Does Evolution Need God?

This is a question I posed to the TE’s on the Peaceful Science forum a while ago. I think it would be interesting to hear the insights of this forum as well.

If I am not mistaken, many (most? all?) TE’s and EC’s say that God guided evolution. If that is your position, do you think God’s intervention was necessary for evolution to successfully produce the outcomes we see today?

Of course, I am happy to hear anyone’s thoughts on this question regardless of his or her position. Thanks!

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Scientific theories need God like children need cancer.

One might see someone in a casino pray to God that the roulette wheel will give him a 23. If God grants him his prayer and the roulette wheel stops at 23, then was God’s intervention necessary?

If you say no because it is possible that the wheel might stop on 23 anyway then we might give the same answer for evolution. But maybe the more important question is what are the probabilities involved. After all 1 out of 37,38, or 39 on the roulette wheel isn’t so unlikely but 1 out of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 is quite a different matter don’t you think?

But you know… I don’t believe that everything is a result of God’s intervention. Did God intervene to give us all these diseases? I don’t think so. I don’t even believe God intervened to give us a particular shape and color. Perhaps God intervened to encourage the development of a species capable of a language and art. And maybe that isn’t so very likely either – difficult to know.

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Evolution is a scientific theory and scientific theories do not include God or “need” God.

Since I have a theological commitment to the truth that God is the Creator of everything, I believe God willed, initiated, and is active in evolutionary processes, just as he willed, initiated, and is active in other natural processes that science describes without reference to God.

I don’t have any need to put my finger on how exactly God acts in the evolutionary process, or commit to a specific degree of divine planning or design, or to decide whether or not the evolutionary process could hypothetically “work” without God. I believe God is immanently present in nature and our natural/supernatural categories are constructs we have imposed on a single unified reality.

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Yeah, what Christy said. :slight_smile: Evolution doesn’t “need” God any less than any other process of nature. Even if he doesn’t “intervene” on a regular basis, no biological process would exist without God as the creator.

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Not to disagree with what’s been expressed already, but another way to spin this answer is that yes, evolution did and does need God the same as everything else does for its very existence. What it doesn’t need is a god as a bit player among all the other physical mechanisms to get it past the difficult, or hard-to-explain bits.

[And the above is not to insist that God didn’t do something special. It’s just to say that if God did, any such special involvement couldn’t at all be a part of the theory of evolution because such theories are about physical explanations, not about theological ones.]

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Does evolution need God? The question is What do you mean by “need?”

The question that first must be answered is, Does evolution and science need order in order to exist? The answer is yes.

Darwin said that the source of order or direction for evolution is Natural Selection, and he thought that Natural Selection was based on disorder or non-rational chance. He believed that God played no role in the governance of the universe.

Those, like Lynne Margulis and myself, who observe that symbiosis or ecology is the basis of Natural Selection or the order of evolution. Symbiosis does not work by chance, but by symmetry, which is rational order.

If Darwin was mistaken and evolution is not based on non-rational chance, nut on rational ecological order, then he was also wrong in saying that evolution denies the existence of God. Evolution and science needs a rational God as the Source of Order in the universe and the Source of the Big Bang,

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Very succinctly put, Roger. In expanding upon it to see just how it impacts Christian theology, I find it helpful to focus: 1) on evolution as survival of the individual vs. survival of the group; and 2) evolution in the biosphere (Darwinian) and evolution in the Noosphere–in ideas, memes, or noogenes.

Millions of years ago in the biosphere, group survival for some insect species was greatly enhanced with a change in reproductive mechanisms that promoted eusocial colonies–e.g. ants, termites, bees. Of course there was no freedom of choice involved and so no morality. Much later as the line of primates evolved, group selection depended upon kinship and became more and more effective as the group was enlarged into clans through use of crude language (memes, noogenes). Both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens reached this stage some 150,000 yrs. ago–survival of the individual through mutation of genome (by chance) but showing the beginnings of the advantages to group selection offered by eusocial living.

While we may never know many of the details of how our ancestors, the Homo sapiens, made such rapid strides in building more effective societies that led to their domination of the planet, there is growing evidence that the awareness that they were creatures that owed their existence to a Creator, played an important role.

All of this may be part of a Drama that God set in motion in a Big Bang–a Drama that would eventually involve creatures that would freely choose to rise above the limitations of one type of evolution (Darwinian/biospheric) to become (thru Noospheric evolution) an Image (even if less than perfect) of their Creator.
Al Leo

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True

just one thing 2 different distinct scenarios would give rise to 2 different distinct outcomes.

God involved and intervening versus otherwise would have to have some different predictions about our reality. It must be possible in principle to distinguish between the 2 hypothesis.

The most obvious comparison is between natural evolution and. Breeding. Not sure I know how to state. This tactfully, but it’s the difference between a Wolf and a dog.

The latter are cultivated for characteristics. Which would not naturally arise?

I think TE boils down in principle to God in Heaven has cultivated humanity on Earth, producing a species chosen for some elect purpose.

If, so humanity would have something separating them from NoN affected species which evolved purely naturally, something which separates man from beast.

Many people like to say that already. If that is actually true that could certainly be construed as evidence for theistic evolution.

I believe (not without any evidence) that evolution needed God in order to operate. The reasons for this belief are fairly technical and are related to the often overlooked biochemical mechanisms required for evolution to work. Many think of evolution as flowing naturally from inheritance and natural selection. But that’s only the surface requirements. Evolution requires not only replication of the phenotype from one generation to the next (which is managed by the ultra complex protein synthesis translation system using a genetic code to convert nucleic acid chemistry to protein chemistry) but in addition, such replication must be exceedingly accurate. There is no current answer as to how these evolutionary process mechanisms could have evolved in the absence of the evolutionary process mechanism.

I am aware that this is a very controversial idea, and not generally accepted by other than ID folks, and I am interested in feedback from this forum. I am not proposing a God of the gaps here, (its quite likely we will eventually discover alternative evolutionary processes that will explain the origin of evolution as we know it) but I do think that its a reasonable proposal that some divine intervention was involved, even if it just means the occurrence of an extremely unlikely event. This, of course, like all divine interventions, can never be proven, but for believers in the resurrection of Jesus and other miracles, such scientific proof is not required.

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I tend to avoid arguing for God from scientific evidence alone (which is not to say I completely disregard such evidence for God’s existence), largely for three reasons:

  1. At best one can only be agnostic about this evidence.
  2. At worst, it makes belief in God contingent upon these scientific truths, so one could lose faith much more easily.
  3. God (as I have discussed before) doesn’t want us to base our faith on a heavy burden of proof. He wants to make it as simple to accept as is possible.

My own apologetic approach is to argue from metaphysics, and hierarchical series’, which are not contingent on whatever scientific paradigms are currently followed, are focused on the here and now, rather than what may have happened in the past, and have to terminate in a first member (whom I argue must have the characteristics of the Biblical God) even if the linear history of the universe does not.