Science and Guidance in Evolution

Doesn’t this question apply to both sides in this debate? Has no one ever claimed that evolution is unguided? My own position is that neither side can say.

Do you also think those who posit invisible gravity pixies pushing things to the ground deserve equal time with those who say gravity is unguided? After all neither side can say, right? Unguided is the accepted position for evolution and gravity because there is zero evidence of any external guidance for the processes.

1 Like

Science BY DEFINITION doesn’t test for “guidance” expect of a natural sort (such as people domesticating animals and breeding them selectively.) As soon as you start talking about guidance by a creator (for example), one is in the realm of philosophy and theology. So—if I understand your post—you are assuming both sides of an equal burden of proof when they do not. Until science develops an “intelligent agent detector”, it can’t really do much serious testing for “guidance” by an intelligent designer.


TOE answers questions for us. We have a rough timeline of When various species or features (What) evolved. We have a mechanism of variation and selection (How) to describe change in response to environmental factors (Where and Why). We can use these questions/answers to apply the sscienceof evolution to real world problems (cancer treatments, more …). The “Who” doesn’t really apply in evolution (but l will leave room here for my TE/OEC friends to believe there is a Who.).

OTOH, ID answers none of these questions for us. We cannot know what, when, where, why, or how design operates, nor does it make predictions we can apply in the real world. When ID attempts these questions, they invariably borrow the same answers we get from TOE.
That leaves Who, and a tenet of ID is the Designer cannot be named.

@Mung, we had a long discussion about probability and information recently. We know how to assign probabilities to certain types of mutation/evolution, at least in limited cases (definitely not all at once). To have similar evidence of ID we ought to be able to calculate probabilities for design as well. If we could do that, then we could compare statistical evidence for evolution to equivalent evidence for guided design.



If a Creationist can say God made every single type of life that exists on Earth (whether in a single moment or over 3 days or 6)… why wouldnt this be Guided Creation?

If it is (and i think it clearly is), why would he oppose Guided evolution?

1 Like

I don’t think you’ve answered the question. Do you believe that science can tell us that evolution is unguided?

And just so we’r clear, I do not think that ID can tell us that evolution is guided. Science lacks the tools to resolve the guided/unguided question. So when the claims that evolution is unguided? They are not scientific claims.

Science is comparative; one hypothesis holds until another one comes along with a better explanation of the same data. If the new hypothesis works better (the WWWHW questions) then it displaces (or sometimes adds to) the existing hypothesis.

ID does not answer the questions the evolution can answer, there is no basis for comparison of how it might be better. Evolution stands as the best explanation, and it doesn’t make any claims about guidance.

Does that mean evolution is unguided? I see no reason to think it is. I don’t think we can even define “guidance” in a scientific sense.

Maybe if we include breeding and cultivation - I am excluding those here.

1 Like

That isn’t warranted, as those are examples that demonstrate we can’t really distinguish guided from unguided evolution.

1 Like

Don’t many breeds/cultivars revert to wild type if left to interbreed on their own? I think that might be testable.

… but it also assumes we know the history, which makes it pointless. Nevermind!

This statement seems to suggest that breeders in some way have the wherewithal to design specific changes (in enzymes, most likely) and then introduce these precisely into their breeding stock. That just doesn’t happen (although the second of the two processes are becoming more and more routine today). In particular, we still cannot rationally design things to the extent implied.

1 Like

Yup. I’m out of ways to be any more wrong. :wink:

@art “design” (not ID) does not necessarily suggest that God is inserting things into genomes with precisr specifications.

At this point we are diverging to theology, not precisely science. On could hold that God made us by an evolutionary process but guided evolution by shaping our envirnoment, much as human breeders shape the direction of evolution. If we think evolutionary science is legitimate, we would expect that would be an effective way of accomplishing quite a bit, with out every having to do any genetic engineering. This type of direction, also, we would not expect to produce any detectable signature in DNA. It would look just like standard evolution from an evidential point of view.

I understand that “design” has a different connotation in your mind. If we are going to talk of divine design, however, the theologians connotations are more salient. Right?

I guess I was commenting on the reflex to distinguish between “unguided evolution” and breeding. Either in Dan’s sense or yours, I don’t think such distinctions are warranted.


The mantra here is:
Science cant prove God or his Operations, but for the “consumers” of Geneal.Adam, it is a Given and a Truth that God Guides Evolution.

Depending on denominational and personal differences, the “guiding” could be 100% guidance… or whatever level of “guidance” the pocket of Creationists in question feels comfortable with.

The mission is not so much to create a SINGLE intetpretation as it is to create a roadmap for how to allow for de novo creation of Adam/Eve while accepting the massive body of evidence for the evolution of all living things except for Adam/Eve.

From a theology point of view, the distinction is warranted. “Design” as a concept long precedes the ID movement. As much as scientists feel ID hijacked science, theologians can feel they hijacked theology. If design (lowercase, and not ID) is clear and clean enough to understand consistent with science, as I just explained, than that is good news.

Is what @jack.collins, a leading theologian wrote supportively response to my paper at Dabar on how to think about Adam and Eve in evolution.

(c) I wonder what kind of “evolution” is in view? Is it simply “descent with modification,” without prejudging how the modifications are introduced? If so, I do not see any strong theological objection to it: whatever natural processes are involved are, after all, God’s processes. And even some kinds of progressive creation can be accommodated, with the kinds being initiated by separate infusions. (That view is not theologically needed, mind you; but we are trying to lower unnecessary barriers.)

Of course theists will allow that God is free to govern, and even add to, this process, should he wish to. This question is separable both from the question of whether he has in fact done so, and from the question of whether, should an addition have taken place, we might be able to discern it. Like many, I consider the origin of the human array of linguistic, moral, and reasoning capacities to be the result of such an addition, but I would differentiate that from a scientific theory.23 Nevertheless, I do not expect naturalistic theories to be adequate.24

On the other hand, in many venues “evolution” is set over against “intention”; even in something as simple as the development of the domestic dog, the “evolutionary” scenario is opposed to the intention selection scenario.25 I would like clarity on this word.

I told them that I mean:

  1. Descent by modification…
  2. By apparently natural mechanism…
  3. God could have guided it…
  4. However we see no evidence in science of how he did…

That is pro-design and pro-evolutionary science, but also an anathema to ID. It is a third way that the theologians found acceptable, and is without any scientific defect. If we care about peace, on these issues, and I know you do @art, it is good to give some legitimate freedom to theology where we can.

1 Like


BioLogos is loaded with anti-Design folks who are so allergic to Design, they cant even allow God to touch a chromosome… and yet at the same time they are absolutely certain that God formed Adam from dust.

The BioLogos mission is written to allow either interpretation.

My personal opinion is that there are precious few creationists who would prefer the model(s) to be anti-design.

It doesnt suit everybody… but it seems to suit almost all Creationists.

I don’t see how my summary and your statement are at odds.

I though you were saying we shouldn’t make a distinction between “design” that is undetectable, and ID. Did I misunderstand you?

I wanted to say that breeding and evolution are indistinguishable in terms of mechanism. That sounds a lot like:

But maybe not.

1 Like

Then we are on the same page.

Did you see that @art? We just solved over 25 years of debate over ID in just a simple exchange. Now how do we get the rest of them to go along with us? :smile:

1 Like