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Chance in Evolution$
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Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226401744

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226401911.001.0001

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Is it Providential, by Chance? Christian Objections to the Role of Chance in Darwinian Evolution

Is it Providential, by Chance? Christian Objections to the Role of Chance in Darwinian Evolution

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter 4 Is it Providential, by Chance? Christian Objections to the Role of Chance in Darwinian Evolution
Source:
Chance in Evolution
Author(s):

J. Matthew Ashley

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226401911.003.0005

One objection to Darwinian evolution that surfaced early, crosses Christian denominational lines, and continues to resurface even today, is that the role given to chance in the Darwinian telling of life’s history makes it impossible to give a complementary account of God’s purposive involvement in that history. Considering this objection as found early (in Presbyterian theologian, Charles Hodge) and late (in Roman Catholic theologian, Cristoph Schönborn) it can be shown, first, that the many emergences and reemergences of this objection derive in part from the multiple points within Christian theology at which the assertion of chance in natural processes complicates accounts of divine agency, and second, that the exclusive use of mechanistic metaphors for “design” further obstructs the requisite re-envisioning of divine providence. The essay concludes with a few comments on solving the problem that point toward premodern theologies of divine providential action, of the transparency or opacity of natural processes to such a providence, and scriptural ways of emplotting narratives that do not set divine purposive action and contingency in absolute competition.

Keywords:   Charles Hodge, Cristoph Schönborn, providence, natural theology, argument from design, evolution, contingency

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