Evolutionary Theory and Religion: A Comparison Essay

Evolutionary Theory and Religion: A Comparison Essay

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In Science and Religion: Are They Compatible, Alvin Plantinga argues that proponents of naturalism - like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett - tell us that according to the theory of evolution, neither God nor any other agent has designed or created the living world, and that evolution therefore, clearly contradicts the central tenant of theistic religion (which Dennett labels “entirely gratuitous fantasy” ) If what these experts say is true, and we must understand evolution only in the context of naturalistic, unguided evolution, “then evolutionary theory is deeply incompatible with theistic religion, whether Christian…or Jewish” However, Plantinga stresses that evolution does not need to be interpreted in this way, and that because of this, religion does not have to be held in such opposition to science at all. Christian and Jewish tenants require only that, “God intended to create creatures of a certain kind…planned that there be creatures of that kind…and acted in such a way as to accomplish this intention,” and such a claim is clearly consistent with evolutionary theory in that naturalism is not a necessary requirement of the theory itself. In this paper, I will explore the positions of the Jewish and Muslim faiths with respect to the question of evolutionary theory, and more explicitly, aim to draw comparisons between Judaism and Christianity to investigate whether popular religion is truly as staunchly opposed to evolutionary theory as Dawkins or Dennett propose. If the work of Keith Ward, John Haught, and John Polkinghorne are to serve as any background, my hypothesis is that evolutionary theory has been reconciled and embraced by many theologians and persons of faith across the spectrum of religious tradition.
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...Become a Battleground Between Science and Religion,"Jewish Action, 67, no. 1 (2006): 12-15, http://ou.org.s3.amazonaws.com/pdf/ja/5767/fall67/12-16.pdf (accessed May 4, 2014).
Rena Selya, “Torah and Madda? Discussions of the Teaching of Evolution in Jewish Schools," Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism, ed. Geoffrey Cantor and Marc Swetlitz (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 196.
Joel Wolowelsky, "Teaching Evolution in Yeshiva High School," Ten Da’at: A Journal of Jewish Education, 10, no. 1 (1997): 15, Http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/education/evolution-1.htm (accessed May 4, 2014).
AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy, "AJC Applauds Court Decision against Intelligent Design in Pennsylvania Schools." Last modified December 20, 2005. Accessed May 4, 2014. http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=7oJILSPwFfJSG&b=8479733&ct=12483169.

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