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Theistic Evolution

  1. Apr 9, 2009 #1
    Hey, does anyone have any insight to theistic evolution(the idea that God used evolution to bring about humankind) and why or why not it really makes sense? t'would be awesome if you have some answers.

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  3. Apr 9, 2009 #2


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    There really isn't anything to discuss, since it has no effect at all on the science of evolution. One can believe God did whatever one wants to believe. The idea is simply a way for religious people to choose to believe both.

    Also, I'm not sure this thread will fit our guidelines against religious discussion...
  4. Apr 9, 2009 #3
    There are a few different version of theistic evolution, varying from a deity creating life, then allowed evolution to take place, a deity guiding it, a deity intervening in different places in time and so on. Some of these are both compatible and incompatible with the science of evolution.
  5. Apr 10, 2009 #4

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    I think it's a very anthropocentric view. If there was a creator who was using evolution, I think he/she used it to bring about cats. Humans were just an unfortunate unseen event that also happened. :)

    And evolution seems a rather lengthy and cruel way to bring any species about. Couldn't a kind creator do it some other way - just pop 'em into existence?
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  6. Apr 10, 2009 #5
    It boils down to God's promise of choice. In order for a rational person to deny God there needs to be a plausible explanation of our existence and creation. If the only answer were that we were created, well then that doesn't leave much of a choice.
  7. Apr 10, 2009 #6
    To be honest, it is far more elegant for god (given his existance) made the universe as a bunch of domino pieces that fall and knock the next one along. What is lengthy and cruel is purely subjective. You only say it is long because you die after 100 or so years, you say it is cruel because like every animal you don't enjoy death.

    I think the idea that some supernatural force being around at the start is plausable. I think him being around now is not, and it is even less plausible that he actually cares about humans. To believe in evolution, I think you need to stop with this superiority complex of thinking humans are special and we will be in existance for an infinite time.
  8. Apr 14, 2009 #7
    I don't have an issue with people believing God utilized evolution for creation, but it does seem somewhat contradictory, as God himself would have to "evolve." Complex things only come into existence through gradual evolution, and God would have to be even more complex than that which he created, so it would only make sense that he too was created somehow. It leads to a regress, and I think the answer lies in whether or not one subscribes to NOMA.
  9. Apr 14, 2009 #8
    Some people do believe that God evolves - look up Process Theology. The argument that God would have himself needed a creator was given by David Hume. Theists believe that God doesn't need an explanation for his existence, wheras Hume asked why the universe should need an explanation.
  10. Apr 14, 2009 #9
    In fact I just looked up Process Theology and found out it was written by Alfred North Whitehead who cowrote Principia Mathematica.
  11. Apr 15, 2009 #10
    This is just a rationalization to be able to accept the lack of empirical evidence.

    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
  12. Apr 15, 2009 #11
    On the one hand the idea of a 'creator' god makes a certain amount of intuitive sense. The universe exists... so where did it come from. Our common sense notion of causation tells us that everything that happens seems to follow from something else.

    Physicists often trace causation back to a 'big bang' of some sort... but what caused the big bang, or if even talking about a cause for it makes any sense at all, is pure conjecture.

    On the down side, you have the infinite regress problem. There is no logical way to deal with the question: If God created the universe, then what created god?

    If one says: 'well god didn't need a creator he has always existed'... then you really haven't answered any question at all. Since one could just as easily make that same claim 'about the universe' without the need for any god whatsoever.

    If 'something' can exist uncaused, then why not the universe. We don't know enough about the universe to know if there is any need for a creator god. So its pretty irrational to believe in one, simply because some guy had a dream about one.

    God, in the deist sense, is basically just a placeholder, an unknown variable, for 'first cause'. Others who believe in a more active god suffer from other logical contradictions.

    Some eastern mystics get around this by saying that there was no beginning that everything moves in cycles forever. Others say something along the lines of the universe is one... so there was no creation, just different aspects of a whole. This eliminates the need for a first cause, but its unsatisfying to a lot of westerners.

    Ultimately what you believe about gods, which are supernatural by definition, is not really something that science can address. And if we find a way to fit god into science... well he's probably not much of a god: ie he's more like a powerful alien in the scifi sense.
  13. Apr 15, 2009 #12
    I apologize, for some reason I'm not getting what it is you're saying here. Could you be a little more clear as to what you're referring to.

    If you're suggesting that this is a way for believers to come to terms with the overwhelming evidence of natural systems (such as evolution) then I'd say you're absolutely correct.

    Otherwise if you're suggesting that believers need some proof of the existence of their own God(s) then I'd say it's not required. Religions have done an excellent job of instilling in people the ability to overlook virtually any inconsistencies with their belief by preaching faith. Proof has never been a prerequisite for religion.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  14. Apr 15, 2009 #13
    An interesting take on the subject is Tielhard de Chardin. He took the idea of evolution beyond its normal setting, and argued that the universe is heading towards higher levels of complexity and consciousness. He believed that this process needed a higher being to pull it forward. Many others have also attempted to use evolution to support the theistic view rather than detract from it.
  15. Apr 23, 2009 #14
    I am simply pointing out that the rationalization you made for the lack of evidence is unbiblical.
  16. Apr 23, 2009 #15
    This is the size of it. I really don't think there is much else that can be usefully said? There are doubtless a million notions and ideas floating around out there about how God and evolution are/can-be "reconciled/unified", but none if it, by very definition, can move beyond:

    We have our "singularity", whilst they they had their God.

    It is just the dominant forces of thought, and such, in those days were not of a scientific mindset as we understand the term: God was the product of that time's attempts to understand just how it is we are, and what causes things to be the way they are. "God" being the end-point of knowledge and understanding.

    Nowadays, science in the modern sense is the dominant method for such things: our current end-point of knowledge and understanding is the "singularity".

    Everyone has equal insight (which is to say equally one or zero, depending on which way you want to look at it), IMO. Does it make sense? It makes sense if you want it to. I'll go in for it if I see a good reason too, but I am truly, epically, skeptical that reason will ever arise.

    I've read various philosophical arguments going for the existence of God, but none of them have, IMO, been convincing. They always seem to end up with the same problem(s). Especially, I would say, those arguing for God-as-the-Uncaused-Cause. Until a convincing argument for God can pop up, I don't see how there can be a convincing argument for God being responsible for evolution.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  17. Apr 23, 2009 #16
    I can think of one consistent version of theistic evolution, but that involves an evil god who made 98-99% of all living organisms go extinct because he enjoyed to watch their suffering and of course plants all the evidence we see of unguided evolution just to fool us.
  18. Apr 24, 2009 #17
    I think that's being a bit harsh. It seems reasonable that a person who believes in God should also believe in evolution (99% of christians do) and any person who believes in both would believe in theistic evolution. Why would a theistic evolution necessarily have to be guided? I think the whole point in theistic evolution is the God does not need to intervene. We all know suffering exists and that was a problem for christians before evolution was discovered. In fact it is an integral part of many people's faiths.
  19. Apr 25, 2009 #18
    99% of christians believe in evolution?? You might want to provide a reference for that figure. Most of the polls I have read about indicate the figure is much lower.

    From a quick google search:
  20. Apr 25, 2009 #19


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    Theistic evolution does not make sense (yet?), because you haven't defined "god". Or it does make sense if you define "god" as the "laws of physics" or the meta-laws of physics (like Smolin's evolution of law).
  21. Apr 25, 2009 #20

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    That "promise of choice" thing bugs me. I'm not sure which religions propose that, but it's kind of like believing in an "insecure girlfriend god" - I need you to prove that you love me! :smile:
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