- Arthur Peacocke
Arthur Robert Peacocke was born at
Watfordin on 29 November 1924. He was educated at Watford Grammar School for Boys, Exeter College, Oxford(BA 1945, MA 1948, BSc 1947, DPhil 1948, DSc 1962, DD 1982), and the University of Birmingham(DipTh 1960, BD 1971).
He taught at the
University of Birminghamfrom 1948 until 1959 when he was appointed University Lecturer in Biochemistry in the University of Oxfordand Fellow and Tutor of St Peter's College. In 1960 he was licensed as a Lay Readerfor the Diocese of Oxfordand he held this position until 1971, when he was ordained deacon and priest, unusually, both in the same year.
From 1973 until 1984 he was Dean, Fellow, and Tutor and Director of Studies in Theology of
Clare College, Cambridge, becoming a Doctor of Science(ScD) by incorporation of the University of Cambridge.
In 1984 he spent one year as Professor of Judeo-Christian Studies at
Tulane University. He returned to Oxfordthe following year, becoming Director of the [http://users.ox.ac.uk/~theo0038/ Ian Ramsey Centre] , 1988 and again from 1995 until 1999. He was appointed Honorary Chaplain of Christ Church, Oxfordin 1988 and Honorary Canon in 1994. Apart from one year during which he was Royden B. Davis Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Georgetown University(1994), he spent the rest of his life in Oxford, living in St John Street, just across the road from another eminent theologian, Henry Chadwick.
He had been Select Preacher before the
University of Oxfordin 1973 and 1975 and was Bampton Lecturer in 1978. He was Hulsean Preacher at Cambridge in 1976 and Gifford Lecturer at St Andrew's in 1993.
Among Peacocke's numerous subsidiary appointments he was the President of the Science and Religion Forum from 1995 until his death, having previous been Chairman (1972-78) and Vice President (1978-92). He was an Academic Fellow of the
Institute on Religion in an Age of Sciencein 1986. He was Warden of the Society of Ordained Scientists 1987-92 and Warden Emeritus from 1992 until his death. He was also a sometime Vice President of the Modern Church People's Unionand member of the council of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology(Esssat).
Peacocke was awarded the Lecomte du Noüy Prize in 1983. He received honorary doctorates from
DePauw University(DSc 1983) and Georgetown University(DLittHum 1991). He was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by HM The Queen in 1993. In 2001 he was awarded the Templeton Prize.
Arthur Peacocke married Rosemary Mann on
7 August 1948. They had a daughter, Jane (born 1953), and a son who is the distinguished philosopher Christopher Peacocke. They also have five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Peacocke self-identified as a panentheist, which he was careful to distinguish from being a pantheist. [http://www.metanexus.net/Magazine/ArticleDetail/tabid/68/id/7422/Default.aspx] He is perhaps best known for his attempts to rigorously argue that
Evolutionand Christianityneed not be at odds (see " Creation-evolution controversy"). He may be the most well-known theological advocate of theistic evolutionas author of the essay "Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?".
Arthur Peacocke describes a position which is referred to elsewhere as "front-loading", after the fact that it suggests that evolution is entirely consistent with an all-knowing, all-powerful
Godwho exists throughout time, sets initial conditionsand natural laws, and knows what the result will be. An implication of Peacocke’s particular stance is that all scientific analyses of physical processes reveal God’s actions. All scientific propositions are thus necessarily coherent with religious ones.
According to Peacocke,
Darwinismis not an enemy to religion, but a friend (thus the title of his piece, "The Disguised Friend"). Peacocke offers five basic arguments in support of his position outlined below.
Process as immanence
The process-as-immanence argument is meant to deal with Phillip Johnson’s contention that naturalism reduces God to a distant entity. According to Peacocke, God continuously creates the world and sustains it in its general order and structure; He makes things make themselves.
Biological evolutionis an example of this and, according to Peacocke, should be taken as a reminder of God’s immanence. It shows us that "God is the Immanent Creator creating in and through the processes of natural order." (473, original italics) Evolution is the continuous action of God in the world. All "the processes revealed by the sciences, especially evolutionary biology, are in themselves God-acting-as-Creator". (474)
Chance optimizing initial conditions
The chance-optimizing-initial-conditions argument runs as follows: the role of
chancein biological evolution can be reconciled with a purposive creator because "there is a creative interplay of 'chance' and law apparent in the evolution of living matter by natural selection." (475) There is no metaphysical implication of the physical fact of "chance"; randomnessin mutation of DNA "does not, in itself, preclude these events from displaying regular trends of manifesting inbuilt propensities at the higher levels of organisms, populations and eco-systems." (476) Chance is to be seen as "eliciting the potentialities that the physical cosmos possessed ab initio." (477)
Random process of evolution as purposive
The random-process-of-evolution-as-purposive argument is perhaps best considered an adjunct to the process-as-immanence argument,Fact|date=April 2008 and a direct response to Johnson’s continued references to evolution as "purposeless." Peacocke suggests
Natural evil as necessity
The natural-evil-as-necessity argument is meant to be a response to the classic philosophical argument of the
Problem of Evil, which contends that an all-powerful, all-knowing and beneficent God cannot exist as such because natural evil( mudslideswhich crush the legs of innocent children, for instance) occurs. Peacocke contends that the capacities necessary for consciousness and thus a relationship with God also enable their possessors to experience pain, as necessary for identifying injury and disease. Preventing the experience of pain would prevent the possibility of consciousness. Peacocke also takes an eastern argument for natural evil of that which made must be unmade for a new making to occur; there is no creation without destruction. To Peacocke, it is necessary that organismsgo out of existence for others to come into it. Thus, pain, suffering and deathare necessary evils in a universewhich will result in beings capable of having a relationship with God. God is said to suffer with His creation because He loves creation, conforming the deity to be consistent with the Christian God.
Jesus as pinnacle of human evolution
The Jesus-as-pinnacle-of-human-evolution argument proposed by Peacocke is that
the actualization of [evolutionary] potentiality can properly be regarded as the consummation of the purposes of God already incompletely manifested in evolving humanity…. The paradigm of what God intends for all human beings, now revealed as having the potentiality of responding to, of being open to, of becoming united with, God. (484-5)
Similar propositions had previously been put by writers such as
C. S. Lewis(in " Mere Christianity") and Teilhard de Chardin.
Relationship between theology and science typology
In the introduction to "The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century" [ "The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century", (ed. A.R. Peacocke, 1981,
University of Notre Dame Press, ISBN 0-2680-1704-2, pp.xiii-xv, xviii ] , Peacocke lists a set of eight relationships that could fall upon a two-dimensional grid. This list is in part a survey of deliberations that occurred at the World Council of ChurchesConference on "Faith, Science and the Future", Cambridge, Mass., 1979.
#"Science and theology are concerned with two distinct realms"
#*Reality is thought of as a duality, operating within the human world, in terms of natural/supernatural, spatio-temporal/the eternal, the order of nature/the realm of faith, the natural(or physical)/the historical, the physical-and-biological/mind-and-spirit.
#"Science and theology are interacting approaches to the same reality"
#*Accuracy of this view is widely and strongly resisted among those who otherwise differ in their theologies
#"Science and theology are two distinct non-interacting approaches to the same reality"
#*The idea that theology tries to answer the question why, while science tries to answer the question how
#"Science and theology constitute two different language systems"
#*Each are two distinct "language games" whose logical pre-conditions can have no bearing upon each other accorinding to late-
#"Science and theology are generated by quite different attitudes (in their practitioners)"
#*the attitude of science is that of objectivity and logical neutrality; that of theology personal involvement and commitment.
#"Science and theology are both subservient to their objects and can only be defined in relation to them"
#*Both are intellectual disciplines shaped by their object (nature or God) to which they direct their attention. Both include a confessional and a rational factor. [ e.g., "Theological Science", T.F. Torrance,
Oxford University Press, 1969 ]
#"Science and theology may be integrated"
#"Science generates a metaphysic in terms of which theology is then formulated"
Alfred Whitehead's metaphysicsforms the basis of process theology
Implications of Peacocke's theology
This framework, and particular aspects of Peacocke’s argument, are at work in a number of positions actually taken by various
Christian denominations. The mainstream Evangelical Lutheran Church in Americamade the following statement in correlation with many of Peacocke's arguments:
The ELCA doesn't have an official position on creation vs. evolution, but we subscribe to the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, so we believe God created the universe and all that is therein, only not necessarily in six 24-hour days, and that he may actually have used evolution in the process of creation.
Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A., in a 2002 resolution by the 214th assembly of the church, stated:
*"Crockford's Clerical Directory" (97th edn, London: Church House Publishing, 2001), p. 578
*"Debrett's People of Today" (12th edn, London: Debrett's Peerage, 1999), p. 1522
List of science and religion scholars
* [http://www.faithnet.org.uk/AS%20Subjects/Philosophyofreligion/peacocke.htm Arthur Peacocke and Humanity's Place in Cosmic Evolution]
* [http://www.templetonpress.org/pdf/Evolution.pdf "Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?"]
* [http://home.earthlink.net/~jjkeggi/SOSc/22_Peacocke.html Society of Ordained Scientists article by him]
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/news/2006/10/25/db2501.xml Daily Telegraph obituary]
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