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The Evolutionary Potential of Quakerism

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[Draft dated 10 Aug 2010 to be revised]

In 1956, at the Yearly Meeting which established of the Religious Society of Friends in Australia Incorporated, the first of the annual James Backouse Lectures was delivered by Kenneth Boulding on the topic “The Evolutionary Potential of Quakerism”. In the nearly 50 years since then scientific knowledge about evolution has made huge progress, and our understanding of evolution, religion and Quakerism has changed. This project is to update our thinking about the evolutionary potential of Quakerism in time for the 50th anniversary of Kenneth Boulding’s seminal lecture, in 2014.


The project will have two ‘wings’, and will not fly without each of them being strong. The theory wing will develop in this Wiki, and may turn out to have four main elements:

  • History of Quakerism and science including Kenneth Boulding’s writings
  • Theory of evolution including emergence, cultural evolution, social change and religion
  • Right relationship, including compassion and power
  • Quaker decision making and collective wisdom

The second wing is practice. We hope that a group of friends who are able to meet face to face will evolve ways to real-ise the evolutionary potential of Quakerism through action on complex and intractable problems, and in doing so, to advance the theory.


This Wikia project is a secondary research project which aims to produce new knowledge and insight into the place of Quakerism in the 21st Century. As at September 2010 this is a personal project of Ian Hughes and has no organisational or institutional connections, but in coming weeks and months I hope to explore the possibility of links with Wikiversity research and a couple of Quaker organisations. I will also invite interested people (whether Quakers or not) to participate in action and research, gathering information and developing the project. If you are reading this feel free to make contact through the Discussion tab.

The project uses the same Wiki engine as Wikipedia, and accepts several Wikipedia conventions. There are two important differences. This Wiki does not exclude primary research and does not adopt a neutral point of view (NPOV).

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