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Theistic evolution

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Greta Christina[1]

If there had been a divine hand tinkering with the process, we would expect evolution to have proceeded radically differently than it has. We would expect to see, among the changes in anatomy from generation to generation, at least an occasional instance of the structure being tweaked in non-gradual ways. We would expect to see -- oh, say, just for a random example -- human knees and backs better designed for bipedal animals than quadrupeds. (She said bitterly, putting an ice pack on her bad knee.) We would expect to see the blind spot in the human eye done away with, perhaps replaced with the octopus design that doesn't have a blind spot. We would expect to see the vagus nerve re-routed so it doesn't wander all over hell and gone before getting where it's going. We would expect to see a major shift in the risk-benefit analysis that's wired into our brains, one that better suits a 70-year life expectancy than a 35-year one. We would expect to see... I could go on, and on, and on.

Theistic evolution is a theological concept associated with some versions of Old Earth Creationism which involves accepting the scientific theory of evolution and attempting to reconcile religious beliefs with that theory and with science in general.

The approach taken is different from church to church and a wide range of views and nuances are included in the concept. However, the generally accepted idea is that of a deity-assisted abiogenesis followed by an indeterminate amount of time during which evolution took place. There may have been further alleged direct divine intervention, eg with Adam and Eve.

Theistic Evolution and Natural Selection.

In some interpretations of Theistic Evolution the "evolution" part is assumed to have been carried out wholly by natural selection.

Nevertheless, if this definition is accepted it is not clear how such evolution would be "theistic" as evolution itself would be driven solely by naturalistic causes. Therefore, the name "theistic evolution" may be inaccurate, as what is really being described is "theistic abiogenesis". A case may be made for this being an example of Equivocation

Some form of theistic evolution is the accepted position of the largest Christian denomination, the Catholic Church, along with many non-fundamentalist protestants and some liberal Muslims.

Theistic Evolution and Guided Evolution

Jerry Coyne[2]

Mutations that are guided so rarely as to be undetectable are of course logically possible, whether the “guider” be God, the tooth fairy, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Jerry Coyne[3]

(...) natural selection was not only god’s tool for making life and humans, but it was in fact a much better tool than simply creating ex nihilo. It was all natural! Driven by laws instead of constant intervention! God could just set evolution in motion (making sure, of course, that it would eventually cough up humans), sit back, and enjoy.

Others feel that this philosophy refers to some form of "guided evolution" whereby God used evolution to create mankind.[4] While yet others' hold a position closer to Progressive Creationism and feel that a series of explicit interventions were made.

Theistic Evolution and Intelligent Design

While its adherents are at pains to stress that this is a religious philosophy and not a scientific one it is difficult to see how - in practical terms - this concept could avoid the objections made to Intelligent Design. Followers maintain the difference lies in the fact that theistic evolution relies primarily on faith while ID claims to be concerned with attempting to find evidence.

However, both are, in reality, religious ideas – despite the claims of ID supporters - and both would need periodic unspecified miraculous or magical interventions in order to function.

Objections to Theistic Evolution.

  • Whichever view of evolution is taken it is clear that most (and probably all) Theistic Evolutionists view mankind as the objective or final goal of the evolutionary process - something which is completely alien to the concept of unguided evolution by natural selection.
  • Occam's razor favors an explanation that is simpler and involves fewer assumptions. Theistic evolution adds another unnecessary factor, a God. This makes the theory more complex and less probable.
  • The continuous suffering and death of sentient beings over the vast eons of time since sentience evolved is hard to reconcile with the omnipotent and omnibenevolent God of the Abrahamic religions. God could have created the world and us as we are without the suffering than happened during the long drawn out evolutionary process. Theistic evolution provides a worse explanation for life than naturalistic evolution, it adds a new difficulty, the Problem of evil. [3]

See also

References

  1. Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People
  2. Rosenhouse on God-guided mutations again
  3. 3.0 3.1 Natural selection: God’s tool?
  4. http://www.religioustolerance.org/evolutio.htm


See Also

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