Three Misunderstandings About God-Guided Evolution

I appreciated this article over at Biologos. I think it is on the right track - that divine action in the world is as much about providence and what is sometimes called “continuing creation” - God’s upholding the universe in being - as it is about miraculous intervention.

What do you think?


This is a good one for @gbrooks9 to read and study. @Eddie would like it also as it is another example of Biologos saying nothing contrary to evolutionary science (which is neutral on God) and keeping the theology vague enough so that Christian evolutionary scientist are free to explore the universe under MN.

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Personally, I would very much like to find a way to do better than “keep the theology vague” and instead develop a robust theology of creation, divine action, and science - I think @Eddie and @jongarvey are interested in this as well - I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. It’s a complex subject.


The challenge with this misunderstanding is that science does not support it– evolution is not limited to making small-scale changes. I believe that God designed the laws of nature so that biological evolution could, through its ordinary operation, bring about new life forms and increases in complexity.

This is an assertion that needs support and seems contrary to how living organisms reproduce.

What design feature of living organisms allows large scale evolutionary transitions?

Without this you simply have a statement of faith and more accurately blind faith.


Not able to help you much on that. :sunglasses:

That sounds like a statement of faith.

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The fact small microevolutionary changes which occur in each generation can accumulate over time into macroevolutionary ones.

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No, it comes from hundreds of papers on how cells divide and the controls that limit variation.

That also sounds like a statement of faith since you can’t describe anything from those papers, or why proposed evolutionary mechanisms would prevent reproduction.


This is an argument from ignorance :slight_smile: however we can re engage later.

All ID-Creation arguments are arguments from ignorance.


Could someone tell me what this means? I have no idea:

“If we say that God created every life form, this must also mean that God was guiding every mutation. The Bible repeatedly affirms that when things happen in the natural world, God is still doing it. The sun goes down; God brings darkness. The beasts of the forest prowl; God gives them their food. Birds of the air eat seeds and insects and worms, and they receive their food from God (Psalm 104:19-21, Matthew 6:26). When things are happening in the natural world the way they always happen, in ways we can describe scientifically, God is just as much in charge as when God performs a miracle.”

I would respond as LaPlace did: “I had no need of that hypothesis.”


Good observation. In the worldview described in that quote, there is no meaningful distinction between “natural” and “supernatural.” It’s all just God doing stuff. It would be as if I called it “supernatural” when I knead a ball of dough by hand, and “natural” when I put it in my mixer, turn on the switch, and let the machine do the rest on its own.

In Evangelical circles, the idea that God just set up the world and let things happen naturally sounds a lot like Deism (which is considered bad). There needs to be a theological argument for how God is active in guiding and sustaining our world to accomplish his divine and eternal plan while natural processes are going on at the same time. If God is ultimately in control and is actively carrying out his plan for our world, does that mean that God must intervene and override the natural laws to accomplish his goals? The answer is no because God’s divine action is accomplished through natural processes (this is the point of the sentence you quote @John_Harshman). Many Christians tend to think that God is only active when he performs a miracle or overrides the natural law, but this is a weak theological view of God. God is always near and always active. This is also the reason why many outright reject evolution because it is “random” or “unguided” which means God couldn’t be involved and it therefore conflicts with Christianity, but again this is the same misconception.

There is also a parallel here to free will. If God is ultimately in control and is carrying out his divine plan, do we have free will? Does God intervene and override our decision making? The standard answer here is that we do have free will, but God is still active in our lives and guides us a the same time.


So how do we detect “miracles” when, in effect, everything that happens is a miracle?

Two related series on ther Hump of the Camel. The first is on “Christological Creation.” The second is more on the theology of nature as such. Look under the category “Theology of nature.” 40 posts in all. Enjoy!

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That doesn’t explain anything. It’s just a paraphrase of the original quote. Nobody else has been able to explain what it means either.

Here’s my shot at explaining it. God acts through natural processes (a) by giving those processes their casual power in the first place, and concurring with their effects (nothing created could cause anything to happen if God did not enable and allow it to do so), and (b) through his foreknowledge and providence, ordaining everything that comes to pass according to his purposes. (Pick your favorite model of divine providence for this; mine is Molinism.) With both his power and purpose behind things, I think it is fair to say he is acting. Subject to having a coherent model of divine providence, of course, but that is a problem that theologians are already working on.

I still have no idea what that means.

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I agree. We need a better way.

  1. God didn’t need to micromanage evolution to get what God wanted.

Misunderstanding #3: Some people would interpret the sentence “God-guided evolution” to mean something like the following. “Evolution isn’t limited to making small-scale changes. And of course God is in charge all the time so evolution never happens “on its own.” But evolution had the potential to go down many possible paths. So God acted from time to time to select, or to nudge evolution down particular paths to produce particular species and ecosystems.”

This seems to be theological statement without grounding. There is no evidence for this in theology and in science, and it is why the BioLogos position is so commonly questioned as deistic. There is no way Haarsma could know this from evidence. Both the theology and the science is weak here.

I think this is a better way: Would God's Guidance Be DNA-Detectable? - #32