Rational Scientific Theories from Theism

Biological Evolution

Gradual Creation by Means

We have seen that the principles of theistic science show how God creates the world by successive degrees, and by successive means, not by instantaneous creation of organisms and persons in all their detail. We have seen the details of discrete degrees, and how the activities (and growth and evolution) of created beings are necessarily dependent on their previously actual properties. These dependences generate spiritual-natural laws, which do allow some apparently non-physical processes, but the general (and desired) effect is of a relatively fixed and stable natural world.

What 'Theistic Evolution' is not:

We should not take the view of 'theistic evolution' that "Those who champion theistic evolution accept Darwinian theory as a satisfactory explanation of evolution of nature. They marry the Darwinian theory up with the religious tenet that the natural world is the creation of a transcendent God by claiming that that God delivers the ultimate underpinning for the truth of Darwinian theory." (quoted here). Rather, the causes are quite different and much more specific.

Intelligent Design?

The Intelligent Design (ID) movement consists of a negative critique of Darwinist evolution, and the beginnings of a more positive account based on theism. The negative message is reaching people, but the positive message is still in need of development (or replacement). The step from 'initial design in a deism' to 'constant sustenance in a theism' now needs to be made properly.

ID appears to think that God has arbitrary power, and can create any design that he likes, and populate the world according to any chosen plan, but in reality it is not this simple, or this arbitrary. First, the created beings have to have a form which receives, digests and acts on the life received from the Lord.  Their form is not just some intelligent solution to problems of bio-engineering, but has to follow many requirements that come from the nature of God himself, and the ways that love and wisdom progressively act together.  Dembski and co hardly know anything about these aspects.

Secondly, the Lord does not create immediately, but progressively. He does not create angels immediately, but 'grows' them gradually, beginning with humans on earth. If they were created immediately, they would not be sufficiently distinct from Him, and would not live and enjoy their lives as if from themselves.  God is deeply involved in all these 'growing' processes, but always allows some crucial decisions (eg in temptations) to be made by the creature as their own. Thirdly, I think we must generalise this second point, and say that God does not even create humans immediately, but grows them 'out of the earth', in a way such as evolution describes. Again, he is continually drawing out of creatures as much as he can, but always the sequence of bodies as 'containers' or 'receptacles' is a continuous modification of what went previously.  Dembski and co seem to imagine  that human creation in prehistory was of creatures without ancestors, as if producing 'instant humans' some thousands of years ago, but I doubt this is true, for the reasons above.

For God is not merely the designer of creatures, but is the sustainer & enlivener of them. If we do not accept deism (correctly), then we should be clear in the consequences of theism: that God creates, sustains & redeems all creatures. The fact that we are recipients of God's life means that God does not have arbitrary powers to create any thing, but must sustain what already exists, and only gradually modify it. This means, to me at least, the God is not a free ex nihilo designer, but, for biology & psychology at least, has always to work with the materials already present. (Just look at his patient dealings with the churches in history!).

Thus, I believe that we know more about theism, we will know more about the progressive creation in theistic evolution.

Further Discussion

There are articles discussing evolution specifically:

  • H. Lj. Odhner. "Creation"   A big-picture review of the spiritual physics of creation.

  • A. Acton. "Evolution"   An overview of several major theories derived from the Writings’ teachings.

  • G. Doering. "Evolution"   Focuses on discrete degrees in putting together a model, and notes some logical problems involving evil men and beasts.

  • L.H. Edmiston. "Creation of humankind: a Divinely ordered evolutionary process"     Makes some fascinating points from the Writings, notably that the evolutionists have it backward, that achieving the human form was the aim of evolution (under Divine guidance) from the outset, not what evolution arrived at, accidentally, at the end.

  • C. Gyllenhaal-Davis. "Chance, evolution and the New Word"    A review of just how subtle the influence of Providence, in the form of "chance," can be in bringing about "evolution."

  • D. Pendleton. "Evolution"    Draws a parallel between the original implantation of a human soul in a body at creation and the implantation of Christ's soul at His conception in Mary.

  • M. R. Carlson. "Evolution, the limbus and hereditary evil"   Reviews both scientific and doctrinal aspects of evolution, noting the problems with the natural selection idea (as well as the spiritual dangers of purely external "nature created itself" theory), and proposes a new doctrinal/scientific approach to the whole issue, including a new view of hereditary evil, with a tie-in to Sheldrake’s "morphogenetic fields" concept.

and also some papers here.


www.TheisticScience.org Author: Ian J. Thompson, Email: IanT at TheisticScience.org