Does Evolution Need God?

Certainly. Do you believe in the Big Bang? Do you believe that this universe sprang forth into being 13.8 bya?

I agree as well. But why would a consciousness that arose by the process of evolution have the ability to make sense of our perspective? I agree that it is unavoidable, but I don’t see how it would / could be a product of evolution. What about that could have explanatory power? I don’t see this happening unless God is transcendent and literally responsible for the origin of the universe, the laws of physics, and the process of evolution itself.

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You’re right about that being a point of agreement, but I don’t take being “the creator” as the most fundamental defining characteristic of that which gives rise to God belief. I think that attribute is basically hyperbole, a hold over from ancient times used to signify God’s importance to us. I think we can acknowledge the importance without it stemming from being the source of absolutely everything.

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I see. Thanks for explaining, Mark. Possibly I read to much into the comment below:

It is the making what we are possible to which I was referring. Maybe you can draw that out further so that I understand what you mean by this?

Happy to. Essentially I think both the identity we think we have as conscious selves and God are products of consciousness. We don’t make up who we are and neither do we make up who God is. But from the perspective of our conscious minds, God is pretty hidden. How that gets elaborated is culturally decided in most cases but it isn’t based on nothing at all. Basically I’m saying that the creator aspect is a cultural relic which may no longer be required. Nonetheless there is still something real which gives rise to God belief.

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Interesting… If I haven’t bored you yet with this, can you clarify?

  1. Do you believe that the identity we think we have is different from our true identity?
  2. Are you intending to say (above) that God is the product of consciousness?
  3. What are you defining as consciousness, especially in the case of the consciousness that gave rise to God?

Will be back soon. I’m not bored at all. I’m afraid the shoe must be on the other foot.

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Thanks Mark! Not at all! I’m thoroughly enjoying this chat! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Not necessarily but I do think we can act in ways that are more or less congruent with who we are. I also think we can lose touch with who we are. I have no trouble attaching meaning to a “soul”, I just don’t think it is viable without a body and I think death is final.

Yes. In particular I think it is consciousness which produces that which supports God belief. However, that doesn’t mean I can make a case for no God apart from consciousness. I just doubt it personally.

I suspect that our complex brains are capable of supporting more than one centers of consciousness and that the one we don’t know directly is what gives rise to God belief. Just my hunch of course.

What about you, Michael, what are your thoughts about our true identity and how (if at all) do you see consciousness factoring into religious experience?

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And keep in mind I think this in the same way as I would approach rainfall or lightning strikes or enjoying food on my table. In none of those to I take affront that the explanations seem to us fairly complete without needing to find a special niche for God somewhere. From fertilizer to farmer to market to kitchen to table - I give thanks to God for such food even if there is no part of the whole process that I could point to that hasn’t been sufficiently explained or seemingly done as if apart from God.

Well, to the extent that the image seems meant to convey a deception wherein the presumably atheistic evolution is gift wrapped in religious garb to deceive the unwary, I think it is itself a false comparison. The grain of truth it contains is that scientific considerations of something like evolution do not invoke God any more than meteorology does. Yet I praise God for seasons, sun, and rain whether or not my science of those things is complete or not. So I would change the critical image from a wrapper to a foundation. God is the ground of all these sciences and everything else too - evolution is no exception and gets no free pass in this regard.

Also keep in mind that the TE or EC designation tends to be something like a “battleground label” assigned to a tribe from the outside. In an ideal world such a label might not be necessary any more than I should have to be called a gravitationist just because I accept without religious protestation such as what we understand of gravity. But I do accept the label of creationist for myself since I do believe God created everything - including you and me every bit as much as Adam and Eve. But I don’t often put that label forward without clarification since that could be considered deceptive given that word’s cultural associations to which I do not assent.

I think God does “intervene” in our lives - and does so relationally with us. I believe in prayer and its efficacy and its application to a whole wider range of religious activity than what consists of “bowing one’s head and closing one’s eyes”. Formalized or rote prayers are prayer too - I’m not objecting to that, but prayer is so much more, and also more than a wish list presented to God (though it can be that too). I have very little sympathy or time for “scientific investigations” of prayer as if it was nothing more than another utility to be proven or dismissed. If any study actually did convincingly “show results” so as to impress a skeptic, then … well … let them be impressed, I guess; perhaps the Spirit will use that to help them take a next spiritual step. But I would privately think to myself that such as they can put under their microscope or their statistical analysis is not prayer, but just another efficacious, explainable phenomenon. Real prayer is relational, messy, and ongoing. I would be hard put to tease apart the difference between prayer, faith, and life.

Yeah … what you said there! I would even strengthen that to the incarnation being the example of God’s “intervention” - first in Christ, but then also as Christ’s Spirit in people too. That’s where we should look for God: In the faces and hearts of people around us - especially if they’re hurting or marginalized people. I think God is much more visible there for those who cultivate eyes of faith than God ever will be as a “proof” in a science textbook, or as a “vending machine” as described by a prosperity gospel peddler.


I love this… great way to think of it… and still you are recognizing him, and certainly not precluding him from doing or having done anything, actively.

I guess I was thinking more of a “wink-wink, God’s in there too…” but I guess I see what you mean. Wasn’t my intent to “go there”… but I was curious as to what difference there was between your flavor of evolution vs. the standard fare. But I was not at all aware of this, either:

So, then are you (mainstream Biologos “supporters” for lack of a better label) just Christians (for instance) who are supporters of evolution, then? Not associating with EC or TE at all or much?

I’m sure gravity has deniers too. :slight_smile:

I like this description…

This last part is more what I was talking about with God intervening in real life. If you read Blackaby in Experiencing God, he says to 1. read God’s word, 2. pray, and 3. see what happens next when you are looking for God’s leading. That third point is God being very active in real life. This is the kind of activity that I was trying to leave room for in the creation process involving evolution. I don’t know if He works that way, but I can picture Him doing so. And certainly wouldn’t expect to see traces or fingerprints of his activity.

Amen to that.

Thanks Mark. I have so many more questions about your position on consciousness and God and such. Hopefully we can get back to it someday.

I think that we are physical beings, but with a spiritual side. I think that the physical is temporal and the spiritual is not. That’s a theological opinion, of course. I think that the spirit is the identity and the body is the interface that allows us to operate in this realm. So we are very much here, dependent upon the physical body, and even affected by it. But I do believe that if the physical body dies, our spirit will be able to interact in some realm that transcends this space in which we now operate.

I don’t have very strong feelings or theories about these aspects though. So it was very interesting to hear what you think.

I saw your summary page mentions Berkeley. Are you a Bear? My old pastor and friend went there. Had a really great experience.

I suppose we put up with those labels without too much fuss (in fact EC was more-or-less coined as at least an improvement over TE, but I suspect most in that camp around here will answer to both.) I was just pointing out that, as is true in so many cases, it is the detractors that often pick the names that stick, and the proponents basically learn to live with it. It’s when such labels help contribute to misunderstandings that the critical scrutiny and objections become most necessary… like the label TE contributing to an impression that all Evolutionism is ideology and that all who accept the science behind it must therefore be “Evolutionists” as their ideological identity.

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I would agree with that, preferring EC to TE, but if I were choosing, would prefer to be called an Integrative Creationist to better reflect the integration of all the relevant sciences (biology, geology, astrophysics etc.) with faith to form a coherent worldview. Alas, never caught on.

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Yes I did my undergraduate degree there. There are a number of theological schools near by. How about you, where did you go to school and where do you hang your hat now?

Thanks for the discussion, I appreciate your tolerance of other points of view. Don’t worry though, I’m not promoting it. It is really just me musing on the question of why God belief has been so widespread for so long. Glad you’re here and I hope to hear more from you.

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My friend also did his undergrad (history) there and then went to Dallas Theological for his MDiv. I went to Sacramento State, but only for a year and a half and then quit school. We had a family business and I was needed, so I did my part. I probably would have flunked out of school, so it was fine. I was a bit wild back then… In '94 I fell into a gig at a tiny HR consulting firm and I’ve been here mostly ever since. I run the software division where we make skill and ability testing software. My wife and I moved from the Sacramento area to the Big Island, just south of Hilo. Thanks to the internet, I am able to work remotely from here.

You are welcome about the discussion. I too appreciate it. It’s interesting to learn other viewpoints, and I’d still like to learn more. We Christians will tell you, though, the reason why God belief has been so widespread for so long is that God exists! :slight_smile:

Have a good evening Mark!!

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"The biblical perspective was concerned with the ultimate meaning and significance of the creation, and did not give analytical descriptions of things and events. So when the Church Fathers attempted to define more closely the biblical understanding of the relationship between God and the creation, they borrowed concepts from Greek philosophy to do so.

Since the Greek concept of reality was incompatible with the biblical perspective, the blend of these two approaches produced problematic formulations. The principal problem was the concept of substance."

@Lee, Thank you for the article . Bavinck and Kuyper are not a part of my tradition so I am not as familiar as I should be with them. However the most pertainate comment is the one quoted above made by Christian.

The Church Fathers tried to reconcile philosophy and Christianity as they needed to do. They had some success, but it is a problem of apple and oranges, it doesn’t fit.

We don’t solve the problem by repeating the mistake. God is Trinity and God created a triune universe. One cannot understand a triune universe with a dualistic vision.

The benefit of the Logos is that it is based on Jesus Christ, a Person, Who is not two-dimensional. Western dualism has reached the end of its usefulness. Monism, like materialism, is also a dead end, but worse.

The big issue today is Western Dualism and problem of philosophy. I have posted essays on including "using the One and the Many to Reconcile Philosophy, Theology, and Science to amplify my views. I hope you are interested.

Thanks for your response.

Hear! Hear!

I’m not sure you’re implying that I’m a monist, but I can see how my gloss of a “Strong Logos” could be taken that way.

I read your essay which seems to be going in the same direction as my conclusions on the One and the Many. I think this puts me safely outside of monism.

Not to worry. I put that in because too may people go from Dualism to monism, and I just wanted to cover that base.

Thank you for reading the essay and the positive feedback.

I found your commentary on Genesis 1 interesting and on the One and the Many appropriate. The only caveat would be to clearly put Genesis 1 in the light of John 1:1 - 3.

The only question about Genesis 1 is “Did the universe have a Beginning?” since if it did YHWH God had to have created it. The science that established the Big Bang Theory also established the fact that YHWH created the universe out of nothing, no matter, no energy, no space, and no time.

The final two are most important. When we think of the Creation we normally think of observing it from a platform outside the Beginning, but that cannot be because there was no outside the tiny dot of expanding mass which was the Beginning of our universe.

Gen 1:1-2 ​ “In the beginning when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

In the Beginning at the time God began to create the universe, the universe was first a tiny mass without time, space, and energy, that is without order. Then God said, “Let there be Light\ Energy\ Logos, \Order!” And there Was!

You are on a great train of thought, however, the Bible clearly states that sin was not present until after the fall. So for evolution, or, survival of the fittest death would’ve been a necessity prior to the fall of man. That is, prior to the entering of wrong into the world. God’s word also clearly states that he formed Adam from the dust of the ground, and breathed the breath of life into him. God’s word also states that he created man in his image. Evolutionary creation is inaccurate, because in the contex it is used, the hebrew word, yom, is in reference to a single 24 hour period.

I have a slightly different answer than @Mervin_Bitikofer. What’s the source of the criticism? I think a large part of it comes from the culture war and the resulting polarization. It seems to me that if an atheist/secularist/evolutionist says, “Blue,” the evangelical feels duty-bound to reply, “Red!” even if he sees blue. Christians serve the God of truth, so we have no reason to fear the truth, whatever the source. If evolution truly occurred, as all the evidence at our disposal says it did, then we should seek to understand that fact in light of Scripture so that we may worship the Lord in spirit, in truth, and with all our minds, which Christ commanded us to do.

You were right to compare God’s intervention in evolution to his intervention in our daily lives. I prefer to call it “guidance” rather than intervention, and God’s guidance in almost every instance occurs by secondary means, not miraculous ones.