Being a Theistic Evolutionist without contradiction

“It is not, however, possible to be a Christian DARWINIST without contradiction. A Christian Darwinist is bound to maintain logically incompatible positions: that evolution is both a tool and an autonomous process, that providence and chance are both ultimately real, that design is potentially detectable and that it is a priori indetectable. This intellectual schizophrenia cannot be maintained.”

Such concludes a posting on UcD by a new poster named Thomas Cudworth.

The problem is that Thomas has failed to recognize several logical fallacies. First of all, the claim that design is potentially detectable is not one which logically follows from a Christian perspective. In fact, YEC have given up on detecting design and rejects any discrepancies between science and their faith. Furthermore, it is hardly self evident that God’s Design should be detectable. In fact, some have argued that this lack of detectable evidence is both a requirement for free will as well as a foundation for our faith.

So how can (Darwinian) evolution be a tool and autonomous process at the same time? Charles Darwin already provided the answer.

One of the major processes of evolution is variation and natural selection. Those familiar with natural selection will remember that Darwin appealed to artificial selection to make his case for natural selection. In other words, God can at least in principle affect the process of natural selection. Second of all, the process of variation. Much confusion exists over the meaning of the term random here. Sufficient to say that random seems to be misunderstood by many an ID Creationist who misinterprets it as ‘unguided’, or ‘guided by a pure chance process’ when in fact logic dictates that random refers to the immediate relevance of said variation in the environment. Furthermore, science has shown how variation can become biased by the same processes of evolution, as long as the source of this variation in variation is genetic. In other words, natural selection can select for sources of variation which are more likely to be successful.

The arguments are not much dissimilar from the observation that although the laws of gravity guide the motion of objects, humans have found ways to guide ballistic projectiles.

Thus we come to the following claim

Once God sets a truly Darwinian process in motion, he has no control over whether it will produce Adam and Eve, a race of pointy-eared Vulcans, or just an ocean full of bacteria.)

First of all this suggests that Humans were the expected outcome of God’s creation and while it is easy to understand this flawed logic, after all, we are the outcome of God’s creation, this should not be confused with a forward looking goal. In fact, it is easy to argue that God’s Creation was set in motion to eventually result in a form of life which could gain spirituality and a soul and thus become aware of His existence. Furthermore, even if God had set in motion a Darwinian process, He could still have intervened, as I have explained above, without violating natural law. In other words, the process would still appear purely Darwinian and at the same time would be guided.

So contrary to the fallacious claims that ‘true Darwinists’ cannot be ‘true Christians’, it is self evident that such a position is not logically tenable.

What I find puzzling is why people are intent on rejecting the good science of Darwinism and evolutionary theory as somehow being incompatible with their faith. That shows both a disregard for science, which is a typical ID Creationist affliction, as well as a significant lack in faith.

What I find particularly ironic is the opening statement that

There is plenty of room within orthodox Christianity for the belief that the earth is very old, and for less-than-completely-literal interpretations of Genesis.

Not only is there plenty of room, Christianity cannot and should not maintain a position which is at odds with known facts of science. As such, I find it far more puzzling to hear ID Creationists be critical about theistic evolutionist while remaining mostly silent about a far worse threat to science and faith, namely Young Earth Creationism.

And yet Cudworth seems to ‘argue’ that

But Darwin’s mechanism leaves room for neither intelligence nor skill; it is the unconscious operation of impersonal natural selection upon mutations which are the products of chance. It follows that Darwinian evolution is not a tool, but an autonomous process, and therefore out of God’s control.

What Cudworth fails to realize is that autonomous processes can be affected and used as tools to control evolution. Once ID Creationist realize their mistakes, they should be quick to abandon their foolish objections to TE’s and become more critical of YECers. But since ID Creationists are most likely to be YECers, it seems no wonder that their disagreements lie with Christians who have not found a need to deny the facts of science in other to have a solid faith.

So let me end with Cudworth’s original statement applied to a far worse threat to science and faith

“It is not, however, possible to be a Christian Young Earth Creationist without contradiction. A Christian Young Earth Creationists is bound to maintain logically incompatible positions: namely that science contradicts consistently the claims of a Young Earth, and a purely faith based interpretation of the Bible that insists that God created in less than 10,000 years. This intellectual schizophrenia cannot be maintained.”