Is there a Future for 'Natural Theology'? Evolution, Cooperation, and the Question of God.

Speaker(s): Sarah Coakley
Date: Fall 2018
Length: 1h02m
Product ID: RGDL4802AY

Purchase Options:

MP3 Download - FREE

Description

 

This is a Interface Lecture Series talk given during the fall of 2018.

In this lecture, Dr. Sarah Coakley is concerned, critically, with the way that evolution has been purveyed in the last generation as selfishly-oriented genetically, yet devoid of either positive meaning or discernible structure. The evolutionary phenomenon of cooperation, she argues, suggests otherwise; and indeed it may, by a series of steps, lead inexorably to the question of a natural basis for ethics and thence to the God question. Coakley first reviews the biological evidences for cooperation and explains the mathematical calculus which has been utilized of late to clarify the conditions under which cooperation is favoured in evolutionary populations. She then turns to the disputed question of what such cooperation (altruism in its intentional, motivated form) might mean in both ethical and metaphysical terms, arguing that philosophical contestation is here unavoidable for both empirical and mathematical biology. Her own view is that a narrow utilitarian explanation of evolutionary ethics (focusing solely on the immediate genetic advantage of individual entities in a population) is less convincing overall than a richer multi-level account which is able to encompass natural law or "categorical imperative" renditions of ethical demand. By the same token, the pervasive phenomena of cooperation and altruism also press metaphysical questions about the overall structure of evolution: is the evolutionary narrative one of pure randomness and essential meaninglessness, or do the patterns of cooperation/defection (alongside mutation and selection) suggest a picture in which teleology still holds some meaning? In the last section of the lecture Coakley turns more ambitiously to a re-interpretation of the genre of natural theology within the contours of this contemporary debate. Arguing that what is distinctive about natural theology is the pressure meaningfully to perceive the natural world as-a-whole, she turns back to a late antique form of contemplative endeavour (termed physiku0113) for inspiration. On this view, natural theology represents the perennial tug to gain a complete vision of the natural world's meaning, a task which involves a process of creative integration for the knowing subject itself, finally aligning intellectual, moral, and affective dimensions. The contemporary debates about evolutionary cooperation therefore represent a fork in the road between different unitary readings of evolution's meaning: does evolution bespeak nothing but competitive genetic "selfishness," or is there some alternative that might itself enhance the expansion of human altruism to face pressing contemporary political, ethical, and ecological crises?

Interface offers lectures, articles and other resources that probe and preserve the relationship between theology and science, working toward healing the breach between these disciplines as they have taken shape in our late modern age.

The John Templeton Foundation

Interface has been made possible through the John Templeton Foundation. The Foundation aims to advance human well-being by supporting research on the Big Questions, and by promoting character development, individual freedom, and free markets. The Foundation takes its vision from its founding benefactor, the late Sir John Templeton, who sought to stimulate what he described as 'spiritual progress.'

Thanks to a generous grant provided by the Templeton Foundation, these lectures are available free of charge until August 2019.

See All Audio by Sarah Coakley

Prof. Sarah Coakley took up her current appointment at Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge in 2007. She received her first degree in Theology at Cambridge, before doing initial graduate work at Harvard (as a Harkness Fellow), and her doctoral work at Cambridge on the Christology of Ernst Troeltsch. Appointed to her first position at the University of Lancaster while still writing her doctorate, she later taught at Oriel College, Oxford (in Theology and Philosophy of Religion), and at Harvard Divinity School, where she was Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr., Professor of Divinity, 1995-2007. Prof. Coakley teaches modern and contemporary Philosophy of Religion in the faculty, and has an interest in combining both analytic and continental traditions in her own research, whilst also charting the connections with feminist philosophy. She is currently particularly interested in religious epistemology and in what challenges are brought to it by contemplative and u2018apophatic' traditions of thought, both East and West. In 2012 she gave the Aberdeen Gifford Lectures on evolutionary cooperation and its proposed relation to ethics and apologetics; and more recently she has been working on the second and third volumes of her systematic theology (on sin, racism, and redemption).

Related Audio

Details / Buy

"Environment" or "Creation": A Scientific and Biblical Framework for Caring for the Earth

Speaker: Loren Wilkinson

Details / Buy

"Fingerprinting God": Perspectives on Creation, Evolution & Design

Speaker: Loren Wilkinson, Rikk Watts, Stephen Meyer, … (see details for all)

Details / Buy

Adam and the Genome: Rethinking the 'Historical' Adam

Speaker: Scot McKnight

Details / Buy

All Things New: God's Program of New Creation

Speaker: Douglas Moo

Details / Buy

Aquinas on Creation and Its Implications for Modern Science-Religion Dialogues

Speaker: Yonghua Ge

Details / Buy

Are We More Than Our Genes?

Speaker: Francis Collins

Details / Buy

Belief in God in an Age of Science

Speaker: Sir John Polkinghorne

Details / Buy

Beyond 'Design': Evolutionary Biology and a Theology of Preservation

Speaker: David Robinson, Loren Wilkinson

Details / Buy

Book Launch: Modern Technology and the Human Future

Speaker: Craig Gay

Details / Buy

Christian Theology & the Rise of Modern Science (CTC I Fall 2005)

Speaker: Paul Teel

Details / Buy

Christian Witness in the Sciences

Speaker: Walter Hearn

Details / Buy

Christianity: Science - Rock Garden Series

Speaker: Rikk Watts

Details / Buy

Creation, Christians & Modernity (Some Ambiguities of Science & Technology) (CTC Lecture)

Speaker: Loren Wilkinson

Details / Buy

Dare a Scientist Believe in Design

Speaker: Owen Gingerich

Details / Buy

Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? Neuroscience, Emergence and Free Will

Speaker: Warren S. Brown

Details / Buy

Does Science Leave Room for God?

Speaker: Donald Mackay

Details / Buy

Echoes of Coinherence: Theology and Science in Conversation

Speaker: Ross Hastings

Details / Buy

Evening Public Lecture Series 2009

Speaker: Bern Wannenwetsch, Bruce Waltke, Cherith Fee … (see details for all)

Details / Buy

Evening Public Lecture Series 2010

Speaker: Bruce Marchfelder, Charles Ringma, David I. … (see details for all)

Details / Buy

Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution

Speaker: Denis O. Lamoureux

Details / Buy

Exposing Biblical Creation

Speaker: Hugh Ross

Details / Buy

God and the Multiverse

Speaker: Deborah Haarsma

Details / Buy

God's Agape/Probability Design of the Universe

Speaker: Chris Barrigar

Details / Buy

God, Science & the Meaning of Life: C. S. Lewis and Richard Dawkins.

Speaker: Alister McGrath, Arnold Sikkema, Dennis Danielson … (see details for all)

Details / Buy

Human Origins in Light of Genesis 2

Speaker: John Walton

Details / Buy

If Humans are Inevitable, What Are the Theological Implications?

Speaker: Simon Conway Morris

Details / Buy

Inchoate Hope, The Spirit's Prayer

Speaker: David Robinson

Details / Buy

Lunchtime Lecture: The Making of a Scientific Theologian

Speaker: Alister McGrath

Details / Buy

Man in Bible and Science

Speaker: Donald Mackay

Details / Buy

Monopolizing Knowledge: Scientism's Inconsistent Rejection of Faith

Speaker: Ian Hutchinson

Details / Buy

No Longer Under the Law? Love, Chance, and Necessity in Post-Newtonian Science

Speaker: Paul Teel

Details / Buy

Of Two Minds: A Neuroscientist Balances Science and Faith

Speaker: Bill Newsome

Details / Buy

Old Testament History & Archeology

Speaker: Donald Wiseman

Details / Buy

On Animals Volume II: The Challenge of Christian Animal Ethics

Speaker: Matthew Humphrey, David Clough

Details / Buy

Origins Today: Genesis Through Ancient Eyes

Speaker: John Walton

Details / Buy

Portraits of Human Nature: Scientific & Theological

Speaker: Malcolm Jeeves

Details / Buy

Re-enchanting the Universe: Evangelicals and the Rise of Science

Speaker: Amanda Russell-Jones, Bruce Hindmarsh

Details / Buy

RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE BROKEN BODY: RESPONDING TO THE PHYSICAL WORD OF THE SOUL

Speaker: Ashley Moyse

Details / Buy

Science and Christianity: Retrospect and Prospect

Speaker: David Livingston, Mark Noll

Details / Buy

Science and Faith: Conflicting or Enriching?

Speaker: Alister McGrath, Ross Hastings

Details / Buy

Science and Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies

Speaker: Alvin Plantinga

Details / Buy

Science and Theology

Speaker: Sir John Polkinghorne

Details / Buy

Science, Existence, & Morality / Cosmos & Its Origin

Speaker: George Ellis

Details / Buy

Scientific Materialism Re-examined: Recent Discoveries Raise Important Questions

Speaker: Stephen Barr

Details / Buy

The Art of Living for a Technological Age

Speaker: Ashley Moyse

Details / Buy

The Battle for Darwin's Soul (2002 Murrin Lectures)

Speaker: David Livingstone

Details / Buy

The Battle for the Mind: Neuromarketing, Brainwashing & Transformation

Speaker: Bruce Winter

Details / Buy

The Book of the Cosmos (CTC II Winter 2006)

Speaker: Dennis Danielson

Details / Buy

The Exodus from Egypt in Light of Recent Archaeological Work in Sinai

Speaker: James Hoffmeier