Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Can You Be a Theist and Believe In Evolution?

 
John Wilkins wonders about this in God, evolution and variation. I think it all boils down to purpose. Science doesn't reveal purpose but most religions demand it. (We're talking about interventionist Gods here.) Real evolution incorporates a large degree of accident and randomness and that's just not consistent with a God who has a plan. (Yes, I'm aware of the confused rationalizations of some theistic evolutionists.)

11 comments :

  1. Of course. And if you don't agree, then which do you think, for example, is Wesley Elsberry lying about? His theism or his affirmation of evolution?

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  2. I think "lying" is too strong a word. I prefer"confused."

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  3. Humans are peculiar organisms. Many are more than willing to accept Germ Theory, and take their children to the doctor when they are sick, yet still sincerely pray for their recovery.

    Can you be a theist and believe in evolution? Of course you can.

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  4. John, we don't disagree about the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry. Biology must follow them as well. Thus, biology like all sciences is deterministic. Like you, I agree with this ultimate reductionism.

    However, the actual historical pathway to modern species is so full of contingent events that it is unlikely to ever be repeated again. This is no different than the formation of our specific solar system. It is not directly predictable from a knowledge of the laws of physics but that does not mean that it violates those laws.

    When people say that evoluton is not random they are ignoring both the stochastic nature of population genetics and the contingency of historical events.

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  5. Larry Moran: "When people say that evoluton is not random they are ignoring both the stochastic nature of population genetics and the contingency of historical events."

    And certainly contingency is extermely important. However, certain basic physical parameters place limits on available evolutionary pathways, e.g. plants tend to evolve mechanisms to grow "up" towards the light.

    Larry Moran: "When people say that evoluton is not random they are ignoring both the stochastic nature of population genetics and the contingency of historical events."

    Intelligent Design advocates often claim that evolution is random. This is NOT a valid statement, so the contrary statement is that evolution is not random, though it has random elements and is subject to contingency.

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  6. Of course you can - and lots of people do, as proof of this.

    There's just one slight problem: they've neatly compartmentalised their minds/thinking processes, so that they don' actually look at, or examine the complete logical disjuncture that this entails.

    Oops.

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  7. There is no logical disjuncture. A proper understanding of science and of religion allows for the acceptance of all scientific fact without compromising the integrity of either.

    -just some guy

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  8. My 2¢ on "believing in evolution" for theists and why even IDers should start improving evolution theory rather then trying to prove it wrong.
    And the very first case I'm completely opposed to one of Larry Moran's views :-)

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  9. I will let the greatest Russian biologist of his day speak for me. On the role of randomness with respect to both ontogeny and phylogeny -

    "Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance."
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 134.

    "A past evolution is undeniale, a present evolution undemonstrable."
    John A. Davison

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  10. I have a problem with making it look like they are mutually exclusive. Also, evolution is NOT a religion, you can't believe in it, you either accept or reject it.
    I do, however, understand the underlying question here, and it's an absolute yes. Evolution doesn't explain the beginnings, only the process of getting from a bacteria to the variety of species we have today. I think the limitless power of the Superior Being explains that first "breath" of life...

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