Why Say “Theistic” Evolution? Is There Any Other Kind? (link to article)

(Brad Kramer) #1

I don’t know why I haven’t heard of this writer before, but this article is a home run.

Favorite part:

“This is not so much about the scientific arguments as it is about this fundamental claim: if you pray the Creed and believe God created everything, then you never, ever need to put God-adjectives in front of science terms. It is misleading. Science is the study of the material realm of creation. Some might say it good to stress that you believe God guided evolution, but I say no, it is actually detrimental. Using the term “theistic” in front of any term gives the impression that believers may declare some things in creation as created and some things as not, which smacks of irrationality and heresy.”

I suspect @Eddie and @gbrooks9 will find this article to be interesting.


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I posted material by Stacy Trasancos here not long ago.

(Albert Leo) #4

Eddie, I take your argument a step further, and it leads to an anathema for most orthodox Christians. Since God IS sovereign over the details of evolution, and those ‘details’ included the fact that instinctive behavior was often selfish, He certainly knew that, when one of His creatures achieved consciousness and Mind, giving that creature the freedom to exercise that Mind would inevitably lead to what we now call Sin. No other conclusion makes sense then: God is the ultimate cause of what we have dubbed as Original Sin.

In spite of this, I see this world as a good creation, and I can ask God’s blessing on each and everyone of us.
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #5

One bout of forensic debate with @deliberateresult and you know immediately that Stacy Trasancos is barking up the wrong tree.

Since the fora here are all about all the flavors and hybrids of Evolution… if you didn’t use adjectives and other qualifiers along with the word Evolution, you’d be disputing terminology more than you would be disputing evidence - - which is nearly the case already !!!

Stacy T. does not pay attention to how the battle lines of the Evolution dispute are shaped by terminology. A couple of weeks here would change that article completely !

@BradKramer thanks for keeping us in mind !!!

Note: Oh, and this comparison of Evolution with Gravity ? … as in, “what would God-guided Gravity look like?” … doesn’t seem to be compelling when you really analyze the situation.

To make the comparison relevant, you have to compare scenarios more along these lines:

  1. In the first week of Creation, God made gravity one tenth as strong, and Adam and Eve could jump over the clouds. That’s God-designed gravity. After the Great Flood… God made Gravity stronger … like gravity as we know it today. The Gravity is still god-guided … but it doesn’t change like it used to.

  2. Godless Gravity hasn’t changed since creation of the Universe.

(Larry Bunce) #6

Since the original article is from a Roman Catholic publication, and the Catholic church officially accepts evolution, the use of the term “theistic” would be redundant for Catholics. However, since evolution is considered to be an atheistic process by many Christians, and many scientists fear that religion inhibits good science, I think we need to keep the theistic in theistic evolution.

I once saw a comment on a creationist website that said, “that God would use the atheistic process of evolution is the ultimate oxymoron.” Whether we use the terms EC or TE, someone is going to misinterpret our position.

We have to be careful of the terms we use when we know particular words have a certain connotation for many people. The term “myth” is not technically synonymous with falsehood, but we know that if we refer to the creation and flood stories in Genesis as myth, we will lose Christians in our audience. I think the term “theistic evolutionist” is a very good expression of BioLogos’ position

(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

Thanks for this, Brad. I have a different favorite part than you do though – It would be hard to top these lines as she writes:

Imagine eating dinner that way. The husband says, “Honey, pass me the theistic potatoes.”

His wife says, “Okay, would you like some butter in them? It’s natural, you know. My, these God-made Porterhouse cuts that you grilled are awesome. I think I’ll have a sip of Divine Cabernet, the handiwork of men but a gift from God nonetheless.”

“Oh dear, you are so right. I will not have that evil atheistic natural butter. Would my heaven-sent Honey like some holy theistic potatoes too, also given straight to us by God?”

Would not it be far less absurd, and consistent with a sane, confident, and pervasive faith to say a blessing of thanks to God for all of the food before you eat?

Indeed. Do some holy chewing on that for a while.

(Albert Leo) #8

Basically, your are correct, Larry, but one should point out an important caveat in current Catholic dogma: The physical nature of humankind may have evolved from earlier life forms, but each human spirit, each soul, is created separately and independently by God, and Adam and Eve were, historically, the first humans who chose to disobey God and therefore the first to sin. Thus the Catholic church accepts “theistic” evolution for the animal world that preceded humankind, including the ‘natural selection’ mechanism that often promotes selfishness. I am not aware that the Vatican has stated so directly, but it is evident that God must be directly responsible for animal behavior that would be seen as Sin if performed by humans; e.g. infanticide by male lions, or fratricide by the elder bird in the nest. By separating humankind from the rest of the animal world–giving humans both a conscience and freedom–the church absolves God from being the ultimate cause of Sin.

@eddie I may be wrong, but I surmised that this is the at the root of your dispute with some of the E.C.s who contribute to the Forum but who want to greatly limit God’s sovereignty over the ‘details’ of evolution. True or false??
Al Leo


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(George Brooks) #10

And yet … in the midst of all this sensible discussion … we have BioLogos supporters who actually insist that God created all things … but intentionally didn’t touch Evolution…

(Mervin Bitikofer) #11

I must have missed these big, bad bogeymen here. I don’t doubt Eddie can supply on short notice a long rapsheet of Biologos-involved – even leading-- people (mostly formerly involved it would seem) who fit this description. But who is it here in our midst who still bangs that drum?

If anything, I think we may have scared them all away and have no one to tug on that end of the rope here.


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(Mervin Bitikofer) #13

Ah --sorry. Perhaps I’m pounding on out-of-date drums myself. I thought I dabbled in that enough to keep a pulse of the place. But … back to grading geometry exams for the moment.

Short attention to something is a dangerous thing. And I probably shouldn’t be here at all with school in its first weeks.


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(George Brooks) #15


[typo corrected below ] !!!
@Relates endorses BioLogos … but believes God intentionally avoids touching Chromosomes directly.

@aleo endorses BioLogos … but I seem to recall that he doesn’t hold to God guiding evolution. I could be wrong about that.

And then there’s the occasional participant on the lists who believes God deliberately avoids omnisicience … and let’s evolution run its own course.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #16

You are right — I shouldn’t have forgotten Aleo. There is also the recent columnist, Mr. Thomas Oord, I believe, though not here at the moment.

Are you sure he doesn’t refuse to deny his skepticism about God not touching the Chromosomes indirectly? :confused:

(George Brooks) #17


Typos! How I hate them. Thanks for the heads up!

(GJDS) #18

When Christians say, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, we/they mean just that - everything has, is and will be created by God.

When Christians say, “The immense Universe is created as a magnificent space, or temple, to testify to the immense glory of God”, we/they mean God is Sovereign over all.

However, when some decide that God created through sp3 hybrid orbitals, or the way God created is by making very difficult maths and associated equations, or by random events and magical selection in nature, or evolving inorganic chemistry to be followed by greater fantastical bio-chemical non-sense, then these people are indulging in error, and giving anti-theist ammunition to use against the Faith. These statements are inappropriate - instead Christians may become sufficiently knowledgeable of the various disciplines in the Sciences, and the limitations of the current paradigms in all of these - to come to an understanding, and to state, that God is far above such human insights.

God does not use inadequate theories or erroneous concepts to create - what God has created is good and complete for, and of, the creation.

(Albert Leo) #19

You are correct, George. I do not see any evidence for a God who guides evolution. Instead, I see the evidence that God let evolution run it ‘own course’, knowing that it would eventually produce a Mind and intelligence in some creature, given enough time. And He had plenty of Time.

But I have NOT seemed to get across the significance of my viewpoint: Darwinian evolution has NO significance on what we should be debating in the Forum. And so debating the fine points of how it operates, while of great scientific interest, is a red herring in terms of how it might affect moral guidance and affect religious belief. D.E. gives the clearest explanation of how early Homo sapiens appeared on this earth, but these early ancestors of ours operated instinctively, not by moral principles. What IS of vital interest: to learn what biological mechanism was responsible (some 40K yrs. ago) for ‘programming’ the trillions of neural circuits in the proto-human brain so that it could operate as Mind; so it could comprehend the concept of creature-hood, and the concept of what he/she ought to do to best fit into the surrounding Universe. Of course this 'programming’ could turn out to be a Gap that can only be explained by God’s direct action. But my bet is that science will eventually find the subtle way that He accomplished that extraordinary feat using means that came into existence with the Big Bang.
Al Leo

(Albert Leo) #20

When the Homo sapiens brain was ‘programmed’ to become Mind, one of the most significant effects was for one individual to realize that each other individual he/she came into contact with also had a mind which was harboring thought just as his own was doing. And as soon as they had a concept of God, they wondered what He was thinking, too. That desire–to know the Mind of God–has extended to the present day. The "super’ scientists of the last century–Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking–expressed it this way, even thought both were agnostic about God’s existence.

Sometimes I, too, wonder what God had in Mind when he designed evolution so it would produce the mosquito. But I do so only with “tongue in cheek”. Even if one believes that humankind is at the apex of the Pyramid of Life, one must realize today that the Web of Life that constitutes the base of the pyramid is more complex than we will ever know. We can curse the pesky mosquito for infecting us with malaria and zika virus, but still hold the belief in a benevolent God. Perhaps Leibnitz was not far off base when he thought that we live in the ‘best possible’ world.
Al Leo