Darwinism Evolution

Does Darwin’s God Play Dice with the Universe?

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This from the conclusion of Darwin’s THE VARIATION OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS UNDER DOMESTICATION:

The shape of the fragments of stone at the base of our precipice may be called accidental, but this is not strictly correct; for the shape of each depends on a long sequence of events, all obeying natural laws; on the nature of the rock, on the lines of deposition or cleavage, on the form of the mountain, which depends on its upheaval and subsequent denudation, and lastly on the storm or earthquake which throws down the fragments. But in regard to the use to which the fragments may be put, their shape may be strictly said to be accidental. And here we are led to face a great difficulty, in alluding to which I am aware that I am travelling beyond my proper province. An omniscient Creator must have foreseen every consequence which results from the laws imposed by Him. But can it be reasonably maintained that the Creator intentionally ordered, if we use the words in any ordinary sense, that certain fragments of rock should assume certain shapes so that the builder might erect his edifice? If the various laws which have determined the shape of each fragment were not predetermined for the builder’s sake, can it be maintained with any greater probability that He specially ordained for the sake of the breeder each of the innumerable variations in our domestic animals and plants;—many of these variations being of no service to man, and not beneficial, far more often injurious, to the creatures themselves? Did He ordain that the crop and tail-feathers of the pigeon should vary in order that the fancier might make his grotesque pouter and fantail breeds? Did He cause the frame and mental qualities of the dog to vary in order that a breed might be formed of indomitable ferocity, with jaws fitted to pin down the bull for man’s brutal sport? But if we give up the principle in one case,—if we do not admit that the variations of the primeval dog were intentionally guided in order that the greyhound, for instance, that perfect image of symmetry and vigour, might be formed,—no shadow of reason can be assigned for the belief that variations, alike in nature and the result of the same general laws, which have been the groundwork through natural selection of the formation of the most perfectly adapted animals in the world, man included, were intentionally and specially guided. However much we may wish it, we can hardly follow Professor Asa Gray in his belief “that variation has been led along certain beneficial lines,” like a stream “along definite and useful lines of irrigation.” If we assume that each particular variation was from the beginning of all time preordained, then that plasticity of organisation, which leads to many injurious deviations of structure, as well as the redundant power of reproduction which inevitably leads to a struggle for existence, and, as a consequence, to the natural selection or survival of the fittest, must appear to us superfluous laws of nature. On the other hand, an omnipotent and omniscient Creator ordains everything and foresees everything. Thus we are brought face to face with a difficulty as insoluble as is that of free will and predestination.

SOURCE

11 Replies to “Does Darwin’s God Play Dice with the Universe?

  1. 1
    nullasalus says:

    Darwin strikes me as wildly off-base here – he’s confusing an omniscient God having foreseen certain results with God innately desiring those certain results for, with it implied that a God who permits evil must therefore be celebrating evil for evil’s sake. The problem of evil redux, but with Darwin trying to force conclusions that don’t fly. And insofar as the logical problem of evil goes, it turned out not to be insoluble at all – it’s been dead for a long time, replaced by the weaker evidential problem.

    Maybe every detail was guided and designed in the service of particular goal(s), some of which may or may not have since been met. Maybe there was guidance in a more limited sense, with some results intentionally left to chance within given parameters while others were more definite. But between the introduction of the human mind, biomimicry, and the design evident in detail after detail of even extinct populations (From the level of the population, to the individual, to the part, to the microscopic machinery, to the processes and mechanisms that lead to the development of all these things), the least rational conclusion is that there was no design in play.

  2. 2

    Reading some of the Darwin / Asa Gray correspondence shows that Darwin was trouble be the question of free will against absolute determinism.
    One of Darwin’s acquaintances was Thomas Carlyle, a strict Calvinist who later come to believe that human beings were enitrely free – an early existentialist, and Darwin’s changing beliefs and loss of faith also seem partly coloured by this question.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Carlyle

  3. 3
    nullasalus says:

    Indeed. What’s being driven home to me more and more is that Darwin’s wavering faith had vastly little to do with his thoughts on evolution itself, and more to do with (understandable in context) emotional turmoil.

  4. 4
    tm19 says:

    The key, as we see here, is to read the source material. Much current debate could be clarified in this way. Just the other day, some media outlet was trying to scrub out the dots connecting Darwin to Hitler (as in Expelled). Darwin was interested in inter-species competition, they objected, not intra-species (i.e., racial) competition. But that’s not what Darwin says in his infamous “savage races” passage (Descent of Man).

    I went to a conference once that featured a lot of ID-sympathetic people. A doctrinaire evolutionist was there to report and make fun of the proceedings. We got into a friendly discussion about evolution. I asked him if he had read the Origin of Species. He said, “No.”

  5. 5
    PaV says:

    Darwin was right to connect the issue of variation + natural selection versus variation + directed selection to the “insoluble mystery” of free will and predestination. They are equivalent.

    But, just as the conundrum Darwin develops in the writing above in a theological context, so, too, is his argument for natural selection developed in a theological setting.

    Moral theology says that true freedom is in the doing of God’s Will. A seeming contradiction. Both free will AND predistination exist side-by-side. Another seeming contradiction. Doesn’t this, then, suggest that the true answer to the real and actual role of “natural selection” depends not so much on science as on theology? IOW, it all depends on if you believe in God or not, and what you believe and know about the God you believe in.

    It is quite possible—if not all likely—that in the end there will be overwhelming evidence pointing in the direction of ID, but, at the same time, enough ignorance of what actually happened historically, that a definitive ID understanding of evolution will not have the completeness necessary to arrive at a final understanding. We see free will at work all the time; and, yet, predestination is at work the entire time but without actual observation: the eternal and the temporal.

    Bottom line: this passage cited again illustrates the basic theological argument Darwin uses. (Remember that those familiar with both the Origins and Richard Paley’s Natural Theology tell us that Darwin’s structure, language, and style of argumentation seem to be borrowed from those of Paley. IOW, the Origins is basically a theological, not a scientific text. Didn’t Darwin start out studying to enter the clergy?)

  6. 6
    ellijacket says:

    Christian theology also includes the Fall of man which introduced decay into the world. God let all creation face the consequences of that action.

    From that point of view it’s no surprise that we find bad mutations, diseases, etc.

  7. 7
    Gods iPod says:

    OT, but since I can’t post:

    http://www.breitbart.com/artic.....8;catnum=0

    Intelligent design to be topic at Vatican meeting

    VATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican will include discussion of intelligent design in a conference marking the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” officials said Tuesday.
    The announcement reverses a decision to exclude such discussion but officials said intelligent design would be treated only as a cultural phenomenon—not as science or theology.

    Organizers of the March 3-7 conference did not explain at a news conference Tuesday why they had decided to include discussion of the view that life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone, and that a higher power has had a hand in changes among species over time.

    “The committee agreed to consider ID as a phenomenon of an ideological and cultural nature, thus worthy of a historic examination, but certainly not to be discussed on scientific, philosophical or theological grounds,” said Saverio Forestiero, a conference organizer and professor of zoology at the University of Rome.

    The Vatican under Benedict has been trying to stress its belief that there is no incompatibility between faith and reason, and the evolution conference is supposed to be a key demonstration of that.

    Church teaching holds that Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds. But the Vatican’s position became somewhat confused in recent years, in part because of a 2005 New York Times op-ed piece penned by a close collaborator of Pope Benedict XVI, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

    In the piece, Schoenborn seemed to back intelligent design and dismissed a 1996 statement by Pope John Paul II that evolution was “more than just a hypothesis.” Schoenborn said the late pope’s statement was “rather vague and unimportant.”

    Vatican officials later made clear they didn’t believe intelligent design was science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only created confusion.

    The conference is being hosted by Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, along with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the University of Notre Dame in the U.S. state of Indiana.

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    ellijacket @ 6

    Christian theology also includes the Fall of man which introduced decay into the world. God let all creation face the consequences of that action.

    Does Christian theology explain how an omniscient God failed to foresee that the Fall would occur or, if He did, what purpose it would serve to allow it to happen?

  9. 9
    jhn316 says:

    Answe to Seversky@8

    >Does Christian theology explain how an omniscient God failed to foresee that the Fall would occur or, if He did, what purpose it would serve to allow it to happen?

    The classical Christian answer is that God is omniscient knowing everything including the future so he foresaw the fall. There are some Bible passages that infer that God had Christ’s sacrificial death(the solution for the fall) planned out before the foundation of the world.

    As for the purpose of God knowing the fall would happen and why He would allow it? Again the classical Christian answer is because God in his infinite wisdom saw free will and the possibility for the fall to be of greater value than predetermined/robotic humans that have no free will to choose to love him or reject him; therefore, God created some beings with freewill(humans and angels).

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    nullasalus @1. Very nice!

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    jhn316 @ 9

    As for the purpose of God knowing the fall would happen and why He would allow it? Again the classical Christian answer is because God in his infinite wisdom saw free will and the possibility for the fall to be of greater value than predetermined/robotic humans that have no free will to choose to love him or reject him; therefore, God created some beings with freewill(humans and angels).

    To me that reduces to the inscrutability of God’s will, in other words, we don’t know.

    Another problem is the proposition that God created humans to love and worship him. For Him to be the first cause He must be a necessary being in the philosophical sense, in other words, one that is entirely self-contained and self-sufficient, one that does not depend on and has no origin in anything outside of Himself. To suggest that God created humanity to love and worship him is to imply that He is contingent, that He has a need for and, to some extent, is dependent on something outside Himself. He cannot be both contingent and necessary.

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