Sunday, March 23, 2014

Evolution within Theism: a Summary of the Main Options

1. God cannot create self-sustaining organisms immediately: nothing else is life itself.

2. God cannot create robust theistically-sustained organisms immediately:
  •  God cannot create permanent beings that are fully formed, except insofar as there are prior physical events that form the foundation and outer framework for the dispositions of the new being. What God can immediately create are physical events themselves. Everything else takes longer. There are no instant adults.
  • To create permanent and robust individuals, they must be developed so that, at every stage of their life, they have a substantial history of physical actions in the past and mental and spiritual lives built on that.
  • Since not even God can create history afterwards, this means that a longer and slower process of creation is needed if a race of people is to be developed who have fully-developed and long-lasting characters to be loved and to love God in return.
  • Hence some process of ‘descent by modification’.
When spiritual or mental ideas are produced immediately, they do not ‘have a life of their own’. Rather, they disappear again when the attention goes elsewhere, unless some physical effect has been produced. (Our memory must involve such effects.)

Hence, for biological evolution, the main theistic options are:

Theistically-filtered evolution:
  • The very fact of discrete degrees means that plants and animals must receive specific cognitive and affective dispositions, according to their biological form.
  • Even if God took no active involvement in the history of our earth’s species (as Darwin wanted), beings will still be favored if their forms well receive mental life.
  • This gives a tendency of evolution to make beings approach full mental reception.
  • We hope that this is a tendency toward the human form. I think so.
Theistically-driven evolution:
  • If God took active involvement in biological history, then he could specifically change the genetic structure of species, so that new species were born. And do this widely, to make a new population. This is driving the production of new species.
Thus we have three competing theories:
  1. neo-Darwinian theory: random mutations, genetic drift and recombination, natural selection (no influence from God, except perhaps through physical laws),
  2. theistically-filtered evolution: random mutations, drift and re-combination, so there is both natural and theistic selection (God gives influx by laws of discrete degrees)
  3. theistically-driven evolution: preselected and random mutations, genetic drift and recombination, along with both natural and theistic selection.
To be decided between by comparing the observed evidence with the various predictions of the several theories.

Note that these theories 2 and 3 go beyond the avowed scope of Intelligent Design theorists. They want 'merely' to first establish that intelligence was involved in the production of biological species. Here, in 'theistic science', we want to go further, and investigate the causes that produced the species (whether divine and/or spiritual and/or physical).

More discussion in a previous blog post.
And see also discussions by Jon Garvey on Theoretical Preferences and related posts.

Points from Chapter 26: Evolution of the book Starting Science From God.

No comments:

Post a Comment