Post Reply
Page 1 of 5  •  1 2 3 4 5 Next
Switch to Forum Live View Problems for Theistic Evolution?
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 1:41AM #1
Btheist
Posts: 9
Hello all.

I've heard it said by both evolutionary scientists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) and young earth creationists that there is a tension between evolution and the belief that God created the universe. I wonder what people's thoughts are on this subject because I believe in theistic evolution, and can't really see any tension in such a position.

Maybe the line of thought is that mutations are "random", which would contradict the idea that God has a plan for how things will turn out. But I don't think mutations are truly random because at least on the macroscopic level phenomena are pretty well determined. Maybe quantum indeterminacy poses such a problem, but not biological evolution.

Perhaps it's because natural selection is a very messy and cruel process. Most of the species that ever lived are extinct, and animals suffer terribly as a result of predation. This is just a special version of the problem of evil, however, and evil and suffering would still pose a problem for theists even if we didn't evolve.

Or Perhaps it's the fact that evolution makes belief in a creator God unecessary. While I would agree that evolution dispatches Paley's watchmaker argument, I don't think many people believe in God purely on that basis.

Are there any other ways that evolution can be said to be in tension with theism?
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 3:01AM #2
McAtheist
Posts: 8,358

Btheist,


If a person's theism takes the form of God using natural processes like evolution to accomplish God's goals, then I personally don't see any real conflict. As my names suggests, I don't think that is the case nor can I see any way to determine if God really  is behind nature, but that's probably a different question.

Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 3:20AM #3
Blü
Posts: 25,191

Btheist


Deism solves the problem of an intelligent designer who fiddles with the progress of evolution.  Yahweh winds the universe up, leaves it ticking, and goes and plays golf.


The theological determinism that necessarily accompanies an omnipotent (and thus omniscient and omnipresent) god also solves the problem.  Yahweh made ALL the decisions he's ever going to make and included them in the way the universe will unfold, down to the most exquisitely small detail, before he made the universe.  Thus there's nothing he need ever do.


But those are unlikely to appeal to theists who support evolution.  I'd imagine the necessary god never intervenes in the physics of the universe, including human affairs - otherwise he's be an Intelligent Designer - but he's content to operate through feelings, dreams, visions and the insertion of the occasional good idea.  However, in truth I'm not the person to ask.


Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 11:11AM #4
Oncomintrain
Posts: 3,168

Apr 16, 2012 -- 1:41AM, Btheist wrote:


Or Perhaps it's the fact that evolution makes belief in a creator God unecessary. While I would agree that evolution dispatches Paley's watchmaker argument, I don't think many people believe in God purely on that basis.




I think this is a big one, and I wouldn't be so fast to minimize it. The Theory of Evolution renders the biological world (potentially) sufficient unto itself, and removes God as the necessary Big Why. Personally, I think most people's reasons for believing in good are largely cultural, but often the reason they tell themselves (and others) is that they believe in God because "how else do you explain X?" or "I just can't believe X is possible without God." Science has indeed chased this God-of-the-Gaps to the far corners of the universe, and those who found their faith on that premise must surely feel a tension.


Another major argument is the sheer bloody inefficient cruelty of the evolutionary model, if we imagine it as the tool of a God. Darwin himself opined that it was hard to imagine parasitic wasps (ichneumon) as the creation of a omni-loving, omnipotent, omniscient God. That is just one of a myriad examples that strike me personally as at odds with most theistic scenarios... maybe deism aside.


I should say though: if God is less than "omni" anything... if it/(s)he/they is amoral, or finitely powerful or aware, then evolution-per-Darwin strikes me as a truly elegant tool. It just isn't one I'd (personally) expect a loving, all-powerful diety to employ.

Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 11:32AM #5
amcolph
Posts: 18,015

Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:11AM, Oncomintrain wrote:


Another major argument is the sheer bloody inefficient cruelty of the evolutionary model, if we imagine it as the tool of a God. Darwin himself opined that it was hard to imagine parasitic wasps (ichneumon) as the creation of a omni-loving, omnipotent, omniscient God. That is just one of a myriad examples that strike me personally as at odds with most theistic scenarios... maybe deism aside. But then... I'm an atheist, so what I think about it doesn't amount to much.




That's what happens when one takes a quality ordinarily predicated of creatures like ourselves, puts "omni" in front of it and thinks it means something.


But I'm not one to ask either.  I'm rather a failure as a theist--I seem to know so much less for certain about God than many other theists who post here.

This post contains no advertisements or solicitations.
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 11:42AM #6
Oncomintrain
Posts: 3,168

Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:32AM, amcolph wrote:


Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:11AM, Oncomintrain wrote:


Another major argument is the sheer bloody inefficient cruelty of the evolutionary model, if we imagine it as the tool of a God. Darwin himself opined that it was hard to imagine parasitic wasps (ichneumon) as the creation of a omni-loving, omnipotent, omniscient God. That is just one of a myriad examples that strike me personally as at odds with most theistic scenarios... maybe deism aside. But then... I'm an atheist, so what I think about it doesn't amount to much.




That's what happens when one takes a quality ordinarily predicated of creatures like ourselves, puts "omni" in front of it and thinks it means something.





That's a fair complaint. But the meaningfulness of the question of God is -- in my opinion -- predicated on the term "God" having a specific meaning. The "omni x3" God is how I've often seen it defined. Other definitions might yield different outlooks on the issue.


I am not, by the way, trying to talk anyone OUT of belief in God. That's really none of my business, and totally futile besides. The OP simply asked what might cause tension for a theistic evolutionist, and I'm just offering a few thoughts.

Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 11:49AM #7
amcolph
Posts: 18,015

Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:42AM, Oncomintrain wrote:



That's a fair complaint. But the meaningfulness of the question of God is -- in my opinion -- predicated on the term "God" having a specific meaning. The "omni x3" God is how I've often seen it defined. Other definitions might yield different outlooks on the issue.


I am not, by the way, trying to talk anyone OUT of belief in God. That's really none of my business, and totally futile besides. The OP simply asked what might cause tension for a theistic evolutionist, and I'm just offering a few thoughts.




But it occurred to me when I read your post that we are putting a "Western" spin on God.  The tension arises not out of faith but from commitment to certain theological propositions.

This post contains no advertisements or solicitations.
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 11:54AM #8
Oncomintrain
Posts: 3,168

Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:49AM, amcolph wrote:


Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:42AM, Oncomintrain wrote:



That's a fair complaint. But the meaningfulness of the question of God is -- in my opinion -- predicated on the term "God" having a specific meaning. The "omni x3" God is how I've often seen it defined. Other definitions might yield different outlooks on the issue.


I am not, by the way, trying to talk anyone OUT of belief in God. That's really none of my business, and totally futile besides. The OP simply asked what might cause tension for a theistic evolutionist, and I'm just offering a few thoughts.




But it occurred to me when I read your post that we are putting a "Western" spin on God.  The tension arises not out of faith but from commitment to certain theological propositions.





Yes, my response was certainly Western oriented, as that's generally my frame of reference. I don't have a sufficient grasp of Eastern conceptions of God to comment on what tensions may or may not arise based on their definitions. Certainly, demographics suggest that Eastern cultures are far less conflicted about the ToE. I actually amended my original response, above, when I realized I had addressed only the tri-omni God. I would suggest that perhaps many Eastern cultures believe in a God-ness that is NOT utterly benevolent or utterly powerful, or utterly aware, and that this does indeed largely erase any conceptual tension.

Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 11:55AM #9
d_p_m
Posts: 10,140

Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:49AM, amcolph wrote:


Apr 16, 2012 -- 11:42AM, Oncomintrain wrote:



That's a fair complaint. But the meaningfulness of the question of God is -- in my opinion -- predicated on the term "God" having a specific meaning. The "omni x3" God is how I've often seen it defined. Other definitions might yield different outlooks on the issue.


I am not, by the way, trying to talk anyone OUT of belief in God. That's really none of my business, and totally futile besides. The OP simply asked what might cause tension for a theistic evolutionist, and I'm just offering a few thoughts.




But it occurred to me when I read your post that we are putting a "Western" spin on God.  The tension arises not out of faith but from commitment to certain theological propositions.



Indeed, the discussion here tends to centre on the concept of God found in the Abrahamic religions, occasional references to Odin notwithstanding. Other mainstream and other western religions are seldom heard from.


It completely ignores, for the most part, the fastest growing western relgions, which tend to be polytheistic. The actual working biological scientists I know are neither Abrahamic nor atheist, but rather Pagan theists.

"If you aren't confused by quantum physics, you haven't really understood it."

― Niels Bohr



"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

-- Albert Einstein
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2012 - 2:07PM #10
MMarcoe
Posts: 17,285

Apr 16, 2012 -- 1:41AM, Btheist wrote:

Hello all.

I've heard it said by both evolutionary scientists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) and young earth creationists that there is a tension between evolution and the belief that God created the universe. I wonder what people's thoughts are on this subject because I believe in theistic evolution, and can't really see any tension in such a position.

Maybe the line of thought is that mutations are "random", which would contradict the idea that God has a plan for how things will turn out. But I don't think mutations are truly random because at least on the macroscopic level phenomena are pretty well determined. Maybe quantum indeterminacy poses such a problem, but not biological evolution.

Perhaps it's because natural selection is a very messy and cruel process. Most of the species that ever lived are extinct, and animals suffer terribly as a result of predation. This is just a special version of the problem of evil, however, and evil and suffering would still pose a problem for theists even if we didn't evolve.

Or Perhaps it's the fact that evolution makes belief in a creator God unecessary. While I would agree that evolution dispatches Paley's watchmaker argument, I don't think many people believe in God purely on that basis.

Are there any other ways that evolution can be said to be in tension with theism?




As has been suggested, evolution might be in tension with theism whenever theism is motivated by ideology. This is the case with most fundamentalists and creationists, it seems. They demand that the universe work according to a certain method; that method strikes me as nothing more than projection of anthropomorphic wish-fulfillment.


Those of us who gravitate to the inner aspects of religion -- ie, mysticism -- luckily aren't motivated by ideology. What we experience is a "god" who is in all and ultimately is all and rolls through it all, good and bad. Kind of like saying God = evolution.


 


 


 


 

1. Extremists think that thinking means agreeing with them.
2. There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.
3. God is just a personification of reality, of pure objectivity.
Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 5  •  1 2 3 4 5 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook