Hey all, my understanding of Bio’s Logos belief on evolution has been while it is a God ordained process, God hasn’t been actively involved in it. If he were to do so, it would be a considered a miraculous event.
Is this understanding incorrect? I spoke with my first priest in over a decade today, and when I explained my understanding of Bio’s Logos beliefs to ask if it was compatible with Roman Catholicism, they thought it conflicted with God’s Providence. They felt this, because God would have to be more actively involved in the process.
Any thoughts on my understanding of Bios Logos, Gods level of involvement with evolution, and God’s providence?
How about being actively involved, but not detectably involved. That would no longer be a miracle, under the “suspension of the applicability of natural law” definition (defining “miracle” is an issue unto itself).
Well, first, BioLogos is a nework with a faith statement, it’s not trying to propose some kind of theistic evolutionary model of how evolution + God works.
The faith statement says:
We believe that God is directly involved in the lives of people today through acts of redemption, personal transformation, and answers to prayer.
We believe that God typically sustains the world using faithful, consistent processes that humans describe as “natural laws.” Yet we also affirm that God works outside of natural law in supernatural events, including the miracles described in Scripture. In both natural and supernatural ways, God continues to be directly involved in creation and in human history.
We believe that the methods of science are an important and reliable means to investigate and describe the world God has made. In this, we stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom Christian faith and science are mutually hospitable. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Materialism and Scientism that claim science is the sole source of knowledge and truth, that science has debunked God and religion, or that the physical world constitutes the whole of reality.
We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to sustain the existence and functioning of the natural world, and the cosmos continues to declare the glory of God. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Deism that claim the universe is self-sustaining, that God is no longer active in the natural world, or that God is not active in human history.
People in the network accept the scientific model (that of course makes no reference to God) as a good description of reality. They have different ways of reconciling their belief in a personal God who is the source of all creation with the process of evolution, but this is theological speculation, not science. Some people think God actively guided or directed the process to achieve intended kinds of creatures, especially humans. Some people think God sort of front-loaded it all and then superintended the unfolding. Some people have other ways of conceptualizing how God could be actively creating through natural mechanisms and some people do posit some kind of supernatural “intervention” at points.
I personally think God has been actively involved in creation the whole time, even if we can’t express exactly how this happened and even if we have natural explanations. I think God has been relating to and providing for and loving his creation the whole time too, not just sitting back and waiting around for humans to show up, so he had something to do.
Then there’s me, who finds the question of how few mutations might God have needed to achieve humans given a single cell, and how many mutations God could have “gotten away with” before we could detect that to be what’s interesting.
A friend in university claimed to have figured out that to get from one cell to humans God needed only seven interventions. If true that puts a minimum number of interventions, and thus minimal involvement on evolution.
@Christy@Paraleptopecten. Thanks for the replies I don’t have anyone to think this out with. I wasn’t sure if believing God had an active role in evolution would technically make ones belief align more closely to Intelligent Design instead of Theistic Evolution. I suppose that would only be the case if one were to assume there were no creatures with transitory organs for eyes, or famously the bacterial flagellum.
Intelligent Design (with caps) is different than intelligent design (no caps). All the EC people I know affirm the universe was intelligently designed, but the ID endeavor tries to say this design is empirically demonstrable, which they have not really been able to support. There is a whole thread on irreducible complexity right now delving into this if you are interested.
Also, much of the ID endeavor is idealogically motivated against mainstream evolutionary science and scientists, which gets annoying to actual practicing scientists who get tired of being portrayed as some global cabal bent on hoodwinking the world into accepting “Darwinism.”
When I think of intelligent design it’s the belief that without some sort of supernatural influence nothing would be here and that scientific studies prove it. Like if I look at a car, I know it did not just happen by chance but that someone built it. Personally, I don’t evidence of that in the natural world. I don’t need the supernatural to explain gravity, the weather, evolution , how stars are here and so on. For me everything in this natural world either is explained by naturalism or either it’s something that we don’t have an answer for and it’s a gap in knowledge and with that gap sometimes someone says it must have been God and someone else will say it’s just a hole that will probably be filled in with science at some later point.
Take abiogenesis. Non life into life. How did chemical reactions result into the building blocks of life and how did those become cells. We don’t know. There are many potential explanations for parts of it. But ultimately, at the moment it’s a gap.
Some says it requires the supernatural.
Some says one day we will probably have a scientific reason for it and this is the camp in fall into.
The other part of it which Christy brought up is what does it mean for God to be active in creation. Does that mean God had to take away free will. Did God make this dinosaur eat this rodent so that the other rodent would run into a bush and meet another and they had the right genetic pairing that resulted in offspring that wa done step closer to humans? Does it mean that God caused meteors to hit earth wiping out dinosaurs so mammal diversity could explode. Did God cause angiosperms to develop so we would have more food? Did god drive our ancestors out of the canopy into the grass fields? I don’t think God caused any of that.
We don’t see anything to demand supernatural magically influences. So it’s something that is not evidence based but faith based. There is no way to detect God in our lives. We can have feelings that we say are convictions of the Holy Spirit. But they could just be feelings. But by faith, I believe the Holy Spirit is active. Think of all the ways you believe God is active in your life. All the comfort and peace you feel knowing God is there. You can’t prove any of it, but you’re confident it’s real and I think in that same way that can’t be tested, the Holy Spirit has been loving everything. I think insects somehow feels the love of God just like we do.
I believe God created things to naturally evolve. Creating the atom with the laws of nature knowing it would develop to form the universe and spawn life. But I also believe God interacts but not interferes with us
Welcome to posting on the forum, @Vansdad. It is good to have you here and have your input. We look forward to gettting to know you better as we earn your trust. It is a little difficult to put yourself out there at first, and even now it is a little hard to take criticism, but it is a good exercise in humility when you can trade a wrong impression you had with something true that is true. What a deal!
Good question. And obviously when you read Romans 1:19-20 in light of the rest of Romans, most do not. It takes eyes that see and a willing spirit. In Paul’s day, there were few atheists, no evolutionists, but lots of pagans who attributed creation to their pantheon of gods.
I think we can see God’s work in all creation, evolution or not, biology or astronomy or geology, if we have a willing spirit. It does not require proof of an observable divine intervention to see it. If it does, we are all in trouble, since I know of none. Any nominations for one? That said, I do not rule out that God may well have had to intervene in a few critical instances get us “over the hump” to where we are now, perhaps in consciousness, abiogenesis, etc. and of course is the force behind creation in totality. Those things we look to as chance, I see God’s providence.
If God is the artist in nature, because we can analyze the resultant brushstrokes and their sequential development scientifically does not mean God is removed from the picture. (The paintbrush is in another realm that we are not privy to because we have no divinometer™.)
God’s providential painting technique is not something we can detect, but we do have factual evidence of his interventional M.O. into his children’s lives. Maggie’s testimony is choice and reprised here with several others, so I think we can extrapolate retrospectively and trust in his sovereign hand in evolution, even though it is not directly discoverable.
Thanks Dale, that makes sense. I’m starting to see how Gods Providence is still in play here. Prior to this step in my journey I was considering Judaism. I read a dozen or so books and attended a Shabbat service. I found that the service which was 3 hours long was hard to reconcile with what I read and was told by the Rabbi what many Jews believe which seemed more to align more with Buddhism than monotheism like the service implied.
That prior experience led me to a priest to see if I’m Catholic. My concern is around how much they try to align with a central authority and if that would be a roadblock to thoughtful theology. That concern seemed validated when the priest questioned Gods providence in the role of evolution. I guess at the end of the day I’m not a priest so I can believe whatever I want while still considering myself a Catholic.
I don’t think there is single answer to the question and there have been a variety of answers with more of less direct or indirect influence. Changes have happened over long epochs and some argue that such natural evolving processes go on all over the universe and that something like us as thinking creatures would have arisen somewhere, but just so happened that is here and we are the products of a probably outcome. God just need to patiently wait for the initial laws of nature take their course.
Others (notably Wolhart Pannenberg and Piere Teihard de Chardin) argued for a kind of shepherding “up ahead” influence of the Spirit that may have led certain genetic changes in response to conditions. We can envisage a special influence alongside the natural processes of change and survival of what was most beneficial to organisms. Or maybe a more direct influence on specific gene changes.
In the end we cant know how ‘involved’ God is in evolution, in the same way we cant know how involved He is in the laws of physics. I find it interesting that quantum mechanics, which appears to describes the basis upon which physical reality exists, seems to be based on probabilities. Perhaps God ensures those probabilities fall the right way? Biological processes such as photosynthesis are based on quantum mechanics.
Personally I tend to think He has designed this universe such that it works as it does, and that life would develop, ultimately leading to us, His image bearers. Even Dawkins has said the fine-tuning of the universe is a start of a decent argument for God, though sadly he would rather opt for the unevidenced multiverse theory.
The question is actually rather similar to questions about free will and predestination. The Bible identifies God as being at work through “natural” processes as well as miracles but does not spell out the mechanism.
ID and YEC claims often assert that “natural” processes imply that God isn’t involved, e.g. “methodological naturalism implies philosophical naturalism”. Bad arguments for atheism often invoke the same error.
A pastor I knew who had a science degree with his theological degree once suggested that God dealt with evolution the way a valley “deals with” a river: the valley’s shape doesn’t determine the river’s path, but it does constrain it – and in fact sometimes a valley will narrow down to where the river has to flow through a specific spot before wandering again. He contended that the “river” of evolution was constrained to reach a point where humans showed up, not necessarily with a specific DNA set but with the general characteristics including our senses, bilateral symmetry with digits for manipulating things, and intellect.
It’s kind of mystical and doesn’t hold up if you push the analogy, but it was definitely interesting.
A DESIGNER THAT SETS THE RULE FOR EVOLUTION IS FOREVER involved in an active way as in upholding that rule. Once we fathom that evolution is not without purpose but its purpose is to secure the propagation of life one looses ones aversion to the process. it is the purpose of all of our existence, to propagate that what is God, life, e.g. the ability to move matter or energy at will.