Re: [asa] Rejoinder 4 from Timaeus What Could Evolution Do if God Were Dead?

From: William Hamilton <>
Date: Mon Oct 06 2008 - 17:34:51 EDT

I agree with Ted: If God were to cease to exist, _all things_ would cease to
exist. (Actually since God is outside of time, if he were to cease to exist,
maybe nothing would have ever existed :-)). There are several Scripture
passages which imply this. One of my favorites is Col 1:15:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For
by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things
were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all
things hold together.

On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM, Ted Davis <> wrote:

> And now, for something completely different from Timaeus. I claim the
> bonus, incidentally (see below), but I'll keep quiet about it so as not to
> spoil the fun.
> Timaeus will recall that, over on UcD, I asked him how he would answer Dick
> Bube's classic question about "God turning himself off," and we got turned
> off ourselves before he could get that far. Partly, my own answer to
> Timaeus is (like Socrates) to ask another question, namely, What would
> happen to us and the world if God were to "turn himself off"? This comes
> from Richard Bube, a former editor of the ASA journal, on p. 37 in his
> wonderful book, "The Human Quest." My own answer is, that nothing would
> exist--not us, and not the world either. In other words, Timaeus, "none of
> the above" in terms of your 4 options at the end. I know we aren't allowed
> to pick something else, under your rules, but please keep in mind that I've
> thought about this one for 30 years before seeing your story, and IMO that
> needs to be option 5. In other words, I didn't invent this answer as a
> cop-out; it's the answer I'd have given you in any such conversation, all
> along; it predates your scenar!
> io by a long time.
> (And yes, Timaeus, I'd like to hear your answer to Bube's question. In
> return, I'll play along...)
> However, I'll play along as if I were Bob Russell. I don't know how Bob
> would answer Dick's question, but I'll make a guess about how Bob would
> answer Timaeus. I think Bob would say, some variant of 3. Understanding
> that this isn't my own answer--I gave that above--I'll now pretend that this
> is my answer, and it will go like this (substantially rewording Timaeus'
> option 3):
> <If life comes into existence somehow, it'll be a very fortunate event.
> Still, it might--before his death, God had made it possible for life to
> appear, in that the conditions of the universe God chose to create were
> finely tuned for this very purpose. But, since God isn't around to ensure
> that this purpose is fulfilled, this might not happen at all. God isn't
> working in the world to bring about God's purposes, and (pace Van Till) God
> might have withheld a few gifts that had been planned to be presented to the
> creation at a later time. We will never know, since God is not longer
> available to answer our questions at some point. If however life does
> appear, it might be only a happy accident, in which case Gould would have
> been right about that tape. (This begs the question of whether God had
> necessarily planned to create humans and only humans as the bearers of God's
> image, or whether God had planned to fulfill God's purposes by setting up a
> zillion planets for life and t!
> hen allowing the creation a measure of freedom to produce creatures of
> various sorts in various places, including various creatures bearing the
> divine image. For God could have done it like that, but unless we find the
> blueprints we won't know.) I think it more likely, however, that neither
> life nor advanced life would exist at all, if God weren't around to
> determine the outcomes of those "random" processes (a term that we mere
> creatures use when we're dumb as posts about why some specific event
> happened) that Darwin claimed were the whole story. And, in that case,
> Darwin wouldn't be around at all, and we wouldn't be having this exchange.
> God's actions on the creation are objective in this sense: if God didn't
> act to cause certain events, they would not have happened at that time and
> place; however, since there is considerable subtlety to the mind and
> character of a God who decides (according to those who knew God) to be born
> in human form in a stable and to be crucifie!
> d with common criminals, a subjective sense of God's actions i!
> s usuall
> y (not always) the best that we can hope to have. Some call this faith;
> others call it stupidity. I call it the truth.>
> Now, for Timaeus:
> ***********
> Dear ASA Members:
> Thanks for the continuing conversation.
> A number of replies suggest to me that I have not been able to get through
> on one central point, and I don't think restating it in a prose argument
> will do any good, so I am going to try to make it in a new way.
> I have been trying to say that Darwinian mechanisms (mainly RM + NS, but
> the neo-Darwinians have tacked on other stuff, like "drift", which changes
> nothing from my point of view, since they still all boil down to unguided
> chance) are inadequate to produce complex organs, systems, and living
> beings. And I have been trying to say that for this reason, Christians
> can't logically say: "God created all the species, but through a process of
> Darwinian evolution; therefore Darwinism is 100% correct as science, without
> impairing Christian faith in the slightest."
> Typical responses here have been to reassure me that TEs aren't atheists,
> and that they admit that Darwinism isn't the whole story; or to reassure me
> that Francis Collins or Ken Miller says that Darwinism isn't the whole
> story, etc. But it is absolutely worthless, from my point of view, to hear
> that Darwinism isn't the whole story and in the same breath to assert that
> WITHIN SCIENCE, Darwinism is absolutely true. There is a major blurring
> going on here, and I'm not sure how to address it, but I'll try to do so
> with a literary device.
> Allow me to playfully re-write the history of the universe a little. Let's
> go back to the "Big Bang". Let's say that God started things going in
> whatever way current science now believes things got going. Let's say he
> packed all the matter into a Primal Atom or "singularity" or whatever the
> current fashionable term is. (Cosmology seems to change about every five
> years these days, or faster, and I can't keep up.) Let's say he established
> the fundamental forces and constants that we know, and set up in advance the
> periodic table of elements that we know, etc. Now, imagine yourself as a
> silent, invisible observer, at the moment where the Big Bang is about to
> happen.
> Now, enter "Dark Timaeus". Dark Timaeus is my evil counterpart, a believer
> in anti-creation. Dark Timaeus possesses the most fearsome weapon ever
> known, or that ever will be known. It is called "the God Gun". This God
> Gun is the only weapon capable of killing God. The story of how Dark
> Timaeus wickedly obtained the God gun from its secret hiding place is
> fascinating indeed, but need not occupy us here. The point is that he has
> it. Now, just after God has established all the natural laws and properties
> that the universe will have, Dark Timaeus (who has the power of becoming
> invisible, even to God) sneaks up and fires his weapon. God's divine
> essence is dissolved, and he no longer exists. Dark Timaeus smiles
> wickedly.
> The Big Bang occurs, and the universe expands in accordance with the laws
> that God established. (At this point, those of you educated in medieval
> theology may object: "But wait! What about God's concurrence? Even
> regular natural laws require God's "concurrence", so if God is dead, won't
> the laws stop working? Won't the universe dissolve? Isn't this whole story
> theologically impossible?" The long answer is: One of the special
> features of the God Gun, a feature which [for deep reasons which would take
> too long to relate here] was installed in it by God himself, is a switch.
> The user of the Gun can fire the Gun in two modes: if he is in a
> nihilistic mood, he can simply destroy God, and the universe with it; or he
> can activate the switch, which will cause the Gun, in the act of firing, to
> create a "Divine Concurrence Field". The Divine Concurrence Field is in
> effect a copy of the original "spiritual software" by which God's
> concurrence wit!
> h natural laws is maintained. If the would-be God-slayer hates only God,
> but not the universe itself, he can switch on the Field before doing his
> evil deed. In this way, the laws of nature and the existence of matter and
> energy will be preserved, even though God himself is dead. That is what
> Dark Timaeus chose to do. As I said, this is the long answer. The short
> answer is: This is just an illustrative fiction, you pedantic clod! Play
> along, will you?)
> OK, so the universe expands, galaxies start forming, stars start forming,
> elements start being baked in the hearts of stars, planetary systems start
> forming, etc., etc. Anyone who reads popular science books ought to know
> the basic "Carl Sagan scenario". So we know that eventually hard planets
> will form, and some of them will have water, oxygen, the right temperature,
> etc., in other words, earth-like conditions, to sustain carbon-based,
> intelligent life. Now arises the important question: can life begin, and
> march upwards, evolving towards man?
> In considering this question, keep in mind what is ruled out. Since Dark
> Timaeus has slain God, God cannot intervene to produce life by specific
> acts. So Young Earth Creationism is ruled out, Old Earth Creationism is (I
> think) ruled out, and so is that version of TE which says that God actually
> does intervene in the evolutionary process, but does it hidden behind
> quantum indeterminacy (so we can't see him doing it or realize it's anything
> other than chance). It also rules out any other imaginative way that TEs
> might have come up with to make God personally but slyly active in the
> evolutionary process. God is dead. The cosmos is now all that is, or that
> will ever be. (Bonus points if you recognize the quotation.)
> So, if life has to evolve, there would appear to be only two ways in which
> it can do so. First, IF God has very carefully planned the universe, so
> that the natural laws will eventually and necessarily produce one or more
> planets which develop a front-loaded DNA which contains the entire
> evolutionary program within it, then life and man can and will develop, by
> wholly naturalistic processes, even though God is dead. (Just as you can
> set a timer on your oven or your living room lights or your VCR so that they
> will turn on after you are dead.) Second, if God planned the universe to
> emerge naturally only up to the creation of watery planets, and was
> intending to supervise the creation of life and man personally when the time
> came, then the emergence of life and man is now entirely dependent upon
> chance. Will the right molecules come together to create amino acids and
> nucleotides? Will nucleic acids and proteins form? Will they remain stable
> for the millions of years likely!
> to intervene before chance incorporates them into a cell? And will that
> cell survive, and reproduce in sufficient numbers to guarantee the
> continuity of life? And will cells eventually learn to live in colonies?
> And then to diversify and specialize? And then will the whole thing by
> chance become rearranged so that colonies become single entities, and
> reproduce as such, becoming the first multicellular creatures? And will the
> right accidents (acting in co-operation with natural selection, of course)
> happen to the earliest creatures to make them more complex? Will the
> Cambrian Explosion occur? Will there be vertebrates? Will chance create a
> lungfish, then an amphibian, then reptiles, birds, mammals? Etc.
> So, I've set up the alternatives. I'm now going to ask you all to enter
> imaginatively into my little fiction, and ask: What do you think will
> happen?
> Here are your options:
> 1. Everything will evolve exactly as it did when God existed, because God
> front-loaded everything, making nature self-sustaining. We will be here,
> because the laws of nature are implicitly anthropocentric.
> 2. Everything will evolve just as it did when God existed, because, given
> billions of years of time, chance mutations plus other chance mechanisms
> plus natural selection are capable of doing exactly what neo-Darwinism says
> they are capable of generating all species, including man. And since
> exactly the same initial conditions prevail upon the earth in this scenario
> as prevailed on the real earth, the same results will occur.
> 3. Life will probably come into existence, and if it does, it will evolve
> along Darwinian principles, and even complex, intelligent life forms may
> evolve, but the sequence of events, and many particulars, will be entirely
> different from what we know to have happened, because, as Gould says, every
> time you rewind the tape and play it again, the result is different. This
> is so even when the initial conditions are exactly the same on each
> occasion. This means that man may evolve, or that there may be intelligent
> octopuses or intelligent arthropods or intelligent bears instead, or that no
> beings of higher intelligence may evolve, or that no beings beyond
> one-celled creatures may come into existence. Just possibly, life may not
> even form.
> 4. Things will grind to a halt. There is no way anything as complex as a
> cell will be formed by chance and natural laws. The universe will sit there
> forever (or until the Big Crunch), with lifeless planets orbiting lifeless
> stars.
> You must choose one of these four. You may add refinements, qualifications
> and caveats in your answer, but you must choose one of these four.
> Whichever you choose, please explain your reasoning.
> From the answers to this, I will be able to determine, for each individual
> respondent, what the respondent understands by "Darwinian mechanisms", what
> creative roles the respondent assigns to Darwinian mechanisms and to God in
> our current world, and to what extent the respondent could agree with an ID
> perspective. After that, I think I can give a very clear restatement of my
> own position, and what I take the ID position to be, a restatement that will
> remove the ambiguities that some of you are sensing in my account.
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William E (Bill) Hamilton Jr., Ph.D.
Member American Scientific Affiliation
Rochester, MI/Austin, TX
248 821 8156
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Received on Mon, 6 Oct 2008 16:34:51 -0500

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