Course ObjectiveStudents are able to offer an informed analysis of the various tensions
between classical-Reformed (and more broadly evangelical) theology on
the one hand and the theory of biological evolution on the other. They
know the various solutions available in the literature and have a keen
insight in their pros and cons. Moreover, they have begun to develop
their own theological approach of the questions of origin. E.g., if in
the future they are asked by someone how the dinosaurs fitted in Noah's
ark, they are not flabbergasted but know how to respond.
Course ContentFirst, the relevant key concepts will be thoroughly explored: what
exactly is Reformed theology and how do creation and redemption relate
in it? What is evolutionary theory? Next, the theological questions and
problems that are raised (from a Reformed or evanglical point of view)
by neo-darwinian evolution will be studied. In particular, we will
investigate how the geological timescale relates to the doctrine of
Scripture and biblical hermeneutics, how the notion of 'progressive
creation' affects the problem of animal suffering, which implications
the theory of common descent has for theological anthropology, the
doctrine of sin and the 'historical Adam') and whether the theory of
natural selection upon random mutations is compatible with the doctrine
of providence. Finally, the theological ramifications of evolutionary
explanations of the emergence of morality and religion will be examined.
Teaching MethodsThis course will be offered as a seminar. During each class one chapter
from the course book will be introduced by one or two of the
participating students, who will in this way initiate a more in-depth
exploration and discussion of the relevant themes.
Method of AssessmentThe student writes a paper in which one of the discussed tensions
between Reformed theology and evolutionary theory is elaborated and
evaluated in the light of possible solutions. The paper incorporates
additional scholarly literature next to the course book. Amount of
pages: ca. 15. The final mark for the course is determined by the
student's presentation and participation during the classes (20%) and by
this paper (80%).
LiteratureGijsbert van den Brink, "Reformed Theology and Evolutionary Theory",
forthcoming at Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (text will be provided if the book
isn't out yet).
Target AudienceStudents with an interest in the relationship between faith, theology
and the natural sciences.
Additional InformationGiven the fact that this course is given in the form of a seminar
students should participate in at least 80% of the classes.
Recommended background knowledgeGlobal knowledge of the main dogmatic loci, as expounded in e.g.
Cornelis van der Kooi & Gijsbert van den Brink, "Christian Dogmatics",
Grand Rapids 2017 (or another recent manual of dogmatics). Global
knowledge of evolutionary theory and the questions of origin as provided
in e.g. Deborah & Loren Haarsma, "Origins", Grand Rapids 2011 (rev.
|Language of Tuition||English|
|Faculty||Faculty of Religion and Theology|
|Course Coordinator||prof. dr. G. van den Brink|
|Examiner||prof. dr. G. van den Brink|
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