Appeared in Winter 1999-2000, Vol. XXIV-XXV

I. Introduction: Drawing the Battle Lines

Darwinian evolution has become one of the pivotal intellectual issues of our time because it influences so many of the ways in which we organize our experience and ground our beliefs. In the sciences, it affects biology because it is one of the keys to our understanding of the relationships among organisms; but it also now draws upon and to some extent influences chemistry, geology, and even physics, all of which are used to explicate aspects of evolutionary history.

More importantly, however, it affects the way we view ourselves in the universe, in our relationship to God, and in our relationship with the rest of creation. The impact of evolution on religion is, of course, naturally great, as most religions claim to tell us about these subjects as well. The potential for conflict among the various camps and disciplines is very real. Indeed, as usually posed, the question is one of evolution versus religion, with Biblical fundamentalists arrayed on one side, and scientific fundamentalists on the other–as if tertium non datur. Hence the widespread interest in evolution and the heated controversies surrounding it.

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