How much did God affect evolution?


#1

If we accept that evolution is probably a given fact that is a reliable explantion of the world and the way it is, and also want to accept divine involvment in it,so that it is “creation” with purpose and not just random events, how do we see God’s involvment.
There seem to be two alternatives

  1. A “hands off” where God just allows evolution to take its course, knowing it will end up wiht the posibilitiy of us (communicable beings).
  2. A “directive” view where God is in charge of all or some of the evolutionary changes.

Do you have prefered way of seeing divine involvement?


#2

Directive where there is no way to know, this side of heaven, if God directed all or just some of the changes. Given what we know of God’s providential care I lean toward the all side.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #3

One position that many around here have would be that because God is constantly upholding the laws of nature, then he is actively involved in creation and is therefore constantly creating by upholding the laws that he made. So even with any natural explanation (i.e. some laws of natures or other natural mechanisms) God is never not involved in a continuing creation. There is never a point therefore where he is ‘hands off’ as most people might think of that position being (i.e. like a deist position).

I think that this thought provoking essay from @Sy_Garte regarding God’s role in an evolutionary process could provide some ideas for thinking this through as well:

I will also add I had a thought while scanning through recent publications the other day and upon stumbling across this paper:

Most Christians will give God credit for designing and fine-tuning the laws of Physics, yet the ‘laws’ (or patterns/mechanisms since Biology may not really have ‘laws’ like Physics) that govern the Biological world are woefully inadequate to do much of anything according to most Christians. So here is an interesting tradeoff that exists between thermodynamic favorability (I haven’t read the paper so presumably this could be related to the lowest entropic configurations) vs. being able to perform metabolic tasks- both of which would be based upon the laws of nature that God would be upholding in the Christian view. So that could be one way God is actively directing evolution.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #4

Thanks for sharing Sy’s article! I wonder what others like @T_aquaticus think of it?


(Dominik Kowalski) #5

I prefer the view of Simon Conway Morris who opposed Jay Gould for his view that if life on earth would develop again through evolution, humans wouldn´t evolve again, since we´re merely a product by chance. Conway Morris argues that human evolving would´ve been inevitable (He´s working on providing informations to the many known cases of evolutionary convergence). I prefer this view over any other model that I´ve read and see God as setting up the parameters for the Homo Sapiens to show up.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #6

I’m not dogmatic, but an imminent God, who involves himself with his creations seems more biblically consistent. This idea is especially present in Psalm 104.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #7

Do you think this would be true as in the case of an early endosymbiosis event? I think such an event is quite unlikely and not guaranteed. After all, bacteria are quite ‘evolved’ yet only once did we see an endosymbiosis event in some population. A short article on the main BL site to get some caught up to speed with Morris vs. Gould’s ideas:


(Dominik Kowalski) #8

I´m not in any kind involved in this field and have to rely on my little understanding of this articles (microbiology was always my nemesis), but I would expect some kind of endosymbiosis occuring under the right circumstances. According to the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft the first eukaryotes likely evolved 1,5 billion years ago ( https://www.mpg.de/9256248/eukaryotes-evolution ), while the first single cells are at least 2,7 billion years old (on german: https://www.spektrum.de/magazin/die-ersten-zellen-echt-oder-vorgetaeuscht/828948). So it would be pretty shocking if we could make a prediction yet. But I´m no evolutionary biologist, so I can´t tell how far they´re able to skip time in the labour. But it seems to my amateur eyes that the biology once again refuses to follow specific rules and it rather leans to s side than completely subscribing to it. Any qualified person here, who can tell me when do we expect reliable data on that?


#9

That’s a good question. Let’s take a look at Sy Garte’s article.

I don’t want to nitpick too much, but Sy gets it wrong right off the bat:

The theory of evolution states that large genetic changes can occur in one fell swoop, and that even the smallest genetic changes can cause large changes in phenotype. For example, there can be large recombination events that move a lot of genes and large insertions and deletions. Therefore, that first paragraphy is already painting a false picture of the theory of evolution, and then introduces mechanisms that are already a part of the theory as reasons why the theory is wrong.

The vast majority of cases, epigenetic markers are not inherited across generations. There are a limited number of cases where transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is observed (some plantes and nematodes), but it isn’t seen in mammals or in primates specifically. In humans, nearly all epigenetic markers are removed in sperm and egg cells, and this makes a lot of sense from a developmental standpoint. Epigenetics is heavily involved in cell differentiation and tissue formation, so development wouldn’t work if a single celled zygote already has the epigenetic markers for being a liver or muscle cell.

So what determines the mattern of epigenetic markers in humans and other mammals (and probably most vertebrates)? DNA sequence. The specificity of DNA methylation is determined by the DNA sequence in promoter and transcription start sites, the DNA sequence of the genes that code for methylases, and the DNA sequence of promoters upstream of methylases. In order to change epigenetic markers in a specific environment you have to change the underlying DNA sequence.

What Sy doesn’t reveal is that these same mechanisms also produce neutral and detrimental mutations. They are random with respect to fitness.

These are still well within the theory of evolution. Both host and endosymbiont have random mutations and selection which can favor symbiosis. Large scale rearrangements of DNA can be detrimental, neutral, or beneficial which makes them random with respect to fitness. They are still random mutations being filtered through selection.

This is straight up natural selection. Mutations that cause animals to beneficially change their environment are selected for.

This is a shift in the burden of proof. There needs to be positive evidence for teleology before it can be considered. It isn’t enough to say “it hasn’t been disproved”.

The theological implications of EES are the same as the standard theory for two reasons. First, EES is well within the standard theory of evolution. Second, they are still natural mechanisms that happen spontaneously and well within the known laws of physics.

I don’t see how shifting the focus to how the environment changes to be any different than focusing on the mechanisms in cell biology. All of them are natural and spontaneous.

Overall, the article seems to be more about flash than substance, which is what EES is all about. The biology described still boils down to random mutations and selection. Shifting the focus from cellular mechanisms the geologic mechanisms doesn’t really change the basic question.


(Chris) #10

A third alternative;
God created the various kinds with the capacity to adapt (evolve) to a variety of changing environments.


(Chris) #11

What does EES mean?


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #12

Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.


(Chris) #13

I thought so but wasn’t sure. How does EES differ from NDMS?


#14

EES is the modern theory of evolution. All of the mechanisms and ideas in EES are already a part of the modern theory and consistent with how the theory has been used for the last few decades.


(George Brooks) #15

Let us NOT forget how specific God is in the YEC scenario: God has to "hand-make"each genome… and absolutely nothing is left to chance.

I see no pressing reason to reject tjis kind of specific design just because God is using evolution to make his creatures.


#16

I tend to look at the opposite end of the spectrum where we require objective and independent evidence to accept what is true (with a little “t” that is tentative). Claims lacking evidence are put in the “not accepted yet” bin.


(George Brooks) #17

As ive pointed out already… G.A. isnt meant to convince atheists of anything. It is designed to make an impression on YECs!


(Mark D.) #18

How much or in what manner did God affect evolution?

Short answer: no one knows.

Longer answer: some choose to believe He did and some speculate while others claim certainty regarding the manner of the tinkering.

Best answer: while some find theological justification for their speculation, it would probably be a best to concede -as most here do- that science will never verify the nature of God’s involvement.


#19

I was thinking about general worldviews and not about specific views on origins or apologetics, but thanks for the clarification.


(Larry Bunce) #20

There seems to be plenty of room in evolutionary theory for God to have an active part. Each truly beneficial mutation could be considered to be God’s handiwork. God could be seen as determining that events with extremely small likelihood of happening would actually take place. Finding God in the development of life is not a part of science, nor does it constitute a rational proof of God, but given a belief in God to begin with, science makes one appreciate God’s wonders all the more.