Get access

COSMIC PURPOSE AND THE CONTINGENCY OF HUMAN EVOLUTION

with William R. Stoeger, SJ, “Ernan McMullin on Contingency, Cosmic Purpose, and the Atemporality of the Creator”; and Ernan McMullin, “Cosmic Purpose and the Contingency of Human Evolution”

Authors

  • Ernan McMullin


Abstract

Some understand the evolutionary process as more or less predictable; others stress its contingency. I argue that both Christian evolutionists who have assumed that the purposes of the Creator can be realized only through more or less predictable processes as well as those who infer from the contingency of the evolutionary process to the lack of purpose in the universe generally, are mistaken if the Creator escapes from the limits imposed on the creature by temporality, as the traditional Augustinian account supposes. The notion of “purpose” must itself be reinterpreted in such a case. It makes no difference whether the appearance of Homo sapiens is the inevitable result of a steady process of complexification stretching over billions of years, or whether it comes about through a series of coincidences that would have made it entirely unpredictable from the (causal) human standpoint. Either way, the outcome is of God's making, and from the biblical standpoint may appear as part of God's plan.

Ancillary