Donald D. Evans

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Donald Dwight Evans (born September 21, 1927 in Thunder Bay, Ontario) is a Canadian educator, psychotherapist and spiritual counsellor.

He obtained a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1950, following which he earned a B.Phil. from Oxford University and a B.D. from McGill University. He was ordained as a pastor in the United Church of Canada in 1955. He was a professor of divinity at McGill from 1960 to 1964 (during which time he received a D.Phil. from Oxford), an associate professor of philosophy from 1964 to 1968 and full professor from 1968 until 1993.

In a 1983 Religious Studies Review article Stanley Hauerwas--then of University of Notre Dame--and Richard Bondi--then of the Candler School of Theology--together review three of Evans' major works. These are his 1963 The Logic of Self-involvement, his 1980 Faith, Authenticity, and Morality, and his 1981 Struggle and Fulfillment. These reviewers note that "Many think Donald Evans has gone through a sea change which they view with a good deal of doubt, not for its sincerity but for its direction. Their doubt may be put quite bluntly: Evans got messed up with psychoanalysis, and whatever personal good this did him, his mind and his thinking went soft." These two reviewers go on to state "that this is not the case" and that "the hard-headed Evans is still there."

These reviewers' earlier-mentioned sea change is clarified to mean that his later two works (Struggle and Fulfillment and Faith, Authenticity, and Morality) find the basis of religious belief in religious experience, while his other earlier work (The Logic of Self-Involvement) found the meaning of religion within language itself.[1]

Indignant compassion[edit]

Indignant compassion is experienced by both believers and non-believers in God. It is a common identification with the suffering of others. The prominent idea is that both believers and non-believers grieve and rebel against suffering. To explain this term, Evans gives two fictional atheists--Dostoievsky's Ivan Karamazov and Camus's Dr. Bernard Rieux--as examples of those whose "compassion is compounded with a sense of outrage and revulsion that nature and men should inflict mental and physical toruture on human beings." Evans also quotes D. M. Mackinnon's Christian Faith and Communist Faith (1953) "the man who revolts, determined somehow to affirm in this most desperate situation that God did not so make the world, is met by the mystery of God's own revolt against the world He made." According to Evans, a belief in a God of indignant compassion means a belief in a God who suffers, which is what Bonhoeffer illustrates when—during his incarceration in a Nazi prison—he wrote "Christians stand by God in his hour of grieving." [2]



  • Faith, Authenticity, and Morality, Toronto Press, 1980, 268 pages
  • Struggle and Fulfillment: the Inner Dynamics of Religion and Morality, Fortress Press, 1981 (Collins, 1979), 238 pages

Logic of Self-involvement: A Philosophical Study of Everyday Language with Special Reference to the Christian Use of Language about God as Creator, 1963, SCM Press, In Series edited by Ian Ramsey and John McIntyre

  • Chapter 6 "Differences between scientific and religious assertions" (pp. 101–133) in Science and Religion: New Perspectives on the Dialogue, Editor Ian Barbour, Harper & Row, 1968


  1. ^ Language, Experience and the life well-lived: a review of the work of Donald Evans, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 9, No. 1. January 1983, pp. 33-41
  2. ^ Science and Religion, Ian Barbour, Harper Forum Books (Harper & Row), 1968, pp. 106-107

See also[edit]