Responding to my post, one theologian, Tripp Fuller of Homebrewed Christianity, moves the theological side of this dialogue forward in his post, Darwin and the Evolution of Religion? Like me, Tripp uses a NYT interview with evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson as his entry point into the discussion, unfortunately a 6-yr old interview as one astute Dem Bones commenter pointed out. Comparing Wilson's definition of religion to a strand of Karl Barth's theology, Tripp argues:
I found his answer as reductionistic as many from various theological streams. ... [B]oth use a very narrow definition of religion in order to reject it and assert their own interpretation of reality. Of course both could respond and say, “It’s not my interpretation, it is the revealed truth of God in history” or “It’s not my interpretation, it is the most valid construction of the empirical facts.”Tripp does not offer a better definition of religion, but he has resolved to answer this question in future posts. What is religion and how do we define it? It is such a vague and nebulus term, but in agreement with Wilson, Tripp does offer this starting point:
I also agree with Wilson that religion has and will continue to change or transform through human history, [sic] it is indeed (at least in part) a construct of human existential needs and desires that is described and practiced through human communities and with human language.He concludes his post with a similar warning to theologians and a call for more functional religious interpretations of the world:
That religion is really human however, shouldn’t be a threat to religion and our response as a people of faith doesn’t need to be either a rejection of the scientific endeavor nor a blanket acceptance of a scientific interpretation that we try to cram God into. All truth is God’s truth and all our claims to it - scientific and religious - are partial and more or less functional. A more functional religious interpretation of the world will engage and be transformed by the best science but in doing so I think we will find there is much [sic] we can say about religion than Wilson imagines.Arguing definitions may seem petty to some, but overall, this is a positive, incremental step for the dialogue between studies of the Evolution of Religion and theology. Agreement on the definition of terms not only precludes unnecessary ambiguity, but it keeps all sides on the same page, a necessary component of future dialogue. Good first step, Homebrewed Chrisitianity.
Thoughts? Got a good definition of religion?