Author Topic: What if Theistic Evolution were true?  (Read 3844 times)

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #45 on: October 25, 2018, 08:33:02 AM »
Here are two excellent articles showing just how solid and nigh irrefutable is the theological - i.e. Biblical, patristic, mystical and Magisterial - evidence for special creation as against theistic evolution.

Let's start by precisely defining terms.

If by "special creation" you only mean special creation of man, admitted; if by "special creation" you also include a young earth, special creation of all animal and plant species (or at least "kinds") at or near the same point in time (e.g. no macroevolution whatsoever), and no animal death before the Fall, denied.  For instance, the Thomist philosophy you praise so highly denies animals were immortal prior to the Fall, with cogent arguments (even if you do not agree), and the Church has never censured anyone for saying they were.  The Church also has had no problem with an old earth for a very long time well predating Vatican II.  No one was ever censured just for saying the earth was much older than 10,000 years.

And "theistic evolution" as I am using the term incorporates the possibility of some progressive creationism.  Granted, not all theistic evolutionists would see it that way but I simply don't have a better and more precise term.  Anyway, this was by far the mainstream view among Protestants as well as Catholics for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Now, the crux of the debate.  It is similar to what I asked Arvinger earlier.  It is whether an argument from authority should automatically take precedence over an argument from evidence.  So, I'll ask you: you will believe in a young earth, no matter what the evidence from the physical sciences (physics, geology, astronomy, etc.) - even if that evidence were (hypothetically) absolutely 100% compelling in its own right, as long as Catholic old-earthers haven't shown how to harmonize this with the young earth tradition - which you rule out of court anyway by calling it "nigh irrefutable".  Correct me if I'm wrong.

And I will say in that case: you have made faith irrational.  Claims of faith must be consistent not only with logic but also with physical evidence (which is not the same thing as saying claims of faith can be proven from them).  As a consequence, the motives of credibility are completely shot.



 
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Offline Melkite

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #46 on: October 25, 2018, 03:21:53 PM »
Let's start by precisely defining terms.

If by "special creation" you only mean special creation of man, admitted; if by "special creation" you also include a young earth, special creation of all animal and plant species (or at least "kinds") at or near the same point in time (e.g. no macroevolution whatsoever), and no animal death before the Fall, denied.  For instance, the Thomist philosophy you praise so highly denies animals were immortal prior to the Fall, with cogent arguments (even if you do not agree), and the Church has never censured anyone for saying they were.  The Church also has had no problem with an old earth for a very long time well predating Vatican II.  No one was ever censured just for saying the earth was much older than 10,000 years.

And "theistic evolution" as I am using the term incorporates the possibility of some progressive creationism.  Granted, not all theistic evolutionists would see it that way but I simply don't have a better and more precise term.  Anyway, this was by far the mainstream view among Protestants as well as Catholics for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Now, the crux of the debate.  It is similar to what I asked Arvinger earlier.  It is whether an argument from authority should automatically take precedence over an argument from evidence.  So, I'll ask you: you will believe in a young earth, no matter what the evidence from the physical sciences (physics, geology, astronomy, etc.) - even if that evidence were (hypothetically) absolutely 100% compelling in its own right, as long as Catholic old-earthers haven't shown how to harmonize this with the young earth tradition - which you rule out of court anyway by calling it "nigh irrefutable".  Correct me if I'm wrong.

And I will say in that case: you have made faith irrational.  Claims of faith must be consistent not only with logic but also with physical evidence (which is not the same thing as saying claims of faith can be proven from them).  As a consequence, the motives of credibility are completely shot.

This is the philosophical problem for me to accept immediate creation.  That physical death pre-existed the human species, even assuming immediate creation of kinds, is nigh irrefutable.  If the original sin is the cause of not only spiritual death, but physical death as well (and physical death in all things besides humans), then it's game over for original sin before it even gets out of the gate.
 

Offline james03

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #47 on: October 28, 2018, 03:25:25 PM »
Here's my summary of terms/options:

1.  Classical Creationism:  Literal Genesis. 
pros:
Literal interpretation of the Bible
Solves Origin of Life problem.
Concurs with Statistics and Information Theory.
Cons:
Does not fit well with what we observe in the record.
Genetic similarities and even loss of functionality (e.g. Vit. C synthesis) don't fit.

2.  Progressive Creationism:  Basically Old Earth Creationism.  God invovled throughout the process.  Adam and Eve a special case that results in Man.
Pros:
Solves Origin of Life problems.
Concurs with Statistics and Information Theory.
Loss of functionality and similarity in genetic code expected.
No problem with what we observe.
Adam and Eve retained.
Cons:
Literal interpretation for Genesis must be dropped.

3.  Theistic Evolution -- God creates the first life, and orders the world such that mutations will break the right way.  Evolution and Natural selection are the drivers.
Pros:
Origin of Life problem solved.
Fits observations.
Probability problem kind of solved.

Cons:
Natural selection has problems until the new functionality is useful.  Small adaptations leading to a new functionality don't offer a competitive advantage, and in fact most cases consume resources and are a disadvantage.
Doesn't fit with Information theory.
Realistically Adam and Eve don't fit.
Observed loss of functionality (e.g. Vitamin C) as predicted by Information Theory, doesn't fit well.
Probability problem kind of NOT solved.  You are basically arguing that God ordered the universe so that an Xray would hit a sperm and egg to cause a mutation (over and over).  Reduce it down and you are begging the question, basically arguing for Progressive Creationism, inserting the special Xray with zero evidence.
Literal Genesis has to be abandoned.

4.  Darwinian Evolution  No God.  Natural selection is the driver.  Everything is random chance.

Pro's:
Kind of matches what is observed.

Con's:
Origin of Life (fatal problem, protein/DNA dead lock)
Huge problems with Statistics.
Fatal problem with Information Theory
Adam and Eve don't fit.
Kind of DOESN'T match what is observed (huge gaps in the record / observed loss of functionality).
Literal Genesis abandoned.
Natural Selection is a weak driver, and competitive advantage doesn't work until functionality is gained.  The path to functionality gain is over a competitive DISADVANTAGE as the intermediate steps consume resources with zero benefit.  The cat/bat example where a two pawed cat has to flounder around dragging partial wings.

I go for Progressive Creationism based on two teachings:

1.  St. Augustine:  don't use the Bible to argue against science.
2.  St. Robert Bellarmine's commentary on the Galileo affair.

"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

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Offline sedmohradsko

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #48 on: October 28, 2018, 04:23:09 PM »
James03, I thought I believed in theological evolution, but the way you've expressed it, I think progressive creationism better defines what I think.  The only con is the loss of a literal interpretation of Genesis, and that has never been problematic for me.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #49 on: October 28, 2018, 08:09:15 PM »
If God is the god of theistic evolution or "progressive creationism," then I feel I have made the right decision in having nothing to do with him.  Because if all those eons of gratuitous suffering are his way of a glorious prelude, then the Gnostics must've right all along and God is a sadistic monster.  Ken Ham, at least, agrees with me.  Only the creationist God is credible.  It's still possible that the theistic evolutionist god exists and is truly God, but even if that were proven so, I would nevertheless politely exempt myself from his company on principle.  It's like how Greg used to say that if the Vatican II religion was actually Catholicism, and if John Paul II was really in heaven, then he (Greg) would prefer to end up in hell.  He didn't want to spend eternity with the modernists and rainbow sashers and pedophile protectors.  That's how I feel about theistic evolution.

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Offline Matto

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #50 on: October 28, 2018, 08:16:58 PM »
I remember being told that Milton believed that the world was originally created by God with the earth as the center of the universe with the sun orbiting around it, but that after the fall, Adam's sin actually changed the entire world and the earth began to orbit around the sun because of that rebellion, that the planets actually rebelled against man like the animals did, becoming wild, and that was the way that Milton reconciled the idea of the earth being at the center with the scientists' claim that the sun was at the center. I don't remember actually reading that idea from Milton himself but that was what I was told perhaps by my Milton professor at university. Perhaps there are those who claim that God did create the world in six days but that when Adam sinned the consequences were so extreme that it actually changed the whole course of time and transformed the world and history itself from one with a six day creation to one with a big bang, and that in this way the book of Genesis can be reconciled with what the scientists say. Do people believe this one? Anyone out there? I have not read the whole thread or all of the other threads there are about this topic.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 08:22:33 PM by Matto »
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #51 on: October 28, 2018, 08:30:07 PM »
There were two very estimable Church Fathers, Origen and St. Augustine, who did not believe in a literal six-day creation.  They felt the six-day account was metaphorical, laid out in order to appeal to mortal human minds which think in terms of the day-to-day passing of time.  But Origen and St. Augustine weren't theistic evolutionists, either; on the contrary, they felt creation happened in an instant, and that everything appeared immediately fully formed ex nihilo.  Origen said he refused to believe that God went about like a gardener planting trees and watering lakes over the course of a week and resting at the end, since such temporal activity was wholly unnecessary for the Omnipotent.  Origen surely would've been even more appalled at the idea of the six days being a metaphor for the Almighty idly passing four billion years busying himself with fiddling with molecules and genomes, for no apparent reason other than to have countless sentient creatures suffering and dying from predation, famine, and disease.


« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 08:34:46 PM by Pon de Replay »
 
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #52 on: October 28, 2018, 09:01:01 PM »
If God is the god of theistic evolution or "progressive creationism," then I feel I have made the right decision in having nothing to do with him.  Because if all those eons of gratuitous suffering are his way of a glorious prelude, then the Gnostics must've right all along and God is a sadistic monster.  Ken Ham, at least, agrees with me.  Only the creationist God is credible.  It's still possible that the theistic evolutionist god exists and is truly God, but even if that were proven so, I would nevertheless politely exempt myself from his company on principle.  It's like how Greg used to say that if the Vatican II religion was actually Catholicism, and if John Paul II was really in heaven, then he (Greg) would prefer to end up in hell.  He didn't want to spend eternity with the modernists and rainbow sashers and pedophile protectors.  That's how I feel about theistic evolution.

It's funny.  That's exactly how I feel about Augustinian/Thomistic predestination.  Yes, I argue against it based on intellectual grounds, but basically my opposition is that I find the doctrine absolutely disgusting and horrifying, and I simply don't care what this Saint or that Father or that Doctor said (and do not respect their authority, no matter what titles the Church gives them); if it is true, then God is a sadistic monster, predetermining that countless billions suffer an eternity in hell (and yes, that IS what the doctrine entails, the contortions of Thomists and sophistries about "cause" notwithstanding).

But I would like to know exactly why you would find the creationist God credible, punishing the entire animal kingdom for the sin of man and turning nature "red in tooth and claw".  That sounds like a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, hitting his little sister because his parents didn't give him the candy he wanted.  Why is that not sadism?

 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #53 on: October 28, 2018, 09:31:25 PM »
But I would like to know exactly why you would find the creationist God credible, punishing the entire animal kingdom for the sin of man and turning nature "red in tooth and claw".  That sounds like a three-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, hitting his little sister because his parents didn't give him the candy he wanted.  Why is that not sadism?

I don't know if your analogy is quite right, though.  It's more like if we were all on an airplane, and there was a button behind a pane of glass labelled "CAUTION: DO NOT PRESS," and the stewardess had said during the instruction spiel, "whatever you do, don't press this button."  And then during the flight you got so curious that you couldn't take it anymore, and you broke the glass and pressed the button.  And the result was that suddenly the plane's engines caught fire and the plane started spiraling to the ground.  It would be a catastrophe and a horror, indeed, but it was your fault.  You pushed the button.  The rest of us (and the poor animals as well, in their cages in the cargo hold) just happened to be on the same plane.  Oh well. 

I guess you could blame the airline, for designing the plane with the tempting button.  And maybe you could say it was a mandatory flight, and the passengers and the animals had no choice but to be on it.  Maybe we were being forcibly repatriated, and this was our deportation flight.  The bottom line is that someone pressed the button, and the rest of us were just there when it happened.  Dumb luck.  So the creationist scheme isn't God throwing a temper tantrum.  It's more a case of, "you were told not to push that button."  It's Pandora's box, and now it's opened.  And here we are, in a world of suffering and a valley of tears.  It's that way for one of two reasons.  Either God put a tempting fruit in a garden and a first pair did "eat of it," causing a fallen world, or else no one's in charge and there's suffering because nature is amoral.
 

Offline james03

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #54 on: October 28, 2018, 11:59:49 PM »
Quote
If God is the god of theistic evolution or "progressive creationism," then I feel I have made the right decision in having nothing to do with him.  Because if all those eons of gratuitous suffering are his way of a glorious prelude, then the Gnostics must've right all along and God is a sadistic monster.

I have no idea what you are trying to say.  How many animals just got killed in brutal ways while you were reading this?

As far as suffering, look at the result of the instant-gratification age we live in.  Do the people staring zombie-like at their iPhones look happy?
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

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Offline james03

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #55 on: October 29, 2018, 12:02:26 AM »
Quote
That's exactly how I feel about Augustinian/Thomistic predestination.
  Your complaint about Augustine I can understand.  St. Thomas?  Go back and read what he wrote about free will, which is counter to Banez.  At best he was muddled.  Bellarmine clarified it better.  The final clarification is to realize that God is outside of time (the realm of predestination) and we are inside of time (the realm of free will).
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #56 on: October 29, 2018, 09:40:56 AM »
Hypothesis to explain animal suffering: We simply deny that there is such a thing as animal suffering. We begin with the assumption that animals are basically robots. Consider the android who stubs his toe and says "Ouch!". It appears to us that he says "Ouch!" because he has experienced pain as a result of having stubbed his toe. Yet, in fact, he feels no pain. He is just acting as if he is in pain because that is the way in which he has been programmed to act. Similarly, animals have no souls and feel no pain. When you torture a kitten, it appears to shriek in pain. But this is illusory. The kitten feels nothing; it only acts as if it's in pain, because that is the way in which God has programmed it to act.

If this hypothesis is correct, we can simply ignore what appears to be animal suffering. And this could explain a lot... if animal suffering really is the worst possible evil (apart from sin), why did God never command us not to torture animals? Hypothetical answer: Because animals can feel no pain, and so there is nothing evil or sinful about torturing them.

From this hypothesis, we can also see why a young earth fits the data and is not incompatible with theistic evolution. If all irrational things are programmed by God, in a way similar to The Matrix, then for all we know the simulation has only been running for 7,000 years.

Yet this hypothesis fails to explain human souls, since such souls are evidently not part of the simulation.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 09:43:59 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #57 on: October 29, 2018, 10:04:03 AM »
Hypothesis to explain how God can be good and still act as if he's some sort of a mad puppet master: We humans simply don't have a full understanding of the nature of goodness. It is true, if an ordinary man were to live out the rôle of "mad puppet master", then we'd judge that man to be an evil sadistic monster. But God is no ordinary man, and who are we to judge God? According to Plato and St. Augustine and others, it's metaphysically impossible that God is evil. Yet the evidence suggests that God is like a mad puppet master. Conclusion: Some mad puppet masters are not evil.

You also must consider the fact that God is Creator and thus has natural absolute dominion over creation. If you create the world, it's yours. You can do whatever you want with it.
Analogy: A human author writes a story in which an innocent man is murdered. Only a crazy person would dare approach the author and begin making accusations such as, "You're an evil monster! You have no right to kill off your characters like that! You murderer!"
Or another analogy: The artist who paints a picture and afterwards burns it. Only a crazy person would say, "You sadist! There were people in that picture! You can't just go around burning them all like that! That's genocide! It's evil and wrong!"
Far more absurd would it be if the characters in the novel, or the persons in the painting, were to tell their creator that he ought not to do as he will with his creation.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 12:44:46 PM by Daniel »
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #58 on: October 29, 2018, 01:43:59 PM »
Quote
If God is the god of theistic evolution or "progressive creationism," then I feel I have made the right decision in having nothing to do with him.  Because if all those eons of gratuitous suffering are his way of a glorious prelude, then the Gnostics must've right all along and God is a sadistic monster.

I have no idea what you are trying to say.  How many animals just got killed in brutal ways while you were reading this?

Make no mistake, quite a lot of animals are suffering and dying agonizing deaths every moment of every day.  The tally is large either way, but the creationist scheme is only seven thousand years old, whereas the theistic evolutionist one is four billion—although, for the sake of the suffering problem, we can dial that number way back to maybe two hundred million years.  But still, 200M > 7K.

One way to handicap it, of course, would be to consider that in the early going of animal life, populations were probably much smaller.  And we could also consider the brutal efficiency of latter-day factory farms, which are designed for maximum meat production but have the side consequence of being animal hells.  These factors tilt the ledger a wee bit in the favor of the theistic evolutionists, but not by much.  It would take many more years of modern human contributions to catch up on two hundred million years of nature, since the last fifty years are but the blink of an eye in evolutionary time.

So my objection is not that the creationist God allows no suffering.  It's that the theistic evolutionist God permits it on a far greater magnitude.  You may have the same rebuttal to this stance as QMR does, which is (rightly) that any suffering at all is a contradiction to omnibenevolence, so a suffering quantity of 1 is as ruinous as 1,000 or 1,000,000.  It's a fair objection.  QMR says, in effect, that God can be the biggest sadistic monster imaginable—and still be all-good.  I happily leave it to him to evangelize for this interesting theology.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #59 on: October 29, 2018, 01:54:22 PM »
Hypothesis to explain animal suffering: We simply deny that there is such a thing as animal suffering. We begin with the assumption that animals are basically robots. Consider the android who stubs his toe and says "Ouch!". It appears to us that he says "Ouch!" because he has experienced pain as a result of having stubbed his toe. Yet, in fact, he feels no pain. He is just acting as if he is in pain because that is the way in which he has been programmed to act. Similarly, animals have no souls and feel no pain. When you torture a kitten, it appears to shriek in pain. But this is illusory. The kitten feels nothing; it only acts as if it's in pain, because that is the way in which God has programmed it to act.

If this hypothesis is correct, we can simply ignore what appears to be animal suffering. And this could explain a lot... if animal suffering really is the worst possible evil (apart from sin), why did God never command us not to torture animals? Hypothetical answer: Because animals can feel no pain, and so there is nothing evil or sinful about torturing them.

You are taking here Descartes' position that all animals are automatons.  This is refuted by observation, since our understanding of animal biology tells us that the perception of pain is caused by having a nervous system and brain, something that is true of both humans and non-human animals.  If you want to make the distinction arbitrary in some supposition at odds with biology, then it all ends in solipsism.  There would be nothing stopping the pyschopath from concluding that only he truly experienced pain, and that all other humans were robots in a cosmic simulation, and it didn't matter a whit whether he raped them or tortured them or killed them (their cries of anguish being only programmed responses).
 
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