In a recent PNAS paper John Avise argued that evolution emancipates “religion from the shackles of theodicy” by getting any god off the hook as the source of seemingly cruel design defects in the human genome. Giving a god credit for the good designs, so the story goes, makes that god responsible for the bad designs too. Defending his opinion in this week’s PNAS letters Avise restates that a “God directly responsible for the many malfunctions that characterize the human genome, would seem to be quite malevolent as well as bumbling”. Believing as he does that “IDers promulgate the notion of an omnipotent and benevolent deity who directly crafts life ex nihilo” and “vehemently oppose any suggestion that God has operated by setting into motion natural evolutionary processes”, he holds that it is a “longstanding pillar of science – that any “god” has (?and must only) act through natural laws.”
Michael Murray and Jeffrey Schloss who are no friends of ID question why “an entirely theological issue and not a scientific one” is suitable for publication in PNAS. Claims that evolution offers “salvation for theology” should not they say, be “made in a journal of scientific research”.
This is an interesting objection from theistic evolutionists who object to the breaching of Gould’s separate magisteria even in an attempt to demolish ID which they believe to be in error.
Avise’s insisting that ID itself makes claims about the nature of the Intelligent Designer is clearly false. Theodicy is a problem for anyone living in this world, not just ID proponents and Avise would be well advised to read Dr Dembski’s “The End of Christianity” before he attempts to speak with authority on theological issues about which he has little understanding.