Tuesday, October 17th, 2006


I have written on this subject before, so I won’t repeat myself here. I do, however, want to share with you another quote I stumbled on, reinforcing why it is that evolution and theism are logically incompatible. In “Darwin Would Put God Out of Business,” David Klinghoffer wrote:

 

When it comes to Darwinian evolution and the challenge it presents to belief in God, a lot of thoughtful men and women seem intent on not facing up to a tough but necessary choice, between Darwin and God.

The key point is whether, across hundreds of millions of years, the development of life was guided or not. On one side of this chasm between worldviews are Darwinists, whose belief system asserts that life, through a material mechanism, in effect designed itself. On the other side are theories like intelligent design (ID) which argue that no such purely material mechanism could write the software in the cell, called DNA.

To put it starkly, Darwinism would put God out of business. God’s authority to command our behavior is based on His having created us. … If the process that produced existence and then life was not guided, then God is not our creator.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]

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It won’t help to say God indirectly created us since He was the one who created the laws of nature responsible for bringing us, and everything else into existence. The eminent evolutionist, William Provine, explains why:

Of course, it is still possible to believe in both modern evolutionary biology and a purposive force, even the Judeo-Christian God. One can suppose that God started the whole universe or works through the laws of nature (or both). There is no contradiction between this or similar views of God and natural selection. But this view of God is also worthless. Called Deism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and considered equivalent to atheism then, it is no different now. A God or purposive force that merely starts the universe or works through the laws of nature has nothing to do with human morals, answers no prayers, gives no life everlasting, in fact does nothing whatsoever that is detectable. In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[2]

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Well said!

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[1]David Klinghoffer, “Darwin Would Put God Outof Business”; available fromhttp://www.beliefnet.com/story/198/story_19844_1.html;Internet; accessed 18 September 2006.

[2]William Provine, review of Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution, by Edward J. Larson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, 224 pp.), in Academe, January 1987, pp.51-52.

Mark Hollabaugh, an astronomer and Lutheran, wrote an article for The Lutheran entitled “God allows the universe to create itself—and evolve”. Hollabaugh had this to say about evolution, Intelligent Design, and the relationship of science and religion on this matter:

 

As an astronomer, everywhere I look in the universe—from the largest galaxy to the smallest organism—I see evolution. As a Lutheran Christian, I also confess that God created me and all that exists. For me, there is no conflict.

Moreover, ID is poor theology. ELCA member and Minneapolis Star Tribune commentary editor Eric Ringham wrote: “[Intelligent design] attempts to define, and limit, the mind and power of God.” Why couldn’t God just let the universe evolve?<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]

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I was not able to read the entire article (because it required a paid subscription, and I’m too cheap to pay for that) to see if Hollabaugh explains himself further, but given the title of his article, how can he confess that God created him and everything that exists? Either the universe created itself, or God created it. It can’t be both. The only way I can see how Hollabaugh confesses both is if he understands religious belief as subjective sentiment rather than objective truths about the world.

ID is poor theology? For one, ID is not theology; it is science. Furthermore, even if the Designer of Intelligent Design happens to be a supernatural divine being, how would what ID says about this being be bad theology? Considering the fact that ID doesn’t say anything about the Designer other than that He designed, it’s difficult to figure out what Ringham is complaining about. Before you can say someone’s theology is bad, they first have to have a theology! Simply saying someone/something designed our universe is not much of a theology.

According to Ringham ID is bad theology because it “attempts to define, and limit, the mind and power of God.” ID does not speculate about the nature of the designer, so how can it be said to be defining and limiting him? But what if they did speculate about the nature of the designer? Would Ringham’s charge make sense then? No, because the very things he defines as bad theology are the very things that every theology does. Anybody who believes in a divine being(s) attempts to define him in some way. Even saying “God is indefinable” is to define the type of being he is: an indefinable being. All theology attempts to define God, making Ringham’s charge meaningless and foolish.

What about the limiting of God? Every thing that exists, exists as something in particular. There are particular things true of that thing, and particular things not true of that thing. To exist as something concrete is to be limited.

Limit the mind and power of God? I don’t even know what Ringham is thinking on this one? My mind is not imaginative enough to figure out how ID could be limiting God’s power and mind by claiming he designed. If anything, they marvel at the magnificence of the design, which indirectly magnifies the magnificence of the Designer’s mind.

Using Hollabaugh’s own criteria for bad theology, what should we make of Hollabaugh’s theology? Does He not attempt to define God when He says (implicitly) that God is not the kind of being who would create our world? Does He not attempt to limit God’s power when He claims that something could happen apart from God’s power? Then his theology is poor as well.

What this really boils down to is a bunch of rhetoric, not clear thinking. It’s easy to throw out clichés and straw man attacks. It’s much harder to substantiate it with proof and solid reasoning.

 


[1]Mark Hollabaugh, “God Allows the Universe to Create Itself—and Evolve”; October 2006 issue of The Lutheran, available from http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article_buy.cfm?article_id=6093; Internet; accessed 09 October 2007.