John F. Haught visited Clarke University on Thursday, Feb. 11, to give a lecture reconciling religious beliefs and science. His discussion was titled “Evolution and Faith: What is at Stake?” Haught is a Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University; he specializes in theology with a special interest in evolution, ecology, cosmology, and other fields related to science.
Haught began his lecture by sharing a poll which showed that only 40 percent of people in the United States believe in evolution. He then posed the question: when reconciling evolution and faith, what is at stake? Answering this question, Haught explained that for some, evolution challenges the existence of a creator, the goodness of creation, human identity, the meaning of Christ, and divine providence or wisdom. Haught then explained Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin illustrated how evolution is based on three things: accidents, natural selection, and time. Many who have trouble believing in both faith and science wonder where the divine providence of God is when evolution is based upon accidents?
However, Haught proposed three different approaches to integrate the notions of faith and evolution, as well as his own perspective.
His first approach was Blind Faith. Through this explanation, evolution was a “curriculum” put into place by God. By this, Haught means that God made evolution as a process for the creation of life. Haught described how obstacles (or imperfections) are essential to life and that evolution is an obstacle.
The second approach, entitled the Biblical Approach, presented Darwin’s recipe for evolution as a drama. The Biblical Approach described evolution not as a design by divine providence but as a narrative; evolution provides a story for planet Earth.
Haught’s final approach described earth as an imperfect, finite world. Haught explained that, because heaven is a perfect realm, earth must have imperfections. If earth was perfect, it would be indistinguishable from heaven. For Haught, evolution provides these imperfections.
Haught’s conclusion: While biology cannot exist without evolution, theology cannot exist without evolution, either.
“(Haught’s) argument was quite thoughtful. I thought his perspective was a refreshing take on the subject,” first-year Patrick Costello said.