Having been brought up to believe in both evolution and in God as Creator, I have been inclined to think of the quarrels here and in the United States between the “creationists” and the “evolutionists” as on a par with the great Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles in the poems written by T.S.Eliot and made popular by the musical “Cats,” composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
T.S.Eliot, the author of that book, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” was a rather solemn poet, playwright, and critic: it is such a relief to his admirers that he had a sense of humour which came out so delightfully.
One of Eliot’s cat characters, who arrives to settle the battle, is the Great Rumpus Cat (brrrrr!). I have been wondering if we who stand aside from the major Bible-Evolution battles might not give annual awards of the title to one side or the other. I would nominate the pro-atheist Professor Dawkins of Oxford University as Great Rumpus Cat of the Decade, but I would not know who to nominate from the “creationist” side. Suggestions?
The battle is very serious. For example, the “creationists” do battle to force a strange mix of Bible and science on school boards for curriculum, and the Dawkins side do battle to get “religious” teaching out of the science classroom.
I belong to the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, which publishes an excellent journal on Theology and Science. The Editors recently prefaced an edition of their journal which commended the open Letter of thousands of US clergy supporting Evolution Sunday and the theory generally called Darwinism.
This is part of what the editors wrote: “We believe the Darwinian model has proved itself the most fertile. It leads to knowledge, which demonstrates its fertility. The difficulty with the Intelligent Design and Creationist programs is that they lack fertility. They fail to produce progressive research programs. We believe that the dialogue with theology must take place with the best of science, not with a substitute that is a philosophical position and not science at all. [“Theology and Science,” March, 2006, page 2.]
It is worth noting that faith, and theology which studies faith, is extremely fertile in producing research programs, both progressive and regressive!
One of my concerns with the debaters is that they should recognize that because of my faith I believe that there is an intelligent designer, God; but that belief is not itself science, nor can it be. Nor is science the only rational discipline which strives to make sense of human nature and human destiny. Also, I find the pro-evolution side sometimes both manic and uninformed, when they think that a belief in God being the Creator is “Creationism”. In fact, “Creationism” is the attempt to show, by invented science-like arguments, that the account of God’s creating the world in the book of Genesis is a scientific and historical account. Because of the misunderstanding about the difference between “creation” and “creationism,” several years ago a scientist was forced to give up a column in a prestigious scientific journal when he was found to believe that God is the Creator. Bad reactions, on both sides.
What is referred to above as “Darwinism” might be a big surprise to Charles Darwin: because the theory of evolution (a better word for it) is an open theory subject to change, experimentation and new ideas.
I also believe that what is revealed in the journey of faith which we call theology is also an open reality, of which our understanding is subject to change, experimentation and new ideas.