Theological Hypotheses?

Yes. That would be weird.


It’s not clear why God would need 65 million years even if he used evolution. I mean if God can supernaturally cause particular mutations to happen, or particular selection events, or to supernaturally affect the geology of the planet and climate to create particular environments to favor particular traits, why it needs to take 65 million years for whatever to evolve either.

So God guided evolution doesn’t actually explain why the Earth is so old. God is also in control of the Earth, right? God could do anything. God doesn’t need anything. He doesn’t need time for his process to occur. The extend of time during which evolution occurred actually only makes sense in the total absence of God’s involvement. With God involved there’s no reason why it has to take any amount of time at all. That is to say if by “involved” we mean God has taken an active role in the causality resulting in the evoluton of certain species and where absence of his involvement would mean X wouldn’t evolve. Like, God is pushing on certain atoms somewhere to affect physical reality in a certain way.

I keep being surprised about how superficial religious people treat the subject of God’s involvement in history. It’s all just this giant vague cope devoid of any concrete propositions. God “guided” evolution is completely vacuous. What does that mean? What IS he doing? At what level does this guidance take place? The atomic level? Particular nitrogen atoms in the base of DNA? The braincells of certain organisms failing to activate synapses or something? The formation of clouds in the atmosphere blocking sunlight at just the right moment so a lion doesn’t spot that primate crossing a small open patch of land somewhere on the savanna in our ancient past? Some collection of rock deep in the mantle is squeezed by God in just the right way such that a century later an earthquake will occur in a critical way that alters the route of a river so a particular tribe of primates is displaced to another location that makes them avoid a certain flock of locusts that would have made them starve?

What IS the god-guided evolution hypothesis?


Most TE don’t see it as a hypothesis, and don’t try to apply science to the question. There are some exceptions, notably at RTB, who accept science but take their conclusions too far.


I think we need to make some allowance here, as George was replying to Bill, and not making a general statement about a scientific hypothesis. In general TEs do pose guided evolution as a spiritual concept, not a scientific hypothesis.


Not sure what allowance is required. George can posit anything he wants and he’s welcome to believe it too. But I still don’t think it makes any sense. The Earth is old because God needed those timescales for evolution? Well, He didn’t need that. Fully naturalistic evolution needed that, not God. As soon as you posit God taking an active role in the evolution of life, not just some sort of deistic idea where God sort of sets up the dominoes and tips over the first one only, all bets are off because there’s no timescales required as you’re putting miraculous divine interventions into history. There are no time requirements for anything then.

It may not make sense to us, but it might make sense from a theistic worldview. Or not - I can’t judge that. I don’t think we should expect theistic worldviews to comply with material limits, if that makes any sense?


Sure, but they would have to comply with theistic lack of limits. If God is omnipotent, we can have no expectations that the world will be old or young or anything else. Unless we introduce auxiliary theological hypotheses about what God would want and why, there can be no expectations at all. George has not attempted any such hypotheses, though he is welcome to do so. If God is x, what would we expect? I can’t really think of anyone who has made a coherent argument on this basis.


Isn’t that self-contradictory? Complying with a lack of limits is no limit at all. I’m pretty sure there are some theistic limits, but I wouldn’t try to list them.

Perhaps it’s time for a thread split?

If God is omnipotent, we can have no expectations that the world will be old or young or anything else. Unless we introduce auxiliary theological hypotheses about what God would want and why, there can be no expectations at all. George has not attempted any such hypotheses, though he is welcome to do so.

“Theological hypotheses” will also be a self-contradiction is we try to apply the rules of science. *Theological arguments" avoids tripping over terms, or we could allow the term and avoid applying scientific standard to theology.

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@John_Harshman ,

My arguments are not going to matter to Atheists.

Having the right questions will help generate the best answers.

Maybe this is obvious or implied, but no one – regardless of their religion or lack thereof – can talk about theistic limits until they identify the theism in question. The god.

Depending on the god and on the theological assumptions attached to that god by whoever is speaking/writing, there may be clear and stark limits or there may be essentially none at all.

I would be comfortable with either “theological hypothesis”, “theological scenario” or “theological model” myself, rather than “theological argument” – as it seems to be a ‘picture of the world’ rather than a set of propositions and conclusions. It does not need to meet “the rules of science”, but would need to comply with the rules of logic, and be consistent with observed reality.

I can see what he’s arguing here. Naturalistic Evolution requires a certain amount of time. But, with Divine intervention, the universe could have been in existence for an infinite amount of time (as, I believe, some Hindu creationists believe), created last Tuesday, or anything in between. The age of life/Earth/the Universe is therefore cannot give any confirmatory weight to any theistic scenario.


I don’t think so. The source of a hypothesis is irrelevant. What matters is that the hypothesis is well formed and testable. If we have a hypothesis of what God would do, then we can test that expectation against data. If we don’t see that, the hypothesis is wrong in one of two ways: either the hypothesis about God is wrong or God is falsified. That doesn’t tell us which is correct, but it tells us our hypothesis is wrong, and that’s science.

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Hi Dan
This is an interesting piece that discusses what outside space/time could be like.

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Lewis is an eloquent writer, but more important here is the disclaimer the blog author inserts:

First, an important note that Lewis makes: This idea “is a ‘Christian idea’ in the sense that great and wise Christians have held it and there is nothing in it contrary to Christianity. But it is not in the Bible or any of the creeds. You can be a perfectly good Christian without accepting it, or indeed without thinking of the matter at all”.

I don’t find it “mind blowing” that an omnipotent God could be outside of time, but I agree it there no reason for omnipotence to be constrained by time.

My criticism here, is that “outside of time” doesn’t really mean anything. Consider the following statements:

God is outside of time.
God is outside of strawberry.
God is inside the inside.
God is lighter than sound.

All are roughly equal in meaning, and none of them really mean anything at all. I think the take-home point Lewis is trying to make is that those who believe in God should try to set aside all preconceptions they may have about what God is.

I understand what you’re claiming here, and I agree that the action of an unspecified omnipotent being can’t be ruled out ever, in principle. BUT there are most certainly “theistic scenarios” that are subject to confirmation/falsification by the age of the earth. Sure, some of these scenarios are judged to be false by other theists, and some of those theist-to-theist conversations will end with one or more of the theists being labeled ‘blasphemous’ or ‘heretical’ but I think we all have to acknowledge this fact, which I see @John_Harshman has just also made clear:

There are gods who are falsified by scientific knowledge. There are theological claims that contradict knowledge of the natural world. Maybe these tragically slain gods are mutants of the “real” ones, mangled by confused human minds, and maybe the theological claims arise from tortured misreading of oft-revised Iron Age writings that were never meant to contradict reality. It doesn’t matter.

What I really meant was that I shouldn’t start trying to list limits, I would have no idea when to stop. :wink:


The distinction I want to make, is that we need to be careful about interpreting a theological statement as a scientific hypothesis when no such hypothesis is justified. I see people make this mistake regularly when arguing with YEC; They take some vague claim made by a YEC and argue against it without first establishing a scientific science to argue about. YEC thrive on people making this error, because without an established claim they are free to make endless wild claims to for others to try to refute. This is exactly what we see in those Evolution vs Creation groups on FB, and it is exactly what the YEC want.

A better approach to to question the YEC claim, asking for further definition, drawing out details, trying to reach a clear statement of the intended question. “Try” is the important part; done properly, the YEC claim will collapse because it cannot be defined as a testable scientific hypothesis.

In other words, we should not impose “scientific” status on a claim that is not scientific in the first place. Make the other team do their own work to justify the claim.


Hi Dan
You need to keep in mind Lewis is a Christian theist and that means he believes in the reliability of scripture. Since early scripture makes predictions about the future there is a basis for God being able to exist outside time.

I have not seen a case for God being outside strawberry. :slight_smile:

If your arguments don’t make sense I don’t think they’re going to matter to anyone regardless of their beliefs.


Why the pointless, meaningless platitudes rather than any real response?

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@Tim et al.

As implied in my original statement, if an Old Earther thinks the Earth is 4.6 billion years old - - BUT claims that God performed sequential creation (instead of only evolution) - - it would be up to that Old Earther to speculate why God would make the effort to deliver all these de novo creations in such a way that it would APPEAR to have been evolution!!!

@John_Harshman ,

It is not about Science, so i wont try to explain it to you. Ditto for @Patrick .