Does Evolution Rule Out God?


#1

Evolutionary processes don’t need God in order to work. These processes have been working quite well on Earth for over four billion years. You turned out pretty good despite your parents giving you thousands of mutant genes. With the help modern science and medicine, you can live a long and happy life full of purpose and meaning. No God(s) required.


Molecular Genetics of Whale Evolution
#2

What evidence do you have for this? I affirm evolutionary science, and no where does it test or look for God’s action. You appear to be falling into obvious type of circular reasoning.

As Eugenie Scott writes (a non-Theist):

Because creationists explain natural phenomena by saying “God performed a miracle,” we tell them that they are not doing science. This is easy to understand. The flip side, though, is that if science is limited by methodological [naturalism] because of our inability to control an omnipotent power’s interference in nature, both “God did it” and “God didn’t do it” fail as scientific statements. Properly understood, the principle of methodological [naturalism] requires neutrality towards God; we cannot say, wearing our scientist hats, whether God does or does not act.
https://ncse.com/religion/science-religion-methodology-humanism

A better way to approach this is to gain understanding of the things which you reject. I’d rephrase your objection as a question. That gives space for those with whom you disagree to explain themselves.

@T.j_Runyon, why and how do you think God used evolutionary processes?


#3

@Patrick (and @swamidass):

Patrick,
Isn’t this a replay of the exact same attempt at refutation you offered on the BioLogos boards? You are an atheist. This site is filled with Christians, with various positions on Evolutionary science.

What is the point of you trying to convince Christians of atheism, when the topic is the value of natural evolutionary law to God and his Biblically defined purposes?

On BioLogos, there now a few atheists who are “with the program” of evaluating the logic of Evolution vs. Creationism - - given the premise that the Biblical God exists. Perhaps you could return to that paradigm in your discussions here? Otherwise you will be at cross-purposes to virtually all the discussions that unfold here.


#4

one great objection to the claim that evolution dont need god is this (although i dont believe in evolution): if we see a robot that was made stepwise in automatic factory, the robot is still clear evidence for design, despite the fact that it was made stepwise (evolution) in the factory. so the way that the robot was made is in no way falsify the fact that it was design. the same can be said for a living creature.


#5

@scd,

Where exactly do you see @swamidass (or anyone other than an atheist like @Patrick) arguing for Evolution-without-God’s involvement ?

You are arguing against an Atheist stance of Evolution. You have my full encouragement to argue with Patrick.


#6

@scd, please do argue with @patrick, but keep in mind that the rest of us take a different position. I affirm that God providentially governs all things, including evolution.


#7

It’s worth noting, at this juncture, that for a theist, the whole concept of “mother nature” (viz., natural laws alone) being adequate to explain human evolution by itself is already a non-sequitur, because for a theist, nature “herself” got that way through the designing and ongoing ministrations of God, and thus the Anthropic Principle itself points out that the statistical unlikelihoods just don’t add up in a manner that mere chance and necessity can solve.
Evidence such as this was all it took for world-famous atheist Sir Antony Flew to finally concede the case for God’s activity in nature (though he did wish to remain as Deistic as possible). These days, the origin of life crowd is definitely not ridiculing “God’s design” as a possible premise; they simply protest that do so is to leave the realm of repeatable scientific experimentation. Singularities are a real nuisance to the materialist worldview, and Christians should avoid the occasion to be glib when we approach such issues. As a “way of knowing,” following the evidence where it leads is never easy nor assured in the face of our preconceptions; even the hard scientist has to have faith in something not strictly demonstrable. So, let’s all sides in this debate concede that we wish the best for each other, even though we may disagree strongly with one another at times. Jesus would ask no less.
Cheers!


#8

@Guy_Coe

I would be more willing to agree with your general premise if you replaced the word Theist with the word Christian.

There are categories of Theists that believe God only works through natural laws.


#9

To my knowledge, for those who hold to a single, sovereign God, who, as a “Person,” nevertheless manifests “Himself” in nature, and does not wish to communicate or relate to us personally, the phrase of art is “Deist,” rather than theist.
From among the other shades of meaning available is one which, I presume, you intend for me to apprehend? Would you like to elaborate? Paganism does not affirm theism, to my knowledge, for example.
The reason why I see it as essential to affirm the personhood of God is because for every effect, there must be an adequate cause. And the evidence is clear that we are both persons, ourselves.
Thanks for any contribution you can make, here. Cheers!


#10

@Guy_Coe,

In my view, these “fun and games” with the word Theist is a giant waste of time. You call it a term of art. I call it a term of obfuscation.

We have Atheists - - and Theists.
I reject your use of the “term of art” deist, because deists do not embrace God’s “real time” communication with humanity in the form of prayers. So now you need a second term for something that looks Deist, but does communicate or relate to us personally. What phrase would that be in your art class?

You say Paganism does not affirm theism - - well naturally, not the way you define it. But attempting to explain that paganism - - with its mangificent Jupiter and Mars and Venus … are somehow not valid forms of “God-devotion” is, in my own term of art, sophistry.

There are religious people who think all of God’s miracles are somehow embraced by natural law, though this is not the most popular view of the matter. In Christianity, it is customary to believe God does engage our mortal sphere with acts that defy natural law (at the most fundamental level). Isn’t that, pretty much, what you were trying to say? If so, then let’s stick to the term Christian.

Once we break out of Christianity, who can say what is accepted or not? To attempt to use the term “Theist” as a synonym for “Jews, Christians and Moslems”… is asking for all sorts of trouble.

Firstly, because these comment pages are, for obvious reasons, going to be fairly restricted to Christianity, yes?

Secondly, because anything outside of Christianity is going to be arguable almost all the time… I see no advantage for throwing the term “theist” around - - when you pretty clearly are focused on Christian matters and interpretations.


#11

Christianity is not the only theistic perspective. Judaism is also, for example. Paganism is, certainly, “god[s] devotion,” but it doesn’t affirm any particular gods’ unchallenged sovereignty. Islam presents a god which is singularly sovereign, but does not generally lend dignity to human existence graciously. These are not “fun and games” distinctions. They are, often, deadly serious.
“Christianity is unique,” offers Bruce Shelley, “in that it affirms, at its core, the willing humiliation of its God.”
This not sophistry; it is essentialism.
What we find ultimate, we emulate.
The character of God, as revealed in Jesus, is good, kind, capable… but not power-mongering.
I find that it is Joshua’s aim to build bridges, not erect fences, and so find your comments unnecessarily restrictive. If only we could meet in person, I’ve no doubt we’d find more common ground. Cheers!


#12

@Guy_Coe,

Come on, don’t kid a kidder. Joshua’s inclusive aims are virtually all within Christianity. He is not trying to win the hearts and minds of Jewish or Moslem faithful to any great extent.

While you attempt to make sweeping statements about Theism… when really you are speaking mostly about Christians (and maybe now and then you really want to include Jewish and Islamic religious as well).

Trying to use Theism as a “specific kind of monotheists only” is not a helpful approach in my view … because it really doesn’t embrace all the other kinds of religions that are still around in the world: ignoring Wiccans for the time being, Hindu and Buddhists do not fit your kind of definition for theist … and so I suggest that your definition for Theist is the limited definition.

Do you really intend to continue this dispute? Can’t we just talk about Christians without trying to re-mold the linguistic pattern of the English speaking world?

If we go to Dictionary.com, you clearly own Definition #1 (below). And I clearly own Definition #2. I have not seen much progress made when people start combat over which number definition is best. Both of our positions are staked out in the dictionary.

Since we are focusing on Christianity, why don’t we just use that word?

  1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).

  2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).


#13

I’m not engaging muslim or jewish theology, but I certainly seek to include them as much as I include atheists. Mainstream science is ecumenical. It does not matter what you personally believe.


#14

@swamidass,

But of course! But would you be willing to say you are more interested in Jewish and Moslem audiences than you are interested in Hindu and Buddhist audiences?

Our good friend @Guy_Coe wants to bandy about the term Theist, hither and thither, in a way that excludes Buddhists and Hindu and who knows how many other interested parties.

It’s an Old School definition of Theism … one which limits the players. I think its ridiculous to fixate on definitions that can just as easily refer to everyone and anyone who has a devout belief in a God (or in more than one God!).

As you say, Joshua:


#15

Seems to me I’m writing sensibly about both definitions. As well as maintaining an inclusivist attitude. Don’t get why that rankles you. But glad of the exchange.
Buddha, BTW, excluded himself – he literally begged his followers not to conceive of him as divine in any sense. Adherents of Hinduism find no value in the label “theist,” from my experience. Maybe theology is not your forte’?


#16

@Guy_Coe

I have some “baggage” I carry around on the specific issue of whether Definition #1 or Definition #2 shall be used, generally, for Theist and Theism.

It became all out total war… and for no really good reason.

I tell you what, you go ahead and use Theism the way you want to, and I’ll use it the way I want to.

I’m not sure how it could ever turn out that your definition is better than simply saying Christian (on a list of this nature), but I’ll leave it to your creativity to think about when you need to use it that way.


#17

How about this: The evolutionary processes on Earth seem to be best understood by not taking a position on whether God exists nor how God guides/manipulates these processes.


#18

@Patrick

I can accept this characterization - - implicit within is that discussions of how God guides or manipulates these processes is more properly a topic within theology and/or metaphysics.


#19

First you need to prove a God exists before you can move on to how God guides or manipulates well documented natural processes.


#20

@patrick

No. That is not the case here. God is assumed to exist a priori. You do not join a Jewish feast, and then say, we can all eat once you prove that there was an Exodus.

@swamidass, it is as I predicted.