Examining Peacocke's Plumage

"The winner of the 2001 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion rejects everything resembling Christian orthodoxy, but that doesn't stop him from co-opting the language."
Last Thursday, the 2001 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion was awarded to Arthur Peacocke, a biochemist and Anglican priest formerly dean of Clare College, Cambridge. He is the author of a number of books on science and religion, most notably Theology for a Scientific Age (enlarged ed., 1993).

Peacocke's distinguished career as a scientist included early research on DNA. His theology, alas, is typical of that of many thinkers who set out to explain what is "credible" for us to believe about God and his "interaction with the world" given the "comprehensive, indeed dazzling, perspective on the being and becoming of the world and of humanity that the sciences have … unveiled to our generation." This turns out to entail a rejection of anything resembling Christian orthodoxy from the first century to the present. There was no Fall as recounted in Genesis (whether interpreted literally or in symbolic terms), and instead of sin we have

a sense of incompleteness, a felt lack of integration and a widespread judgment that human individuals in twentieth-century society have failed to live up to the hopes engendered by scientific technology. These hopes have foundered on the rock of the obduracy of self-will operating in a humanity inadequate through its own inner paralysis of will to the challenge of newly won knowledge and power over the world.

There are pages and pages of this woolly stuff in Theology for a Scientific Age. Meanwhile, Scripture is discarded whenever it is convenient—so no virgin birth (the subject of which occasions an entirely irrelevant discussion of the mechanisms of heredity: the "science," you see), no atonement (unless redefined so as to be unrecognizable in biblical terms), no crude notions of a brazenly ...

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June
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