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

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2009 - 01:02:46 EST

Randy wrote: "Russell's approach is a possibility, though it still makes me a little uncomfortable. ... I guess part of it is that the type of contingencies that make evolutionary direction unpredictable are not really quantum indeterminacies."

God through knowledge of evolutionary processes presumably can act at the quantum level to make sure those processes lead to desired results. The witness of the fossils as humans interpret them, however, is that all results are haphazard in the sense that they convey no evidence of having been desired by an intelligent being.


  ----- Original Message -----
  To:<> ; Randy Isaac<>
  Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 4:38 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.



  ---- 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

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Received on Fri Jan 30 01:07:19 2009

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