Author Topic: What if Theistic Evolution were true?  (Read 4188 times)

Offline Daniel

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #75 on: November 13, 2018, 02:21:32 PM »
Conceded, then, that in your particular theistic evolution scenario, the reason for the suffering is the same: the suffering is caused by the Fall.
What sort of "theistic evolution" is this? The theistic evolution that I'm aware of holds that animal suffering was not caused by the fall. But whereas YEC makes the "reason" out to be punishment for man's sin (which QMR holds to be unjust), theistic evolution says that the "reason" is because suffering is necessary for our particular universe to exist.


But my God does not punish unwilling innocent animals for the sins of man.  I do not hold it just to torture the dog of the man who burglarized my house.
Have you overlooked Exodus 9:1-6, or do you have some way to account for that?


Slightly unrelated, QMR, but if I may, a question.  You contend that man was a special creation.  In this scenario, man presumably appears fully-formed.
I'm not QMR so I don't know his views on this, but I think when theistic evolutionists say "man was a special creation", what they mean is that man's soul was specially created. i.e. Maybe there was already some monkey-man out there who had come about as a result of evolution / natural processes, but then God specially created a human soul and swapped out the monkey-man's material soul with the human soul, thereby creating the first man.


If this deception of appearances can apply to humans, why can't it apply to flora, fauna, and rocks?  If you assume a special creation of man, there is no reason why you couldn't just as well assume a special creation of the earth and everything on it.  If a man can appear an adult while being only a moment old, why can't the earth have the appearance of being billions of years old while being only seven thousand?
Agreed, which is why I personally don't really have a strong position on the issue at the moment. However, by this view, YEC can neither be confirmed nor refuted by the natural sciences.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2018, 02:31:21 PM by Daniel »
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #76 on: November 13, 2018, 07:26:10 PM »
QMR can correct me if I'm wrong, Daniel, but the Quarist school of theistic evolution differs from the classical on two major points.  First, deviating from the standard evolutionist model, he posits a separate creation of man, in a conscientious attempt to square things with Humani Generis, which maintains that a Catholic must believe in a first pair:

Quote from: Pope Pius XII
The faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

Second, he avers that the cruelties of evolution before the Fall are of the precisely same character as the post-lapsarian penalty of death entering into the world: that penalty, according to QMR, was in place prior to the Fall due to God's foreknowledge.   If you go to the OP of this thread, he explains this stance in his "Answer 1."

So these are the positions of his to which I was responding.
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #77 on: November 13, 2018, 07:31:47 PM »
If this deception of appearances can apply to humans, why can't it apply to flora, fauna, and rocks?  If you assume a special creation of man, there is no reason why you couldn't just as well assume a special creation of the earth and everything on it.  If a man can appear an adult while being only a moment old, why can't the earth have the appearance of being billions of years old while being only seven thousand?

Agreed, which is why I personally don't really have a strong position on the issue at the moment. However, by this view, YEC can neither be confirmed nor refuted by the natural sciences.

Yes.  This particular view of YEC (as well as the Quarist view of a special creation of man) are both variations of the Omphalos hypothesis, the former macrocosmic and the latter microcosmic.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #78 on: November 13, 2018, 08:58:25 PM »
Conceded, then, that in your particular theistic evolution scenario, the reason for the suffering is the same: the suffering is caused by the Fall.  But there is still an important distinction.  In the YEC scenario, animal suffering is comprehensible in a way we can understand.  They happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In your scenario, the prelapsarian animals weren't even there when the Fall occurred.  They were in a different place and time.  And you're suggesting that God went and made them suffer, too.  It's like the fact that the children killed by Adam Lanza had the terrible misfortune to attend the elementary school he decided to shoot up.  Surely that's no reason for you to go around machine-gunning all the other children at different schools. 

Yeah, but that analogy isn't entirely apt, is it?  I mean, in this scenario God is directly and deliberately punishing animals for having the misfortune of being in the "wrong" place at the "wrong" time - a time and a place in which He placed them.

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In YEC, animal suffering is incidental to the Fall taking place in linear time: through sin, death enters into the world.  In yours, animal suffering is gratuitous, not incidental.  Somehow insisting on an animal massa damnata, the god of your theology not only permits animal suffering going forward in time, but for some reason troubles himself to go back in time and make millions of years' worth of them suffer as well.  Why on earth?

But the God of YEC theology has an animal massa damnata as well, those that were unlucky enough to exist after the Fall.  And you conflate animal death with animal suffering.  Sure, maybe you could say animal death was the result of original sin, although it's never explained precisely how, if animals continue to reproduce and reproduce and never die, resulting in the entire earth covered with animals, this could be "paradise" for humans.  It doesn't follow from there that the type of death, being ripped to shreds by the teeth of a predator and suffering horrible agony, should also result.

But you've got it kind of backwards.  God doesn't retroactively put animals from an impassable state to a suffering one.  They were never in an impassable state to begin with.  Whereas this is what the YEC God does - punishing animals just as He does man.

Anyway, I don't really have a satisfactory theodicy for animal suffering, anymore than I do for hell.  There's no particular reason I can see why animals have to have a nervous system capable of suffering pain.  The only answer can be, that's what they are "by nature" - but it still seems to constrain God to "nature".

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An added inconsistency is to consider the harrowing of hell, where the salvation narrative proceeds in linear time.  The righteous and the patriarchs were in limbo until the coming of Christ; it was only after His redemptive sacrifice that they were freed.  Yet by your logic on the Fall, they should've already been in heaven or purgatory.  If the effects of the Fall extend both forwards and backwards in time, why don't the effects of the redemption?  Again this is theistic sadism: preferring the gratuitous punishment of innocents and refusing even redemptive mercy to the elect.

Except Catholic theology has had to give way on this point with the advent of the Immaculate Conception, which does have the effects of the Redemption extending back in time.  Inconsistent?  Tailoring theology to the needs of the moment? Perhaps, yes.

 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #79 on: November 13, 2018, 09:07:24 PM »
Slightly unrelated, QMR, but if I may, a question.  You contend that man was a special creation.  In this scenario, man presumably appears fully-formed.  Yet observationally, this is a biological human being possessing a genome.  Everything about this suggests parentage and an evolutionary ancestry. 

No, it doesn't.  It would depend on what particular genome was possessed, not merely the possession of A genome.  For instance, if the codons were radically different, and the nucleotides making up the base pairs (or maybe they are base triplets) different molecules, then it would not suggest this at all.

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I don't know what age you suggest man first appeared as, but if we say he was twenty, then we would have an observable adult whose actual age is no more than a minute.  Even if you say Adam and Eve appeared first as newborns, then observably these are human creatures that we would rationally conclude are at least nine months old, given the womb.  And yet they would actually be seconds old.

Right.  We would not conclude just from looking that they were instantaneously created.  But the key point is that there would be no evidence not consistent with instantaneous creation.

By analogy, if you had wandered in on the wedding feast at Cana near the end, you wouldn't conclude from that that a miracle had occurred.  You might think the wine tasted pretty good, but there are other plausible explanations for that (a shipment being delayed, etc.).  But your evidence is not inconsistent with the miracle.  It would be different if there was only water left to drink, and upon questioning you learned from the other guests that, much to the bride and groom's embarrassment, the wine ran out a long time ago.

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If this deception of appearances can apply to humans, why can't it apply to flora, fauna, and rocks?  If you assume a special creation of man, there is no reason why you couldn't just as well assume a special creation of the earth and everything on it.  If a man can appear an adult while being only a moment old, why can't the earth have the appearance of being billions of years old while being only seven thousand?  Ergo, young earth creationism is sustained by your own logic.

No, because there is a difference between an appearance of age and an appearance of history.  An appearance of age is consistent with a miracle, even if we wouldn't conclude a miracle from that alone.  An appearance of history that did not happen is not.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #80 on: November 14, 2018, 02:23:32 PM »
It would depend on what particular genome was possessed, not merely the possession of A genome.  For instance, if the codons were radically different, and the nucleotides making up the base pairs (or maybe they are base triplets) different molecules, then it would not suggest this at all.

What about mitochondrial DNA?  If Eve did not have mitochondrial DNA, then how would any of us have it?  (How would she even have been alive?  Isn't mitochondria necessary for mammalian life forms?)  And if she did have it, then her genome suggests parentage and an evolutionary ancestry.

There is a difference between an appearance of age and an appearance of history.  An appearance of age is consistent with a miracle, even if we wouldn't conclude a miracle from that alone.  An appearance of history that did not happen is not.

This is semantics, QMR.  An appearance of age is itself the appearance of history.  Nothing can have an age without having a history.  A human twenty years of age has the appearance of history: the history of maturation from infancy to adulthood.  You are saying, in Adam's case, that's a history that did not happen.  Age and history are interlinked.  If you cut open a tree, the rings can indicate how many summers and winters passed in the tree's history.  If you look at geological strata, the layers can indicate the chronology of its formation.  If you take a glass of wine, there are chemical analyses that can tell you what kind of grape it came from, and estimate for how long it was fermented and aged.

Granted, you can't cut open a human and count the rings, but we do have DNA analyses to examine a person's heredity, and a human even contains a record of its personal history—namely, its memory.  At the very least, a human who can walk, talk, and control his or her bladder and bowels will indicate a history of having learned those things during its life.  And if we speak the person's language then we can learn far more about their personal history.  Unless you contend that Adam appeared fully-formed as an adult but without any memory or acquired knowledge (as much a tabula rasa as any infant—and equally as babbling and helpless), then not only his physical appearance but the contents of his mind would both indicate having a history.  Though maybe you want to suppose that he had memories implanted in him when he was created, like Rachael in Blade Runner.  But still, that would give a false appearance of history.  The other option, I suppose, is to say that Adam and Eve appeared as babies, and perhaps you could have them raised by kindly gorillas, or chimpanzees, or a tribe of Neanderthals.  But at that point you would be closer to Mowgli or Tarzan than Genesis.





« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 06:33:56 PM by Pon de Replay »
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #81 on: November 15, 2018, 03:38:00 PM »
What about mitochondrial DNA?  If Eve did not have mitochondrial DNA, then how would any of us have it?  (How would she even have been alive?  Isn't mitochondria necessary for mammalian life forms?)  And if she did have it, then her genome suggests parentage and an evolutionary ancestry.

Again, what suggests common ancestry is not the bare existence of mitochondrial DNA, but the actual content of the mitochondrial DNA.  If there were, indeed, mitochondrial DNA in humans but everything about it (including codons, nucleotides, etc.) was radically different from apes, that would be strong evidence against common ancestry.  This is not the case, of course, so YECs have to wave their hands and talk about a "common blueprint" or a "common design".

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This is semantics, QMR. 

Perhaps better words could have been used to make the point, but it still stands.  ALL natural miracles include the "appearance of age" insofar as there is something natural which did not occur via natural processes.  But there are "appearances of age" consistent with miracles and appearances of age which are not.  The latter can be used as evidence against a claimed miracle; the former cannot.  Deny this, and you veer into irrationality.

If there's NO evidence which could even be hypothetically be used against a claimed miracle, then belief in miracles is essentially irrational.  There is no means to distinguish a false miracle claim from a true one.
But if the "appearance of age" (which a natural miracle must necessarily have) is going to be claimed as definitive evidence against such miracle (which is, more or less, the rationalistic/naturalistic objection) then non-belief in miracles is essentially irrational - it is claiming as evidence against X something that X must have.

As you probably know, one of the biggest arguments against YEC is the starlight problem.  Some YECs have attempted to answer it by positing starlight created in transit.  You would rule this argument right out of hand by saying the starlight has the appearance of age, of having come from the star.  I would not.  I rule out the argument because the starlight shows direct evidence of supernova explosions which (if YEC is correct) did not happen - whereas the starlight does not show direct evidence of having come from the star - it is inferred to have done so based on the assumption of no miracle, which then cannot be turned around and used as evidence against the assumption.  See the difference?

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You are saying, in Adam's case, that's a history that did not happen.

If Adam claimed to have memories of a childhood (which would not exist were he instantaneously created), that would be evidence against instantaneous creation.  But you would simply like to take his existence as evidence against such; which, as I have shown, is a fallacy.

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Age and history are interlinked.  If you cut open a tree, the rings can indicate how many summers and winters passed in the tree's history. 

Right.  So an instantaneously-created tree should have no rings.

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If you look at geological strata, the layers can indicate the chronology of its formation.  If you take a glass of wine, there are chemical analyses that can tell you what kind of grape it came from, and estimate for how long it was fermented and aged.

Right, assuming these things occurred via natural processes. Again, I ask you, what would or would not count as evidence against the claimed miracle at Cana?  If the mere existence of the wine itself, then every miracle claim (at least natural one) will be rejected for the same reason.

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Granted, you can't cut open a human and count the rings, but we do have DNA analyses to examine a person's heredity, and a human even contains a record of its personal history—namely, its memory.  At the very least, a human who can walk, talk, and control his or her bladder and bowels will indicate a history of having learned those things during its life.  And if we speak the person's language then we can learn far more about their personal history.  Unless you contend that Adam appeared fully-formed as an adult but without any memory or acquired knowledge (as much a tabula rasa as any infant—and equally as babbling and helpless), then not only his physical appearance but the contents of his mind would both indicate having a history.  Though maybe you want to suppose that he had memories implanted in him when he was created, like Rachael in Blade Runner.  But still, that would give a false appearance of history.  The other option, I suppose, is to say that Adam and Eve appeared as babies, and perhaps you could have them raised by kindly gorillas, or chimpanzees, or a tribe of Neanderthals.  But at that point you would be closer to Mowgli or Tarzan than Genesis.

No, Adam would have had infused knowledge implanted into his brain but not infused false memories.  Unfortunately, we do not have access to his DNA so can make no conclusion regarding heredity.

 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #82 on: November 15, 2018, 08:31:32 PM »
Again, what suggests common ancestry is not the bare existence of ate=1542314280]Amitochondrial DNA, but the actual content of the mitochondrial DNA.  If there were, indeed, mitochondrial DNA in humans but everything about it (including codons, nucleotides, etc.) was radically different from apes, that would be strong evidence against common ancestry.  This is not the case, of course, so YECs have to wave their hands and talk about a "common blueprint" or a "common design".

But aren't you in the same boat as YECs on this one?  That was my original point: you both aver a special creation of man, separate from the evolutionary line.  (YECs contend that there are no evolutionary lines.  You concede all evolutionary lines save one).  Indeed, as you say, there is strong evidence for common ancestry with the other great apes.  Whatever it is about codons and nucleotides you want to claim for Adam & Eve, the same would have to be true of us as well.  They are our progenitors.  Yet our DNA (and therefore Adam & Eve's) indicates a common descent with apes.  We are human primates.  Our evolutionary line goes as far back as every other species.

An instantaneously-created tree should have no rings.

No, an instantaneously-created tree would have rings.  It would have all the appearances of a mature tree, exterior and interior (as you don't get one without the other).  Otherwise you would be saying something like an instantaneously-created Adam had no bones.  Or that an instantaneously-created wine tasted like grape juice.  An instantaneously-created tree without rings would be a sapling.  But even a sapling has the appearance of age, since it isn't a seedling.  And a seedling has the appearance of age because it isn't a seed.  And a seed has the appearance of age, having fallen from a tree.  There is no way for anything to get out of the evolutionary regress that goes back to the single-celled organism.  Even if it's a special creation, it would have the appearance of that same regress, though it would appear at some point of maturation.  Otherwise it wouldn't be that thing (a tree, a human, a glass of wine).  I will concede that biological taxonomy is a man-made conceit, but even so, we know what we mean by "homo sapiens."  Adam and Eve were necessarily that.

Adam would have had infused knowledge implanted into his brain but not infused false memories.

Infused knowledge is the same as infused memories.  Knowledge is, itself, a memory: it is the retention of information acquired in one's past.

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Offline Arvinger

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #83 on: December 16, 2018, 07:21:50 PM »
Sacred Scripture and conclusions based on its exegesis are evidence, which you dismiss because you put greater weight on what scientists say.

Just so we're clear.  Because I think we have a drastically different way of understanding the issue, and until and unless this is resolved our discussion will lead nowhere.

According to you, exegesis need not take into account empirical data nor need it be consistent with empirical data.  If anyone claims a certain exegesis is wrong because it doesn't accord with empirical data (data not perhaps available when the exegesis was constructed, but available today), his arguments are to be dismissed out of hand unless he can present strictly exegetical arguments, and his claim of disaccord with empirical data is to be rejected out of hand as mere "interpretation" and putting greater weight on what others say.

That is a misrepresenation of my position. I never said that empirical data should not be taken into account or that exegesis can be inconsistent with empirical data. Rather, our understanding of empirical data should be informed by Sacred Scripture (where relevant), so that interpretations of empirical data which are inconsistent with solid exegesis of Scripture are most likely wrong (and for sure wrong in case results of this exegesis constitute infallible teaching of the Church) and we need to look for other explanations - that does not mean disregarding empirical data and observation, but rather interpreting it in a manner which does not contradict the content of God's Revelation.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
According to me, exegesis must take into account empirical data and must be consistent with empirical data.

Correct exegesis will always be consistent with empirical data, because there is no contradiction between Scripture and empirical truth. However, your "empirical data" in reality means "empirical data and their interpretation" - there is no such thing as "empirical data alone", much like Protestants don't believe "Bible alone", but "Bible and my interpretation of it". For example, you have geological formations and their datings - this is empirical data. However, a claim that these datings mean that world is billions of years old is your personal interpretation of this data. If such interpretation is inconsistent with solid exgesis of Scripture, it is strong evidence that it is wrong.

So, if tomorrow a Pope (hypothetically speaking, leaving the current claimants to the Papacy and the sede vacante issue out of it) defined dogmatically that Earth is 6000 years old it would be a decisive evidence that all interpretations of data pointing towards billions of years old earth are wrong (since dogma and empirical data cannot contradict). That does not mean disregardng empirical data - rather, a necessity to re-examine it to find a solution consistent with the dogma (such solution would have to exist, since the dogma is for sure true, therefore correct interpretation of empirical data cannot contradict it). 

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
If it does not, and if that exegesis is followed, the claim of Scripture as Divine revelation is not credible, every bit as much as if we had sworn testimony from hundreds of witnesses present at the wedding at Cana who claimed the wine actually did run out and there was no more to be had, and Catholicism demands that the claim of Divine revelation be credible.

Again, you illustrate the problem. You would rather believe testimonies of fallible people and your interpretation of it ("these people say X, I think they are credible, and I think it constitutes evidence refuting Scriptural claim" is interpretation) over infallible Word of God. So, you subject the Word of God and the Magisterium (like you did with indefectibility of the Church) to your external verification through your reasoning, empirical data and your private interpretation of data, rather than subjecting these and verifying them through the Word of God and the Magisterium.

Your epistemology (Scripture and Magisterium must be interpreted in a manner consistent with my personal interpretation of empirical data, rather than my interpretation of empirical data having to be consistent with Scripture and Magisterium) is not Catholic at all. We believe in order to understand, not understand in order to believe, as St. Augustine and Anselm of Canterbury rightly said.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
Ancillary issues are:

If you admit the possibility of an old earth, then this entails some sort of progressive creationism or theistic evolution (although not necessarily evolution by means of "random" mutation, but programmed evolution as ID theorists have it), or (as I think) some combination of the two.

And old-earthers have made plenty of exegetical arguments.  You can go to the biologos website for examples.

Yes, I am fine with progressive creationism and Old Earth. I don't believe it is the strongest position exegetically, but it is within the realm of possibility.
 
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