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Examination Answers, Christian Theology for Today
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Examination Answers, Christian Theology for Today
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These essays were written for Davis's course Christian Theology for Today, probably as part of the final examination. The questions have been lost, but these essays stand on their own as illustrations of King's evolving conception of God. As this topic continued to evoke King's interest, he later devoted his dissertation to an examination of two theologians' conceptions of God. In these answers King is straightforward in his description of his own views: "I feel that the most valid conception of God is that of theism. God, for me along with other theist[s,] is a personal spirit immanent in nature and in the value structure of the universe." King's first essay examines the ways in which the theories of evolution can be incorporated into theological concepts of the origin of the world. The final two essays discuss the theory of "emergent evolution" and the importance of miracles to a religious view of the world. Although the grade is not indicated on these fragments, Davis gave King an A for the course.

With the rise of the scientific interpretation of the origin of the world and the emergence of the theory of evolution many thought that the basic Christian view of creation was totally destroyed. This belief might be right in seeing the invalidity of the older view of a first creation, but it is wrong in thinking that all views of creations were destroyed with the rise of scientific interpretation. It seems quite possible to get an adequate religious view of the world in the light of emergent evolution and cosmic theism. Is it not possible for God to be working through the evolutionary process? May it not be the God is creating from eternity? Emergent evolution says essentially that in the evolutionary process there is a continuous incoming of the new. The question arises, from whence comes this emergence of new elements in the evolutionary process. The religious man answers, with a degree of assurance, that God is the source of the new emergents. In other words, God is working through the evolutionary process. As cosmic theism would say, there is an intelligent conscious mind working out its purpose through the evolutionary proces. So that in the light of emergent evolution and cosmic theism we can come to an adaquate religious view of the world, viz., creative evolution. Here we find creation and evolution existing together. Here we may still hold to a creator God. Maybe we will conclude with OriginOrigen was a Roman Christian theologian, philosopher and martyr of the second century A.D. Roman A. Greer, ed., Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, First Principles: Book IV; Prologue to the Commentary on the Song of Songs; Homily XXVII on Numbers (New York: Paulist Press, 1979). that God is creating from eternity, but this does not destroy the basic Christian concept of a God who is creator and sustainer of the universe1

II I feel that the most valid conception of God is that of theism. God, for me along with other theist is a personal spirit immanent in nature and in the value structure of the universe.
This theistic view carries with it many additional assumptions. First it means that God is conscious mind and spiritual personality. It is not conceivable that an unconscious impersonal God could have given rise to consciousness in man. So that any view of God which emphasizes "his" impersonality fails to explain adequately how consciousness arose. Moreover any view of an impersonal God fails to explain adequately religious experience. It is only a personal God who can confront man in a religious experience. So we conclude that God is conscious mind and personal spirit. This does not mean that his personality is identif identical to man's. God is the supreme personality.
This theistic view also means that God is immanent in the world. This seem the only adequate way to explain religious experience. A God who is totally transcendent and out of touch with the world cannot come to man in religious experience. Moreover, this view of the immanence of God is more in as accord with the theory of evolution.
The theistic view also means that God is more than nature and in a real sense not dependent on it. Here the transcendence of God is emphasized. This does not mean that God is spacially transcendent but it means that he is not dependent on the world for his existence. God has aseity. He exist in his own rights. Frankly I feel that unless God were transcendent he would not be God at all.
For the above reasons I feel that theism is the most valid conception of God. With pantheism it stresses the immanence of God. With deism it stresses the transcendence. So that it synthesizes the two and come to a working philosophy2

I In the light of modern scientific knowledge religion proposes as its view of the world a theory of creative evolution. Here we find creation and evolution existing together. The religious man sees God working through the evolutionary process. Closely related to this point is the view of emergent evolution which was posited by the philosopher Morgan.Conway Lloyd Morgan, (1852-1936), British biologist and professor who in two series of Gifford lectures in 1922 and 1923, at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, outlined the philosophy of emergent evolution. See Morgan, Emergent Evolution: The Gifford Lectures (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1923); and Morgan, Life, Mind and Spirit: The Second Course of the Gifford Lectures (London: Williams and Norgate, Ltd., 1925). Here it is held that in the evolutionary process there is a continuous incoming of new elements For an instance life seems to be the emergent of matter and mind seems to be the emergent of life. Now the question arises, from whence comes these new elements? Do they result from the working of unconscious forces or do they result from the working of a purposeful, intelligent conscious mind? The religious man answers with a deal of assurance that it is God who is bringing the continuous flow of the new into being. In other words it is the work of a personal spirit who is immanent in the world of nature and its value structure. This theory does in some measure break with the old religious view of the world, but it does not at all destroy a creator God. May it not be that God is creating from eternity? This certainly seems to me a valid conclusion.
Such a view of the world is far from unscientific. It still insist on a creative God and at the same time remains in the orbits of recent scientific findings. The religious will not be content to see the world as a result of chance combination (the interaction of atoms of molecules); neither is he content to see it as the result of unconscious quasi purposeful forces. Rather he is convinced that the world is the results of the workings of a creative mind who {is} still working through the evolutionary process. So that for the religious man emergent evolution serves as a scientific explanation of the continual workings of God.3

II I would say that miracle holds a very important place in a religious view of the world. This does not mean that the older views of miracle are indispensable; but it does mean that the ideas which they attempted to convey are all well-nigh indispensable for any religious view of the world. At this point we might list the reasons why we give such an important position to miracle in a religious view of the world.
(1) First it is important because it insists on a living God. For the Christian God is a God who is living and active. He is not the Aristotelian God who merely contemplates upon himself. He is an other loving God who is continually working with his children. Such a view is emphasized by the concept of miracle.
(2) Miracle is also important because it insists on a God who can do new and unpredictable things.
(3) Miracle is important, moreover, because it hold to a God who answers prayer. Christian insist that when man prays he is not talking to his subjective self, but he is talking to an objective God who answers prayer. Such a view is emphasized by the concept of miracle.
(4) Miracle is important, finally, because it hold to an immanent God. God is not a deity who stands outside of the world and does nothing, but he is a deity immanent in the process of history.
For these reasons I feel that miracle is all important for any religion view of the world. If we accept Dr. Fosdicks definition of miracle the point is made clearer. Says he: "A miracle is God's use of his own law abiding powers to work surprises his will in ways surprising to men us his will in our lives and in the world." If we are to remain truely religious we must believe in miracles. We must believe in the light of emergent evolution that God is continually doing new and unpredictable thig things in the sequence of natural law. God is not a static dead God. He is a God who is alive today and will be forever more.4

AHDf. MLKP-MBU: Box 113, folder 23.

1. Davis gave this answer 14 points.

2. Davis gave this answer 16 points.

3. Davis gave this answer 15 points.

4. Davis gave this answer 16 points.

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