Thursday, June 16, 2005

God, Evolution, and Intervention:

Outstanding post by Eugene Volokh on the Evolution-ID battle. Evolution, according to Volokh has no say on whether God exists and should be compatible with the notion that He does. Now, evolution might not be compatible with certain views about God and Creation. For instance: Young Earth Creation. Volokh discussed in his post a March 2001 Gallup News Service survey which reported that 45 percent of Americans agree with the statement "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so...." Now that's sad because it seems to me that science has definitely refuted this (Unless of course God created man in the past 10,000 years in his present form with evidence, a fossil record going back millions of years, of evolution. But then we'd have to ask why is God "planting" evidence which belies the Biblical interpretation that one is arguing for?).

But what about the other two statements in the survey?

...while 37 percent preferred a blended belief that "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process," and...12 percent accepted the standard scientific theory that "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process."

It seems to me that either statement in no way contradicts good science. There is no scientific evidence, pro or con, that God did or did not guide the process of evolution. That takes us outside the realm of "science" and into the realm of "faith."

Permit me to get a little philosophical. I'm going to try to take our Founders' view on God and Science and attempt to see how they might view this controversy today.

Our deistic-unitarian Founders (and by this I mean, not all of our Founders, but those most captured by the zeitgeist of "rationalism," arguably the majority of the most prominent Founders: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Paine, and others) believed both in God and Man's Reason, but viewed Reason or Science (as opposed to Revelation) as ultimate arbiter of the Truth (and for this, some modern scholars have dubbed them "Theistic rationalists").

Although these men existed before Darwin, they probably would have accepted Darwin, because as men of science, they accepted what was considered to be the best science. But when I say "Darwin" I mean that they would be like those "37 percent [who] preferred a blended belief that 'Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,'" who are both Darwinists and theists, or "theistic evolutionists." Now it's possible that some would scrap their belief in God entirely because, as Volokh notes, "The more science explains processes that were once thought to be divinely or supernaturally operated (the movement of the planets, the spread of disease), the more likely it is, I think, that people will be skeptical of other claims of divine or supernaturally operated processes; that's not a logical mandate, but it is a psychological effect." But I'll assume that unless science contradicts a belief that the Founders' held, they'd hold onto it. Since science doesn't disprove God, our Founders would retain that belief. (Although I might be on weak ground insofar it could be argued that our Founders believed God to be a scientific reality, one of those "Self-Evident Truths" that Reason discovers. And that we have since discovered that science offers no "proof" in favor or against God.)

And our deist-unitarian Founders believed in an "interventionist" God. That's why I don't call them just "Deists," because you always get the reply: "But the Founders talked about a God who intervened; therefore...." Therefore what? That they weren't Deists, that they were orthodox Trinitarian Christians? The fact is many if not most of the men who understood themselves to be "Deists" at the time of our Founding, like Ben Franklin, believed in an interventionist God. As far as I understand, it wasn't until we got to the later stages of the Enlightenment that the Deists started believing more uniformly in a God who didn't at all intervene.

But here is the interesting thing: According to our Founders' beliefs, yes God intervened, but He didn't perform "miracles," if by "miracles" we mean acting in a way that breaks the laws of science and nature. He didn't part the Red Sea, turn Lot's wife to Salt, Walk on Water, or Turn Water into Wine, etc.

So when God did intervene, it must have occurred in a way consistent with the laws of science. Hence that would make God into a cosmic "dice-thrower" who could intervene by manipulating probabilities. For instance, remember in "Pulp Fiction" when Jules and Vincent were shot multiple times at point blank range and all of the bullets missed. What are the chances of that occurring? Jules thought it to be Divine Providence, while Vincent thought it to be a freak occurrence. (An aside: D. James Kennedy relays a similar story that supposedly happened to Washington while fighting the war where his coat revealed multiple bullet holes but, *miraculously* none hit Washington's body. Given Kennedy's track record of pushing phony history, I'll need more evidence before I believe in that one.)

Or take the last Baseball playoffs between Boston and New York where again, "miraculously", Boston, one game short of losing, came back 0-3 and won 4-straight. What were the odds of that occurring? It never occurred before.

God could be throwing the Evolutionary dice as well.

Now I'm not here to argue that God takes an *interest* in baseball games (who knows?), but if there is a God and if He does intervene, this is how He does it. I think our Founders and Darwinists would both be able to believe in this.


David Swindle said...

Over my college years I've met frequently with Christians of many stripes to talk over coffee and give them the opportunity to realign my reality tunnel to resemble theirs and thus save my soul from the delightful eternity of torment it now faces.

The head of the campus Baptist ministry explained his theory of creation to me, ascribing to the 10,000 year-old-earth, 7-day-model: "OK, you know how God created Adam? He created him as a full-grown man. You'd look at him and he'd look as though he was 40, 45 years old, right? In reality, though, he was only a few days old. The earth's just like that. It's 10,000 years old or so but it only LOOKS billions of years old."

Hmm... Hadn't heard THAT one before. It does have a cute, gentle logic to it now doesn't it?

I would of course, retort with my own scripture from "Revelations." (That would be the Revelations of Bill Hicks, not John):

Get this, I actually asked one of these guys, OK, Dinosaurs fossils - how does that fit into you scheme of life? Let me sit down and strap in. He said, "Dinosaur fossils? God put those there to test our faith." Thank God I'm strapped in right now here man. I think God put you here to test my faith, Dude. You believe that? "uh huh." Does that trouble anyone here? The idea that God.. might be.. f---in' with our heads? I have trouble sleeping with that knowledge. Some prankster God running around: "Hu hu ho. We will see who believes in me now, ha ha." [mimes God burying fossils] "I am God, I am a prankster." "I am killing Me." You know, You die and go to St. Peter... "Did you believe in dinosaurs?" "Well, yeah. There was fossils everywhere" Thuh [trapdoor opens] "Aaaaaaarhhh!" "You f---in idiot." "Flying lizards, you're a moron. God was f---in' with you!" "It seemed so plausible, ahhhh!" "Enjoy the lake of fire, f---er!"

Karen said...

I still prefer Steven Wolfram's "A new kind of Science" which can go either way as to the Divine providence or GOD - but posits the notion of IF there is a "PLAN" that it may be a a "simple plan" after all.

It conflicts with nothing bout affirming or denying a GOD, except the idiotic notion of biblical infalibility as to the "creation of the earth" as written by a group of MEN before "science" existed. (And the ID idiots...because it's the opposite premise.)


Jonathan said...

Thanks Karen I'll check out Wolfram when I get the chance.

And as far as Hicks goes, his CDs (does he have DVD's?) are on my list as well.

I love Kinison's stuff and I understand that Hick's are quite similar.

I think I remember Hicks years ago being on the Stern show, and that Hicks passed away from cancer while fairly young?

David Swindle said...

Jonathan, when I get a free moment I'll put together a nice e-mail for you all about the Prophet Bill Hicks. (I do so enjoy being an evangelist.) :-)

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