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

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Thu Jan 29 2009 - 22:25:01 EST

Agreed on all points. thank you.

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>; "Randy Isaac" <>
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 7:38 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion

> Randy -
> 1) Of course we always have to be careful about trying to discern God's
> purposes in creation because there's the danger of thinking that God _had_
> to create in one way or another. I think one can make a good theological
> case that God created a universe in which intelligent creatures would come
> into being in order that (a) God might have a personal relationship with
> creatures & (b) so that there would be an intelligent species in which God
> could become incarnate & in that way be united with creation (Eph.1:10).
> Tht could be so if evolution produced _any_ intelligent species on any
> planet. Thus theology could be compatible with the type mof contingency
> of evolution for which Gould argued.
> OTOH in Barth's theology creation is for the sake of election not just of
> incarnation in an intelligent species in the abstract but of the specific
> person Jesus Christ. This then clearly requires the evolution of Homo
> sapiens & a view of evolution more like that of Conway Morris.
> I used to be much more positive about the 1st alternative - cf. my PSCF
> article "The Third Article in the Science-Theology Dialogue" some time
> ago. Recently I've been tending more to the 2d but I don't think the 1st
> possibility is heretical & it's certainly an overstatement to sat that
> Christianity lives or dies by it.
> 2) I am no expert on the biology but on general principles we can say
> that the "movie" of evolution would be completely different if it were run
> again (a la Gould's "Wonderful Life" analogy) since we in fact only get to
> watch one showing of it.
> 3) What happens to individual bases in DNA is at the quantum level. That
> indeed is not the whole story, & chaos theory-type unpredicability also
> plays major roles. But even here it is the ultimate quantum
> indeterminancy that tells us that there is a limit on olur knowledge of
> _classical_ initial conditions, so that "sensitivity to initial
> conditions_ must always be taken into account even in principle.
> Shalom,
> George
> ---- Randy Isaac <> wrote:
>> 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.
>> Randy
>> ----- 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.
>> Shalom
>> George
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Randy Isaac
>> To:
>> Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 9:18 PM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] Jerry Coyne's Confused Attack on Religion
>> Mike,
>> 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."
>> Randy
>> 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 Thu Jan 29 22:25:46 2009

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