God Necessary For Evolution?

Evolutionary science is neutral on whether or not God directs evolution.


But it isn’t neutral on whether or not God is necessary to direct evolution. Of course, ID is also supposedly neutral on that, as the “Designer” is, wink wink, not necessarily supernatural.


Hasn’t evolutionary science shown that no outside agent is necessary to direct evolution as the evolutionary process itself requires no guidance nor direction to function?

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No, I wouldn’t say so. I’d say that science has been unable to discover any such guidance, but to show that guidance isn’t necessary one must first understand how every single feature of every organism came to be so as to rule out the necessity of guidance in that particular case. I would take the weaker position that there is no evidence for such necessity so far, and thus one should not appeal to unknown mechanisms unless it can be shown that known mechanisms are inadequate. And a gut feeling is not sufficient for that.


I agree. Thank you.

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Doesn’t evolutionary science tell us that evolution is not directed? And if evolutionary science tells us that evolution is not directed, doesn’t it follow that evolutionary science tells us that evolution is not directed by God?

If evolutionary science does not tell us that evolution is not directed, why do so many internet atheists think that evolutionary science does tell us that evolution is not directed?

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I agree too.

No. It does not tell us this.

Because most the public is woefully ignorant of evolutionary science, even when they accept it?


Science doesn’t make ontological statements. All science can say is that the evidence is not consistent with evolution being directed towards a specific goal as determined by specific methods and statistical analyses. All science is tentative so scientific conclusions are never absolute statements.

This atheist says that there is no evidence for evolution being directed, and leaves it at that.

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I wouldn’t say that Dawkins, Coyne, Provine, etc. have always “left it at that.”

Then perhaps you should take it up with them. There is a wide spectrum of views and positions among atheists, and no single atheist defines the group.

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I would love to see an Eddie/Dawkins debate. I would donate big bucks to a secular cause for that. :rofl:

No thank you. Do one of you atheists have connections to invite Dawkins or Kraus here for an office hours? That could be fun.

Define ‘fun’.

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I should say that though I disagree with Dawkins on questions of religion, I found his Blind Watchmaker a very clear presentation of a classically Darwinian approach to evolution. I think he captures the spirit of Darwin on natural selection very well, and he is a gifted science writer. (Not a gifted theologian, philosopher, historian of religion, sociologist of religion, etc., but a gifted science writer.)

Dawkins’s book also provides an excellent contrast with Behe’s first book, and gives a good idea of the notion of evolutionary mechanism that Behe and other ID writers are reacting against. If anyone asks me for where to start reading to understand ID, I tell them to read Darwin first (Darwin is also a great writer), then Dawkins, then move on to ID writers.

I think Dawkins is an intelligent person, except on matters of religion, where an obvious personal animus (with, I’m told, some biographical roots in his own life) deforms his rational faculties and turns him into an ideologue. Even the agnostic philosopher Michael Ruse, who is on Dawkins’s side against the ID people, has to lower his head in embarrassment when Dawkins writes on religious matters.

And even then we cannot rule out that guidance occurred even if it was not necessary. There is no falsification for this sort of agency.

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What do you think of Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”? That was his first claim to fame as a scientist.

I haven’t read the book, only quotations from it, and paraphrases of it. I suppose it is useful to look at evolution from the point of view of the gene, just at it is useful to look at the chicken from the point of view of the egg. But I’m suspicious of overly gene-centered views of evolution; I think emphasis on the gene needs to be balanced with emphasis on the whole organism – which in different ways people like Shapiro, Turner and the structuralists are recommending, without denying the value of understanding genes.

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I’m fairly sure that Michael Ruse is an atheist.

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so I think comments about Dawkins being bad at philosophy are overblown. Yes, he is terrible at philosophy of religion among a few other areas, but he has written stuff I would place firmly in the philosophy of biology that is quite good. He’s even contributed to some philosoohy of biology books. And I think the Selfish Gene had a very important role in really kickstarting the philosophy of evolutionary theory.

That could be. I don’t contradict you on this point. I did have in mind his thoughts on religion and other matters, rather than his thoughts on philosophy of nature or philosophy of biology.