Today, we would think in terms of, say, Francis Collins and The Language of God. (2007). But who started it?
Some, like author Charles Kingsley and future Archbishop Frederick Temple actually professed to find their religious faith strengthened by Darwinism since it appeared to them as a form of progressive revelation — science coming through for humanity by illuminating what had previously been hidden. Kingsley even seems to have viewed biological evolution as a branch of what German theologians call Heilsgeschichte, that is, salvation history, according to which God constantly works behind the scenes to promote the human potentialities and ultimate salvation of His subjects.
Indeed, for Kingsley this hidden hand approach seemed more satisfactory than the deist position which postulated a God who had made a once-and-for-all effort of creation but had since that time supposedly retired from his exertions with little more care for his Creation. For Kingsley, by contrast, evolution took on the spiritually reassuring aspect of underscoring God’s tutelary and pastoral role as the unwavering guardian and promoter of his Creation. Surprising as it may seem today, Darwin was seen by Kingsley and others as making a contribution to theological understanding every bit as important as his contribution to biology.Neil Thomas, “The Rise of Theistic Darwinism” at Evolution News and Science Today (March 21, 2022)
The modern theistic evolutionists are more cautious. They wouldn’t have seen Darwin as “making a contribution to theological understanding every bit as important as his contribution to biology. ”
You may also wish to read: Neil Thomas: Early Darwinists had more freedom to stray from the orthodoxy. Imagine any of that being tolerated today. Even Alfred Russel Wallace, co-theorist of natural selection was eventually sidelined for doubts about atheist materialism. But why did he even have them?
Here’s Thomas’s full current series.