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

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Sep 17 2005 - 13:30:56 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2005 11:27 AM
Subject: Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?


> George:
> Your carpenter analogy does not does not accurately describe the evolution
> (or your) position. Yes, the carpenter may use his hand or a hammer, but
> in both cases he drives the nail in where he want the nail to be. The
> design reflects his will. Evolutionary thinking is that what we observe in
> nature does not generally reflect divine will. So there must be a break in
> the link. This is where the distancing of God from nature comes in. It is
> fine for you to say you do not distance God from nature, but this is true
> only in certain regards. You do distance God from nature with regard to
> creative acts.
> You might try using the analogy of a sculptor rather than a carpenter. One
> can imagine describing God using evolution as the sculptor uses his
> chisel. In this case evolution, like the chisel, is merely a deterministic
> tool and there is no break in the link between creator and creation. The
> process is error-free, and both God and the sculptor achieve exactly their
> desired designs. The tool or mechanism adds nothing to the process. This
> is not evolutionary thinking.

Cornelius -

Again you are trying to tell me what I think by, inter alia, assuming that
because I accept evolution my ideas must be conformed to what you think is
"evolutionary thinking." & although one could certainly use a sculptor
instead of a carpenter as an analogy for divine cooperation, the way you set
out the sculptor analogy suggests that you've missed my point. It is not
that the sculptor uses "evolution" as a tool but that he/she uses all the
detailed physical processes involved in genetic change, animal behavior &c
as tools at every step of the process. To say that "evolution" is the tool
suggests that God is only involved at some very high level & is thus remote
from the details, whereas my point is that God is involved in the details.

Ah, but then doesn't God's activity have to be deterministic? No. If there
is a basic indeterminancy at the quantum level which is involved in changes
in DNA & if there is some flexibility even in larger scale processes because
of sensitivity to initial conditions, & if God limits divine activity to
what can be accomplished through natural processes, then God may leave some
element of chance in what happens in the world. If you want a very crude
analogy, the carpenter closes his eyes before putting the nail in place.

I realize that this idea may be intolerable to those with some views of
divine sovereignty. It's legitimate to criticize what I say from such a
standpoint but don't try to force my views into some Procrustean bed of
"evolutionary thinking."

OTOH the fact that there is scientific indeterminancy means that God has
some freedom to act in the world without going beyond the limits of the laws
of physics.
This means that God may be able to give some direction to evolution even
though the process appears to scientific observation to be "undirected." I
have some hesitation about the idea (suggested by Pollard & Russell) that
God exerts such direction by collapsing quantum wave packets in appropriate
ways but remain open to some version of that idea. (I comment on this
briefly on pp.82 & 119-120 of _The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross_ .)

In any case I don't think it's necessary to equate the divine governance
with micro-management of all events. I think that God intended for
intelligent life to evolve so that the Incarnation could take place but that
needn't mean, e.g., that bipedalism - which seems to have been a significant
step in the development of _our_ intelligence - was a requirement that God
built in in the beginning. God's purpose for creation can really be seen
only escatologically - Eph.1:10.

Received on Sat Sep 17 13:33:55 2005

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