Dr. Loren Haarsma on God-Guided Evolution!

I have posted the link to Loren Haarsma ](https://biologos.org/people/loren-haarsma) article published just last year (April 16, 2019).

[[NOTE: I had originally thought this article was published last week! - - the pandemic must have me rattled!]]

While the article is quite brief, I have to say it’s about as fine a writing on my favorite topic as I have ever seen at BioLogos! What is my favorite topic? Well, E.G.G., of course! Sometime way back in the BioLogos archive is the first appearance of this term (EGG) by someone (not me): “Evolution: God-Guided”. Maybe we can locate that one day.

But in the meantime, I have to celebrate Dr. H’s last paragraphs!:

Misunderstanding 3.
God didn’t need to micromanage evolution…

"Some people would interpret the sentence “God-guided evolution” to mean something like the following. *“Evolution isn’t limited to making small-scale changes. And of course God is in charge all the time so evolution never happens “on its own.”

Yes, indeed! I hear this all the time. Some people won’t even allow a sentence that says “God used Evolution to create Earth’s living creatures.” So the thinking goes: if God used Evolution, then it isn’t evolution! Ugh.

Dr. H continues at a full gallop! with the next common misunderstanding:
"[Since] … evolution had the potential to go down many possible paths … God acted from time to time to select, or to nudge evolution down particular paths to produce particular species and ecosystems.”

He counters immediately, but diplomatically!

“The challenge with this misunderstanding is that it might be too restrictive. Some evolutionary creationists hold this view, and I think it’s a fine view. I’m OK with the science and I’m OK with the theology. But it’s not the only version of evolutionary creation.”

His explanation - - right on point!:
“Theologically, I believe that God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Scientifically, I describe rainfall in terms of evaporation and condensation and warm fronts and colds fronts. I don’t think God needs to “nudge” the clouds to make it happen the way God wants (although of course God could do so). Theologically, I believe that God makes trees grow. Scientifically, I would describe trees growing through photosynthesis and transpiration and lots of other chemical processes. I don’t think God needs to nudge the molecules in order to make each tree grow (although of course God could do so).”

Perfect wording!

I affirm evolutionary creationists who believe that God nudged evolution down particular paths. But I also affirm an evolutionary creationist who might say something like the following. “Theologically, I believe that God created every species, including humans. Scientifically, we describe how it happened in terms of evolutionary mechanisms…"

He then warns:

“If I said “God-guided evolution,” some people would misunderstanding me as ruling out this second version of evolutionary creation.”

Which leaves me with just one quick question for the esteemed Dr. H! When he writes:

"[There are] … common and conflicting ways to interpret the phrase “God-guided evolution.” It’s not surprising that they’re common. God’s providence and guidance of the natural world is a complicated theological topic. Evolution is a complicated scientific theory. But none of them are what I mean. So while I can affirm that “God-guided evolution,” I rarely say it. I’ll instead choose other phrases – probably a lot longer and less pithy, but harder to misunderstand."

My question is: what is the phrase he prefers that is harder to understand! I think I would very much benefit from such a phrase!!!

[LINK TO RECENT ARTICLE]

TYPO: I have corrected the pronoun error… sorry about the oversight, Dr. LH!

It’s 2020, George! I was super confused reading that. Ha! I’m not sure how active @LorenHaarsma has been here in the past, but he may have some time to address your questions once school is out of session!

1 Like

@HRankin

So… it WAS published in 2020… can we correct the date on that article?

I must have Early Onset Old-Timers… I actually pasted that date right in…
and I STILL read it like it was 2020!!!

Don’t get old!

No, I’m saying it’s not a new article, it was published in 2019!

Oh dear… I will correct my article then …

1 Like

I enjoy your new portrait, @gbrooks9. Reminds me of this from Home Improvement!
Keep well and safe.
image

5 Likes

@Randy

I loved that guy! I think the actors did too!

image

Earl John Hindman (October 20, 1942 – December 29, 2003) was an American film and television actor, best known for his role as the kindly unseen neighbor Wilson W. Wilson, Jr. on the television sitcom Home Improvement (1991–99).

Born: October 20, 1942, Bisbee, Arizona
Died: December 29, 2003, Stamford
Age 61
TV show: Home Improvement, Ryan’s Hope

I’m already older than he was when he died!!!

1 Like

The issue is not whether God guides evolution or not. The question is how God guides evolution? John 1:3 (NIV2011)
3 Through Him (the Logos, Jesus Christ) all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

But humans were not made by the Selfish Gene as Dawkins says., but by ecological selection, which is not selfish.

@Relates

It depends on HOW you mean that sentence.

I would mean that God governs evolution by means of natural laws, organized by God’s providence to accomplish his ends.

In other words, apart from grounding being, He does nothing. Why would He have to?

@Klax

I assume you ask this of me?

God does one-off miracles.
God answers prayers in real live time.

I pitch no deism.

It’s to the thread George. And those are not answers to my question. And they are magical claims.

[And yes, He incarnates of course, otherwise there’d be no warrant for talking about Him at all.]

@klax

That wasn’t my question. My question was whether you were looking for a response from me, or from someone else’s posting (in the thread).

So… Let’s assume you wanted MY response.

I find your response to be bizarre. What else do we expect of deity? If he is in charge of nothing but chemical reactions, then he is a deity in DEIST garb.

If you are not a Christian, then your question is irrelevant to me.
If you ARE a Christian, what exactly do you wish for your deity to be doing if not operating the universe by means of a combination of natural and super-natural processes?

It’s a thread response George. Anyone can respond.

Why do you question that I’m Christian? And why is my answer irrelevant if I’m not? What does it have to do with the question? You can only answer according to faith to Christian questions?

Bizarre indeed.

It’s my fault for asking

which evoked your

ding

dong

I should have said

from the get go, and further that the Holy Spirit works as advertised (and no, I don’t mean any of the normal, ordinary human ecstatic behaviour Paul included).

See? I’m no deist. But for incarnation, as I always say, except above from the get go, we have no warrant for God whatsoever. Incarnation validates the personal and corporate work of the Holy Spirit after the Ascension (and before incarnation in the evolution of the God of the TaNaKh). So doubly, I’m no deist. I accept those claims. Because I want them to be true and they can be in the spaces in reality.

Magical claims about material reality beyond them and the eternal grounding of infinite being, magical claims of healing, prophecy, God answering prayer by suspending the natural laws that emerge in being by chance, and necessity above all, have no basis in reality. Great poetry mind. Great hymn material. All for us to yearn if only it were so, but cannot be of course. In the material world. Except in us. By us. In striving for the impossible material dream of equality of outcome in universal social justice. That can only obtain in Heaven after all.

What I exactly wish for my deity to be doing is existing despite the universe operating in the eternal material cosmos as if He didn’t. Without a trace except for the claim of the earliest Church. Because if He does then all will be well in the transcendent. All our brief, meaningless suffering will have been mere conception.

@Klax

Your thoughts are just too “far out” for me. Just pretend you never saw this thread.

The only question left for me can’t be answered by you… and that is what phrase does @LorenHaarsma prefer more than God-Guided Evolution?

If I could read the article, I’d know.

@Klax

Here is the link to the article:

Thanks George, I’ve been trying that. It doesn’t work. Ah, had to stop a script on it. Hmm, still won’t work. Read it before.

@klax,

It works fine for me … your device isn’t configured correctly.

Here is the text from the article:

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Three Misunderstandings About God-Guided Evolution

Loren HaarsmaBy Loren Haarsma

Published on April 16, 2019 < Published last year!

When I talk about evolutionary creation I am sometimes asked, “Why not just say, ‘God-guided evolution’?” I hesitate to use that phrase because I know, from experience, that if I did say “God guides evolution” many in my audience would misunderstand me.

Let’s look at three of the most common misunderstandings:

  1. Evolution is not limited to small-scale changes.

Many people would interpret the phrase “God-guided evolution” to mean something like the following. “Evolution is limited to making small-scale changes in species. For really big changes – like making new life forms or increasing complexity – God has to do something more than ordinary evolution. Instead of doing big miracles all at once, God might do a series of guided mutations over time which add up to something new and extremely improbable without God’s guidance.”

The challenge with this misunderstanding is that science does not support it– evolution is not limited to making small-scale changes1 . I believe that God designed the laws of nature so that biological evolution could, through its ordinary operation, bring about new life forms and increases in complexity. As a Christian, I believe that God could cause a series of guided mutations whenever God wanted to. As a scientist, however, I believe that God didn’t need to do so in order to create the rich diversity of complex life we see in the world today.

  1. God is never absent in the evolutionary process.

Some people would interpret the phrase “God-guided evolution” to mean something similar to: “OK, perhaps evolution isn’t limited to making small-scale changes. But evolution left on its own would mean God wasn’t really doing anything.”

This misunderstanding is one that I call “episodic deism.” I think this is poor theology because it says that God usually lets nature run “on its own” except when God intervenes to push it in certain directions– but I don’t think that nature ever runs “on its own.” The Bible repeatedly affirms that when things happen in the natural world, God is still doing it. The sun goes down; God brings darkness. The beasts of the forest prowl; God gives them their food. Birds of the air eat seeds and insects and worms, and they receive their food from God (Psalm 104:19-21, Matthew 6:26). When things are happening in the natural world the way they always happen, in ways we can describe scientifically, God is just as much in charge as when God performs a miracle.

  1. God didn’t need to micromanage evolution to get what God wanted.

Misunderstanding #3: Some people would interpret the sentence “God-guided evolution” to mean something like the following. “Evolution isn’t limited to making small-scale changes. And of course God is in charge all the time so evolution never happens “on its own.” But evolution had the potential to go down many possible paths. So God acted from time to time to select, or to nudge evolution down particular paths to produce particular species and ecosystems.”

The challenge with this misunderstanding is that it might be too restrictive. Some evolutionary creationists hold this view, and I think it’s a fine view. I’m OK with the science and I’m OK with the theology. But it’s not the only version of evolutionary creation.

Theologically, I believe that God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Scientifically, I describe rainfall in terms of evaporation and condensation and warm fronts and colds fronts. I don’t think God needs to “nudge” the clouds to make it happen the way God wants (although of course God could do so). Theologically, I believe that God makes trees grow. Scientifically, I would describe trees growing through photosynthesis and transpiration and lots of other chemical processes. I don’t think God needs to nudge the molecules in order to make each tree grow (although of course God could do so).

I affirm evolutionary creationists who believe that God nudged evolution down particular paths. But I also affirm an evolutionary creationist who might say something like the following. “Theologically, I believe that God created every species, including humans. Scientifically, we describe how it happened in terms of evolutionary mechanisms. I don’t think God needed to nudge it down particular paths in order to produce what God intended.”

If I said “God-guided evolution,” some people would misunderstanding me as ruling out this second version of evolutionary creation.

Those are three common and conflicting ways to interpret the phrase “God-guided evolution.” It’s not surprising that they’re common. God’s providence and guidance of the natural world is a complicated theological topic. Evolution is a complicated scientific theory. But none of them are what I mean. So while I can affirm that “God-guided evolution,” I rarely say it. I’ll instead choose other phrases – probably a lot longer and less pithy, but harder to misunderstand.

Here is the issue, @gbrooks9 and @Klax. Is it good science to say that an asteroid, along with other factors caused an ice age which made the dinosaurs go extinct and opened the way for mammals including humans to become the dominant animal form on earth? or was that just a meaningless accident?

The science of evolution as taught in the textbooks so not teach natural selection right. It does not say that ecology and climate change in the form of the asteroid and a cold age slowly destroyed the habitat of the dinosaurs and created new ecological niches favorable to mammals and birds and different plants and trees.

Is it important that we understand evolution correctly? Yes, because we are going through a time of climate change right now, but it is not one planned by God, but initiated by humans If we mess up God’s Creation by our pollution, then we are responsible to history and God.

God guided evolution through ecology to create humans and all of the other plants and animals that have populated the earth. Today we have come of age as God’s viceroys and it is on us to do what is right. With rights and abilities come responsibilities and judgement.

God makes the universe work as it should. We must do our part in making humanity act as it should.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.