Andrew Davison helps us explore the theological questions that would arise if we found life elsewhere in the universe.
such a good episode it made my brain hurt I wish his book wasn’t so costly though!
GOD is Father, Son, and Spirit. Bro. Andrew talks about the Father Creator and the Son Logos, but not the Spirit of Love. God is not Two in One. GOD is Three in One, and until we understand that most theological thinking including this example is pointless.
God directs his word to everyone on this world. It is sufficient for us in our relationship with him and with others. That excludes any speculations about extraterrestials. Paul warned about vain speculations, and we should listen to that warning.
I am enjoying this episode. Not finished yet. I don’t run into this issue of “ do other potential life out there on other planets need Jesus “ because of things like omnism, syncretism and so on.
I don’t think the Holy Spirit is a being, but is the power of god given personhood like love is given personhood. I think the power of god, the Holy Spirit, is found throughout all of “creation”. I think in the same way God accommodated ancient Jews with Yahweh that he also met ancient Indians as Vishnu and that faith built on love will be found throughout the universe and that God will have been incanted in those places as well if needed.
Besides the issue which I brought up be4fore, there is another than bro0. Andr4ew brou7ght up. It is clear that he believes with good re4son that GOD’s creation is basically good I would agree.
The problem is that a very important evolutionist Richard Dawkins maintains that evolution is based on survival of the fittest. which proves that nature is evil since it is based on conflict. Many Christians but not BioLogos say that COD created the universe as good, but it became survival of the fittest as a result of the Fall.
The question remains. is nature basically good or has evolution proven that it is not? and if nature is basically good, where does that leave survival of the fittest?
Every time I read the title my mind goes to the “Cosmic Christ” weirdness some people embrace.
There’s an old Native American prayer thanking the Great Spirit for a game animal just before shooting it. I thought it was kind of a neat prayer but it never really hit me until the first time I had a deer in my rifle sights and that prayer popped up in my memory. Along with it was a sort of poem thanking the deer for its life to supply my life.
My view is that before the fall, that was the attitude among all creatures which relied on other creatures’ lives for their survival. They may not have been able to express it in any form we would recognize, but since all animals are living souls according to Genesis, I think those souls have the capacity to communicate to God in whatever fashion is appropriate for each animal.
Whatever strategy giving a relative advantage would benefit. Cooperation benefits often more than conflict, so ‘survival of the fittest’ may also happen through cooperation.
Why is physical death often associated with ‘bad’ or ‘evil’? All physical creatures will eventually die. In some clonal organisms it may take tens of thousands of years before destruction but death anyway. Death gives opportunities to new life. Reproduction and death are necessarily linked, otherwise the endpoint would be bad. In this sense, physical death can be said to be neutral or even good.
The idea of death being bad probably stems from an individualistic viewpoint where me and my dear ones are the most important creatures on Earth and my/our death is viewed as something that needs to be avoided because we are so important. Easy to understand both from emotional and evolutionary viewpoints but does not tell that death is truly bad.
What about the death of a lamb that we eat? Is it good or bad? The death gives food to the family so that we do not need to starve. From this viewpoint it could be counted as good. Only if death as such is assumed to be ‘bad’, the death of the lamb would be ‘bad’.
If death is assumed to be ‘bad’, does it cover all deaths? What about a disease-spreading mosquito, is the death of the mosquito ‘bad’? Or the death of a plant, fungi or bacteria? Bacteria can split and double every 20 minutes, so without death the world would be covered by bacteria in a short time. With mice, it takes a bit more time but without death, the endpoint would be the same. We would drown in mice. Even with humans or elephants, the same would happen although it would take a bit longer time. In a reproducing creature, death is needed to keep the numbers within reasonable limits. Without death, animals would suffer.
Thank you for your response.
You are clearly correct. Death is not evil. It is not the result of the Fall as some people believe. It is a part of God’s original Creation. Death is a necessity if life is finite. The only way to do away with death is to do away with life as we know it…
However, the reason why survival of the fittest is wrong is because evolution is not about “relative advantage.” The dinosaurs who survived by becoming birds were not seeking relative advantage over other dinosaurs. They were adapting to the ecology of a colder climate. The mammals who also survived when many did not, did so because they were better adapted. It was adaption to changes in the environment that drove evolution in the past, not changes in genes which allowed that adaption to take place.
Survival of the better adapted explains why evolution of life forms is not random but is based on the way that that the physical earth changed or evolved. It is also the way God creates through evolution without while still allowing freedom to God’s creation.
Humans became humans because they left life in the trees and began to walk on two legs, as an adaption to ecological change. It is that simple and that complicated.
Adaptation is the result of already having genes that better suit an environmental change. The genes nearly always come first.
I wrote about relative advantage because usually it is part of the story of evolution.
Think about a population including many versions of genes (variation). Depending on environmental conditions, individuals having certain type of genes produce, on average, more offspring than individuals with another type of genes. This changes the gene pool in the next generations: the genes of the individuals that had, on average, more offspring will increase while the share of the other genes will decrease. That is evolution within the population.
Relative differences in offspring production are important but so are relative differences in mortality that happens before reproduction. It does not help to produce a huge number of offspring if all of these die before reproduction. If we are interested about evolution within a population, it would be more accurate to inspect relative differences in the amount of grandchildren, rather than the number of children. The number of grandchildren takes into account mortality that happens before reproduction.
‘Survival of the fittest’ is an old fashioned way to express what happens. I do not remember that I would have heard that expression used often in serious professional talks, except when someone was talking about history. Rarely it may have been used to give some flavor to the story but in the sense of decoration, not serious content. The reason why it is not used anymore is that the expression is vague, it does not reveal much about the mechanisms and processes operating behind evolution, and it may give a wrong impression. As evolution is more about producing grandchildren than staying alive, putting emphasis on the word ‘survival’ is misleading.
“Andrew Davison helps us explore the theological questions that would arise if we found life elsewhere in the universe.” Clara
Scientists seem to assume that “human” life found elsewhere in the universe would be radically different from us. It would be different no doubt, but since scientists do not expect the laws of nature to be different in other parts of the universe from the laws of nature herte4 on earth, why would the laws of the spirit be any different?
Of course there are some scientists who do not recognize Spiritual Reality, but that does not mean it does not exist. There are some scientists who believe that life evolved on earth randomly without rhyme or reason, so there are no rules that govern life except might makes right.
Christians call Jesus the Christ, which is a translation of the Hebrew word, Messiah, which means the Chosen One. Jesus of Nazareth was chosen by GOD to save GOD’s people from sin and eternal death by bringing them into right relationship through the Holy Spirit to GOD. If need be I am confident that GOD would send a Messiah to other peoples.
In some sense we are all messiahs since GOD has chosen each of us to perform special tasks and roles in GOD’s Kingdom. The Son/Logos enables us to relate to GOD and the Spirit empowers us to do what is right.
Survival of the fittest is often misunderstood to mean what species dominates that species the best. That’s what left is all the “top dogs” of survival like a death match with 20 men with knives.
But it’s not. Survival of the fittest also includes animals that are able to hide easier from being small, and it includes animals that have fantastic family or community groups so that several chimps can stand against one tiger and it includes flowers that have the shape best for bees or for mosquitoes. For humans part of our tragedy is extending ourselves through technology and that includes spear sod wood, mushrooms carrying fiery embers in woody mushrooms to atomic bombs, social media apps and so on.
I also don’t view nature evil though. I don’t think natural evil is the correct term. I don’t think horseflies and mosquitoes are evil for wanting my blood for egg health. I don’t think if a lion attacked me and was eating me, i would not think that it’s evil. I think only humans are capable of evil and that’s because of our emotional and cognitive processing skills. It’s why I don’t hold a snake accountable for eating a mouse but I do hold humans accountable for eating pigs. We may all be animals, but we are a species that has grew to global domination through our intelligence.
As many know I only eat plants and mushrooms, or things like bacteria and so on. So I don’t hunt. But that does not mean I hate carnivorous animals. When I see a baby zebra getting stalked by baby lions, i think and feel several things. I think it’s cute and amazing for these lions to learn how to hunt. I think it’s cute and amazing zebras are learning how to escape and defend. I am equally happy at the beauty of the lions catching their prey as I am with prey escaping there predators. I feel sad for the hungry lion and I feel sad for the suffering zebra being killed and eaten.
I feel sad when a hurricane kills people and destroys homes and I feel happy when I know all these fallen trees are creating stump holes for amphibians and over years will become breeding grounds for my mushrooms. I feel glad when my favorite trees survive a storm, and I feel glad when I see a fallen oak that is 200 years old go into masting dropping hundreds of acorns, slowly becoming a spot for insects to bore into to live, for the bark to weaken its hold and become loose allowing lizards and snakes to hide in it for warmth it eventually becomes a home for termites and lastly gets decomposed by wood ears and oysters mushrooms.
The question is What is the primary cause for evolutionary change? Thye primary cause of the evolution of mammals was the extinction of the dinosaurs because they failed to adapt to climate change. No ecological change means no evolution. That is undisputed.
Therefore it is clear that ecological change causes evolution. Now it is also true that if mammals did not have the genetic ability to adapt to the new environment, they would have died out as many did and we could say that their genes allowed them to evolve, but the change was triggered so to speak by ecological change.
Kai, if you are right in saying and I think that you are that some individuals produce more offspring than others, “depending on environmental conditions.” then we are in agreement. Environment, not genetic change produces evolutionary change.
Mi, I agree that nature is not evil. Only humans have the ability to be evil when we fail to love and respect other and upset the balance nature.
That’s actually derivative: the word actually means “anointed one”, but anointing was often done to declare that a given person was the one chosen for a particular vocation, e.g. king, so it came to be used to indicate a chosen one.
I agree that environmental change is a major driver of evolution because it may change which kind of phenotypes/genotypes are able to produce more offspring than others. That is natural selection in changing conditions.
Yet, natural selection in a changing environment is not the only cause of evolutionary change.
A beneficial mutation can lead to ‘novel’ type of individuals that are somehow superior compared to the previous genotypes. This kind of ‘novel’ genotype can invade the population and become the dominant type even without environmental changes.
Even without mutations, drift can alter the gene pool in a way we call evolution. Stochastic drift is usually more important in small than large populations.
One hypothesis I have read is that major evolutionary changes tend to happen after major system-wide catastrophes. In such a situation, there is very little intra- and interspecific competition but often plenty of resources for the few survivors. Because of this, even poor competitors can survive. Most mutations produce individuals that are subdominant in competition and would succumb if there would be hard competition. After a major system-wide catastrophe, these handicapped mutants can survive and give birth to individuals that lead to a diverging evolutionary path.
This is just one hypothesis about how major evolutionary changes can happen. There are other ways how such changes could happen, for example when aquatic animals crawl to shores to avoid predation by other aquatic organisms. Any genetic changes that makes these crawlers better able to survive outside of water would be very beneficial and favored by natural selection.
I might agree technically. but your statement misses the theological importance of the Messiah, and since we are speaking theological it misses the mark. Namely that anointi9ng was used in the OT to indicate that YHWH had chosen a particular person for a special task and a particular nation, Israel, to be God’s People. We still anoint people today to indicate that they are chosen by God.
The people came to Samuel to ask for a king, like the other nations had. Samuel refused, be4cause YHWH was their King. However YHWH listened to the prayers of YHW’s people and decided to give them a king. YHWH chose Saul to be the king of Israel and had Samuel the prophet and priest to anoint Saul to i9ndiarte3n that he was YHWH’s choice.
Later after King Saul disappointed YHWH and Samuel. YHWH had Samuel anoint David, who was still a teenage as the4 next king of Israel. After Saul died in battle David become king although it was not automatic.
Psalm 2 reveals another important aspect, of the concept of GOD’ s Messiah. Ps 2:6 NIV “Today he [YHWH] said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’”
This reveals David’s understanding of hos relationship to YHWH as the Messiah.
The earliest Church used this passage to verify its understanding that Jesus is the SON of GOD the Father. We know the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus Christ. There were many men named Jesus during His lifetime, but only one named by GOD. The importance of the name Jesus is that it as Yahwist name, that is it incorporates YHWH, YaHshua in the original name given to Jesus. Thus GOD in naming Jesus YaHshua guaranteed the prophecy YHWH made in Exodus: 4:15, “This [YHWH] is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered.”
Jesus as a Yahwist given by YHWH seems mto indicatwe the divine aspect ofg the Savior. Christ or the Chosen One indicates the human aspect of the Savior. They come together in Ps 2:5 with Jesus Christ who as the Messiah is the Son of GOD the Father. The two Persons of GOD are united by the third, the Holy Spirit to give GOD a unique structure of one GOD in three Persons.
One of the primary problems we try to resolve in discussing how evoluti0on works is the way GOD governs GOD’s cCre3ation. Conservatives generally say GOD governs directly, while liberals tend to say GOD is hands off. Neither is convincing. On the other hand by sending the Messiah GOD made it clear that humans do not have to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, but there are serious consequences if they do not.
The problem with that sentence is this. There is no such thing as a static, unchanging environment. The beauty of the concept of adaptive natural selectio9n is that it is aq constant ongoing wholistic process. An invasive organism like AIDS usually dies in a new environment, but AIDS did not and it spread unchecked until humans found new defenses it. Most plagues like the flu and maybe COVID-19 seem to be caused by invasive organisms.
Please evolution is not based on competition between or within species. Organisms do not grow in population because they limit those with whom they mate. They share their genes rath3ern than limit them. Ingrown populations are weaker than those who share their strengths with others who also have strengths. Sorry, Dawkins, sharing increases the strength of life.
Neutral genetic drift does not avoid natural selection. It is labeled neutral because it does neither increase nor decreases the adaption of the organism. However, we cannot say for sure it is neutral until the organism passes the natural selection test. The proof is in the tasting, not the theory that we read into the process.
Evolution is most evident after an extinction, because the extinction was caused by ecological change. Those who survive do so because they are more flexible than those who died out, but this is not enough to thrive in the longer run. They must make specific changes to adapt to the new conditions on many levels. Usually this takes the form of carving out a biological niche or finding a new biological niche that meets their needs. This is not competition, but avoiding direct conflict.
There is an old saying, Nature abhors a vacuum. It can mean that nature abhors imbalance. Dinosaurs learned to fly because there was an abundance of food in the air. Birds and bats fly for the same reason. Whales, dolphins, and seals return3ed to then sea for the same reason, food.
Evolution through adaption. “‘Increase and multiply. Go and fill the earth and subdue it.’” ’
Gen 1:2 NIV
Not according to a National Geographic special I watched a while back; it described how the ancestors of cheetahs and gazelles both were slower than they are today, and that as the speed of gazelles increased so they became harder to catch the diet of cheetahs shifted.