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Was evolution the only possible way for God to make autonomous creatures? Examination of an argument in evolutionary theodicy.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2015 (English)In: International journal for philosophy of religion, ISSN 0020-7047, E-ISSN 1572-8684, Vol. 77, no 1, 37-51 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Evolutionary theodicies are attempts to explain how the enormous amount of suffering, premature death and extinction inherent in the evolutionary process can be reconciled with belief in a loving and almighty God. A common strategy in this area is to argue that certain very valuable creaturely attributes could only be exemplified by creatures that are produced by a partly random and uncontrolled process of evolution. Evolution, in other words, was the only possible way for God to create these kinds of creatures. This article presents and examines two versions of the “only way”-argument. The anthropocentric version tries to justify God’s use of evolution by reference to the value of human freedom, and argues that freedom presupposes that God lets go of full control over the process of creation (Arthur Peacocke, Nancey Murphy). The non-anthropocentric version presents a similar argument with respect to more inclusive creaturely properties, such as that of being “truly other” than God, or of being a “creaturely self” with a certain degree of autonomy in relation to God (John Polkinghorne, John Haught, Christopher Southgate). With the help of a number of thought-experiments of the “Twin-Earth”-type, the author argues that both the anthropocentric and the non-anthropocentric only way-arguments fail.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer, 2015. Vol. 77, no 1, 37-51 p.
Keyword [en]
Evolutionary theodicy, Natural evil, Problem of animal suffering, Free process defense, Arthur Peacocke, Nancey Murphy, Christopher Southgate, John Polkinghorne, John Haught
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Philosophy of Religion; Studies In Faiths and Ideologies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-94285DOI: 10.1007/s11153-014-9486-xISI: 000347718300004OAI: diva2:753075
Available from: 2014-10-07 Created: 2014-10-07 Last updated: 2015-11-24Bibliographically approved

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Wahlberg, Mats
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