The role of theology in current evolutionary reasoning

Biology and Philosophy 11 (4):493-517 (1996)
A remarkable but little studied aspect of current evolutionary theory is the use by many biologists and philosophers of theological arguments for evolution. These can be classed under two heads: imperfection arguments, in which some organic design is held to be inconsistent with God's perfection and wisdom, and homology arguments, in which some pattern of similarity is held to be inconsistent with God's freedom as an artificer. Evolutionists have long contended that the organic world falls short of what one might expect from an omnipotent and benevolent creator. Yet many of the same scientists who argue theologically for evolution are committed to the philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism, which maintains that theology has no place in science. Furthermore, the arguments themselves are problematical, employing concepts that cannot perform the work required of them, or resting on unsupported conjectures about suboptimality. Evolutionary theorists should reconsider both the arguments and the influence of Darwinian theological metaphysics on their understanding of evolution.
Keywords natural theology  imperfection  suboptimality  homology  methodological naturalism  creationism  panda's thumb  pentadactyl limb  Stephen Jay Gould  Darwin's theology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00138329
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,453
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Stephen Dilley (2012). Charles Darwin's Use of Theology in the Origin of Species. British Journal for the History of Science 45 (1):29-56.
Stephen Dilley (2013). Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in Light of Theology? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):774-786.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

23 ( #205,824 of 1,925,480 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #212,137 of 1,925,480 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.