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By Michelle J. Jones
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 26, 1998

Science, religion can coexist, speaker says


Karen C. Tully
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arthur Peacocke speaks to about 150 people at the Newman Catholic Student Center Friday night in the first of the "St. Albert the Great Forum on Theology and Science" series. In his speech entitled, "Welcoming the Disguised Friend: Darwin and Divinity," Peacocke bridged the gap between science and religion, saying that the two can coexist.

Evolution and God, science and religion, and Darwinism and divinity go hand in hand to help explain the universe and the origin of Homo Sapiens, a noted author, scientist and priest said Friday.

Arthur Peacocke, in a speech titled "Welcoming the Disguised Friend: Darwin and Divinity," told about 150 listeners at the Newman Catholic Student Center, 1615 E. Second St., that evolution is consistent with the idea of God - the creator of the universe.

"The processes revealed by the sciences, especially evolutionary biology, are in themselves God acting as creator," said Peacocke, an ordained Anglican priest who has authored 10 science and theology books.

"There is no need to look for God as some kind of additional factor supplementing the processes of the world," he added.

Peacocke said God is always creating through biological evolution and natural selection. God did not create the world as is, rather he is continuously recreating and sustaining the world, he said.

God creates through the process of natural order, Peacocke said

"If one asks where do we see God as creator during, say, the processes of biological evolution, one has to reply, 'The processes themselves, as unveiled by the biological sciences, are God acting as creator,'" he said.

Peacocke said there is a purpose to God's biological evolution - the process is not completely haphazard.

He said there are characteristics inherent in advanced life forms that will, at some point, emerge - regardless of the life form's environment or body structure.

"I suggest that the evolutionary process is characterized by propensities toward increase in complexity, information processing and storage, sensitivity to pain, and even self-consciousness, a necessary prerequisite for social development and the cultural transmission of knowledge down the generations," Peacocke said.

The lecture was the first in the St. Albert the Great Forum on Theology and Science series this semester. Peacocke's visit was funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, which serves to foster a relationship between science and religion.

Joanna Thompson, a Catholic University of Arizona family and consumer resources student, said although it was not what she expected, the speech was interesting.

"If evolution is true, his way of explaining it is the best, at least for a Christian or others who believe in God," she said.

The title of Peacocke's lecture originated with author Aubrey Moore's quote: "Darwinism appeared, and, under the disguise of a foe, did the work of a friend."

While Moore said people must choose between science and religion, Peacocke said the two can coexist in today's world.

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