The scientist Christopher Southgate became a theologian and a poet. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science has had the pleasure of publishing four of his articles (Southgate 2002, 2011, 2014, 2016) and a set of six articles on research done by him in collaboration with Andrew Robinson, inspired by Charles Sanders Peirce, on a semiotic approach to the origin of life (Robinson and Southgate 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2010d; Robinson, Southgate, and Deacon 2010; Southgate and Robinson 2010). Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science has also published four of Southgates poems (2007a, 2007b, 2007c, 2007d). In this issue, colleagues engage his work on teaching religion and science and on evolution and theodicy, in particular with respect to the suffering of humans and other animals. Bethany Sollereder and Andrew Robinson, a theologian and a medical doctor, respectively, are our guest editors for this festschrift issue. As befits academic conversation, Southgate offers some reflections in response. May his contributions and those of his conversation partners inspire further reflection!
This article is an introduction to the special issue of Zygon in honor of Christopher Southgate. Over the years he has made many significant contributions to the field of science and religion, and contributors have gathered to celebrate him on his sixty-fifth birthday. This introduction includes some biographical background and an outline of the issues contents.
evolutionary theodicy • myth • pedagogy • poetry • science and religion • Christopher Southgate
Bethany Sollereder is Postdoctoral Fellow in Science and Religion, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; e-mail: Bethany.Sollereder @ theology.ox.ac.uk. Andrew Robinson is Honorary Research Fellow in Theology and Religion, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK; e-mail: A.J.Robinson @ exeter.ac.uk.
Christopher Southgates Compound Theodicy: Parallel Searchings by Denis Edwards
Christopher Southgate proposes that a theological response to the suffering that is built into an evolutionary world requires a compound evolutionary theodicy, made up of four interrelated theological positions. This article proposes a fourfold response to the suffering of nonhuman creation that parallels Southgates compound theodicy. In its similarities and differences, it is offered in the spirit of a tribute to Christopher Southgate.
compound theodicy • cross • evolution • incarnation • resurrection • Christopher Southgate • suffering
Denis Edwards is a Professorial Fellow in Theology at Australian Catholic University, Adelaide Campus, Adelaide, SA, Australia; e-mail: denis.edwards @ acu.edu.au.
Extinction, Natural Evil, and the Cosmic Cross by Ted Peters
Did the God of the Bible create a Darwinian world in which violence and suffering (disvalue) are the means by which the good (value) is realized? This is Christopher Southgates insightful and dramatic formulation of the theodicy problem. In addressing this problem, the Exeter theologian rightly invokes the Theology of the Cross in its second manifestation, that is, we learn from the cross of Jesus Christ that God is present to nonhuman as well as human victims of predation and extinction. God co-suffers with creatures in their despair, abandonment, physical suffering, and death. What I will add with more force than Southgate is this: the Easter resurrection is a prolepsis of the eschatological new creation, and it is Gods new creation which retroactively determines past creation. Although this does not eliminate the theodicy question, it lessens its moral sting.
eschatology • natural evil • new creation • Christopher Southgate • theodicy • theology of the Cross
Ted Peters is co-editor of the journal Theology and Science at the Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley CA, USA; e-mail: tedfpeters @ gmail.com.
Southgates Compound Only-Way Evolutionary Theodicy: Deep Appreciation and Further Directions by Robert John Russell
Christopher Southgate offers a remarkable evolutionary theodicy that includes six affirmations and arguments; together they form a unique and very persuasive proposal which he terms a compound evolutionary theodicy. Here I summarize the arguments and offer critical reflections on them for further development, with an emphasis on the ambiguity in the goodness of creation; the role of thermodynamics in evolutionary biology; the challenge of horrendous evil in nature; and the theological response to theodicy in terms of eschatology, with its own severe challenge from cosmology.
ambiguous goodness of creation • co-suffering argument • compound evolutionary theodicy • cosmic theodicy • eschatology and cosmology • only way argument • thermodynamics and evolutionary biology
Robert John Russell is Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science, Graduate Theological Union, and Founder and Director, the Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; e-mail: rrussell @ gtu.edu.
Exploring Old and New Paths in Theodicy by Bethany Sollereder
Christopher Southgates work raises questions about God, evolution, and suffering. In this article, I begin by contributing an alternative to Southgates only way argument and by offering a third option in speculations about the nature of nonhuman animals in heaven. The second half of the article starts with Southgates approach of evolutionary theodicy as an adventure in theology and proposes a new path branching off his work. Compassionate theodicy is a reworking of the method and audience of traditional theodicy in the hope that it might become something that could offer theological resources to those who suffer.
animals • compassionate theodicy • eschatology • only way • reappraisal • Christopher Southgate • theodicy
Bethany N. Sollereder is Postdoctoral Fellow in Science and Religion, University of Oxford, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Gibson Building, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK; e-mail: Bethany.Sollereder @ theology.ox.ac.uk.
Redeeming a Cruciform Nature by Holmes Rolston, III
Christopher Southgate recognizes that the natural world is both ambiguous, mixing goods and bads, and simultaneously dramatically creative, such creativity resulting from just this ambiguous challenge of environmental conductance and resistance. Life is lived in green pastures and in the valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps this is the only way God could have created the values found on Earth, by means of such disvalues, as a Darwinian natural selection account suggests. Generating Earths biodiversity requires struggle, success, and failure—and such an only way would constrain a powerful, loving God. But Southgate judges this too uncaring of suffering individuals, the products of evolution sacrificed to the systemic process. Perhaps God through Jesus redeems all the sacrificed individuals—pelicans in a pelican heaven—but redemption of all the bullfrogs and acorns becomes an incredible hope. Nature is a cruciform creation, where life persists in perpetual perishing. Life is forever conserved, regenerated, redeemed.
cruciform creation • evolution • Christopher Southgate • suffering
Holmes Rolston, III, is University Distinguished Professor and Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA; e-mail: holmes.rolston @ colostate.edu.
On Social Evil and Natural Evil: In Conversation with Christopher Southgate by Ernst Conradie
In this contribution, the author engages in a conversation with Christopher Southgate on the relationship between social evil and what is called natural evil. Theologically, this centers around an understanding of creation and fall. It is argued that Southgate typically treats soteriology and eschatology as themes pertaining to an evolutionary theodicy, whereas an adequate ecotheology would discuss the problem of natural suffering under the rubric of the narrative of Gods economy. The question is then how that story is best told.
Ernst M. Conradie • evolution • natural evil • Christopher Southgate • theodicy
Ernst M. Conradie is Senior Professor in the Department of Religion and Theology at the University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa; e-mail: econradie @ uwc.ac.za.
Evolution, Contingency, and Christology by Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp
Christopher Southgate has made important contributions to theodicy and the theory of divine action in light of the contingency in evolution and the suffering of creation. What happens then when one thinks through the implications of contingency for Christology? One can admit that aesthetic and moral judgments are products of a contingent history and yet affirm that they really are valid. Similarly, we argue, one can acknowledge the contingency of Jesus existence, actions, and subsequent impact and still maintain that his will was uniquely united with the divine will. Following a critical engagement with the recent work of Keith Ward, we argue that a high Christology is compatible with the actual contingencies of evolutionary and social history, without the necessity of interventionist divine action.
Christology • contingency • creation • cultural evolution • divine action • evolution • natural evil • realism • Christopher Southgate • Keith Ward
Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of Theology and affiliated faculty at the Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA; e-mail: pclayton @ cst.edu. Steven Knapp is President Emeritus and University Professor of English at George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA; e-mail: sknapp @ gwu.edu.
Faith and Compassion in an Unfinished Universe by John F. Haught
The theme of compassion is prominent in the work of Christopher Southgate. This scientist and theologian is deeply affected by Charles Darwins nineteenth century disclosure of the long, previously unknown, history of lifes suffering. Southgate is also aware of the many unsuccessful attempts by Christian theologians to make sense of it all. Here I build on Southgates work. I note, first, that both the suffering of life and the protest against it by compassionate human beings are integral parts of a single cosmic drama; second, that the drama is still far from finished; and, third, that the suffering of innocent life remains unintelligible and unredeemed apart from faiths anticipation of a fulfillment that awaits the entire cosmic drama.
cosmic story • cosmology • evolution • redemption • resurrection • rightness • suffering
John F. Haught is Distinguished Research Professor of Theology at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA; e-mail haughtj @ georgetown.edu.
Perceiving Natural Evil through the Lens of Divine Glory? A Conversation with Christopher Southgate by Celia Deane-Drummond
Finding a way to come to terms with the disvalues in the evolutionary world is a particular challenge in the light of Neo-Darwinian theories. In this article I trace the shift in Christopher Southgates work from a focus on theodicy to a theologian of glory. I am critical of his rejection of the tradition of the Fall, his incorporation of disvalues into the work of divine Glory, and the specific theological weight given to scientific content. I offer a critique of Holmes Rolston IIIs approach to the valuation of nature that I believe has influenced Southgates theology. Constructively, I offer an alternative that seeks to recover an understanding of the origin of evil and the Adamic event that draws on the work of Paul Ricoeur. I also draw on the work of anthropologist Tim Ingold for an alternative philosophical approach to evolution which opens up a space for a recovery of the concepts of creaturely Sophia and shadow Sophia in the work of Sergius Bulgakov.
creaturely Sophia • glory • natural evil • Paul Ricoeur • Holmes Rolston, III • shadow Sophia • Christopher Southgate • theodicy
Celia Deane-Drummond is Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA; e-mail: celia.deane-drummond.1 @ nd.edu.
Theodicy: A Response to Christopher Southgate by Nicola Hoggard Creegan
This article is a critical and appreciative interaction with Christopher Southgates theodicy and theology of glory. I critique in particular his rejection of all dualist moves in theodicy. I question why Southgate can ascribe evil to some human actions, many of which are automatic and unconscious, but not to any other level or form of consciousness. I argue that he may rely too heavily on rational scientific categories, which are not sufficient in themselves to carry the weight of key theological concepts. His use of poetry is powerful and suggestive, but in the end, he may not give it enough epistemic weight.
Sonali Deraniyagala • glory • natural evil • poetry • Christopher Southgate • theodicy
Nicola Hoggard Creegan is a theologian and chaplain at Maclaurin Chapel, Auckland University, Auckland, New Zealand; email: hoggard.n @ gmail.com.
Evolution and Theodicy: How (Not) to Do Science and Theology by Neil Messer
This article uses Christopher Southgates work and engagement with other scholars on the topic of evolutionary theodicy as a case study in the dialogue of science and Christian theology. A typology is outlined of ways in which the voices of science and the Christian tradition may be related in a science-theology dialogue, and examples of each position on the typology are given from the literature on evolution and natural evil. The main focus is on Southgates evolutionary theodicy and the alternative proposal by Neil Messer. By bringing these two accounts into dialogue, some key methodological issues are brought into focus, enabling some conclusions to be drawn about the range and limits of fruitful methodological possibilities for dialogues between science and Christian theology.
Christianity • creation • evolution • evolutionary biology • natural evil • Christopher Southgate • theology
Neil Messer is Professor of Theology at the University of Winchester, Winchester, UK; e-mail: Neil.Messer @ winchester.ac.uk.
Myth, Mutual Interaction, and Poetry
Darwin and Christianity: Truth and Myth by John Hedley Brooke
In recent years many historical myths about the relations between science and religion have been corrected but not always with sensitivity to different types and functions of myth. Correcting caricatures of Darwins religious views and of the religious reaction to his theory have featured prominently in this myth-busting. With the appearance in 2017 of A. N. Wilsons depiction of Darwin himself as a mythmaker, it is appropriate to reconsider where the myths lie in discourse concerning Darwin and Christianity. Problems with Wilsons account are identified and his provocative demeaning of Darwin is contrasted with an image gleaned from Darwins friend and colleague George Romanes. The article concludes with a brief reference to the problem of suffering and to the work of Christopher Southgate.
agnosticism • argument from design • Charles Darwin • Darwinism • myth • naturalism
John Hedley Brooke was the first Idreos Professor of Science and Religion (from 1999 to 2006) at Oxford University. Harris Manchester College, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TD UK; e-mail: john.brooke @ theology.ox.ac.uk.
Creative Mutual Interaction in Action by Andrew Robinson
In this article, I describe a multidisciplinary project at the interface of philosophy, science, and theology. The project is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the author and Christopher Southgate, to whom this special issue of Zygon is dedicated. At the philosophical core of the project is a development of C. S. Peirces semiotics (theory of signs). The scientific branch of the project involves the application of semiotic theory to the problem of the origin of life, and to questions about human evolution and human distinctiveness. The theological branch of the project involves the articulation of a semiotic approach to the Christian concepts of Incarnation and Trinity, and to the ideas of vestiges of the Trinity in creation and of participation in Gods life. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the project in terms of Robert John Russells model of creative mutual interaction between science and theology.
evolution • incarnation • origin of life • Charles Sanders Peirce • semiotics • Trinity
Andrew Robinson is Honorary Research Fellow in Theology and Religion, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK; e-mail: A.J.Robinson @ exeter.ac.uk.
With the goal of better understanding how science, religion, and poetic art came together in the work of Christopher Southgate, the authors first explore his spiritual poetry. They come away with a better understanding of the authors commitment to a broad naturalism that contributes, along with his own faith experience, to his prose works in the emerging field of ecotheology. The authors conclude that Southgates work is part of the worldwide emergence of a theological rationale that supports environmentalism, the protection of species, and the conservation of biodiversity. The authors find Southgates poetry warm, appealing, accessible, and re-readable to good effect, but with a thread of danger and warning throughout. Both features are quite appropriate for the environmental movement in the twenty-first century.
biodiversity • ecology • ecotheology • environmentalism • naturalism • science and religion • Christopher Southgate
Margaret Boone Rappaport is a cultural anthropologist who works on issues of science, religion, and art with the Human Sentience Project, in Tucson, Arizona and previously was Lecturer at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA; e-mail msbrappaport @ aol.com. Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, is a Jesuit priest with the Vatican Observatory Research Group, for which he has served as Vice Director. He is an Adjunct Associate Astronomer with Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, in Tucson, AZ, USA; e-mail corbally @ as.arizona.edu.
Pedagogy in Religion and Science
Between Knowing and Being: Reflections on Being Taught Science and Religion by Prof. Christopher Southgate by Timothy Gibson
It is a joy to be asked to contribute to this commemorative edition of Zygon, in honor of my friend Christopher Southgate. But a narrowly academic article seems not to fit the brief of writing a reflection on Southgates teaching of science and religion, as one who has witnessed it, gladly, as both student and colleague. What follows, then, is deliberately reflective in tone, with little in the way of academic references apart from occasional links to Southgates own work—though, I hope, enough of a strand of argument to justify inclusion in these pages. My argument is simply put: Southgate teaches by not teaching, but by drawing out knowledge from students and thereby empowering their growth. He is an exemplar, a kind man committed to the unfolding of understanding, interested too in forming dispositions in his students that will lead to their flourishing as thinkers and as people.
Aristotle • episteme • formation and learning • pedagogy • phronesis • science and religion • Christopher Southgate • techne
Timothy Gibson is a writer, lecturer, and Anglican priest. He teaches at the University of the West of England, Bristol, Stoke Gifford, Bristol, UK, and for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, where he also exercises a parish ministry; e-mail: timothy2.gibson @ uwe.ac.uk.
Modeling the Cosmos: Transformative Pedagogy in Science and Religion by Louise Hickman
This article reflects on the classroom pedagogy promoted by Christopher Southgate and its implications for the science-theology conversation. It highlights several important aspects of Southgates pedagogy. The use of models of God, humanity, and cosmos emphasize relationality while encouraging the synthesizing of ideas. The promotion of holism in theological reflection is vital for nurturing students to become theologians themselves through the active reevaluation of key doctrines and ideas. An emphasis on ethical considerations reinforces synthesis between theology, science, and ethics, and is vital for perspective transformation. These aspects of Southgates teaching should be recognized as vital for promoting intellectual independence, partnership, and theological transformation, all of which are essential to good science and theology pedagogy.
pedagogy • perspective transformation • science and religion • Christopher Southgate • teaching
Louise Hickman is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Ethics at Newman University, Genners Lane, Bartley Green, Birmingham, B323NT UK; e-mail: L.Hickman @ newman.ac.uk.
God, Humanity, and the Cosmos: Challenging a Challenging Textbook by Willem B. Drees
Christopher Southgate has been the editor of the textbook God, Humanity and the Cosmos. I consider this textbook fair on science and wise in intertwining issues in theology and science with ecology, climate change, and technology. It might also be challenging for students, as it introduces them to a variety of perspectives and a rich palette of literature. I wonder whether such a book, with its strong theological, cognitive, orientation will remain relevant in European contexts, given shifts in society away from Christianity and changes in understanding what it is to be religious.
education • God, Humanity and the Cosmos • religion and science • secularization • Christopher Southgate • teaching • Linda Woodhead
Willem B. Drees is Dean of the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, Professor of Philosophy of the Humanities at Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands, and the editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; e-mail email@example.com.
Teaching Science and Religion in the Twenty-First Century: The Many Pedagogical Roles of Christopher Southgate by Christopher Corbally and Margaret Boone Rappaport
With the goal of understanding how Christopher Southgate communicates his in-depth knowledge of both science and theology, we investigated the many roles he assumes as a teacher. We settled upon wide-ranging topics that all intertwine: (1) his roles as author and coordinating editor of a premier textbook on science and theology, now in its third edition; (2) his oral presentations worldwide, including plenaries, workshops, and short courses; and (3) the team teaching approach itself, which is often needed by others because the knowledge of science and theology do not always reside in the same person. Southgate provides, whenever possible, teaching contexts that involve students in experiential learning, where they actively participate with other students. We conclude that Southgates ultimate goal is to teach students how to reconcile science and theology in their values and beliefs, so that they can take advantage of both forms of rational thinking in their own personal and professional lives. The co-authors consider several examples of models that have been successfully used by people in various fields to integrate science and religion.
experiential learning • models • science and education • science and religion • team teaching • the New Physics • theology
Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, is a Jesuit priest with the Vatican Observatory Research Group, for which he has served as Vice Director. He is an Adjunct Associate Astronomer with Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, in Tucson, AZ, USA; e-mail corbally @ as.arizona.edu. Margaret Boone Rappaport is a cultural anthropologist who works on issues of science, religion, and art, with the Human Sentience Project, in Tucson, Arizona and previously was Lecturer at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA; e-mail msbrappaport @ aol.com.
Response with a Select Bibliography by Christopher Southgate
In this response to the articles in this issue, Southgate considers lessons to be learned in respect of science-religion teaching, and about his edited textbook God, Humanity and the Cosmos. He emphasizes the importance of collaborative work in theology. He then considers issues in evolutionary theodicy raised by other contributors, especially eschatology, divine passibility, and the status of the only way explanation of evolutionary suffering. Lastly, he engages with critiques of his work based on a preference for characterizing the disvalues of creation in terms of mysterious fallenness. The article is followed by a select bibliography of his published work since 1979.
eschatology • evolutionary biology • fallenness • only way argument • original sin • passibility • pedagogy • poetry • theodicy • theology and science
Christopher Southgate is Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Theology, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK; email: c.c.b.southgate @ exeter.ac.uk.
Genes, Determinism, and God by Denis Alexander reviewed by Christopher Grundmann