Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What is Theistic Evolution?

For a while now a number of folks have been making comments along the lines of "God started life on Earth and Evolution took over from there." In all honesty I have no trouble with the statement itself, but this form of 'Theistic Evolution' is not a scientific theory, as some are claiming it to be.

As a sort of middle-ground, it's fine. It offers a way for people of faith to not use that faith to misunderstand or distort science. It also offers one way for people to alleviate any fears that science will reduce or diminish their faith. Again, along those lines I am fine. It falls under the 'believe what you want to believe', something I support myself. If you want you can even call it a form of religious freedom!

What doesn't work for me is trying to push God into even the 'pre-life on Earth' side of the equation. Theistic Evolution is still a philosophy and not a science. It's a way of looking at things that allow people of faith to come to terms more easily. The simple fact of leaving the Scientific Theory of Evolution intact and just prefixing it with divine intervention is certainly a better philosophy than trying to inert God into the areas of evolutionary theory we don't fully understand yet. That God-of-the-Gaps argument really is a pretty poor way of looking at things. Simply put, what happens when you learn something new and the gap is no longer a gap?

This Theistic view has been accepted by the majority of the world religions. In fact where you don't have a strict literalistic viewpoint, like Evangelical Christianity, it seems pretty much the norm. But please remember that it is not a scientific theory, it simply accepts the validity of the scientific theory and places a prefix that makes it easier to accept.

Personally I worry a little about it because it might come across as being a form of the God-of-the-Gaps argument as the science supporting Abiogenesis advances. But that is a topic for a time when that science goes beyond the hypothetical. I am pretty sure we will be having some of these same arguments then.

1 comment:

  1. As you've phrased theistic evolution, theistic evolution requires some form of divine intervention at the abiogenesis. My impression is that many proponents of theistic evolution are either agnostic about that point or at least are theologically ok with natural abiogenesis and put God's direct intervention farther back.