Thursday, October 2, 2008

Evolutionary Optimism?

I’ve been reading N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. I would love to blog a complete review like I am doing for The Blue Parakeet, but I checked the book out from the library, so I can’t mark it up. From time to time, a few thoughts leap out at me and I will post them.

In one chapter, Wright is examining two options for one’s outlook for the future and they boil down to progress or despair. He first examines Evolutionary Optimism. He does not discuss evolution as it pertains to creationism, but to the philosophical/political worldview of evolution. Those who hold to this world view have a belief in a myth of progress. Our political discourse in this season is evidence of this. Each candidate and/or party is espousing that their way is the way of progress and they will usher in a new dawn for a great America. We see this in social gospel circles, in that if we all just work for the Kingdom of God, here and now (without mentioning the cross or the need for repentance), then we will inherit a great society and banish the ills of our world.
Wright says that the real problem with the myth of progress is that it cannot deal with evil. Not just intellectually, but in practice.
“The myth of progress cannot develop a strategy that actually addresses the severe problems of evil in the world. This is why all of the evolutionary optimism of the last two hundred years remains helpless before world war, drug crime, Auschwitz, apartheid, child pornography, and the other interesting sidelines that evolution has thrown up for our entertainment in the twentieth century. We can’t explain them, given the myth of progress, and neither can we eradicate them…The world is in fact still a sad and wicked place, not a happy upward progress toward the light (85-86).

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