Paths from Science towards God 8: Did Evolution Save Christianity from Deism?

Since Newton and the Enlightenment, creation has been viewed as a single act by God at a certain point in the past. With the discovery of fixed laws governing the world, people began conceiving of a deistic God who created the clockwork of the cosmos and then left it to run on its own machinations. Many believe, that it was Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution, that threw a spanner into its gears and cogs and eventually reversed this trend.

So in a sense, did Darwin’s theory save Christianity from a Deistic view of God? Did it save us from the god-of-the-gaps? Was the theory of evolution by natural selection a blessing in disguise?

The one absolutely impossible conception of God, in the present day, is that which represents him as an occasional visitor. Science has pushed the deist’s God further and further away, and at the moment when it seemed as if he would be thrust out all together Darwinism appeared, and, under the disguise of a foe, did the work of a friend. It has conferred upon philosophy and religion an inestimable benefit, by showing us that we must choose between two alternatives. Either God is everywhere present in nature, or He is nowhere. ~ Aubrey Moore, 1889

Those who yield to the temptation to reserve a point here and there for special divine interposition are apt to forget that this virtually excludes God from the rest of the process. If God appears periodically, He disappears periodically … Positively, the idea of an immanent God, which is the god of Evolution, is definitely grander than the occasional Wonder-worker, who is the God if an old theology. ~ Henry Drummond

All this reinforces the need to reaffirm more strongly than at any other time in Christian history that in a very strong sense God is the immanent Creator creating through the processes of the natural order. The processes are not themselves God, but the action of God as Creator. This means we do not have to look for any extra supposed gaps in which, or mechanisms whereby, God might be supposed to be acting as Creator in the living world. ~ Arthur Peacocke, Paths from Science towards God


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