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Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life Paperback – February 16, 2010

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Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life + Science and Faith: A New Introduction + God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 066423285X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664232856
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #566,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"John Haught is not simply one of the best theologians of our time; he. . .is a prophet. Any serious thinker will find in his book a rich banquet of thought, a depth of insight and a God who belongs to evolution."

--Ilia Delio, O.S.F, America, March 15, 2010

"Making Sense of Evolution will appeal to anybody with an interest in the roles of science and religion in the modern world. Just as Haught argues that Darwin simultaneously challenges and enriches theology, HaughtÂ's book challenges and enriches the contemporary discourse between science and religion."

--Kenrick Vezina, ForeWord Reviews, March/April 2010

"Ours is an age dominated by 'nothing but' treatments. Religious conservatives and atheist biologists alike engage in a war-to-the-death between evolution and creation. How refreshing, then, to read this brilliant 'both and' synthesis by one of America's leading experts in the field. Authoritative yet immensely readable, this volume offers a powerful vision of a God big enough to encompass the adventure of evolution, contingency, suffering, and randomness. Somehow, one feels, when the dust of battle settles, something like John Haught's rich description of 'infinite and inexhaustible depth' will remain standing." Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University and author of In Quest of Freedom: The Emergence of Spirit in the Natural World.

"By taking Darwin's and neo-Darwinians' work seriously, Haught satisfyingly shows how Christians can and should be both rigorous scientists and faithful believers." Terrence W. Tilley, Professor of Theology and Chair of the Department, Ford-ham University, Bronx NY

About the Author

John F. Haught is Senior Fellow in Science and Religion at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D. C. One of the world's leading thinkers in the field of theology and science, Haught was Chair and Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown from 1970 to 2005. An international lecturer and prolific author, his books include Christianity and Science, God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution, and the prize-winning Deeper than Darwin: The Prospects for Religion in the Age of Evolution.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Les Brighton on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Readers who have appreciated John Haught's earlier book God and the New Atheism may be a bit disappointed by this one. Haught here moves beyond an analysis of the intellectual sloppiness of the Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris phenomenon to a discussion of the way theology needs to be reinterpreted in the light of what he understands to be the established truth of evolutionary origins. While the evidence that evolution is a primary mechanism of creation is now incontrovertible (see Denis Alexander's Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? for an accessible and scientifically robust demonstration of this from a committed Christian), this for Vaught seems to have become a dominant new paradigm from which everything else has to be interpreted.

Vaught approvingly summarizes Teilhard de Chardin's view that "the intellectual context for any believable theology today is shaped primarily by science, and especially its new story of an unfinished universe. So what is needed theologically is a thoroughgoing reinterpretation of Christian teaching about God, Christ, creation, incarnation, redemption, and eschatology in keeping with Darwin's unveiling of life's long evolution and contemporary cosmology's disclosure of the ongoing expansion of the heavens." (p.142)

The key issue is whether in a context "shaped primarily by science" theology should also be shaped primarily by science. It is true that theology must live in the 21st century and not the 19th, or the 16th, or the 3rd century. It is also absolutely correct that if it is true, Christian theology will not find any challenge, but rather support and stimulus from anything that material science can reveal.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Spellman on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was pleasantly surprised by John Haught's overview of the deeper meaning of Darwin's work. But, it took me nearly the entire book to get to the meat of Haught's argument. In brief, John Haught views evolution as a layered process involving the materialistic and theologic components. While separate in their need to be evaluated by man to gain an initial understanding of the "transformative drama" ongoing in the universe, the two disciplines are themselves intimately entangled in man's future evolution toward cosmic significance. Drawing heavily on the work of Pierre Teihard de Chadin, Haught explains the significance of Darwin's work as allowing us to view man's evolution as a process eventuating in a conscious level high enough to recognize and partake in God's plan to reveal himself on a universal scale. The development of self awareness in the course of evolution, while rooted in foundational materialism, is itself necessary for man to recognize his role in the transformative drama of the universe. According to Haught, materialism can only partly explain the role of evolution in man's transormation. Theology is need to help illuminate the important principles behind evolution. Evolution and the physical processes in the universe are not blindly driven, as the materialist philosophy explains it. The universe as a whole, is transforming into a more complex entity culminating in the promise of final renewal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory L. Davis on August 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Except for the chapters on Duty and Devotion this book borders on nonsense. Dr. Haught has simply rolled over and caved into the Darwinist view of life, and instead invents some "higher order" worldview that makes it OK to believe that life evolved randomly. This is total and utter nonsense, even shameful. He needs to expand his horizon by embracing works by Dr. Stephen Meyer (Signature in the Cell, Darwin's Doubt), Dr. Gerald L. Schroeder (The Hidden Face of God, The Science of God), and Dr. Michael Behe (The Edge of Evolution).

I do give Dr. Haught 5 stars for the chapters on Duty and Devotion, so the book is worth reading just for those thoughts. Dr. Haught simply shreds Darwinian thinking to pieces, as he should. Why he shied away from doing the same in the rest of the book is a mystery to me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Bruggink on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is framed as a "discussion" with Charles Darwin and some of his followers. Each of the chapters consist of a brief meditation on an aspect of life that Darwin's science requires theology to reconsider. The themes are listed alliteratively, in true Baptist fashion, even though the author is Roman Catholic. They are intended to be starting points for the reader's own theological meditations. The themes (chapters) are Darwin, design, diversity, descent, drama, direction, depth, death, duty, devotion, and deity.

Haught does not challenge evolutionary science, only evolutionary naturalism. He argues that Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Jerry Coyne get it wrong when they go beyond the science of evolution and try to extrapolate to theology.

He urges the reader to think in terms of layered explanations (explanatory layers), i.e., both/and instead of either/or: different levels of explanation as simultaneously operative without ruling one another out. He suggests that we allow for divine creativity at a more fundamental layer of explanation than that at which natural science operates. Scientific and theological explanations can both be accepted without being rivals. Science and theology have different roles.

Haught's book is basically a treatment of the questions that biological evolution raises for Christian faith and theology. I recommend it to anyone interested in "making sense of evolution."
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