History and Goals (for TE)

Craig Rusbult (rusbult@vms2.macc.wisc.edu)
Mon, 15 Jun 1998 03:55:07 -0500

While we're discussing clear definitions, we can think about what makes
a concept of theistic evolution (TE) authentically "theistic" rather than
deistic or deterministic. One relevant part of my large overview, at
http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~crusbult/details.htm#te4 , is paragraphs 98-100:

FI claims that miraTA is not necessary in nature. For understanding
this claim, a clear definition of "not necessary" is essential. Does FI
claim that miraTA is not needed to produce a sufficiently high degree of
physical and biological complexity, or to achieve the goals of God? And
when FI claims that miraTA is not necessary, two possibilities remain:
Does FI make a claim for the sufficiency of unguided evolution with only
th-uMIO, or evolution that is theistically guided by naTA? / Combining
these 2 questions, each with 2 answers, produces 4 possibilities: Does FI
claim that th-uMIO evolution would be sufficient to produce complexity, or
to achieve God's goals? Or does FI claim that theistically guided
evolution would be sufficient to produce complexity, or to achieve God's
goals? Although for clear communication it is important to distinguish
between these four potential claims (unguided E --> complexity, unguided E
--> goals, guided E --> complexity, guided E --> goals), this is rarely
done in discussions of FI or TE. p98
Scientific methods cannot determine whether a process merely produces
complexity, or also achieves the goals of God. But a theological "theory
of nature" should aim to explain how nature might achieve the goals of God,
so only two of the FI claims (those involving goals) are adequate.
Therefore, in evaluating the plausibility of unguided-FI or guided-FI, we
need to ask: 1) How precisely defined were the goals for creation: Did God
want to produce exactly what has occurred in nature's history, or would
something "slightly different" or "very different" have been satisfactory?
2) How reproducible is unguided evolutionary history: If the history was
allowed to "run freely with uMIO" numerous times, would the outcomes be
widely divergent or strikingly similar? / We can ask: 1) Were the goals
of God extremely imprecise? 2) Would histories of nature fail to diverge
significantly, due to a precisely designed initial-TA that from the
beginning until the present has been minimally affected by quantum
uncertainties, chaotic contingencies, and free choices? Unless one of
these two conditions (imprecise goals or tightly constrained history) is
true, scientific reasoning seems to indicate that some guiding naTA would
be needed to achieve a "goal for nature" even if, consistent with FI, no
miraTA was needed. The function of this naTA would be to influence history
so it produces the desired complex result instead of another complex
result. This type of guidance would seem especially helpful in creating
humans with the characteristics (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual)
desired by God. p99
Communication will improve if advocates of TE always explain, clearly
and completely, whether their concept of theistic E differs from deistic E
(with naTA never providing guidance) or deterministic E (with the result of
every event being determined); does miraTA occur during TE, or not? When
doing this, it may help to make a distinction between foundational TA and
active TA; foundational TA simply allows history to continue, but active
TA (either naTA or miraTA) makes a difference in history. Because
"sustaining TA" is unable to guide history after the initial-TA of
creation, an appeal to sus-TA (unless it is being proposed as a mechanism
for the operation of naTA and miraTA) does not contribute to our
understanding of questions regarding goals and historical contingencies,
such as those raised in the paragraph above. / If someone thinks that
their theory of TE cannot be explained adequately using foundational TA and
active TA, or is not compatible with my "everyday living" worldview (based
on "partial free will" and consistency with our normal space-time
intuitions), then they should provide their own framework, with clearly
defined alternative TA-concepts and worldview, that will allow a clear
expression of their theory. p100


My main concern is that we should make a clear distinction between a TE
that involves only th-uMIO (with no naTA) and a TE that does include naTA
for guidance. { It is not necessary to specify the DETAILS of when and
where naTA occurs, especially because such a claim seems beyond "our
ability to know based on observations," anyway. }
Discussing "history and goals" questions will involve differing
worldviews, as discussed in the followup "re: History and Goals" post.