There is a new book coming out in November Should Christians Embrace Evolution? published by IVP edited by Norman C Nevin
I picked this link up from Pandas Thumb it may be a bit out of date – about Norman Nevin
“Professor Norman Nevin: Norman C. Nevin is Professor of Medical Genetics, Queen’s University of Belfast and Head of the Northern Regional Genetics Service. He has held the positions of secretary, vice-president and president of the UK Clinical Genetics Society as well as serving on various national and international committees notably the Human Genetics Advisory Commission. He is a member of the European Concerted Action for congenital abnormalities. Professor Nevin was a founder member of the UK Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC) and is currently its’ chairman. His research interests have resulted in over 300 peer reviewed publications on various aspects of genetics, especially single gene disorders and congenital abnormalities.”
David Anderson has posted the Preface online
“In the face of the new atheists’ claim that evolution has rendered faith utterly redundant there is a flood tide arising that demands that Christians must embrace evolution or acknowledge that they are opposed to science. This book believes that this is a false premise. It is written to set out a clear theological framework on the relevant issues and to confront the questions that this gives rise to. It is written with a compelling conviction that science and faith are not in opposition. It is written by theologians who are committed to the authority of Scripture and to the exercise of careful exegesis. It is written by scientists who are fully persuaded of the importance of rigorous scientific investigation but who are dissatisfied with the arbitrary exclusion of possible conclusions and the failure to follow the evidence wherever it leads. This is not written for a select readership that already has expert knowledge of the subjects. It is written for ordinary men and women, who have the capacity to weigh the information, seek further clarification and draw their own conclusions.”
17 Replies to “Should Christians Embrace Evolution? – new book edited by leading geneticist”
I have always looked at it like this:
If the theory of evolution is “true” then the Bible is “false”.
And if the Bible is “false” then so is Christianity.
Well, I’d disagree with that strongly (If Darwinian evolution were true, maybe – alas, Darwinian evolution is more metaphysics than science, and Darwin himself was wrong or ignorant on far too much).
But I still look forward to reading this book. Could be interesting.
I get that from other people too.
But agree this goes on the reading list.
Unfortunately right now I am bogged down with “Why Intelligent Design Fails”.
It’s sloppy thinking and strawman arguments just make me want to wait for the movie.
But I will slog my way through it but I can feel my neurons misfiring when I try.
It is the DARWINIAN MODEL of evolution that we cannot reconcile with a creator. The allegory of the creation story squares with science in terms of the order in which ‘things’ were created – what is the problem? Also, the idea of ‘days of creation’ is not an issue if you consider that a 24 hour day would not have necessarilt existed at that time!!
What I DO have a problem with is this dichotomy of evolution and/or creation, it is the same thing. Also, why should the ‘science friendly’ church ‘give in’ to ‘theistic evolution’ just so as to apparently put Christianity on a better footing apologetically speaking as this scientific paradigm reigns??
Darwinian evolution and creation is an oxymoron since chance and design are antithetic concepts. Organic evolution and creation are NOT antithetical concepts. By all means, accept the idea that life has evolved, but surely see ‘mutations’ as a positive part of a designed process (naturally guided genetic re-arrangements)rather than apparently random occurrences!! I am suggesting that, what looks like “chance” or “randomness” to us as human beings is completely “fixed” and inherent in nature like protein folding and crystallisation.
I strongly recommend that Christians (and anyone for that matter) read Michael Denton’s two books or listen to the ingorrigable David Berlinski and get rid of this ‘theistic evolution’ stance in order to appear intellectually credible among the academic world. Darwinian evolution is not credible.
I think that all Christians should read the bible and ask themself: how does Jesus think about evolution? I mean, did he really considered his sacrifice, his death, his life to be the equivalent of the life of a distant monkey called Adam? If Adam and Eve were only animals, then there was no original sin. No original sin, no need to be save…
The majority of people who accept evolution theory, do so because they have accepted a scientific naturalism worldview. Those who try to combine a biblical worldview with evolution are just naturalists that stick God in the background somewhere. I know of no theistic evolutionist who interprets the Bible literally, nor can they.
To be in opposition to evolution is not being opposed to science, just a naturalistic worldview, and its resulting theories. Real science is neutral in regards to the supernatural, not opposed to it.
A naturalist insists on only naturalistic explanations, but then try to give natural explanations for supernatural events, like the origin of the universe and life itself. I’d rather take the word of someone who was actually there at the time, has infinite knowledge, always tells the truth, and doesn’t make mistakes.
I was taught that Jesus was at once entirely human and entirely divine.
So the answer would be yes.
I’m unclear as to what your point is. You condemn TE but some of your arguments sound rather similar to some TE viewpoints. (Noting that there is not just one TE “orthodoxy”.) Your suggestion that what looks like “chance” or “randomness” to us as human beings is completely “fixed” and inherent in nature like protein folding and crystallisation is an example. In evolutionary theory, mutations are random with respect to fitness. That is, they look random to us, but may not be so at a higher level or outside the system.
What exactly are you talking about when you condemn TE? If it’s an element of hypocrisy in taking such a view to appear “intellectually credible”, I would suggest that this would apply to a small minority of people. Most TE’s simply find little or no conflict between evolutionary theory and Christianity. Of course if you are a Biblical literalist, there would be significant conflicts, as aedgeworth points out.
Prof. FX Gumby #8
My point is; I believe that genetic changes are NOT random and that their is direction in changes that exists within a cosmic script if you will. “Direction” in the sense that the structures and processes guaranteed by the laws of nature constrain mutations to occur in a specific direction. In other words; I don’t believe in the Darwinian model of evolution but believe that the pattern of life evolved. I am not claiming to know exactly HOW evolution works exactly but really it is clearly not Darwinian…I think Maths, Statistics and the fossil record tell most reasonable people this.
I condemn TE because chance and design are antithetical concepts and it is clearly religious people ‘giving in’ to the reigning orthodoxy in order to seem intellectually and scientifically credible.
I hope this makes is clearer.
Just following on from my response and an attempt to clarify;
For example, ‘common sense’ suggests strongly that there is no plausible explanation for how feathered wings, blood clotting or the avian lung evolved using Darwinian hypothesis. However, if the genetic code for these structures has been PRE-programmed to ‘kick in’ (as it were) with environmental stress, with spiritual guidance then new systems and structures would evolve rather suddenly. This ‘picture’ fits with what we see in the fossil record.
I am in the Denton (see Nature’s Destiny in particular), Schwartz, Berlinski camp in terms of non-acceptance of the Darwinian model of evolution. This is not the same at all as accepting Darwinian evolution as a method of creation. It would be like saying that if God wanted to write a book, he would take one book and get people to copy and copy it with errors to finally arrive at say ‘War and Peace’ – it’s ludicrous.
The problem is this: If God is involved, science should be asking how, NOT accepting wholly materialistic views!!
I must confess I do seem to have difficulty putting this point across for some reason, and I think it is because the point I make is rather subtle, but nonetheless a very important subtle difference;
I think that classical religious teachings about God ARE compatible with a theory of evolution and I think that creation of life has been as much a natural/spiritual process as the formation of salt crystals, atoms, waterfalls, or galaxies. I see the possibilities self-organization and directed mutation – not in the sense that God’s finger pokes out of the clouds every now and then to zap a thymine into an adenine. In other words, maybe a Platonic model of nature, a Platonic conception of lawful forms. However, here is the very important difference: TE asserts that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with the [b]modern scientific understanding about biological evolution[/b] – that is to say, the
Darwinian model. Charles Darwin’s birth was commemorated y “Evolution Sunday” by Christians!!? So basically, this concept of functionless intermediates, gradualistic mechanisms (that are not sufficient for macroevolution) and ‘the origin of life mystery’ is acceptable!? I suggest that, that is intellectually dishonest for one. My knowledge suggests that
‘mutations’ (more like genetic re-arrangements in accordance with natural law – natural/spiritual law not natural selection.!) are NOT random, that diversity is nowhere near as gradual as Neo-Darwinism suggests and that any combination of random mutations and ‘a struggle for survival’ (natural selection) merely serve for the purpose of ‘fine-tuning’ organisms, or microevolution for adaption to environment – such as longer beaks etc. Darwinism only meets Evolution at its midway point. The real question at issue is: what CAUSE combined with other secondary causes produces the variations in the organisms themselves? Many of these secondary causes are purely physical, climatic, dietary etc. But beyond the secondary aspects of organic evolution, a deeper principle HAS to be sought for. Theistic evolutionists want to ‘throw’ God into the gap here and then just sweep that rest ‘under the carpet’ under the general banner of ‘Darwinism’ – this is what I have a problem with. I happen to think Richard Dawkins is correct here (for once only!) when he claims that with TE “you can’t have it both ways”. I am referring of course to Darwinian evolution plus faith and not neccessarily the fact that one can reconcile evolution with faith.
An alternative model of evolution could be that as genetic code in the DNA directs the tiny embryo to follow well defined steps to “evolve” into the mature organism. This idea can be applied to evolutionary theory itself. The genetic code itself, the intracellular nuclear DNA could contain “directed information” for the steps leading from primitive life forms to more complex life forms in over billions of years of evolution. Or maybe it could be put in more spiritual terms; The underlying physiological variation in species, one to which all other laws are subordinate and secondary is a sub-conscious intelligence pervading matter, ultimately traceable to a reflection of the Divine.
As most of us know here, transmutation of species cannot take place using Darwinian hypothesis (there is not a scrap of
empirical evidence for this) as artificial breeding and fruit fly experiments have clearly demonstrated. As Michael Denton has said too, I believe that “the decline in religious belief can probably be attributed more to the propagation and advocacy by the intellectual and scientific community of the Darwinian version of evolution than to any other single factor”. So why invoke God into that theory?? It’s an oxymoron.
Theistic evolutionists should not have a problem reconciling their faith with the creation story and should not reject intelligent design pursuits at all! Is creation not via evolution? Is evolution with directed intelligence and not Darwinian?
If God is involved, let’s look at HOW. Would He use the most ridiculous never ending and implausible chance process that appears not to work on a macro level?
Darwinian evolution plus ‘God of the gaps’ (TE) is an unsatisfactory explanation of creation, and not, incidentally, helpful to the church in terms of credibility and the cause. That is my point and I hope it makes sense to you.
The theory of Evolution falls into three distinct categories.
1. “Tree of life” Universal common ancestry. All life connected via the tree and apes evolving in men over long periods of time.
2. Simply “Change over time”- a car being built evolves from its constituent parts (metals, screws, plastics etc) just as much as it is designed.
3. “Darwinism”- All things are the result of a long tree of material actions (including cosmological formation and the laws of physics) or undirected chance events.
The first two kinds , chance over time and everything being connected over time are compatible with theology. The third definition of pure undirected chance events and materially necessary events is not.
There is nothing in science that supports the third definition. Hence to quote the genius Kurt Godel
“The only reason why there seems to be a conflict between religion and science is only because we have not suitably enhanced our understandings.”
The only question is between special creation and universal common ancestry. We know the simple definition of evolution is real- change over time- we see young people evolve into old people- we don’t see young chimps though, evolve into old people.
Darwinism is a false philosophical system that is masked as sceince by those who are ingredient of it’s meaning and reality and by those who want to forward their agenda though it’s values.
Evolution as it pertains to the fossil record and genetics however, is a proper scientific domain and deserves open and serious investigation. Darwinism though does not deserve any serious attention except for in a political science, philosophy or comparative religion class.
Wouldn’t we first have to determine that the origin of the universe, and of ‘life itself’ are supernatural events?
As far as I can understand that is only a religious belief and not an established scientific fact. As far as I know, science so far has not been able to detect the existence of supernature. If it were within the reach of science, it wouldn’t be supernature.
Thanks Giles. I think I understand where you’re coming from a bit better. Our conceptions of God and evolution are radically different it seems. Unlike you, I see evolution as God’s means of creation in contrast to your
I think of it more like that God created the universe and all the fundamental laws involved, including evolution. Also, that God transcends this universe, including time, so that He doesn’t have to wait around to see the results of what He’s made or frontload or make little tweaks here and there. God as a creator rather than a designer if you will.
God of the gaps isn’t a good explanation of creation, but it also isn’t (most) TE. Do you really think the Catholic Church, which accepts the modern theory (not just Darwinian) of evolution, is shoving God into a few gaps for “credibility”?
As far as looking at how God is involved, we have no way of knowing through science, which is limited to solely natural explanations. A limitation, yes, but it improves efficiency and confidence in the conclusions that are arrived at.
I don’t get it; with Adam the first man (or Adam and Eve as a metaphor for the first people), how could he be a monkey? According to evolution (“Darwinism”) we’re not even descended from monkeys, all we have in common is a common ancestor and all that implies, with monkeys like remote relatives and chimpanzees like first cousins.
>>Thanks Giles. I think I understand where you’re coming from a bit better.
I hope so. It is the mechanism or process of how things come to be and how they change that is the issue. Evolution and Darwinism are not equivalent terms, nor is intelligent design synonymous with creationism or incompatible with evolution. Yet these misleading stereotypes have been repeated so frequently that public discussion has for the most part been unable to step outside the box to consider evolution and creation from other scientific and religious perspectives.
>>Our conceptions of God and evolution are radically different it seems.
I don’t, I see God as creating using evolution.
>>I think of it more like that God created the universe and all the fundamental laws involved, including evolution.
But there are no laws in Darwinian evolution other than ‘a struggle for survival’ if you want to term that as ‘a natural law’.
>>God as a creator rather than a designer if you will.
Yes, and natural selection selects (fine tunes) and doesn’t create.
>>God of the gaps isn’t a good explanation of creation, but it also isn’t (most) TE. Do you really think the Catholic Church, which accepts the modern theory (not just Darwinian) of evolution, is shoving God into a few gaps for “credibility”?
Yes, I do, very much so in fact. I think they wholly (or should that be ‘Holy’) accept the very basic and physical concept of ‘natural selection acting on genetic mutations’ plus maybe God doing ‘something else’ to guide it. The fact that they invoke God suggests guidance and intelligence in this mindless chance process. The whole concept of Theistic/Darwinian evolution makes no sense. It’s an oxymoron, the conecpts are antithetcial and to be honest ‘it’s a sweep under the carpet’ job as far as I am concerned. Intelligent design pursuits are very worthwhile in attempting to find which parts of the story aren’t being told.
>>As far as looking at how God is involved, we have no way of knowing through science,
Maybe, maybe not, but struggle for survival acting on mindless chance random mutations doesn’t exactly conjure up the concept of purpose does it???? Atoms, chrystallisation, molecules, protein folding etc are formed in accordance to natural laws, not natural selection. If nobody doubts that the self-organization of matter generates much of the complexity of the inorganic world, from molecules to galaxies and therefore we account rationally for the diversity of all inorganic forms by various sets of law. Does it not then follow that it would seem acceptable and perfectly reasonable to provide a rational and sensible account of the diversity of organic forms via the laws of biological form?? Would this not seem the most likely explanation???
However, we don’t do this. Just how do we account for all the incredible complexity in nature? By appealing to pure random chance genetic mutations and natural selection alone and an absence of any explanation for the origin of life! This idea suggests that nature is an ‘accident’, a completely undirected process and it all happens by pure chance and by sheer dumb luck. This has succeeded as the atheist’s delusion, scientific pretence and the church goes ahead and botls that onto its theology!
DIRECTED events- ARTIFICIAL even, but not necessarily supernatural.
Also natural processes cannot account for the origin of nature because natural processes only exist in nature.