and the universe.
- Institute of Noetic Sciences -
- Science and Spirit - Journal and web site explores how science and religion can work together to address the vital issues of our time. Looking at them through the lenses of both science and religion offers insight neither discipline provides alone. The October 2005 issue was about relationship of evolution to spirituality.
- Science and Theology News - International newspaper reporting the latest research findings, funding opportunities and discussions on the relationship among religion, science and health.
- California Institute of Integral Studies
- Meaning of Life TV - Robert Wright interviews scientists about the meaning of life.
- Foundation for Global Community -
- Meta-Religion - their goal is "..to promote a multidisciplinary view of the religious, spiritual and esoteric phenomena." They have thousands of links to religions, cults, and science sites.
- LifeWeb: Biophilosophy by Elisabet Sahtouris - web site of the author of "Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution."