Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Theistic evolution = neapolitan ice cream?

Pope Benedict XVI said, " and religion are not opposed to each other and Christians should not be afraid to try to understand how they compliment each other in explaining the mystery of life on Earth." In other words, the Roman Catholic Church (as well as mainline Protestant churches plus some Jewish and Islamic denominations) support the view that biological evolution is compatible with their religious understanding of the nature of God. This is opposed to most Evangelical Christians who believe in Bible inerrancy, meaning they take the Creation story literally.

So, there are three major groups in contention here. We have atheists on one side and theists on the other. Within theists there are the literalists on one side and theistic evolutionists (TE) on the other. What will they think of next? A hybrid group that calls itself "theistic evolutionary literalists"??

TE, at first, sounded like an oxymoron. How can one believe in evolution and at the same time believe in a supreme God? Well you can, if you are willing to stretch your imagination a little bit. TEs essentially take the best of both worlds. Just like if your prefer vanilla ice cream but you Mom likes strawberry and your Dad likes chocolate, the best thing to do is to buy neapolitan ice cream!

According to wikipedia, theistic evolution is the synthesis of faith and religious teachings with science, with the view that divine intervention brought about the origin of life. Even if human beings only come about after 4 billion years of evolution, TEs believe that God's invisible hand has guided the process so in a sense, we are God's creations.

I see many problems with this view because it leads to more questions than answers. Why did God wait 4 billion years before creating Man? If we are created in God's image and God loves us above all creatures, wouldn't He have create us first? What has God been doing since the Big Bang all the way up to the formation of Earth? The most common reply is God transcends space and time, and we are not supposed to question His will.

I don't think it is necessary to credit God with our evolution (and the evolution of everything for that matter). Darwin got the idea for evolution by natural selection from the work of economist Thomas Malthus who wrote about human population growth. Since resources (food, shelter, mates) are limited, survival of the fittest is really an economic problem. Economists never credit God with GDP growth, low inflation or low interest rates. Adam Smith wrote about the invisible hand in The Wealth of Nations, refering to how individual self-interest inadvertently stimulate the economy as a whole. The same invisible hand is at work in nature, but it isn't God's hand. Evolution happens in spite of God.

The onus really is on the TEs to convince us that God is needed to make evolution work. After that, they need to convince us that that God is the one in the Bible or the Quran, or any one of the millions of Gods we've revered throughout history.

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At 1:46 AM, November 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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