Does God Guide Evolution?

(David Randall) #142

Sudden was your choice of words, not mine, but I accept it. It is at least extremely rapid in terms of normal evolutionary processes. With regard to the splitting of lines, herein is the problem. We know that at some point a “line” exists, and at some short time later two “lines” have appeared. But the time line indicates a much greater degree of differentiation than we would expect, naturally speaking. Also in the great majority of cases where a “split” is postulated to have taken place, we have little or no fossil evidence of the transitions that would be expected while the split is taking place. The bottom line is that biological history is punctuated by relatively short periods during which big changes take place, and while fossils exist for the “before” and “after” history, it is very scant with regard to the period in which the big changes are happening.


First, Darwin’s theory never incorporated genetics so it isn’t Darwinian evolution anymore. The current theory is just the theory of evolution or the Modern Synthesis.

Second, the theory does not state that mutations must be random. The theory states that the observations are consistent with random mutations with respect to fitness, and they are. We see the accumulation of neutral mutations in genomes which is consistent with random mutations. In living populations we see that the chances of a specific mutation are not increased simply because the organism needs that mutation in a given environment. There isn’t some ideological need for mutations to be random. It just so happens that the evidence is consistent with random mutations.

It is also important that science is making a methodological or statistical claim when it comes to random mutations. What science is saying is that the observations are consistent with random mutations. Science does not make a metaphysical claim that there is nothing guiding mutations, only that the observations are not consistent with some type of guidance.


What is that expectation based on? I see no reason why we would have anything close to a complete fossil collection after searching such a tiny, tiny percentage of the Earth for fossils. I also see no reason why we would expect numerous fossil examples for every single tiny morphological change to have made it to modern times in sufficient number as to have been found by this time in history. The mistake you seem to be making is thinking our fossil collections are a complete record of the species that have existed.

(Jon Garvey) #145

David, I agree totally with the limitations of free will under the sovereignty of God, embracing the reformed and Augustinian tradition. That said, I think there are many who say that human free will must be totally unrestricted, or mean nothing. A smaller, but significant, number say that nature must have such freedom, or God be a mere “puppetmaster.” Given the non-rationality of nature, they seem to mean “chance” rather than liberty, in fact… when the problem is one of coherence more than anything else.

In my book the limiting case is Jesus, who as the most free human being, and the eternal Son as well, always did the will of his Father.

(George Brooks) #146


Oyyy… how my words flew over your head.

  1. When I said the large mammals “suddenly appear” … I am putting it in the terms that you would use. I myself correct the sentence soon thereafter [see (3) below].

  2. You say “sudden appearance of mammals” and I said “sudden appearance of large mammals”. You got your hand slapped … I did not. Because I knew that mammals existed as very small animals during the age of the dinosaurs.

  3. I corrected my use of your presumed terminology “sudden appearance” by saying that the appearance is not so sudden if it is always preceded by the emergence of smaller versions of these “large mammals”.

As for your protests about not being a YEC, I hardly think it matters if you are going to reject evolution: i.e., you write “I believe the data do not support evolution”.

Since the same natural laws the govern testing the Earth to be 4+ billion years old are the ones that govern the progress of evolution, I don’t believe you get to cherry pick what is or is not correct.

(George Brooks) #147


Examine the case of the whale… your conclusion is wrong.

Examine the case of Fish to Tetrapod… your conclusion is wrong.

Examine the case of Dinosaur to Bird… your conclusion is wrong.

And the longer archaeologists are at work, the “wronger” you become.

(Christy Hemphill) #148

TE isn’t a competing scientific theory. It’s a theological truth claim. Who said otherwise? Evolution is the scientific theory. There is no scientific difference between naturalistic evolution and theistic evolution (which is why some people who believe God created via evolutionary processes object to the term ‘theistic evolution’)

(Richard Wright) #149

Hi Jon,

That was said tongue-in-cheek.


How about if God controls the process by directing every change, no matter how tiny, to reach the outcome that was established before the universe was created? It would be like God creating a bridge over the Grand Canyon using nothing but toothpicks (No glue). He would carefully place each toothpick in exactly the correct location so the bridge would hold together as it was being built until it reached the other side. Certainly God in His infinite wisdom would be able to do this. And while you could admire the bridge and say it was certainly designed by an intelligent being there would be no indication in the construction itself that proves that. You might strive mightily to prove an ID was involved and fail. And yet I could point to a sign that says “Created by God” and take that to be all the proof I needed.

If you want to be convinced by sacred Scripture just lookup Proverbs 16:33 which says this is what God actually does.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #151

Sudden was @gbrooks9’s choice of words, not mine, and he used it to refer to the way that

…emphasis on “large.” And large mammals did appear within a matter of a few tens of millions of years after the demise of the dinosaurs, which, though “sudden” in the grand scheme of a billion years of life on earth, is still quite a long time. Within the timeline of multiple tens of millions of years, there’s actually plenty of time for mammal lines that had already greatly diversified in the time prior to the K-T extinction event to grow significantly larger.


That starts moving into possibly problematic moral issues. Children are born with de novo mutations for bad and even lethal genetic diseases like hemophilia. The implication of God personally guiding every mutation is that God purposefully gave them this disease. I certainly don’t want to turn this interesting thread into a “God is evil” moral debate, but the moral issues are certainly there.

(George Brooks) #153


But that would be consistent with Romans 9. You might not like it… I might not like it… but it might very well be true.

Remember, God specifically tells us he wipes out innocents throughout Egypt, by sending the plague against the first born (which would include first born maids, first born toddlers of maids and so on!).

And even before that God wipes out a whole planet full of innocents… first born victims of abuse… first born toddlers of victims of abuse …

(And about Sodom and Gomorrah? - - are we certain that there were no victims of abuse and toddlers of victims of abuse in those towns?)

Hey…God is telling us, word for word, that he is not your Sunday School Teacher’s kind of God.

(Jon Garvey) #154

Nah - if you do apologetics with yer tongue in yer cheek, nobody can understand you! :grin:


That’s fine. I was merely mentioning that there are moral implications along with the biological ones.

(George Brooks) #156


So, if you are convinced that the Bible presents God as quite grim … how would you couch your caveat to someone who thinks God is a Disney character?


I think you did a fine job in your previous post.

(GJDS) #158

I agree that an evolution view (in general) poses many issues - if it is nature (atheistic) than it seems wasteful and pointless, and if TE it seems worse, as it would appear a god designed something for maximum suffering.

As theists, we take a different view that does not rely on any version of evolution. We claim man was given a choice that, if taken, would have removed suffering, but if not, would leave him to this fate. This discussion would take us away from the topic, but I think it is worth noting that claiming a god guides such a process as this inadequate theory of evolution, is to me, reprehensible.

(George Brooks) #159

Well, I suppose reasonable people can disagree.

But we already have God specifically telling us that he has intentionally killed virtual innocents… all to prove a point:

the global flood kills a whole planet of humans, which unavoidably would include victims of abuse, and the infant and toddler children of these victims.

After the blood bath, God says no more. Instead, in Exodus, he reduces the bloodshed considerably by sending the 10th plague on the Egyptians, killing untold hundreds of first born who have nothing to do with the dispute between pharaoh and Moses: these too would include victims of abuse and the infant and toddler children of these victims.

Romans 9 explains that God is not your Uncle Teddy with great wedding jokes.

If Creationists are “ok” with the Flood and with the 10th plague, they have pretty much bought into the whole system: in for a penny, in for a pound!

(Merrill Edmonds) #160

Ephesians 3:20 in “The Message” states: “God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

Human freedom must have been God’s greatest challenge. Humans are very good at manipulating other animals, including humans, into doing what they want them to do. Hitler was able to convince a great nation to inflict unspeakable acts of terror on millions of men, women and children. We all can be manipulated by others. What works for one person will differ for another, but we all have our weaknesses. It should be incredibly easy then for an all-powerful and omniscient God who intimately knows our individual weaknesses to manipulate us into doing anything he wishes.

To have genuine free will humans would have to live in an environment free from God’s direct manipulation. What better way to create such an environment than to provide the initial ‘big bang’ with enough robustness that it was capable of gradually developing into the world we now see without his direct intervention thereafter. He still remains actively involved having created man in his image (breathing a spirit into the hominids that had evolved), with the incarnation of Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit working within us.

For anyone interested, these thoughts are further explored in my book “Are We Going to be Okay? Reconciling my faith in Christ with science.”

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #161

Evolution is not a theory. Evolution is a natural process, concerning which there are several theories concerning how it works. There may be no scientific difference between naturalistic evolution and theistic evolution, and there may be.

I expect that those who say that evolution is naturalistic say that it has no meaning or purpose and are prepared to explain why. Those who say that it is theistic say that it does have meaning and purpose, and are prepared to explain why.

That is the difference and since I consider ideas, meaning, and purpose unimportant, I consider this difference important.