New Article: Evolutionary Creation is for Everyone

In this new piece from @marusso, he purports that no matter what branch of Christianity you are from, there is room in your theology for evolution!

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This is good!. I am curious…can EC then be a unifier, too?

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This is what I don’t understand about the biological process of evolution: If the “goal” of the process, so to speak, is to be biologically successful, then why would evolution ever proceed past the bacterial stage? Bacteria live in every environment, from underground rock to the clouds in the atmosphere. What is the impetus for change, for new species, genus, families and orders and etc.? When bacteria want to reproduce, they just divide, and viola, there are two, four and millions more in relative blink of an eye. What on earth is the advantage of sexual reproduction? How can anything more complex than a bacteria be considered more successful at passing on its genetic data? If survival of the fittest is the rule of the game, then bacteria won the game 3.5 billion years ago.

For that matter, of what use is a large brain and intelligence in survival? There are many more species of “dumb” beetles with tiny ganglia than the “smarter” reptiles, mammals and birds with big brains, and they are much better at survival than mammals. Given the state of our planet, I think it demonstrable that intelligence is more of a liability than an asset, and more of a detriment than a benefit.

That evolution has occurred is unmistakable, in the fossil record and in our shared traits, but I find it hard to comprehend natural selection as the engine of evolution, and as the reason we humans exist. I believe it can only be something else–supernatural selection. Supernatural selection drives evolution against the forces of natural selection and that is why it wasn’t “game over” 3.5 billion years ago. Supernatural selection is how we human got here, for His purpose, in His image.

In my opinion, it’s not Evolution vs Intelligent Design. Rather, Evolution is Intelligent Design.

Make sense?

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Sure! The section about Protestantism in the article describes this pretty well, I thought. I definitely agree with you, although since ID is generally regarded as an idea contrary to evolution, I would use that term differently or use a different term. (To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize? ID Theory vs. BioLogos ) Reading what we have of the evolutionary story reveals some sort of purpose, full of creativity and the passing on of material for life. This is definitely one of the cognitive hangups, having a new term to define our ideas and experiences. It’s a big step to go from “For God, all things are possible except evolution,” to “God is creating life by using evolution.”

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I thought the same! Lowercase, yes, the Christian intelligent designer we call God! But ID as a movement is the movement that promote “proving” God’s existence through science, and that’s not exactly what is happening here.

Excellent question. What do you think?

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I think I understand what you are saying. I think it depends on which level of meaning you are talking about. The question,

can be answered on different levels. On the scientific level, one possible answer would be that there is greater chance of “success” (i.e., gene preservation and inheritance) beyond the bacterial stage. This is especially true from a competition stand point. But there is also another level on which this question can be answered, the theological level. From this level we could say that bacteria are not capable of bearing the image of God as well as or in the same way that humans can and do. Another possible theological answer would be that through evolution God is unfolding a grand and beautiful drama. Without the development of new species that drama would not be told.

Are you familiar with the works of John Haught or Celia Deane-Drummond? Both have much to say in response to your very good questions.

It’s about probability space, niches, degrees of freedom, drunkard’s walks. As Dr. Malcolm said, "Life, Uh, Finds a Way". If something can happen, it will. It has to. And God creates by instantiating the prevenient laws of physics, no intervention apart from incarnations and ineffably by the Spirit, Deep calling to deep, occur. God creates as if He didn’t, as if He weren’t.

I am not familiar with the works you mention, but I will certainly look them up.

I’m not sure level of meaning I’m talking about. It just seems baffling to me that each rung of the evolutionary ladder is seemingly less fit for survival than all the rungs below it. Cockroaches will still be thriving on earth when/if mammals are wiped clean by any number of possible catastrophes, and bacteria will still be here when cockroaches are gone.

There is something more going on than natural selection. Some force, some energy that drives evolution in the direction it has taken. And food for thought: Although most of us Christians see Jesus as our Savior, I am struck how at least some of the Disciples also attributed another role to the Lord:

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being. John 1:3
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. John 1:10
Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Cor 8:6
(Emphasis mine)

John and Paul are certainly trying to tell us something. They didn’t know about evolution, but they knew Jesus. I think the Bible is telling us what drove evolution; what that energy, that power was that made us beings like we are …each according to their own kinds. My opinion.

And God saw that it was good. His opinion.

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Okay, I get the distinction. id it is, then.

A post was split to a new topic: Concerns about evolutionary creation article

There is no such goal.

There is only the filter of survival on a process driven by variation. And there are many ways in which variation can be stimulated such as new environments and opportunities. Evolution is life itself, which is a learning process by which organisms try many different things to see what they can do where the only measure of success is the failure to survive. This is why the principle result of evolution is a vast diversity of species – 350,000 species of beetles alone.

The only absurd notion here is the idea that any of this could have been the result of design.

Only in the sense that the intelligent and consistent way of creating living things is to create the circumstances which support this self-organizing process of life so that they can develop according to their own choices in the process of evolution – so God’s role would be the Biblical one of shepherd rather than the Deist one of clockwork designer.

The universe and its laws; our very planet and its makeup and its position relative to others; the creation of life itself; the increasing complexity of life in complete opposition to the extremely successful, extreme simplicity of the first life, in order to finally arrive at humans, who are able to appreciate the wonder of it all and worship their Creator.

The only absurd notion is the idea that all of this, every bit of it, was not the result of Godly intent and intervention, ergo: design.

Yes, you are definitely on to something. I would start with Deane-Drummond’s book “Christ and Evolution.” She builds a Christology on the idea that Jesus’ incarnation comes from Wisdom in the OT. Jesus is the incarnation of the OT Wisdom. Jesus is more than fully divine and fully human. His incarnation is somehow tied to the whole creation, not just humanity.

I would highly recommend Making Sense of Evolution by John Haught. He shifts (wisely) the conversation away from discussion of “design” and to a discussion about “drama.” In Haught’s view, “design” causes too many problems for theologians, and “drama” resolves most (all?) of them.

I would start with Haught. He is far “easier” to read than Deane-Drummond. But I think you will enjoy both.

Thanks for the tips. I will read them.

Maybe “design” is not the best word, maybe it has some other connotations, but to think that where we are and what we are is the result of random clumping of matter and random mutation of genes is just not reasonable. The opposite of random is intentional, purposed or designed. Any of those could be used to describe what I mean.

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Wow! One can apply this approach to a lot of things. Here’s another:

Transubstantiation is for everyone! Transubstantiation offers Christians from nearly every denomination the most compelling perspective of communion! It’s only rejected by those idiots who “fail to completely embrace” my all-wise perspective! Here’s how it works:

First, minimize the theological issues. Then ignore the scientific issues! Wasn’t that easy?!

Just remember Steve Martin’s “how to make a million dollars and pay no taxes: First, make a million dollars. Then pay no taxes!” Brilliant!

I hope the moderators let this through. But honestly, I found this tract cringeworthy.

Not really how you start gracious dialogue, Marty.

If you think the article was condescending, you could explain your concerns better than a sarcastic characterization of the author’s tone and motives.

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‘EC properly distinguishes between evolution as a natural biological process and evolutionism as a materialistic philosophy. Because it explains how God is actively involved in the ongoing process of creating through evolution’

Actively involved beyond the eternal action of grounding being? Beyond incarnation and ineffably by the Spirit?

‘God is to be believed as the primary cause of creation who established secondary causes that act in accordance with the natural laws that he has established. Evolution by natural selection is compatible with… faith in so far as it is maintained that God is Creator, and evolution by natural selection is a secondary cause that follows the natural laws established by God.’

But so far so good. The natural laws being prevenient of God obviously.

‘God is the creator, man is made in his image, and all of creation has evolved following the natural laws as a secondary cause. Evolution is not a philosophy that makes sense of life, rather it is a secondary biological process by which life changes and new lifeforms arise over time.’

Poetry accepted; if all is within a Consciousness it is responsible for all other consciousnesses. My push back will always be that evolution does not have to make sense of life because life makes no sense. Life, nature, material lacks, wants for, no sense. God is a proposition that does not arise as a bifurcation within philosophy.

‘scientific knowledge is only about the physical reality, and therefore is a “lower” knowledge than knowledge about the spiritual reality.’

Physical reality is all we know, all we can possibly know without stretching epistemology to desire. There is no knowledge about spiritual reality.

‘Scientific knowledge is based solely on knowledge gained from physical reality as it appears to the senses, whereas the spiritual knowledge corresponds to what really is.’

That is a faith position and furthermore rationality takes us beyond the empirical to what is without any need for faith whatsoever. That’s where Russel and Dawkins are rightly coming from.

‘Scientific knowledge gives us insight into how reality appears, but not how reality actually is.’

That is illogical and refuted by my previous sentence.

‘The evolutionary narrative, therefore, moving from simple organisms to complex humans fits neatly within… the creation story of Genesis leading from simple light and darkness to complex humans. …the “lower” narrative of evolution compatibly follows the “higher” narrative of Scripture.’

Scripture is a product of evolution. One could just as well switch “lower” and “higher”: the “higher” narrative of evolution… follows the “lower” narrative of Scripture.

‘The EC perspective maintains that the “two books” of Scripture and nature are compatible and in harmony. They are telling two different sides of the same story. Evolution is telling the story of the development of nature. Christian theology tells us what it means, why it is, and how God relates to it all.’

It should not be evolutionarily surprising that humans inferred evolution over two and a half thousand years ago and that there will be confluence with that and the evolution of theism. Christianity is not unique in that confluence. Meaning is what we say it is, nature means nothing at all unless it is subsumed in a faith construct.

‘EC understands God as the great Architect of evolution.’

An architect is a designer… I started out saying that this article is creationist by going beyond God as ground of being and then thought I was going too far. This shows the validity of what I deleted; that EC is more creationist than minimal, that it is ID and that that really annoys creationists. How does God architect evolution? That very question exposes the lack of philosophical rigour in EC. If we posit purpose in existence - for which there is NO remotely theoretical warrant whatsoever but Jesus - rationality applies. The first fact of rationality (which, of course, is a philosophical posit itself, and not a fact) is eternity. It MUST colour everything. It certainly colours evolution. And it does God. As do other aspects of God:

‘The EC perspective does not see creation as a one-time past event in history, rather, creation is an ongoing process. Creation has not ceased; God is still actively creating. Evolution is a divinely planned and purposed natural process. God has a plan and a goal for all of creation. The story of the natural world is being told, and evolutionary natural processes are the way the plan and purposes are unfolding. God is active in the past, present, and future, working through evolution to bring creation to its fulfillment. Part of that process was endowing humans with the image of God. Evolution being true does not relegate God to being a spectator of creation. EC holds that God is the creator, and image giver of creation through evolution.’

God does not plan . Full stop. Period. He does not work things out. He doesn’t change. He is. He does. He knows. Not omnisciently of course. But sufficiently and completely and instantaneously to all mathematical limits. There has already been infinite change within Him from eternity, of the grounded, of creation material and transcendent. Creation never began. God has always created. God is active now as He WAS in the past and WILL BE in the future, neither of which exist, the future doubly so, except in the uniformitarian sense. The material is constantly transcending, fulfilling. In the material God is helpless sustainer and incarnate and Spirit equal participant, going beyond ineffably we believe, we desire, we invoke. God gives form to others by instantiating the prevenient laws of being.

‘Furthermore, EC maintains that the Bible is the word of God. It maintains a commitment to faithfully interpreting the Bible, as well as accepting scientific data. Because God is both the author of the Bible and of creation, we do not need to fear that the two will conflict. We can accept the Bible and science.’

The Bible is ancient-classic man’s (vastly predominantly) word on the concept of God. At most that concept is based on posited reality in Christ, the Chosen, the Elect in whom all are. We can accept the Bible through science and rationality beyond. Only. They come first. As they do in God.

'### The Broadest Appeal

Evolutionary Creation offers the best perspective on the biological evolutionary narrative because it demonstrates the possibility and capability of God using evolution to create.’

Only at its purest, cleanest, most unambiguous razor’s edge. For me. And the fact that it does means that it will forever offend fundamentalists. Those theists who demand the special creation of Adam and Eve, those IDators who insist on statistically undetectable intervention, will never accept a compromise, never accept being in the same culture.

We Christian existentialists have to accept you both : )

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

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