Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Creation, Evolution, and Karl Rahner

I'm already on record as a great fan of Karl Rahner, despite certain deficiencies in his understanding of the Trinity. One of the reasons for this is because of his brilliant presentation of Man's place in the cosmos, assuming an evolutionary model of humanity's origin and development (see previous entry below).

Somewhere between the intransigent young-earth creationist and the godless naturalistic evolutionist lies the much maligned and much misunderstood theistic evolutionist. To the creationist, the theistic evolutionist is a personified oxymoron trying in vain to bridge a gap between two mutually exclusive ideas. At the same time, the naturalist evolutionist pours scorn over his theistic counterpart's head on account of the latter's irrational attachment to pre-scientific myths and an outmoded worldview.

I freely admit that I am agnostic on this issue, not because I'm disinterested in it or feel it unimportant. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth! Rather it is because I am a non-expert in the area of science who, over the years, has become increasingly and ever so confidently convinced of three things: (1) that the jury is still out; (2) that it is best to keep an open mind about such things while it is; and (3) that, no matter what verdict the jury returns, Christian theology has proven itself over and over again to be able to survive and adapt to seismic shifts in the way we understand the world around us (recall Galileo).

I have yet to come across an irrefutable creationist argument. On the other hand, I am not the least persuaded that evolutionists have made their case beyond all reasonable doubt. While I find the intelligent design theory of William Dembski et al. intriguing, if not very compelling, I can't help but observe that intellent design works just as well with an evolutionary model as it does with fiat-creationism. I think the young-earth brand of creationism is scientifically untenable, but then again, it's no more untenable than a theory of punctuated equalibrium that assumes a random universe.

However, if I did affirm theistic evolution (remember I'm agnostic on this issue) I would undoubtedly follow Rahner's version of it. He does not merely show how an evolutionary model can work within a Christian theological framework. Rather he gives a cogent account of why this model (to his mind) is superior in all respects to earlier cosmological models in its presentation of the Christian faith. I got to hand it to Rahner. Before reading him it was very convenient to dismiss theistic evolutionism as just another example of capitulation to the prevailing culture by Christians inadequately grounded in their faith.

If you're at all interested in this topic, read the entry below and feel free to make comment.

Until next time.


Death Bredon said...

Bravo. I am a fan of Rahner too because I think he came very close to recapturing much of the original, apostolic ethos in certain areas of theology (which generally lives on only in Eastern Dogmatics, if not praxis, today).

But, of course, being so brilliant and thinking outside the traditional Western box did get him into some troubles. Nevertheless, he work is a gold mine.

John said...

This essay provides a unique understanding of the purpose of "creation" stories.


To be a "creationist" is to have already confessed a fundamental doubt of the all pervasive Love-Bliss-Radiance of Real God!