Robinson admits that Dennett has struck a vital spot in pro-Darwinian theology: “His remarks stung: there is indeed a legitimate question about whether the way in which theology engages with Darwinism amounts to anything more than a set of purely defensive and rather desperate moves.” Indeed. He goes on to broadly suggest that Dennett (and secular scientists in general) might benefit from the metaphysics of Christian theism. But this defensive maneuver seems a limp defense. The best Robinson manages in the chapter is the red herring of reversing the tables, offering “Is the mechanistic, atheistic world-view of the new atheists any more free from metaphysical commitments than a theology of nature which takes the Christian gospel as its overarching framework?” Well, perhaps the answer is yes. To be sure, even the nominalist skeptic must assume some things she cannot prove or explain. But, she isn’t quite so committed to letting those assumptions impinge upon her assessment of the mechanics or our immediate reality. In as much as there is no evidence of divine action, she is content to conclude that the Divine hasn’t acted. Like Laplace, she would have no need of that hypothesis. And, of course, it’s not clear that some ascription to a fairly sterile form of deism wouldn’t get you the same metaphysical grounding in this regard. From within theistic evolution, it’s pretty hard to get justified Christianity from “first cause” arguments (which Robinson also offers). More.
Actually, in my (O’Leary for News’) view, theistic evolution has never been about justifying Christianity.
It has always been about justifying Darwin to Christians. It’s not even clear that the people involved care that much about evolution as such. It is a peg on which to hang arguments for a naturalist view of life with a sort of halo illusion.
Theistic evolutionists, at bottom, oppose intelligent design because it is not compatible with any form of naturalism (nature is all there is, mind an illusion). And they are seeking an accommodation with naturalism.
See also: Wayne Rossiter: No “I” in “Me” (and no sense in Sam Harris)
At Forbes: Dump the term “theistic evolution”
My thoughts on the Krauss- Meyer-Lamoureux debate (Vincent Torley)
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