Saturday, August 27, 2005

Guided evolution?

Another of the misconceptions in the science vs. creation debate is the view, held by much of the 'theist' camp, that humanity - in its current form - is the pinnacle of creation, indeed, is the reason for creation. These people frequently assume that the reason God created everything in the first place was so that there would be a place for us.

I think this is sheer arrogance on our part.

There are two common schools of thought based on this (mis)conception.

The first is the strict creationist view that God created mankind - exactly as we are now - out of the dust, as described in Genesis.

The second view is that of 'guided evolution' - the theory that we have evolved from lower life forms, but that God guided the process so that we (and not some other creature) were the end result.

Atheistic scientists reject this theory totally as it is actually not 'evolution' in any way - there is no 'survival of the fittest' etc. But despite this, this theory is the one held by the majority of the American public in a recent survey (see New Scientist last month).

Despite being a Christian and a believer in evolution, I reject this theory as well. Evolution only works if there are no imposed guidelines. I believe that God created this universe so that life would evolve, develop, become self aware and ultimately enter into relationship with Himself. I don't believe that he constrained this process in any way in order that the 'ultimate' life would look like anything pre-determined, or have a pre-determined number of legs or anything.

It is only by holding to this belief that I can reconcile a belief in a creator with scientific discoveries like dinosaurs and other evolutionary 'dead-ends'. If evolution was guided there would be no point in dinosaurs or trilobites or anything else not present in the world as it is in our time.

22 Comments:

At 8:32 pm, Blogger JKBSting said...

Love your blog! I commented earlier on another post but just thought I would ask: Do you believe the Bible is the literal, historical, infallable, inerrant Word of God?

Maxwell

 
At 5:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just curious if you have read any statistical literature concerning evolution. I read in an academic journal, that the amout of genetic mutation and natural selection that facilitate evolution would not have had enough time, from the origins of the first organisms to today, to produce the vast amount of variation that the world has seen. Have you read any of the statistical analysis on the subject, and what are your thoughts on them?

 
At 3:01 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

Maxwell,

No. It can't be. It falls down on the (almost entirly mythical) story of Noah and the flood. You can't fit all the animals in the world, and sufficient food to feed them for over a month, into a boat of the size stated. If that is wrong, what else is?

 
At 7:04 am, Blogger Cyriac said...

Well said dude... To convince a public to agree with an unpopular conclusion, you have to be amazingly diplomatic. The first step is to agree with them and then, one at a time, bring in the contradictions.

 
At 1:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in no offence to you Ricky Carvel but i think you have misunderstood the idea of the guided and Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution is about natural selection yes but the most important piece to it is the part of 'the game of chance'. Chance alone creating the different steps of evolution. 'Survival of the fittest' spawns from the idea that certain characteristics that were very adaptable to a particular organism's environment developed and from here its decendents were more proned to mate with organisms of similar stature. However chance had a great deal of influence in the creation or development of these certain characteristics in the first place. Details of it can go on and on but origin of it is pretty clear. Randomness causes genetic mutations which causes phenotypic changes to adapt to the environment. Two things happen when looking from this standpoint first you either take God as a lacksdaisical being who just pushed the first domino piece than sat around to watch all the events happen with him having no control over it. This view has many ramifications but most importantly of chaos not of an ordered Universe. Second, there is no God but vicariously randomness takes over and controls the events of the universe again to what sort of an end. If you are in the first school of thought than that is what the bible propagates but the ladder is a much more atheistic view. The guided evolution describes God partaking in the intrincacies of the evolution of life to first have a certain order but eventually yes to reach us. However, that in it self is a misconception. We are still evolving and will keep evolving. Guided evolution explains that as evolution proceeded it was to reach us who are self aware and have free will seperating us from everything else on this planet. In this same ideology God in essence gave us a choice to enter the next stage of perfection and we are certainly not the limit of perfection or the final outcome of evolution. This is the guided evolution view. Again, with all due respect to your beliefs and ideas. I apolegize if i have over stepped my bounds in any way. I always take the view of agree to disagree. Thanks.

 
At 4:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science uncovers God's glory. That's all its worth. A tool God gave us to dig up marvelous things, so that we'll give praise and glory to God. But people today are stupid to give the credits of findings that God deserves to evolution and to themselves for their efforts.

 
At 10:24 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

Aaargh! I really dislike anonymous comments. There is nobody to reply to. And I do think that posting anonymously undermines the point of the argument. It says 'here is an opinion that I'm not even prepared to put my own name to' - hardly worth the effort to type then is it?

And the last comment has almost nothing to say about the points I make in this blog posting.

At least read the post first, eh?

 
At 4:22 am, Anonymous Genos Plage said...

"I believe that God created this universe so that life would evolve, develop, become self aware and ultimately enter into relationship with Himself." That is nothing short of pandeism -- that is precisely what pandeism teaches on the origin of man through the physical laws of the Universe -- except that it is the Universe itself which is God, or in fact which God has become.

To the poster above who says "Science uncovers God's glory. That's all its worth." To that poster I say that uncovering the wonder of evolution by natural selection is uncovering God's glory, much more than believing that God hamhandedly plopped fully formed life down and then created (or allowed to be created) false clues alighting a different history.

To the equally anonymous poster who waxed on about guided evolution, what's the point? If God made the Universe correctly in the first instance (which God most certainly did) then it would inevitably lead to intelligent life given enough time (and it seems to have taken 13.7 billion years, so I see no guidance in that).

God is indeed a "being who just pushed the first domino piece than sat around to watch all the events happen with him having no control over it" -- but there is a difference between being "lacksdaisical" and being patient. And there is no real ramification of chaos rather than an ordered Universe. The probablities unfolded just as they had to without intervention, and here we are. That is order, not chaos. Study chaos theory and you will see that out of apparent chaos order may often be discovered. So it is with our creation, and that is why I am a pandeist!

 
At 5:02 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

No! This is not a pandeist position. The pantheist view is essentially that the universe is God. The deist view is that there was a creator who started the whole thing off and then went away somewhere. The pandeist position is a mix of the two. In both the pantheist and the deist world views there is no personal God to interact with in the here and now.

This is contrary to my experience and my belief. There is a personal God in the present as far as I can tell.

 
At 7:09 pm, Anonymous Genos Plage said...

I am unconviced. If God became the world, then every time you eat a pie or pick up a telephone you are "interacting" with God. But what do you mean by a personal God? One who individually cares about people and wants them to behave by certain rules? Someone to wipe our noses for us when we cry?

If your experience is of such a God, this can also be explained by pandeism. If God is the world, then even without such an interacting, caring God, we still experience God all the time exerting an unconscious pull on the material world. Even God's unconscious moments would manifest as real-life experiences for humans living, literally, inside God!

 
At 4:20 am, Blogger Lee said...

Here's the scenario, and I'm not making this up. There are tentative areas of thought, but it's mostly accurate.

Earth has been a biologic workshop over vast time. The 'tinkerers' are spirit beings, descendants of God (possibly the Biblical angels). The 'created' forms serve as vehicles for spirit entities to inhabit. Early forms served that purpose, but later mammalian forms allow expanded corporeal activities.

There are levels of inhabitance on the other side, called astral planes. When partaking in corporeal existence, the entities (you are one) can choose their role and parentage. Repeated experiences are available

Consciousness is not your DNA, but your spiritual essence, and you have likely been around the cosmos for a long time. It's even possible that you, or entities related to you, partook in biologic creative activities, utilizing genetic code alterations. The evo process assists, as well as providing automatic adaptive changes as required.

Why evil? Why sickness, crime, wars, abuses? Negatives exist to add adventure and challenge. As human forms, we share those propensities, going willingly to wars, and regularly partaking in sporting events for the thrill and challenge of it. Rather than simply being termed 'bad', negatives help to build character, offers challenges we sometimes fail to overcome, but of course, additional lives are available.

The question of evil has perplexed deists, theists, and even atheists have used it as an argument against a benevolent creator. But to have good, evil (as we call it) has to exist as well. Earth was not intended to be 'utopian.' My fav paradox is the mosquito, way more complex than a B1 bomber. Look up its anatomy if you doubt that. So who could have aided that nasty thing to come about? Not God, obviously, but possibly spirit beings that some would term demonic. Rather than the fall, evil doings are a natural result of having been given 'free will.'

The supreme being doesn't intervene to stop bad events (Tsunamis, for example). Having provided a temporal world, He probably stands back. To try to run things would be defeating of purpose. Spirit guides (angels) however, sometimes do. As part of the overseeing hierarchy, they assist the 'earthbounds', but to varying degrees.

Creative activities appear to have been a team effort over vast time, with prior designs aiding in more complex and newer designs. The Cambrian period appears to have been the culmination of a vast, early effort. The lack of transitional fossil forms have perplexed scientists, but hey, they simply did not evolve!

Today, we see cars and computers as lineages with similar histories as a good parallel to evolved biologic lineages, an auto junkyard being the equivalent of a paleontologic 'bone' yard.

At the speed of light, it would take 4 years to travel to the nearest star. There's evidence that interstellar astral travel might be possible in spirit form, and would vastly shorten the trip. We'll see. Any questions?

One of my websites: http://westlabmultimedia.com/

 
At 2:30 am, Anonymous Adamson said...

Religion Introduced Evolution Much Earlier Than Scientists

http://groups.msn.com/ScientificReligion/yourwebpage1.msnw

Change is a norm in this world, nobody disagrees on it. Bible mentions few stages in the beginning and continuation of earth. Similarly Al-Quran also states different stages in the development of universe, earth and man. In fact Al-Quran in Sura 32 Al-Sajdah Verses 7-9 mentions a state in human evolution when he reproduced like animals but had not yet got human consciousness, hearing and sight. Human consciousness came after that animal experienced a unique breathing of spirit. A cursory view on different Quranic translations is enough to reveal its similarities with the evolutionary hypothesis. Qur'an Chapter 23 verses 12-14 is remarkable "We created man of an extraction of clay, then We set him, a drop, in a receptacle secure, then We created of the drop a clot, then We created of the clot a tissue, then We created of the tissue bones, then We garmented the bones in flesh, thereafter We produced him as another creature, So blessed be Allah the fairest of creators! ( Translation from Arabic by Professor A. J. Arberry in "The Koran Interpreted").
THE SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL

Scientists explain how one state of things develops into another. Their ideal is to explain everything by three tools: natural laws, characteristics of materials they observe and random interactions. Much like non-practicing religious adherents they do not practice their philosophy of mindless random actions and accomplish great achievements. First article of pseudo scientific faith: working efficiently, precisely for an objective is the unique exception nature can never learn, evidence against it does not deserve attention.

THE RELIGIOUS VIEWS

No religious article denies the existence of natural laws and characteristics of materials. Instead of haphazard interactions religion accepts an element, too subtle for any scientific instrument: a cosmological management by a supreme mind.

OVERWHELMING ABUNDANT EVIDENCE SUPPORTS RELIGIOUS VIEWS

People apply their minds full of imaginative designs on materials using natural laws. Thus cars, jets and computers are developed by conscious human intervention.

SCIENCE SCHOOL HAS YET TO SHOW ANY SIMILAR EVIDENCE

Terminology apart, science school proposes that random mindless interactions of materials and natural laws can give rise to constructive developmental changes. They do not accept any element of design and imaginative mind behind any natural development in the universe. However this school has yet to present any evidence to support their view.

EXAMPLES OF EVIDENCE THAT WILL SUPPORT SCIENCE SCHOOL

Example 1

A monkey hitting his fingers on a computer keyboard only writing rhymes or decent current affairs newspaper articles.

Example 2

Randomly placed cannons throwing bricks, mortar, concrete and other building materials and you witness, without any mess around, a Taj Mahal in its developing stages ..... much much more on: http://groups.msn.com/ScientificReligion/yourwebpage1.msnw
Don't visit if you can't bear shocks!
*****************************************************************

 
At 1:24 am, Blogger salaama said...

Does anyone contributing to this discussion know anything about process philosopher A.N. Whitehead's theory that God is evolving with us?
Salaama

 
At 5:27 am, Blogger Mark Heuchert, M.Ed. said...

The theory of Guided Evolution or Intelligent Design has a lotof problematic logical errors.
The first problem I see in the arguments in favor of Intelligent Design is in the statement, "We know of no machine or coded sequence that is without intelligent origin, and DNA is a coded sequence. Therefore, DNA has an intelligent origin." The logical problem is that just because we have not found or seen it, does not mean that there is not and cannot be a coded sequence without intelligent origin. Similarly, just because we have not found life on other planets, does not mean that it does not and cannot exist. This same logical fallacy could be (and has been) used against the theory for Intelligent Design: We have found neither God, nor direct evidence of God, so there is no God, therefore Intelligent Design (at least by God) is impossible. It is an inadequate argument for all these purposes because it uses human ignorance of some particular thing as proof that that thing does not and cannot exist.
A second problem is in the Intelligent Design argument that "life is so complex, amazing, and well suited to surviving that it could not have been randomly created or naturally selected, and it must have been designed that way." The first problem with this argument is that holds a hidden tautology. Survival is our most basic criterion for “well-designed,” so the argument essentially becomes “life is so well-designed that it must have been designed.” Now, in case this is not a fair or charitable interpretation, there is a second problem in this argument; it begs the question by failing to address whether these qualities have anything particular to do with randomness or guidance. True, the organisms which have survived are perfectly (for the moment at least) adapted to survival, and true, they are complex and amazing. The problem is that only the complex, amazing organisms that are indeed suited to survival survived. Although we do find fossils indicating survival for a period before ultimate extinction, we see none of the mutations that failed immediately upon conception or birth that would indicate either bad design or natural selection.
A third problem is in the Intelligent Design argument that “the odds of this degree and variety of complex life occurring randomly are so astronomically small that it is functionally impossible. Therefore a designer must have been involved.” The problem with this argument is that it both ignores how vast the universe is, AND misinterprets what any probability statement really means. In reference to the first problem: probability is multiplicative, so one must multiply the astronomically small odds of life randomly occurring on one planet by the astronomically large number of planets on which it might have done so. It is entirely possible, though not certain, that by virtue of the incredible number of galaxies, stars, and planets, this product is a probability of one out of one. In reference to the second problem of interpreting the probability statement: “improbability” is not “impossibility”. By definition, ANY probability of something happening, no matter how small the odds, means definitively that, however unlikely, that event is possible.

 
At 5:27 am, Blogger Mark Heuchert, M.Ed. said...

A fourth problem with the arguments in favor of Intelligent Design is that they are often based on the premise that the Darwinian model of evolution via random mutation/ natural selection is flawed and inadequate, either because the science is not experimentally testable, or that there are too many gaps between known evolutionary steps, etc. The conclusion is that the theory of Intelligent Design better explains the complexities of life’s origin and development than the theory of evolution, therefore it is true . The logical flaw here is that the premise does not support, or even relate to, the conclusion. One theory’s imperfections do not logically relate in any way to the adequacies of a competing theory. For example, our lack of clear evidence to demonstrate that Jesus hides eggs on Easter morning does not constitute proof that the Easter Bunny actually does.
I don't know if Intelligent Design is true or not. I do know that regardless of how attractive the conclusion is, in all I have read it is so poorly and illogically supported that I cannot in good conscience teach it in my high school science classroom.

 
At 11:49 am, Anonymous dan p. said...

Has anyone posited that God (or the Creator or however you wish to name it) is not necessarily omnipotent? In other words, life is an eternal work in progress, God is still trying to get it right, and the state of life at any point on the evolutionary timeline represents the best that God could do up to that point. And why is there an almost universal belief that if there is a God, that God by definition is omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, 100% efficient, etc.?

 
At 1:48 pm, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

Hello Dan P.

I think I might have posited that.

There's also 'open view theists' who hold that, while God is supremely in control, even He can't see where things are going.

Have a browse through this blog for words like omnipotent. I've asked those questions before...

R.

 
At 2:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this blog. :)

 
At 12:01 am, Blogger xoxemilyxox said...

I love this post! I always wondered how people can think God guided evolution but accept things like natural, artificial and sexual selection. Wouldn't a guided evolution disprove those? But since we know these forms of selection are in effect, evolution must not be guided by God. Certainly doesn't mean he/He isn't real (I'm a naturalistic pantheist, so I believe God is the Universe), though.

 
At 4:58 am, Anonymous Drew R. said...

Just because God guided evolution doesn't rule out survival of the fittest or any of the aspects of evolution aside from random mutation. God replaces the randomness of the mutations - the rest stays untouched. He doesn't need to control all mutations either, only to step in from time to time. Therefore, nothing can disprove this. It is, of course, absurd, but just pointing this out.

 
At 9:59 pm, Blogger xoxemilyxox said...

Sounds so much like creationism. But anyway, I thought guided evolution meant natural selection was replaced by "intelligent selection", not that mutations were non-random.

 
At 2:11 pm, Anonymous Mark Heuchert, M.Ed. said...

xoxemilxox, That is an interesting distinction you make between intelligent and non-random selection. It is pertinent, absolutely, and may be the crux of the argument regarding the role, or even existence, of a guider/designer. Obviously intelligent design requires intelligence, over and above non-randomness. However, when it comes to guided evolution, as such, the argument seems to default to three or four causal options:

(1) a very strict and involved intelligent designer (as in traditional creationism complete with an omnipotent and omniscient deity);

(2) a liberal (or lazy or limited) and uninvolved intelligent designer (as in theism);

(3) an unintelligent but completely ordered principle (such as a deterministic interpretation of the laws of physics);

(4) an unintelligent but NOT completely ordered principle (such as an interpretation of the laws of physics that includes randomness, probably at the quantum level). Depending on the take on chaos theory, some may combine options three and four into a single possibility.

Arguments by believers in options 1 and 2 tend to assume the deity established the principles (such as the laws of physics, etc.) basic to options 3 and 4. Belief in the deity from option 1 tends to correspond with belief in deterministic physics from option 3. Belief in the deity from option 2 tends to correspond with belief in nondeterministic physics from option 4. The fascinating thing is that the positions of those who believe in options 1 and 2 have less in common with each other than they have with the positions of the corresponding non-intelligent options.

The question, it seems, not whether one believe in a deity so much as it is whether one believes in randomness.

 

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