An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | V | W | Y | Z

Evolution

A process of development or unfolding. A dynamic "evolutionary" understanding of the development of the cosmos and the forms of life within it appeared in European thought before the nineteenth century. The theory of evolution was forcefully introduced into the English scene by Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859). Darwin argued that new species of animal life evolved over long periods of time from earlier species by wholly natural processes. The theory of evolution was subsequently applied to social as well as natural processes, perhaps without as much empirical foundation. 

 
Anglican approaches to the theory of evolution were set by Lux Mundi (1883), a collection of essays edited by Bishop Charles Gore. Its contributors presented evolution as an intelligible account of the way God works creatively and continually within natural and historical process. Lux Mundi provided a helpful corrective to deism. The Episcopal theologian William Porcher DuBose (1836-1918) also viewed the theory of evolution sympathetically in his book High Priesthood and Sacrifice (1908), in which he considered atonement with God to be the ultimate evolution of humanity. See DuBose, William Porcher; see Gore, Charles. 
 
The church reacted at first with great hostility because the theory of evolution contradicted biblical teaching concerning the age of the world and the creation of the world in six days. 
 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.