Room for Discussing Design in Evolution?

The word “intervene” in this context is unsupportable. But you are not the only one to use the term in this way; most people use the term “intervene” out of habit and because they aren’t sure how else to express the sentiment.

But in a dual scenario context, the word “intervene” is inclined to set up a false dilemma.

If God is actively supporting all natural lawful processes… miracles are not interventions, they are a different kind of process.

The answer to the question for this thread is: God does ENGAGE in miracles… in between and congruent to working his goals through NATURAL processes.


Thank you for the assist.

Someone actually flagged my urging Patrick to discuss his question with @T_aquaticus… who SHARES his views… but does not repeatedly interrupt threads to champion atheism .

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@Ashwin_s, what suggested that @swamidass did?

I’m not following your reasoning here… please explain?

Patrick made an observation that evolution is inherently cruel and indifferent… which implies that if it’s a tool of creation, then the creator is cruel and indifferent.
I answered him by pointing out that current understanding of evolution does not support such an view. @glipsnort took issue with some of the points I made and gave his opinion on it…
So I asked him, whether he agrees with Patrick.
@swamidass was not in the discussion. I did not say anything to him. He answered my query and I pointed out that I was asking @glipsnort. To be clear, I am not accusing anyone of anything. I just asked a clarifying question because @glipsnort made an intervention into a larger question.

I hope this makes things clear…

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Makes sense. When directed a specific person, mention them so it’s clear first time around next time.


Thanks very much Mark! I appreciate your response and it makes good sense to me, from my own philosophical perspective. I actually had to read back through quite a few posts to get all of the context, but the reason I was asking here, specifically, was that there was a scientific discussion over the evolution of man, and a question was posed regarding the appearance of the globular brain shape. The question asked, and answered, went like this:

I think that you did a great job of sharing an opinion that probably emanates from a position that is very similar to my own. What I really wanted to learn, and it was never really answered by anyone from the MN community, is how do they navigate this area?

The point I am trying to understand is how “significance” can play nice in the MN world. I can see this being plausible:

  • Because of the happenstance adaptation of the globular brain shape, human culture was afforded the opportunity to thrive, well beyond its prior potential.

However, this question of significance seemed to point more to the question of “why did it evolve” as in, for what purpose or end did it come about. So that, while one could make the statement above, one could not make the statement below (following the structure of MN):

  • The globular brain shape came about in order to accommodate safer births and improved neural activity. Both allowed human culture and populations to explode.

The original article stated that the brain sizes and cranial capacities evolved separately. So if a benefit were to be gained through this beneficial adaptation, it would be considered to be “fortunate” but not “purposeful” from a MN perspective, right?

This is really what I’m trying to flesh out. When we see an adaptation that, from a human perspective, appears to have so much purpose (as in, designed in advance for such purpose), from a MN perspective we can only appreciate the random good fortune (the material significance, as you say) that benefitted a species (man, in this case.)

I assume that is correct… Again, thank you for your response!

I’m confused… What is the difference between “God intervening” and “God engaging… in between… working his goals through natural processes”?

intervene: come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.

If God is “engaging” in between how he normally works (as you say, through natural processes), he has literally intervened.

Ok… will take care of that.

Why on earth would you conclude that from anything I wrote? I corrected your mistaken understanding of current thinking in evolutionary biology. I drew no metaphysical conclusions. Frankly, I don’t know how to draw metaphysical from descriptions of the physical world.

(By the way, you’ve added another data point confirming the rule that whenever two posters are arguing and one starts a response with “So…”, he or she will immediately mis-state the other’s position.)


No, that’s also wrong. There is abundant evidence, for example, that natural selection has favored the trait of lactase persistence in humans who have access to milk. Natural selection is most certainly not a tautology.

Since selection for lactase persistence was considered – and evidence for it published – decades before its molecular basis was discovered, yes, it is in fact clear. What is true is that phenotypic evolution requires molecular evolution.

Yes, I do disagree with that. Molecular evolution is largely neutral because most molecular changes have no effect on phenotype. One cannot draw any conclusions about how important selection is for phenotypic evolution based on that fact.

I didn’t conclude anything… that’s why I asked…
When a statement starts with “so do you” and ends with a “?”… it’s a question… not a conclusion… ever come across that data point?

How would you as a scientists answer a query such as Patrick’s… that evolution seems to be a cruel and indifferent process…
Pls note, I am not arguing with you. I am trying to find out what you think.

The options you’re offering aren’t competing possibilities (e.g. competition acting on random mutations would be counted how?), nor do I know what metric to use to assign the most important role.

Yes, but no one could predict it would…and sometimes the opposite effect could also be explained by natural selection…
I have come across peer reviewed piblished papers that point to it as tautology…

Is there something called phenotypic evolution? Doesn’t it all happen at the molecular level?
Can you clarify pls.


I’m glad you asked the question!

The reason “intervene” is a poor word is that it has the connotation that “natural lawful order” is somehow NOT organically a part of God’s normal work.

If a painter in oils makes a landscape with brushes… and then for his final dramatic touches he employs a few deft strokes with a painter’s knife… is he “intervening”? Hardly.

First he ENGAGES the brushes…
THEN he engages the sharp edges tool!

It’s all part of the Creator’s work!

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I would answer it the way I just did to you: I don’t know how to draw metaphysical conclusions about ultimate reality from descriptions of physical processes. Specifically speaking as a scientist, I would say that that conclusion lies outside of science.

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Ok fair enough… as a confessing scientist, how would you answer such a question?

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Why didn’t you believe this when I said it a month ago? Or do you STILL disbelieve?

@Ashwin_s (@glipsnort)

The only way to answer this at the right level is to confirm that the questioned believes The Fall triggered the creation of carnivores!

Ashwin, is this your position?

The same could be said about many physical processes described by science. What’s your point here?

If you have, they’re wrong.

Ultimately, organisms are a bunch of molecules in a dynamic system, so yes, ultimately all evolution is molecular evolution. But it is convenient to distinguish between all changes that occur in DNA or proteins, and the subset that cause any larger observable change in the organism, i.e. changes to phenotype.

I am not asking from a Christian perspective. I have heard this POV on evolution from both athiests as well as Christians. Its a question based on how evolution is protected by some people as a theory. Historically it has been used to justify some horrible ideas such as eugenics. Hence I want to know how a scientist would answer such a question.
It’s a larger question with larger ramifications.