Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?

From: Terry M. Gray <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu>
Date: Sat Sep 17 2005 - 03:03:22 EDT

Cornelius,

I'm not sure that you are mischaracterizing these folks. But that's
beside the point. I will grant you that the theological arguments
that you point to in your book have been used. I think Darwin solved
the problem of evil that he saw in "nature" by distancing God and
letting a naturalistic evolution do the work for him. I hear this
argument to this day... most commonly in some sort of "free will"
defense of evil and suffering. This is exactly where I identify with
Hodge and Warfield. I'm not so sure that Hodge had any significant
critique of Asa Gray's Darwinism. Of course, Hodge wouldn't call it
Darwinism since he equated Darwinism with lack of purpose and design,
but Gray and Warfield didn't have that issue. While Darwin may have
said his Darwinism lacked purpose and design, Darwinism's randomness
can formulated along the lines of Proverbs 16:33--events that appear
to be chance-based by human standards (lot throwing, dice rolling,
coin-flipping, mutations, genetic recombination, independent
assortment, chance mating, etc.) are decisions from the Lord in His
providential operation. I assume you are familiar with David
Livingstone's Darwin's Forgotten Defenders. The ability of the 19th
and early 20th century Calvinists to accept evolution is rooted
significantly in their Calvinistic view of God's operation in the world.

On the vitamin C pseudo-gene issue, I think you truly mis-read me
here. When I say, we could admit the obvious vs. God's inscrutable
purpose, I am serious. I say a similar thing in my biochemistry
chapter in Perspectives on An Evolving Creation. The vitamin C (and
other pseudogenes) are readily explained in an evolutionary
perspective and, hence, are evidence for an evolutionary conclusion.
But, if that's not the answer, then God, for some reason (and I'm
willing to let Him do whatever he wants--big of me, eh?), made it
look like evolution took place. I have no Biblical or theological
reason not to accept evolution (God-directed, as indicated above);
that's what I mean by admit the obvious. I'm not remotely making the
same argument that those who say that God wouldn't have done it this
way, as you suggest in your book when you comment on my essay.

TG

On Sep 16, 2005, at 8:47 PM, Cornelius Hunter wrote:

> George:
>
> Here is the previous part of the paragraph, just so the context is
> not lost:
>
> "Well this gets into a longer discussion, which I was hoping to
> avoid, about the various Christian traditions motivating
> evolutionary thought. Suffice it to say that from deism and the
> greater god sentiment (ie, it is "infra dig" for god to act in
> creation) to the problem of evil and claims of dysteleology,
> evolutionary thinking is based on the idea that there must be a
> break in the link between God and creation."
>
> Of course I am generalizing for the sake of brevity and discussion.
> There is certainly a lot more to say about this, and many nuances
> to be explored. Nonetheless, I can't see how one would find this to
> be too far off base. I'm interested in hearing other opinions on
> this. Can you explain why you think this is "wrong!". In what way
> am I mischaracterizing, for instance, Kant, Liebniz, Burnet,
> Tindal, Ray, Grew, Powell, Chambers, Brougham, Conybeare, etc., etc.?
>
> --Cornelius
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: George Murphy
> To: Cornelius Hunter ; Terry M. Gray ; asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Friday, September 16, 2005 7:18 PM
> Subject: Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of
> biology?
>
> Cornelius -
>
> You seem a bit too willing to tell other people why they think what
> they do. E.g. (below), "evolutionary thinking is based on the idea
> that there must be a break in the link between God and creation."
> All I can say for myself is, "Wrong!"
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Cornelius Hunter
> To: Terry M. Gray ; asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Friday, September 16, 2005 7:12 PM
> Subject: Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of
> biology?
>
> Terry:
>
> You wrote:
>
> "Divine action occurs continually in my opinion. However, as my
> post to Al earlier today pointed, such divine action is not
> necessarily scientifically detectable. Those who claim that
> evolution implies no or little divine action are simply mistaken.
> They are asserting a theological claim that can't be supported
> theologically or scientifically."
>
> Well this gets into a longer discussion, which I was hoping to
> avoid, about the various Christian traditions motivating
> evolutionary thought. Suffice it to say that from deism and the
> greater god sentiment (ie, it is "infra dig" for god to act in
> creation) to the problem of evil and claims of dysteleology,
> evolutionary thinking is based on the idea that there must be a
> break in the link between God and creation. It is not a matter of
> whether divine action is detectable or not. Undetectable divine
> action is allowed, but not to the extent that there is no break in
> the link, or that the world directly reflects divine will. It would
> be contradictory to, on the one hand, argue that the Vitamin C
> pseudogene mandates common descent because God would not have
> intended such a thing, while on the other hand argue that the
> pseudogene was God's design, albeit achieved via undetectable
> divine action.
>
> You wrote:
>
> "I do disagree with you that evolutionary theories are not
> established by scientific evidence. All the evidence can be cast in
> terms that avoids the theological arguments that you aptly point out."
>
> Of course the evidence can be cast into those terms, but then it
> loses its force. Consider the evolutionist's use of the laryngeal
> nerve evidence. We are told that it is "surely inefficient" and
> would never have been created, but that it is "easy to explain such
> an inefficiency if giraffes have evolved in small stages from a
> fish-like ancestor." Easy to explain? Sorry, but without the
> powerful metaphysics, this evidence falls on its face. Giraffes
> evolving from fish in small stages? We can't even get the beaks of
> finches to change much. There are all kinds of problems with this
> idea. And yet we are told evolution is a scientific fact. If this
> were so, then it why is this not spelled out somewhere without
> relying on the powerful theological premises?
>
> Isn't it interesting that science just happened to discover what
> philosophers, theologians and scientists were arguing must be true
> for centuries in advance? And isn't it interesting that every
> attempt to establish the fact of evolution relies on theological
> arguments?
>
> --Cornelius
>
> ps--As an aside, I don't understand how you find sympathy in B B
> Warfield, much less Charles Hodge.
>
>
>
>
>
> 1. Modern evolutionary thinking arose in the 17th and 18th
> centuries within
> Christian thought as a conclusion of theological arguments.
> 2. Evolutionary theories (cosmological as well as biological) were
> claimed
> early on to be facts, as a conclusion of theological arguments.
> 3. Today, evolutionary theories are routinely claimed to be facts,
> though
> this is not established by scientific evidence. And such claims, when
> elucidated, employ theological arguments to make their case.
>
>
>

________________
Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
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Received on Sat Sep 17 03:06:07 2005

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