Saturday, March 04, 2006

Küng – Der Anfang aller Dinge. Section C, pt 1 of 3.

At last, the continuation (and eventual completion) of my overview/review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge. I now turn attention to section C and the question: ‘World creation or evolution?’. As previously, the overview of section C will be spilt into three posts.

About 13.7 million years the universe came into being, then, 4.5 million years ago, our own planet earth, and for about the last 3.5 million years, complex life existed on earth. What does all of this mean theologically? It is to this question that Küng turns in section C. He divides the section into six parts.

Parts 1-3 (of 6) of section C.

In the first part Küng summarises the Darwinian theory of evolution (variation plus selection), and some of the impressive reasons for affirming its correctness. Then, in part two, he turns his attention to the theological defence or reaction to of churches to evolutionism. In short, the question became for the church: ‘If Darwin is right, won’t creation be de-mystified (entsaubert) to a random process without purpose, goal or meaning?’. Naturally, as part of this overview, Küng takes particular delight in poking fun at some of the related papal pronouncements, but he also deals with protestant fundamentalism and, in this context, the concern for such matters as original sin, humans in ‘the image of God’ etc. Here, Küng is not trying to engage questions theologically, as he will do later, he is merely listing responses of the church to evolution.

Particularly noteworthy, I thought, was the fact that a 2001 Gallup poll in the States disclosed that 45% of adult Americans believe the Genesis account of creation literally. And there is some evidence that this is the case not just in America. (A side note: I personally became a Christian after hearing a creationist talk about Genesis. For the first time in my life I started to believe that the Scriptures were more than just dusty old irrelevant books, but were important for me. When I dropped faith in ‘creationism’, I truly did experience a moment of existential shock, of hard adjustment. It was not comfortable, and so such statistics should perhaps be less remarkable to me than they are. But nevertheless, I’m still surprised. Do so many really believe Genesis literally?)

Küng then addresses the question: ‘Is evolution with or without God?’, in which he over views the contributions of Comte (evolution without God), Teilhard de Chardin (evolution to God – he takes another pop at the Catholic church here!), and Whitehead (process theology).

However, all of this is rather documentary in approach and not as engaging as his discussion is about to become in the last half of section C.

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