Every five minutes another book appears explaining why our traditional understanding of God is outmoded, no longer acceptable among thinking people, and otherwise fit for the scrapheap. Books cite all sorts of reasons for this, but among the most popular is the notion that a grasp of Darwinian evolution demands a complete rethinking of theology. Theology is not alone, of course. As "applied Darwinism" grows ever more ambitious, its scope includes everything from the formation of galaxies to the eating habits of teenagers. Darwinism Today, a series of short, clearly written books published by Yale University Press, covers subjects such as "an evolutionary view of women at work" and "a Darwinian view of parental love." There is little, it seems, that doesn't need to be rethought in Darwin's wake.
Still, the claims for Darwin's impact on theology tend to be particularly sweeping. "Any thoughts we may have about God after the life and work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) can hardly remain the same as before," John Haught writes in the preface to his new book, God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview Press). Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown University and director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion, is one of a number of recent writers who insist on this fundamental divide: Before and After Darwin. (See, for another example, Finding Darwin's God, by Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller.) As a representative expression of a very influential point of view in the current science-and-religion conversation, Haught's work merits our close attention.
Naturally we first want some basic orientation; we want to know what has changed (or should have changed) so radically in our "thoughts ...1