Saturday, February 6, 2010

Evolution: God's Idea?

"Aren't evolution and faith in God incompatible? Can a scientist believe in miracles like the resurrection? Actually, I find no conflict here, and neither apparently do the 40 percent of working scientists who claim to be believers. Yes, evolution by descent from a common ancestor is clearly true. If there was any lingering doubt about the evidence from the fossil record, the study of DNA provides the strongest possible proof of our relatedness to all other living things. But why couldn't this be God's plan for creation?"

~ Dr. Francis Collins


Few Christians I know are even trying to understand how evolution might play into the big picture plan and purpose of God. Many Christians are just straining to get used to the idea of evolution, and many more reject it altogether. When believers get past their initial aversion, get comfortable with the new paradigm, and attempt to look at evolution through the eyes of the purposeful Creator, new and exciting vistas open up on a very large, cosmic scale. Francis Collins, the world’s leading geneticist and an evangelical believer tells us that evolution is clearly true. He accepts it as “God’s plan for creation.”


Where are you on this scale below? Please comment!


o Evolution is not compatible with Christianity.

o Evolution might be true, but I’m not convinced.

o Even if evolution is true, it would not effect Christian theology.

o The evidence for evolution is powerful, and I am trying to adjust my thinking, to understand how it fits into my faith.

o I am comfortable with evolution and common descent.

o I am comfortable with evolution and common descent, and actively exploring how this truth impacts Christian theology.

53 comments:

Irenicum said...

I'm completely comfortable with #6. I attend an evangelical seminary and my ecclesial background is conservative protestant, so I know I have my work cut out for me. But I stay amongst conservative protestants precisely because they are very serious about scripture and have generally withstood the onslaught of spiritual relativism. I'm hoping to influence, as you are, a new generation of believers who don't think and react based on the old fundamentalist/modernist divide. Unlike that generation, Christians can accept good science (i.e. evolutionary biology) while still keeping Christ central and upholding a fully supernatural faith. It doesn't have to be an either/or equation. I've been quite heartened by the advent of biologos, the Faraday Institute, and numerous individuals, both among theologians and scientists, who have come out and affirmed a solidly evangelical faith along with a high regard for the scientific enterprise. But for this progress to progress, scientifically literate believers need to keep at it and not become complacent. A vibrant faith that is both spiritually and scientifically literate has to be aware that the old dividers want nothing more than to prop up the old paradigm of young earth creationists versus atheistic evolutionists. God gave us minds, let us honor him by using our to the best of our abilities. Thanks for your work and keep up the good work.

Cliff Martin said...

Irenicum,

So glad to make your acquaintance! Thank you for your comment.

Moses said...

Option 6 for me as well, but I was not created this way...I evolved. I am impatient with those around me who have not, or may never evolve to accept evolution. But they are my brothers and sisters, so I will be learn to be patient.

Arni Zachariassen said...

6 here as well. And like both Irenicum and Moses, I come from and still reside among conservative Protestants. It seems like there's a growing amount of us, Evangelical and evolutionist. As Irenicum says, we have our work cut out for us. Personally, I head, with a biologist friend of mine (I'm a theologian), a little organisation in my home country of the Faroe Islands called Dialogos. We work toward a better integration of faith and science. We put together a conference on evolution last year and we're doing the environment in April. We do podcasts and maintain an active website, as well as partake in public debates (newspapers, radio, television, etc.). It's brought us into some trouble with our more conservative brothers and sisters, as you can imagine, but I think it's worth it. And people like Francis Collins are a definite inspiration.

Cliff Martin said...

Moses and Arni,

In think all of us who come from more theologically conservative Christian communities came out of YEC backgrounds. I find that, as a group, most of us were actively engaged in the (so-called) science of Creationism. It is an interesting paradox that some of the strongest proponents of YEC 15 years ago (like myself) have now accepted evolution. Not surprising, really. As a group, we have always had a high level of interest in science, including origins. My brothers and sisters who are ticked off with me know way less about YEC than I do. I puzzle about that, because they trust me as a teacher and leader other than in this one area, where they reject my ideas even as they acknowledge I am better informed on both sides of the argument.

Arni, though I've often seen and read your comments across the sites we both frequent, I did not know you live in the Faroe Islands until know. Sounds like you are ahead of us! I wish such an organization as Dialogos existed near where I live in Oregon. I know of no such group, nor are there any conferences such as you describe. I'm hoping that will change in the coming years.

Tom said...

I'm with 1, 5, and 6. I don't think evolution is compatible with Christianity, but I've accepted common descent and I am interested in the implications of evolution to theology and especially Christianity.

I turned apostate/atheist when I accepted evolution. What took me years to realize is that evolution is not directly incompatible with religion. Rather, it shines such a bright light on the natural world in which we live that it so easily exposes faults in theologies. If you have a theology that can withstand the implications of evolution, then it has muster. If it cannot pass this litmus test, then the theology you hold is tenuous, and you probably know it. Many Christians find it easier to be cowardly and not address the issues in their theologies and instead try to demonize science.

As for me, I found my theology incongruent on so many issues that when I understood evolution, it did not take too much for me from a theological perspective to let it go. The culture, familial, and social constraints were hard to deal with, however. Additionally, while it is easy to let a theology go when you realize it is faulty, being a theological orphan is really uncomfortable when you’ve ascribed God as being the source of life’s meaning.

So, in a nutshell, in learning more how evolution works, as ironic as it sounds, meaning can only come about through evolution. These random events at the molecular to cosmic levels allow self-organizing molecules to assemble into organisms that can ultimately interpret, interact, and direct further evolution. Earthquakes, tsunamis, cancer, lucky breaks, Olympic competitions, political scandals, are natural phenomena that come as various surprises, perhaps tragically, but they all make life a bit more meaningful. Every event affects personal experience and inserts itself into culture in some way.

With respect to the belief in a personal God, evolution indicates that God got the ball rolling some billions of years ago and has not intervened since. Evolution is self-sufficient to make culture, morality, and the world as we know it. This is especially true since most people that have lived since the time of Jesus have never heard of him. Now, you may easily argue that the world is a mess and in need of such a savior. Fine. It’s just that such a theology needs to address why God chose a small band of sheepherders as his chosen people and interfaced with them through their system of sacrifices and why Jesus needed to be born of a virgin and sacrificed to end this system, and how that relates to bettering the world.

Note these are basic theological questions that have nothing to do with evolution, but acceptance of evolution mandates that we don’t take theology for granted. YECs have the comfort of God being intimately involved from humans’ first days. Evolution mandates an old-earth theology and Old Earthers have to ask what was he doing all that time? If he had to let nature take its course, then what was so particular about the species, time, place, and culture that he chose to get involved then and there? Can there be justice in the presence of miracles? What really is sin? How does Jesus life and sacrifice save souls? If you can answer these questions, you probably have a solid theology.

Cliff Martin said...

Tom,

You've issued a challenging mandate that ought to be taken seriously by every believer. I take it seriously. I often think of how you and I, with similar backgrounds and Christian experiences took such divergent paths when we discovered the reality of our evolutionary history. I understand how evolution gives us opportunity to step back and take stock of our theistic assumptions, and how the fallacies and (in some cases) absurdities of theology are thus exposed. But that does not lead me to toss the baby with the bath water. Far from it. Reality without transcendent purpose is despairing hopelessness; I don't care how you frame it, or dress it. If it is so, it is so. But as long as there is hope that a meaning larger than humankind can be discerned, I will keep searching.

For my part, I have solved to my satisfaction most of the issues you raised. I may not have found the correct answers and formulas. But I have great hope that if I can construct a meaningful theology from the data available to me, that even if I'm wrong, such a theology may well exist.

I have not left the parameters of Christian theology, though, admittedly, those parameters have stretched some to allow for scientific data which I cannot deny.

I also realize that I have only described my personal theological understandings around the edges, with bits and pieces here and there. I hope someday to give the big picture in a way that may even make sense to you. Stay tuned!

Isaac Gouy said...

Cliff > Reality without transcendent purpose is despairing hopelessness...

Do you mean that without "transcendent purpose" your life would be filled with despair and hopelessness - or is your flat assertion supposed to be some kind of universal truth?

Isaac Gouy said...

Tom > With respect to the belief in a personal God, evolution indicates that God got the ball rolling some billions of years ago and has not intervened since.

How does the theory of evolution indicate that God got the ball rolling?

How does the theory of evolution indicate that God does not intervene in each and every thing that happens?


Tom > Evolution is self-sufficient to make culture, morality, and the world as we know it.

iirc Francis Collins argued, in The Language of God, that the theory of evolution was sufficient explanation in his own area of professional expertise but supernatural cause was needed to explain the universe, consciousness, morality, ...

Tom said...

Isaac > How does the theory of evolution indicate that God got the ball rolling?

It doesn't. If evolution is God's Idea, as the title of the post asks, my answer is that with respect to a deity, the use of evolution displays a hands off creator that does not further meddle with nature.

How does the theory of evolution indicate that God does not intervene in each and every thing that happens?

I suppose it could be rather binary. Either said deity launched the natural universe and left it alone, or is the God particle behind all material fabric. Either way, I do not see a personal God who is available for a relationship. If he is the God particle, then we are back to Calvin.

Francis Collins argued ... that supernatural cause was needed to explain the universe, consciousness, morality, ...

Sad isn't it? Too bad he's running the NIH! I suspect Francis Collins does not have a dog or understands monkey research or behavioral experiments with views like that. Again, though, the issue of evolution is sort of besides the point. The question is, "Does a given theology make sense?" Even if one wants to argue that evolution can only go so far without some divine nudging, then the theology has to describe and account for those interventions. See the cat chase it's tail as we come back round to the theodicy debate?

Eddie said...

In my opinion, Macroevolution is not compatible with Christianity.

For Adam no helper could be found. That means that no female human existed. Hence allopatric speciation did not occur.

Cliff Martin said...

Hi Eddie,

Thank you for the comment. You are certainly correct that evolution does not align with a literal understanding of Genesis 2. (Then again, consider that Genesis 1 does not align with a literal understanding of Genesis 2 ... that is, both chapters cannot be literally true.)

But is it possible that Genesis 2 was never intended to be understood as a literal story, but as an allegorical story that conveys certain theological truths? If that were so, would evolution still be incompatible with Christianity?

Isaac Gouy said...

Tom > Again, though, the issue of evolution is sort of besides the point.

Yes that was my point - the theory of evolution doesn't have much to say about metaphysics.

Eddie said...

Hi Cliff,
I consider both chapter's to be literally compatible. Do you have a blog post on your thoughts as to why they aren't literal?
Thanks,
Eddie

Cliff Martin said...

Eddie,

I haven't dealt with that specifically, though I (and others) have shown (conclusively, I think) that Genesis one is written from the viewpoint of the common cosmology of the day, known as Ancient Near Eastern Cosmology. A Google search should yield lots of material for you. Moses thought the same thing about the firmament, waters above, waters separated, etc. as did the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians. I could point you to some excellent articles, written by Christians, if you'd like.

Most modern day evangelicals do not realize that the literal view of Genesis one is a very recent arrival. Through the church age, and throughout Judaism, the more prevalent view is that Genesis one is exactly as it reads: a poetic mythological story of cosmic proportions. There are many important theological truths conveyed in Genesis one and two, none of which are dependent upon a literal understanding. The literal understanding which became prevalent in some church quarters in the last 150 years has more to do with reactions against evolution than good Biblical scholarship. Now that we know evolution is true, the idea of fighting it with an insistence upon reading early Genesis as scientifically accurate borders upon the absurd.

Cliff Martin said...

Eddie,

I think if you pay careful attention to the order of creation in Genesis 1 and 2, you will see that the two are plainly contradictory if they are understood literally.

Eddie said...

Hi Cliff,
From what I can tell, Judaism traditionally held to a literal view. That other creation stories posit the same types of events doesn't seem to be evidence that Genesis copied them, these stories could have been copies of the Genesis story. So comparing Genesis to other creation myths seems speculative to me.

From my studies of evolution in college and on my own, there are too many problems with it for me to even consider it close to being proven true. Rather, I believe that more evidence exists to suggest that macroevolution is impossible.

I find that the text of Genesis 1 and 2, when being read as assertions that say only exactly what they say (and not implying other things that are usually assumed to be true at the same time) are quite reasonably compatible. For instance, Genesis 1 says that God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and void. And the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. At this point in the narrative, it is widely assumed that light did not exist. However, the text never made any mention of God creating water, yet it says that the Spirit hovered over the waters. Thus, since the text makes no statements about the creation of water, it is possible that many things were created without the text explicitly mentioning them.

Commonly, people interpret "And God said, let there be light" as God creating light. However, the narrative doesn't really say that God created light at that point. The sentence "let there be light" only says that God made light appear over the waters, not that God created light. The syntax of each statement in Genesis 1 and 2, when rendered literally, offers no contradictions in my opinion.

Many people look at Genesis 2, where God creates the animals in front of Adam, and say that that contradicts Genesis 1, since God had already made the animals before creating Adam. But this view assumes that God only created the animals once, and it assumes that God created the same identical species twice over, but those assumptions are speculative and not necessitated by the text.

To me, what I find problematic is a poetic or allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. I find that if God did not literally make a man named Adam, then I wonder if we can really claim that he made anything at all. Taken as an allegory, the text becomes so vague as to be malleable enough for anyone to claim that it says virtually anything at all, according to each teacher's whims. I believe, if we take the text to imply that God created everything via macroevolutionary processes, then the next fellow can come along and say that he thinks that the text implies panspermia, and the next fellow can say that really the text is saying that God is really Buddha in this passage, and that all the animals had to come first and then they transcended from their animal states into humans.

Isaac Gouy said...

Eddie > I believe that more evidence exists to suggest that macroevolution is impossible.

For example?

Eddie said...

Hi Issac,
To begin with, before even talking about that, I'd like anyone involved to come to a consensus, if such a thing is possible, concerning the distinctions between microevolution and its mechanisms and macroevolution and its corresponding mechanisms.

Do you agree with Ernst Mayr's statements concerning genetic homeostasis? Genetic homeostasis implies that microevolution is not a sufficent mechanism for macroevolution. Stated another way, genetic homeostasis implies that given a near infinite amount of time, an organism undergoing microevolutionary changes will never, via those microevolutionary changes alone, change into a different type or clade. A fish will never become a mammal, and likewise a monkey will never become a man. As Mayr states in his book "What Evolution Is", the mechanism for macroevolution is cladogenesis, a separate process from microevolution.

If someone thinks that I have been misinformed about Mayr's work please speak up.

Cliff Martin said...

Eddie,

I don’t know if you will find the consensus you’re hoping for. I think most evolutionary biologists would insist that macroevolution, as isolated events, never happens. All evolutionary change is microevolution. Only when viewed in geological time do we see “macroevolution” which is, in fact, the result of a long string of microevolutionary changes.

Why do you appeal to Ersnt Mayr regarding the mechanisms of evolution? Most of his work was done in an era before we understood the mechanisms involved in genetic mutations. If I am not mistaken, the vast majority of evolutionary biologists accept genetic mutations as the mechanism for evolutionary change ... though Mayr resisted the concept in his old age right up until his death. But even though he never accepted gene based evolution, he still accepted the framework of evolutionary changes in species, according to this from Wikipedia:

In his book Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942) he wrote that a species is not just a group of morphologically similar individuals, but a group that can breed only among themselves, excluding all others. When populations of organisms get isolated, the sub-populations will start to differ by genetic drift and natural selection over a period of time, and thereby evolve into new species. The most significant and rapid genetic reorganization occurs in extremely small populations that have been isolated (as on islands).

Are you actually asking for a consensus that genetic mutations do not drive evolution? And appealing to a pre-DNA science evolutionist who did so much work in support of Darwinism?

Isaac Gouy said...

Eddie > before even talking about that, I'd like anyone involved to come to a consensus

I don't see any need for that - as long as you are clear about what you mean by those terms any reader should be able to follow your argument.


Eddie > As Mayr states in his book "What Evolution Is", the mechanism for macroevolution is cladogenesis, a separate process from microevolution.

Did you read Chapter 10 Macroevolution ?

Isaac Gouy said...

Eddie > If someone thinks that I have been misinformed about Mayr's work please speak up.

"Abundant evidence shows the gradual evolution even of genera." p190

Is that enough of a clue?

Eddie said...

Hi Isaac, did you miss this page?

http://books.google.com/books?id=i8jx-ZyRRkkC&lpg=PA190&ots=4b0OLtRzwn&dq=%22Abundant%20evidence%20shows%20the%20gradual%20evolution%20even%20of%20genera.%22&pg=PA11#v=onepage&q=&f=false

The study of cladogenesis is one of the major concerns of macroevolutionary research. Anagenesis and cladogenesis are largely independent processes.

Isaac Gouy said...

No - as you'd specifically mentioned cladogenesis I used the index and looked at every page in the book that mentioned that term.

Again, did you read Chapter 10 Macroevolution ?

Did you miss this?

"It is important to emphasize that all macroevolutionary processes take place in populations and in the genotypes of individuals, and are thus simultaneously microevolutionary processes."

Eddie said...

Hi Isaac, I have read the section that you posted.

Reflecting back what I have gathered from the section you highlighted:

Macroevolution consists of a set of processes that includes Microevolution.

The section you highlighted does not make the claim that the the mechanisms of macroevolution consist entirely of the mechanisms of microevolution. As Mayr said on page 11, quite the opposite is true.

As well, Mayr reiterates what he said on page 11 on the previous page to the one you sited where he says:

When we review evolutionary phenomena, we find that they can be assigned rather readily to two classes. One consists of all events and processes that occur at or below the level of the species, such as the variability of populations, adaptive changes in populations, geographic variation, and speciation. At this level one deals almost exclusively with populational phenomena. This class of phenomena can be referred to as microevolution. It was analyzed in Chapters 5-9. The other class refers to processes that occur about the species level, particularly the origin of new higher taxa, the invasion of new adaptive zones, and, correlated with it, often the acquisition of evolutionary novelties such as the wings of birds or the terrestrial adaptations of the tetrapods or warm-bloodedness in birds and mammals. This second class of evolutionary phenomena is referred to as macroevolution.


Do you disagree with Mayr when he asserts on page 11 that Cladogenesis (macroevolution) and Anagenesis (microevolution) are "largely independant processes"? Your point from chapter 11, that Cladogenesis subsumes Anagenesis, is easily deduced.

Isaac Gouy said...

Eddie > I have read the section that you posted.

Again, did you read Chapter 10 Macroevolution ?

My impression is that you're trying to make an argument based on snippets you've gathered from the web.

What do you think is ambiguous about - "Abundant evidence shows the gradual evolution even of genera." ?


Eddie > Cladogenesis (macroevolution) and Anagenesis (microevolution)

Mayr does not use Cladogenesis as a synonym for macroevolution, nor does he use Anagenesis as a synonym for microevolution.

Isaac Gouy said...

Eddie > A fish will never become a mammal, and likewise a monkey will never become a man.

That would be magic not evolution.

The story goes - a jawed fish had descendants which were less fish-like, ..., which had descendants which were even less fish-like, ..., which had descendants which were like a tetrapod with lungs and gills, ..., which had descendants which we call amphibians.

The story goes - an ape had descendants which were less ape-like, ..., which had descendants which were even less ape-like, ..., which had descendants which were more man-like, ..., which had descendants which we call man.

Mike said...

My comment on the original post is that I’m comfortable with #6. To Christians, I would recommend Beyond the Firmament by Gordon J. Glover for what I think is a very convincing argument about this.

nick said...

Hi Cliff and others,
I am closest to this:

"The evidence for evolution is powerful, and I am trying to adjust my thinking, to understand how it fits into my faith."

I don't fully understand biology and evolutionary theories. I no longer play ear to the hyper-literalist reading of Genesis. I am in the process of reading more about evolutionary reasoning/understanding. Thanks for the Collins recommend, and i will pick up dawkins newer book soon.
-nick watts

Tom said...

Eddie,

It sounds like you are trying your darndest to affirm your theology, which even means taking on evolution. In your efforts to understand evolution, look up evo-devo. With respect to the slippery slope you are concerned with by not giving the bible a fundamentalist reading, push it a little. Forget the practicality of Noah's ark and trying to defend that, for example. The fact is, the story is in the Bible, and if you assume it is an inspired story, then what's behind it? Why was it printed? Is it to provide an explanation of the Grand Canyon, or is it about who God is and how he interacts with humanity?

Isaac Gouy said...

nick > I am in the process of reading more about evolutionary reasoning/understanding. Thanks for the Collins recommend, and i will pick up dawkins newer book soon.

Much more fun to read than either of those is "The Making of the Fittest" by Sean B. Carroll.

Examples range from the wonderful "bloodless" Ice Fish to the practical explanation of why the Atlantic Cod population has not recovered from over-fishing.


Too often it seems that discussion of evolution becomes disconnected from the wonders of the natural world.

The photos in "Animal Life" will bring back the "Wow!"

Isaac Gouy said...

Tom > In your efforts to understand evolution, look up evo-devo.

"The Origins of Form: Ancient genes, recycled and repurposed, control embryonic development in organisms of striking diversity."

(A 5 page article on the natural history magazine website.)

Cliff Martin said...

Nick,

The value of the Collins book is in demonstrating the DNA evidence for evolution to reluctant evangelical Christians. You do not fall in that category, and I agree with Isaac that there are better, more enlightening books out there, books that will leave you awestruck with the marvels of our evolutionary history. While I have not read the Carroll title, and thus could not compare the two, I did find that Dawkins’ “Greatest Show” did that for me, with its many pages of full cover plates, and Dawkins-style descriptives.

And I recommend the Dawkins title for another reason. With the passing of Sagan and Gould, many consider Dawkins the foremost spokesperson for popular evolutionary biology. And I think you will do well to read at least some of his writings. I will probably offer a review of the book here shortly.

Isaac Gouy said...

Cliff > While I have not read the Carroll title, and thus could not compare the two ... I will probably offer a review of the book here shortly.

You could read the Carroll title and then compare the two!

Cliff Martin said...

Isaac,

How I wish I had your reading skills (and/or available time). You have no idea. I am such a slow reader! I got the Dawkins book as a Christmas gift, and I hope to finish it within the next few days. And that is fast for me!

But I may still try to get a copy of the Carroll book. If you found it more wonder-filled than Dawkins, I'm sure I would enjoy it immensely. I also like how he (apparently) ties evolutionary science to current affairs.

Mike said...

Sounds like I should check out the Carroll book, Dawkins’ latest and Animal Life. Thanks for the recommendations, guys! Any other recommendations? I did read the Collins book that was mentioned.

Mike

Isaac Gouy said...

Mike > Any other recommendations?

Evolution and Christian faith: reflections of an evolutionary biologist

How life began: evolution's three geneses - "The Vampire Slug of the Killer Alga" is such a great chapter title!

Mike said...

Isaac,

Thank you! These 2 books look very interesting and I added them to my list.

Mike

Rich G. said...

Cliff:

I've been waiting for someone to claim Door No. 3.

I don't see that there needs to be a conflict between Christian theology and evolution as a physical science. The problems have come when either camp ventures into the realm of the other. Just as forcing science to conform to a particular "theology" is obviously wrong, forming a purely materialistic world view claiming it is backed up by "evolution" should also be equally wrong.

Rich G.

Cliff Martin said...

Rich,

So true. And that knife cuts both ways frequently, by my observations.

Isaac Gouy said...

Mike > These 2 books look very interesting

And they have the virtue of being quite small books ;-)

Another suggestion - Evolution: what the fossils say and why it matters.


"The Making of the Fittest", "How life began: evolution's three geneses" and "Evolution: what the fossils say and why it matters" between them cover a lot.

Other books give different examples or bring a different perspective to the same story.

Isaac Gouy said...

Different examples and a different perspective - Creatures of Accident: The Rise of the Animal Kingdom.

Isaac Gouy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac Gouy said...

Rich G. > Just as forcing science to conform to a particular "theology" is obviously wrong, forming a purely materialistic world view claiming it is backed up by "evolution" should also be equally wrong.

No, you've twisted the analogy. This is the analogy -

"Just as forcing science to conform to a particular "theology" is obviously wrong," forcing science to conform to a purely materialistic world view is obviously wrong.

And that's where things get interesting because of course science works by presuming naturalism.

Mike said...

Thanks, Isaac! I do appreciate your suggestions.

Mike

Isaac Gouy said...

Rich G. > ... forming a purely materialistic world view claiming it is backed up by "evolution" should also be equally wrong.

Let's ignore the broken analogy and take this statement on its own merits.

The sense in which "evolution" could be said to support "a purely materialistic world view" is by providing an explanation of how complexity can be the result of a natural process.

Of course, that isn't to say that "evolution" "proves" "a purely materialistic world view" - simply that "evolution" removes one of the arguments against "a purely materialistic world view".

Rich G. said...

Isaac:

"Let's ignore the broken analogy and take this statement on its own merits."

I wasn't aiming for a precise parallelism. I meant it in the order I wrote it.

"The sense in which "evolution" could be said to support "a purely materialistic world view" is by providing an explanation of how complexity can be the result of a natural process."

Having frequented a few militant atheist websites, I have found that most have formed their materialistic worldviews for other reasons, then have retroactively claimed evolution. I have little problem with evolution demonstrating the sequence of events in life's development.

"Of course, that isn't to say that "evolution" "proves" "a purely materialistic world view" - simply that "evolution" removes one of the arguments against "a purely materialistic world view"."

Huh?

Isaac Gouy said...

Rich G. > I wasn't aiming for a precise parallelism.

What you wrote is no parallel at all - it's two unrelated statements pushed together and falsely linked by "Just as".


Rich G. > ... formed their materialistic worldviews for other reasons, then have retroactively claimed evolution.

You don't seem to have completed your sentence - "retroactively claimed evolution" ... does something? is something? for something?


Rich G. > Huh?

Say what you don't understand.

Mike said...

Tom, you said, "Sad isn't it? Too bad he's running the NIH!"

Do you (or anybody else here) agree with Richard Dawkins that Collins’ beliefs are “downright silly” and because of that, he shouldn’t “really be qualified to run the NIH?”

Mike

Cliff Martin said...

Mike,

Francis Collins is, without question, quite brilliant. Some of his theology is a bit stuffy and traditional for me, but he does not claim to be a theologian ... just a pew sitting Christian with a central focus on science and medicine. I actually agree with Tom's comments about Collins, but not with his conclusion. I believe Collins is fully qualified to run the NIH. He demonstrated both scientific and administrative skills in his leadership of the human genome project.

[Actually, Tom's comments have little to do with theology, and more to do with Collins lack of understanding of the current state of evolutionary thinking. For me, the jury is still out on some of the issues Tom raises. But I do not agree with Collins that a supernatural cause is "needed" to explain consciousness, morality, etc., if indeed he made such a claim.]

Scientists who do not "explore" the philosophical and theological implications of their own science can, at times, sound a bit archaic, imo. There are, sadly, few scientist/theologians. John Polkinghorne is an exception. I wish there were more like him.

moses said...

"There are, sadly, few scientist/theologians."

Agreed, and few "preachers" or communicators who can effectively explain this on a popular level. This has been the strength of YEC's in evangelical circles. They know how to present in a manner that appears to be "true" and trustworthy.

I really like Arni's "Dialogos" concept. Perhaps a similar conference for N. America is in order? A concerted effort to dialog with our evangelical brothers and sisters that has solid science, sound theology, and where the rubber hits the road...examples of faith in action. For so long, those who reject YEC have either rejected their faith, or have been sidelined. We need to prove to our brother's and sister's that we're not trying to destroy the church, but rather revive it, and break free from wrong thinking.

Cliff Martin said...

Amen, Moses!

Mike said...

Cliff, you said, “Actually, Tom's comments have little to do with theology, and more to do with Collins lack of understanding of the current state of evolutionary thinking.”

But Tom seemed to say (at least that’s how I took it) that “Collins lack of understanding of the current state of evolutionary thinking” made Collins unqualified to head the NIH. I don’t agree with that assessment. I could be misunderstanding Tom. And I could be misunderstanding you for that matter!

Mike