Does God Guide Evolution?

(Ryan weatherly) #62

@Prode,let me start by saying , I have no interest in shaking your faith , if your perspective feeds your spirit well , by all means , I would see you fed .
But in the interest of friendly debate , i first offer you this -
A spirit hath not flesh and bone , correct ?
God is a spirit ,correct ?
So tell me , where was God standing ?
Equator , Alaska , Andromeda Galaxy ?

Daylight only happens on one side of the earth at a time , so where was his spirit standing , off earth there is no day and night .

One day is with the Lord AS a thousand years and a thousand AS one day …as ? Like ?

Day :Yom -
-a period of light and dark
-A general term for time
-Point of time
-Sunrise to sunset
-Sunset to sunset
-A year
-An unspecific timeframe
-A long span of time - age-epoch -season

Which definition of " Yom" is the " day " of the almighty God ,alpha and Omega , beginning and end ?
I suspect our understanding of time is quite limited, and understanding time as the timeless God does,is likely beyond us …
Sorry it took so long to respond , Sunday is a busy day .

(Ryan weatherly) #63

To your other point …I think you have misunderstood my statement , it’s likely my fault , I am no writer of note …
“Guide” is a slippery slope …
I believe God is the author of the mathematical equation of existence , then all processes of the natural are part of that equation ,
It is my speculation that God is so vastly knowledgeable that he can inact that equation by his spoken command …
There were two trees in the garden , correct ?
One the tree of life
Other ,the tree of knowledge of good and evil .

One tree was forbidden .
One by lack of mandate , may not have been .
Adam is cast from the garden and by default the tree of life … mortality .

As for " the evils of God " …I think the argument is flawed from the start …death is the price for flesh .
Second , God being the creator of this wonderful artwork , it’s his to do with as he sees fit , it’s up to us to accept and live with it , if God chooses to take a life , it is his to take .
Lastly , people seem to love blaming God , but it rains on the just and unjust alike …
Tornados happen to righteous folks too , it is a natural event that serves it’s natural purpose , it doesn’t mean God is smiting sinners in some vengful rage .
Yet , before the flood , God gives Noah foreknowledge , before the plagues of Egypt , God gives forewarning, before the destruction of Sodom God gives warning , etc etc .

People focus on the natural events and not the prophecy / forknowledge granted by God …
In this regard , I feel people miss the point .

" I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying."

(Ryan weatherly) #64

@gbrooks9 …agreed , prophecy given by God , direct contact ,or by agent is not the same as a tornado …
But in the natural / physical events …what is supernatural?
Perhaps you could give me an example ?

…God created it all , all of existence …what is unnatural ?

(Albert Leo) #65

[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:57, topic:38358”]

An interesting question is, what do we mean when we say something like, “God brought this person into my life,” etc. How does God do these things? It seems our answer to how God guides evolution would be the same answer we would give as to how God guides our every day lives. I’m not really sure how to answer that yet. I guess I appeal to mystery and say that however it happens, it’s clear that it DOES happen!

Jon, your post deals with two events in my own life that I have spent decades trying to understand and put into words. The first is your quote from @Mark1 dealing with “chance encounters” that have important, unexpected consequences. My “chance encounter” occurred at a Gordon Conference some 20 yrs. ago. Actually the format of the Gordon Conferences is designed to encourage “chance encounters” between scientists who are working very similar problems but mostly unaware of each other’s work. The relaxed atmosphere and relative abundance of unstructured ‘leisure’ time encourages a more intimate idea sharing that often speeds up their research. But the “chance encounter” between Prof. Eric Lien and myself did NOT involve the subject of the conference (computer-aided pharmaceutical design) but one of a theological nature that had resulted in a problem with his marriage: Must one profess Jesus as one’s Savior to avoid eternal punishment? I brought this up in my previous posts, describing the encounter as "The Miracle of the Panel Truck". Like so many miracles, there was not any defiance of Natural Laws. Just a defiance of the odds of many millions to one. Later Eric declared to me that the encounter had an important and positive effect on his life, and, although my role in the encounter was little more than as a bystander, it did impress upon me that God is daily present in our lives.

In your quotation, Jon, you state that it would seem sometimes that a providential escape from death was an act of God. In Jan. 1945 I experienced, within a two day span, two such “escapes”: (1) a grenade fragment knocking a three-inch hole in my skull without knocking me unconscious, and (2) two days later having a massive cerebral hemmorhage treated so effectively that I survived and not merely in a vegetative state.

Of course my relatives back home, who prayed for me daily, needed no other explanation than their prayers were answered. But how does one explain the other G.I.s who were prayed for just as diligently but were killed or disabled for life? Was I spared because God had some role he wanted me to play? If so, and at age 92, I must have already fulfilled it. So what was it? If the Afterlife is anything like I imagine it to be, I should know fairly soon.
Al Leo

(Jon Garvey) #66

Thanks for this, Al.

Understanding how God acts in response to prayer is a different question from the fact that he does, of course. That providence is contingent and not entirely law-based should not surprise us, since nature is the same and - so we believe- the same God governs both. And Jesus healed many, but not all - we do not doubt the first because of the second, except as a reason for unbelief.

I suppose your examples could be explicable by God’s setting up the Big Bang so that you met Prof Lien, or got injured in just such a way in such circumstances, but it’s a cumbersome and impersonal viewpoint compared to the simpler one that God is active, caring, answers prayer in real time etc.

The temptation to talk about “chance” or “coincidence” as an explanation (rather than a statement of ones own experience) is worse than either, because it replaces, or supplements the Christian, theistic, Father with an “impersonal, independent force that has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Now where did I read that before??

(Richard Wright) #67

Hi John,

Is it an acceptable stance, in your opinion, that God created the Big Bang to produce humans on its own and answers prayers once they come?

(Jon Garvey) #68

Hi Richard

Let me avoid the word “acceptable”, as if it were up to me to accept anything. The question is, is it “viable” or “true”? It has, let us say, a few problems. To name but a few:

  • A history of life determined entirely by laws of nature is definitionally pure orthogenesis, which was rejected as the prevailing theory of evolution in the 1920s and 30s in favour of contingently open-ended Neo-darwinism. Apart from anything else, there seems to be an informational problem in producing a specific, complex outcome such as mankind 12 bn years from an initial explosion and the simple laws of physics. Where is the evidence for such a precise algorithm within the Big Bang?

  • If it were true, it would mean nature is entirely deterministic or else it could not produce such a specific outcome. That’s an unpopular view theologically since the demise of deism. Philosophically it is not clear to me how a deterministic natural creation would produce a creature with true free will that can change that deterministic natural world. One could, I suppose, abandon free-will…

  • The above scenario also suggests that material processes alone can produce spiritual beings. One could, I suppose, abandon the idea that man is spiritual as well as physical… otherwise, God must do something new.

  • If nature needs to be so utterly lawlike to produce the goods, then God’s subsequent monkeying about with it in response to prayer seems irresponsible, or at least inconsistent (I’m assuming here that we’re not saying the sole purpose of the Big Bang was to produce humans - we are not God’s only creative goal).

  • That inconsistency reflects more broadly on the character of God: I’m not clear why he should watch the laws unfold “without special supernatural intervention” (Collins, Language of God, p200) for 12 billion years without man, whilst the angels kick their heels, I suppose; and then change a purely transcendent policy for an immanent one in which he responds to his creation’s needs in response to human prayer.

  • Linked to the last point, where did the idea come from (historically, I mean) that it is more fitting for God to work in nature entirely through natural laws established at creation? I don’t find it in history before the Deists, who took the mechanical philosophy of the 17th century to a theological extreme. Even Robert Boyle and Francis Bacon had taken a doctrine of divine providence for granted (even I believe in nature, when they weren’t doing science), and it is artificial, at least, to reduce providence to the inexorable outworking of fixed laws. The first incarnation of the Royal Society spent much time and ink in defending both general and special providence, and Newton later sought to synthesize the two - in doing so, of course, merging any fundamental distinction between God’s treatment of “nature” and “humanity”.

That’s just a few of the problems I see. There seems to be some divergence of view on this within the BioLogos “hierarchy”. Deb Haarsma’s recent article seemed to suggest a view of evolution as divinely lawlike as what you suggest (though elsewhere she invokes chance of some description in addition). Jim Stump’s contribution here seems to suggest hidden guidance in consort with laws, though I don’t really understand what that means in practice. Ted Davis favours at least occasional guidance of nature through the quantum indeterminacy that isn’t causally determined by the Big Bang. And the now apparently disappeared “open theism” strand at BioLogos would have argued for a “freedom” of “Nature” that leaves the future undetermined by God and, therefore, logically unable to produce man by design.

To me, the inadequately answered question is always, “Why should Christians want to believe that nature is independent of God’s immanent choices?”

(George Brooks) #69


I think @Prode was attempting to say that Young Earth Creationists don’t have the problem that Evolutionists have. The point of my post was to show that we all have the same issue, if you are willing to notice that with or without so-called Original Sin (or the so-called Fall), there is still God taking the lives of those who have not yet arrived at the age of moral judgment.

(George Brooks) #70


Oh, goodness. That dog just won’t hunt!

There are 3 basic scenarios… about God and natural laws [my three doors!, but in a different sequence]:

1] The theory that everything God wants and does can be thought out and planned, using only naturally lawful actions, all from the moment of creation. Example: the planet killing asteroid that wiped out the Dinosaus was planned from the first moment of creation.

If we exclude the “real time” nature of God answering prayers, this would be the essence of Deism. Naturally, however, we do not exclude the real time nature of God answering prayers. I.D. proponents usually reject this position, because it would mean everything is lawful, with no way to distinguish between what God does directly or indirectly.

2] The theory that God bridges long runs of natural lawful actions with miraculous (non-lawful) events and actions. Example: using the same planet killing asteroid theme, this scenario would suggest that God could use special creation to create the planet killer (> poof! <)… and sent it on its way to hit Earth.

This bridging activity can be an “over-ride” for what would happen ordinarily… OR, it could be necessary because natural laws are not sufficient to achieve the desired results on their own. This would be the realm that I.D. proponents believe they should be able to detect with scientific method.

3] What was treated as door #1 in Posting 38 above, is a hybrid theory that, frankly, I don’t think makes much sense. It presupposes that God allows a whole category of natural events to happen without having much to do with them. Example: in this case, the planet killer asteroid is something that natural creation sent on its way to Earth, without God intentionally planning it, and him allowing it to hit the Earth. This is an odd theory in that it attempts to characterize God as being fairly busy with other matters (rather than describing God as involved in all matters), and that he shapes his goals and plans a little bit at a time, instead of all at once.

(Phil) #71

I ran across this article today, and while it does not discuss God at all, is sort of interesting in that you could see how God could work in the framework described, and miracles can be accommodated without breaking any rules of quantum physics. I don’t pretend to understand it, just throwing it out there:

(Ryan weatherly) #72

"Suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not " - Jesus

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”- Jesus

Original sin = flesh . The wages of flesh is to die .

Children die , but as I see it , they get a free pass being innocent of intent .
I couldnt hope to match the love God, the creator of all existence , can give them .

(George Brooks) #73


Some children die by starving to death, due to the natural evils of climate and famine.

(Ryan weatherly) #74

Or because we fail to be selfless and let them starve,
If this were a world full of selfless love (agape) who would need ?
" Lust for money is the root of evil "
…or …
Because we are ignorant of our abilities,example:
Insects are equal protein to beef , one can farm flies using rabbit wire mesh , a bucket of water , a lid and turned fruit .
Plantain( the weed ) is found in most yards in North America ,yet few eat it ,likewise - dandelion,lambs quarter,chicory,and various fungi …
People die of thirst laying against a cactus …etc

(George Brooks) #75


Please strike my earlier post. Some children die because of earth-quake caused tsunamis.

(Ryan weatherly) #76

Fair enough buddy …
I could say : "Noah built a boat on dry land ",
but I get what you are saying .

"Suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not “-Jesus
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”- Jesus

What can any of us offer a child that can compare to the gifts God can give them ?
If God takes a child perhaps he is ending their suffering , preventing their corruption at the hands of men .perhaps it’s a kindness in light of what is to come? We assume we know what’s best , that is arrogant considering we are a bunch of apes on a blue marble in the outward spiralling arm of the milky way located in the virgo supercluster…our scope of vision is pretty limited.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #77

Behe wrote similar things (actually quoting Ken Miller verbatim rather than paraphrasing him) in his chapter in this excellent book, which I used as a text for a course several times: See pp. 357-8.

In that place, Behe says explicitly that his version of this idea requires divine guidance (unlike Miller’s version), and that “such a process would amount to Intelligent Design, not Darwinian evolution,” words repeated in the quote you found. Significantly, Behe then says this: “while we might not be able to detect quantum manipulations, we may nevertheless be able to conclude confidently that the final structure was designed.”

I’m pretty familiar with ID and its nuances, but some here may be able to help me out. My understanding of ID is that ID requires scientifically detectable instances of design. I fail to see how the quantum view of guided mutations qualifies as ID under this understanding. I may be missing something, or Behe may be missing something. Help, anyone?

(Dr. Ted Davis) #78


As you may know, for a long time I’ve spoken about the absence of theological clarity alongside great theological diversity within TE. Mostly I did that on the old ASA listserve, which people can search at leisure. BL, however, seeks to spell out a specific, (we believe) orthodox theological approach to evolution that absolutely leaves out someone like Jack Haught, who doesn’t believe that the bodily Resurrection is necessary for understanding Christianity. Jack is a longtime friend, an excellent scholar, and I haven’t hesitated to use some of his work in my classes. In many ways, I admire him and often agree with him. However, I entirely reject his view of the Resurrection. So does everyone else at BL. That shouldn’t be news to any regular reader.

No lack of clarity on this one, I trust.

Speaking for myself (and I suspect for others at BL also, but I will leave them out of this), I find some other theological views held by certain prominent TEs also unacceptable. Process theism is a prime example. I blogged John Polkinghorne some time ago, so let me spell out that John is NOT a process theist, even though he accepts open theism–a view of which I am not fully persuaded, but I’m open to it as a possibility. It comes in various forms, as you probably know. I underscore the distinction between open theism and process thesim, b/c process theism (at least in its classical form) denies divine omnipotence, creatio ex nihilo, and the bodily Resurrection: indeed, you can’t get the latter two (IMO, pace certain process theists who claim otherwise) without the former. At least, not coherently.

Will this do, Jon, for the time being?

(Dr. Ted Davis) #79

To continue this, Jon: We entirely agree about nebulosity under the TE label. I hope the EC label is becoming clearer to you in its implications. The ID label consistently presents itself as even more nebulous on the theological side, of course. Speaking for myself, I never hesitate to say “God” rather than “intelligent designer” or “unembodied mind,” as ID proponents typically say. Would you perhaps agree with me, Jon, that a movement that includes (or included at some point) David Berlinski, Paul Nelson, Michael Behe, and Jonathan Wells is at least as nebulous theologically as TE? This makes it all the more wondrous that ID is so popular among certain groups of Christians–especially conservative Presbyterians, who always appear so eager to chop theological logic with everyone else.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #80

Ever read the book of Job, Prode? I’m not being facetious here. If I understand that profound book (easily the most significant statement about God and evil in the Bible, since that’s what the whole book is about) correctly–and I’ll be the first to grant that maybe I don’t–then God says, the buck stops here: you, Job, will simply never know why I allow suffering. Yet, I (God) am in charge of this world, including the suffering part. Either God did allow Job to be tortured, or he didn’t. Either God is responsible, or he isn’t.

Also note that neither Adam nor Eve nor the Garden of Eden nor the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are mentioned, or even remotely implied, anywhere in the book. When Job keeps asking, why do the righteous suffer, nowhere are we given the answer that there was no suffering prior to human sin. Nowhere. Perhaps this doesn’t settle the whole issue, but IMO it almost certainly says that “no death before the fall” is not a clear biblical teaching.

(Dr. Ted Davis) #81

Finally, Jon, it has long been my view that–from a human perspective, not from God’s perspective–we should not be surprised if the creation seems to contain both determinism and indeterminism. In fact, Ken Miller’s prior (Catholic) belief in the significance of genuine human freedom is closely tied with his acceptance of TE. This is a very interesting subtext of “Finding Darwin’s God.” Likewise, Michael Ruse thinks that God had to use something like evolution to create free beings. Ruse says that, of course, as an agnostic commenting on Christianity.

For me, this is the prior question that I’ve always wanted certain critics of TE from the ID camp to answer: which is more suited to Christian theism, a creation that is entirely determined (in which there is no “randomness” or “chance” from our perspective), or a creation in which some things are simply undetermined (from our perspective). I’ve always wanted to see that answered, before anyone steps in and criticizes proponents of TE for embracing “random” processes or “chance” in evolutionary history.

I think this is absolutely a fair question. Do you?