Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Wed Jan 28 2009 - 09:37:15 EST

Thanks, George. Could you expound on some of this a bit further so I can understand it better?

1. I think the idea is that in Christian belief, from the beginning of creation, there was an intent for humans to appear at some point. God wanted to create humans. What theologies differ from that perspective, other than, possibly, process or open theology?

2. Agreed. Though I suspect Coyne would say that the scientific evidence is not consistent with an intent for convergence to humanoid creatures. That's a little softer than disproving it but close.

3. True, Russell's approach is a possibility, though it still makes me a little uncomfortable. I still can't articulate why. I guess part of it is that the type of contingencies that make evolutionary direction unpredictable are not really quantum indeterminacies.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Murphy
  To: Randy Isaac ;
  Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 9:47 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion

  1) The claim that humanoid evolution is necessary for Christianity is an overstatement. It is for some theologies (e.g., Barth's doctrine of election) but not all.

  2) Even granted that it is necessary, it is still an overstatement to say that the reconciliation of Christianity & science demands proof (by which I'm sure Coyne means proof by the standards of the natural sciences). It is sufficient that science has not disproven it.

  3) Finally, it is possible to hold - as Bob Russell has argued - that God could direct the process of evolution at the quantum level in a way that is undetectable by, but not inconsistent with, science. See, e.g., his chapter in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Randy Isaac
    Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 9:18 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion

      Thanks for drawing attention to this review. I was struck by his comment: "If we cannot prove that humanoid evolution was inevitable, then the reconciliation of evolution and Christianity collapses." and later "Giberson and Miller proclaim the inevitability of humanoids for one reason only: Christianity demands it."

      This is where Coyne may have a point. If humanoids were the end target from the very beginning, then they would qualify as Dembski's "specified complexity" and would either need to be the result of inevitable convergence (the front-loaded option as dubbed on this list) or of supernatural guidance along the way. Conversely, the idea that humanoids were the goal from the beginning is not discernable from science but only from revelation. Ergo, Christianity demands it but not science.

      As for convergence, Coyne notes that "We recognize convergences because unrelated species evolve similar traits. In other words, the traits appear in more than one species. But sophisticated, self-aware intelligence is a singleton: it evolved just once, in a human ancestor."


    Mike wrote:
    Jerry Coyne has written a lengthy, critical review of Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution by Karl W. Giberson and Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul by Kenneth R. Miller. You can read it here:


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Received on Wed Jan 28 09:37:48 2009

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