Evolution and God


#1

I’ve been following some of the evolution threads and while I confess that I am not an evolutionary theory expert I do wonder of one thing: how do theories of evolution change how we view God, man’s relation to God and mankind’s Original Sin?

Evolution seems to downplay the unique nature of Adam and Eve as the two distinct parents of mankind who were in the Garden with God and then disobeyed, placing themselves and all their descendants under the consequences of Original Sin.

What about the natural selection folks who think that humans can evolve still or who want to mix an ape with a human to make an ape-human being who may become the dominant species one day? Isn’t that logical conclusion with natural selection and evolution, that if species have evolved why not expect it to continue to do so?

Why are most strict evolutionists atheistic? Is it coincidence?

Any thoughts or comments?

Pax Christi tecum.


#2

There’s only one reason to believe in evolution - because it has been shown to be true, to the best of our ability to show scientific truth. And there’s only one reason to disbelieve in evolution - because it has been shown to be false, to the best of our ability to show scientific falseness.

Whatever true science finally determines regarding evolution cannot be in conflict with divine revelation, because God is the author of both. So if both are true (and we accept that divine revelation is true) and they seem to be in conflict, then it is our understanding of divine revelation with respect to the scientific facts that needs to be refined.

All this is a long way of saying Catholics should never be afraid of any scientific truth.


#3

I agree 100% but there is obvious disagreement on what is proved or not when it comes to evolution. There are good scientists that do not believe evolution (I have a book full of essays from them, some of which aren’t Christians at all). Evolution is just a theory anyway so when Catholics act as if any Catholics who is skeptical of it or who is against it is off his rocker, that seems wrong.

A fact: the world is round. We’ve seen it. We know it. There are no questions. When it comes to evolution, the “experts” themselves often disagree.

Pax Christi tecum.


#4

A theory is as good as it gets in science. It does not mean an idea or guess. If you understand “theory” as used in the everyday vernacular, you would be wrong in applying it to any scientific theory, evolution included.

I personally don’t care if you accept evolution or not. I would suggest, however, that you don’t try to use science to refute an extremely well established scientific principle if you are not a scientist. There is nothing wrong with believing in a literal reading of Genesis based on one’s faith. In fact, I applaud those who admit just that. I don’t, however, applaud those who insist that scientists don’t understand science.

A fact: the world is round. We’ve seen it. We know it. There are no questions. When it comes to evolution, the “experts” themselves often disagree.

Pax Christi tecum.

Not really. There are a few that don’t accept some of the theorized mechanisms of evolution, but very, very few don’t accept that evolution is factual and most if not all of them do so simply for religious reasons.

Peace

Tim


#5

I thought I had read that there is a difference in science between a theory and something that is proven. I am wrong in that?

I have a book of essays full of scientists who reject the theory of evolution and many of them are not religious, some of them are atheists I think. I’ll have to look it up when I get home.

My problem is when science casts doubt on the Faith or causes others to doubt. When they say we are from apes, regardless of whether they want to say God was involved in the process, people tend to discredit the idea that God created us.

Pax Christi tecum.


#6

Yes. Nothing in science is proven. A theory is the best explanation of the available evidence, is testable, predictive and falsifiable.

I have a book of essays full of scientists who reject the theory of evolution and many of them are not religious, some of them are atheists I think. I’ll have to look it up when I get home.

There are numerous scientists that have differed with the theory of evolution, but you need to understand what that means. The theory of evolution is not a scientific theory that says evolution exists. It is a scientific theory that tries to explain how evolution works. Just like gravititational theory. Gravititational theory doesn’t say that gravity exists. It tries to explain how it works.

When scientists disagree with the theory of evolution, they are disagreeing with the mechanism of evolution - ie how does evolution work.

My problem is when science casts doubt on the Faith or causes others to doubt. When they say we are from apes, regardless of whether they want to say God was involved in the process, people tend to discredit the idea that God created us.

Perhaps, but that doesn’t refute the science. That is more of a reflection of our educational system. Science can no more disprove God than it can prove God.

Peace

Tim


#7

Oh no we are stacking up the evolution threads in here again, they were almost completely gone the past week. Of course I only read “apologetics” and don’t follow the other forums too much. :stuck_out_tongue:

strug << There are good scientists that do not believe evolution (I have a book full of essays from them, some of which aren’t Christians at all). >>

Please don’t tell me it’s In Six Days by young-earth creationists. OR if it’s Uncommon Dissent I have the book. It is always the “usual suspects” (to quote the title of one of Karl Keating’s books) when it comes to those anti-evolution books.

strug << Evolution is just a theory anyway so when Catholics act as if any Catholics who is skeptical of it or who is against it is off his rocker, that seems wrong. >>

Uh oh, “just a theory” or “only a theory” is code word for “I have no idea what a scientific theory is.” Here we go again. :eek:

Evolution, like any science, is argued in the “details” (basically how it works, the pace, patterns, and mechanisms of evolution, etc) but the basic fact of evolution, that all living things have evolved over time and have common ancestors that go back at least 3.5 billion years (the earth being 4.5 billion) is not disputed today. Neither is the theory of gravity, the theory of electromagnetism, the germ theory of disease, the atomic theory, cell theory, theory of relativity in physics, plate tectonics in geology, etc.

A scientific theory is not a wild guess, hunch, or speculation, but is (according to various definitions I’ve used in my little debate with Sungenis)…

In the sciences, a theory is a model or framework for understanding; it explains tons of facts, incorporates many accepted laws and hypotheses and is backed by tons of evidence; it is a well-established explanation that has been repeatedly tested in field and laboratory; it is a systematically organized body of knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena; a scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain natural phenomena – see Atomic Theory, Cell Theory, Germ Theory; a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; “theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses”; “true in fact and theory”, etc.

Today might be the day I make my monthly library trip to U.S.F. and check out all those books I listed in the other thread for the fossil evidence and evolution of the invertebrates, to vertebrates, to fish, to tetrapods, to reptiles, to mammals, to birds, to whales, to primates, and to us. I’m updating my articles on the topic. :thumbsup:

Phil P


#8

No, I am saying that I know scientists exist who reject the idea of man evolving from something else and who reject Darwin’s view of evolution. I do think scientists exist who flat out reject evolution.

The majority of those who espouse evolution appear to be atheists or agnostics:

"In an article from the Answers in Genesis webpage, the position of NAS is quite evident: “…a recent survey published in the leading science journal Nature conclusively showed that the National Academy of Science is anti-God to the core. A survey of all 517 NAS members in biological and physical sciences resulted in just over half responding. 72.2 % were overtly atheistic, 20.8 % agnostic, and only 7.0 % believed in a personal God. Belief in God and immortality was lowest among biologists. It is likely that those who didn’t respond were unbelievers as well, so the study probably underestimates the level of anti-God belief in the NAS. The unbelief is far higher than the percentage among scientists in general, or in the whole population.” (from creationwiki.org/Many_current_scientists_reject_evolution )

If you’re going to dismiss those who reject evolution as Christians then you have to accept that most of those who accept it are atheists or agnostics. That is a telling fact.

I agree that science cannot refute God or contradict our faith. The problem is when people think something is true based on science when in fact science has not proven it.

Pax Christi tecum.


#9

BTW, essential books you want to get, for people who think “evolution is only believed by atheists” or “evolution contradicts the Catholic faith” :

In the Beginning… by Cardinal Ratzinger / Pope Benedict (1985, 1996), has some “intelligent design” ideas in here but basically accepts evolution
Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict XVI (Ignatius Press, 2008)
Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn (Ignatius Press, 2007)
Perspectives on an Evolving Creation edited by Keith Miller and other evangelicals (Eerdmans, 2003)
Finding Darwin’s God or Only A Theory by Kenneth R. Miller (no relation to above)
Coming to Peace with Science by Darrel Falk (2004)
The Language of God by Francis Collins (2006)

And the two books on the Christian responses and acceptance of evolution:

Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter Between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought by David N. Livingstone (Eerdmans, 1987), shorter book
The Post-Darwinian Controversies by James R. Moore (Cambridge Univ Press, 1981, 1979), larger book which covers the period 1870-1900

It was really the later Protestants (such as SdA George McCready Price) who had the “problems” with evolution, since the earlier Christian geologists and biologists (though this was still a new field) of the 19th century had accepted and reconciled themselves to the theory and fact of evolution and an old earth.

Phil P


#10

Yes, it is Uncommon Dissent. It doesn’t matter if they are the “usual suspects”. Are they scientists or not? And if they are, are there some who are not believers in God? Then there you have it, regardless of who they are. You can’t pick and choose scientists based on if they agree with you. I know there are scientists, most of which do not believe in God, who support evolution. I know there are scientists, some of which do not believe in God, who reject evolution.

As a Catholic I’m not bound by science but I find it dangerous to aspects of the Faith.

Pax Christi tecum.


#11

Thanks for the defiition of scientism.


#12

If I could spend a moment on our knowledge. I will use inflationary concept in this example.

Write the God on a balloon. Now blow up that balloon.

Look at the writing as the balloon gets bigger. As we look in one direction what happens? We see less and less.


#13

Not based on science, though. There is no scientific evidence refuting evolution.

The majority of those who espouse evolution appear to be atheists or agnostics:

That is the case of scientists who accept gravitational theory as well. That is because the majority of scientists are agnostic or athiest. That isn’t a reason to reject the science.

If you’re going to dismiss those who reject evolution as Christians then you have to accept that most of those who accept it are atheists or agnostics. That is a telling fact.

Yes, it is. It means that those who reject evolution out of hand are doing so based only on their beliefs and not on the evidence. Remember, there are athiests who accept the fact that the earth orbits the sun, while there are Christians who deny that. Does that make the athiests wrong?

I agree that science cannot refute God or contradict our faith. The problem is when people think something is true based on science when in fact science has not proven it.

Science hasn’t proven that germs cause disease. Should we not think that to be true?

Seriously, the idea that something has to be “proven” is one that doesn’t exist in science.

Peace

Tim


#14

And this is the false connection that you need to challenge when it pops up.

The bible says God formed us from the dust, but nobody takes that as discrediting the idea that God created us. But if God chose to first have the dust evolve into pre-humans, that somehow discredits the idea that God created us? That reasoning makes no sense.

Discovering true facts about evolution is just discovering the tools and designs of the Creator. Here’s an analogy I’ve used before:

A primitive tribe stumbles upon a working Space Shuttle. They assume it must have been created by some Great Intelligence. Then later they discover some tools laying about the ground and in the shuttle. Does this discovery cause them to doubt the existence of the Great Intelligence? Later they discover a factory where the parts of the shuttle were fabricated. Does this convince them that there could be no Great Intelligence? And even later they discover a room full of computers where the software and the computer-aided design of the shuttle was done. They can read each line of software and each CAD file. Is this proof positive that there was no Great Intelligence?

To re-emphasize, discovering the means of creation in no way discredits the idea that these means themselves had to have been created. Where does matter and energy come from? Where do the laws of nature come from? At some point nature no longer explains itself.


#15

Your reply is too cryptic for me to comprehend. Are you suggesting that true science and divine revelation can ever be in conflict?


#16

Scientism is negating Revelation because of a scientific claim.

Ask yourself if Revelation can be false. If it cannot be false, then a scientific claim must be complementary.


#17

That is exactly what I said. True science and divine revelation can never be in conflict, and we accept divine revelation as true. So any perceived conflict is either due to an error in our science or a misunderstanding of divine revelation.


#18

Bingo - we are on the same page.

We get our understanding of Divine Revelation from the Church protected by the Holy Spirit.

The question yet unanswered is - was the Holy Spirit sleeping for 1900 years or so?


#19

Are you hinting that the Church has declared that acceptance of the scientifically true aspects of evolution is not allowed?

The question yet unanswered is - was the Holy Spirit sleeping for 1900 years or so?

The Church does not need to answer questions which don’t come up. What good would it have been for the Church to declare in 200AD that acceptance of Quantum Mechanics did not conflict with belief in God?


#20

strug << Yes, it is Uncommon Dissent. It doesn’t matter if they are the “usual suspects”. Are they scientists or not? >>

Ah ha Bingo! :slight_smile: :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not saying it is a terrible book, they bring up some decent philosophical and theological issues, but the science talked about in the book is not by trained scientists in the field. One essay is by Phillip E. Johnson (the classic 1990 essay that was re-printed in First Things if I remember) who is a lawyer and “godfather” of the Intelligent Design movement, but is not a scientist. David Berlinski is a mathematician and agnostic, not a biologist. Let’s see…Cornelius Hunter, not a geologist or professional paleontologist yet he critiques the fossil record (he has training in “molecular biophysics”). Nancy Pearcey, nope :smiley: not a biologist either yet her philosophical critique is pretty good. William Dembski (one of those “usual suspects”) is a mathematician, not a biologist or geologist, but he has trained in philosophy and theology and some of his philosophical / theological points are nice. Virtually all of them are members of the “Discovery Institute” – the anti-evolution group in Seattle.

Michael Behe (another of those “usual suspects”) is a biochemist, but he accepts evolution (universal common descent) fully as far as I’m concerned (he does have some “intelligent design” ideas but at the DNA/molecular level or at the origin of the universe), and says Catholics should have no problem with human evolution and natural selection.

"Although I think my arguments [on intelligent design] are nothing short of compelling, some other Catholic academics have disagreed with me and have published other views. Brown University biology professor Ken Miller describes himself as ‘an orthodox Catholic and an orthodox Darwinist.’ In his 1999 book ‘Finding Darwin’s God’ Miller defends the standard view that, despite the unexpected complexity uncovered at the molecular level, natural selection is the best explanation for life. While admitting that Darwinian explanations currently don’t exist for many molecular systems, he expresses confidence that explanations will be forthcoming as science progresses.

"Nonetheless, in his book he argues that the universe was indeed designed, using the fine-tuning of cosmological constants as his primary evidence. He also finds scope for God’s action in quantum indeterminacy and argues that miracles can occur, but that science can say nothing about them… [a section on John Haught and “God After Darwin” skipped]…

The point I’m trying to drive home here by discussing my own work as well as the work of Miller and Haught, is that a very wide range of views about the mechanism of evolution is consistent with Catholic teaching, from the natural selection defended by Miller, to the intelligent design I have proposed, to the animated, information-suffused universe that John Haught sees. Those mechanisms are all proposed by persons who attach the same bottom-line philosophy to their ideas that Pope John Paul described: that ‘it is the God of Israel who acts’ and that ‘it is the one and the same God who establishes and guarantees the intelligibility and reasonableness of the natural order of things upon which scientists confidently depend, and who reveals himself as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Indeed, the range of possibilities that are available under a Catholic viewpoint is much wider than under a materialistic viewpoint.” (Michael Behe, from “A Catholic Scientist Looks at Darwinism” in Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing edited by William Dembski [2004], page 143-144, emphasis added)

I don’t have a problem with this kind of “intelligent design” – it is not classic creationism. Ken Miller accepts design built into the universe in the sense of the fine-tuning we find in the cosmos. And as Behe says, a wide range of views can be accepted within the Catholic theological tent when trying to reconcile with biological evolution (or “Darwinism” to use the detractors term). The Church leaves that open as long as we confess our faith in the God of Israel, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Creator who runs the whole show.

What you get in that Uncommon Dissent book, and in every other anti-evolution book I own (and I have about 20 of them by now on my bookshelf), is sometimes decent philosophical or theological points, but the scientific critique of evolution is generally mistaken. The books I have listed above (three are by Christian or Catholic biologists: Kenneth R. Miller, Darrel Falk, Francis Collins, one edited by an evangelical geologist: Keith Miller) are the “antidote” to these kinds of anti-evolution books. Or the book by the professional paleontologist Donald Prothero Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Columbia Univ Press, 2007) will set you straight.

Phil P


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