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Published Today: Should Christians Embrace Evolution?

Today, Intervarsity Press (IVP) in the UK publish a new symposium, entitled “Should Christians Embrace Evolution?” edited by leading geneticist Professor Norman Nevin. Andrew Sibley has already posted about it on UD and linked to the preface. Believers in a God-guided Darwinism are preaching that Darwinism is a fact and that the Bible can be reconciled with it. This new book comprehensively refutes both ideas. Far from necessary, theistic evolution is both bad theology and bad science. It particularly interacts with Dr. Denis Alexander and his recent work, “Creation or Evolution – do we have to choose?”.

Should Christians Embrace Evolution?

Here is the contents table from the first draft:


Contributors 7
Foreword 9
Wayne Grudem
Preface: A twenty-first-century challenge 11
Phil Hills
1. Evolution and the Church 15
Alistair Donald
2. The language of Genesis 27
Alistair McKitterick
3. Adam and Eve 43
Michael Reeves
4. The fall and death 57
Greg Haslam
5. Creation, redemption and eschatology 73
David Anderson
6. The nature and character of God 93
Andrew Sibley
7. Creation and faith 108
R. T. Kendall
8. The relationship between science and theology 117
Steve Fuller
9. Interpretation of scientific evidence
A. Homology 137
Norman Nevin
B. Fossils 143
Norman Nevin
C. Chromosomal fusion and common ancestry 151
Geoff Barnard
D. Information and thermodynamics 158
Andy McIntosh
10. Does the genome provide evidence for common ancestry? 166
Geoff Barnard
11. The origin of life: scientists play dice 187
John Walton
Conclusion: Should Christians embrace evolution? 210

And here is the blurb about the authors from the first draft (minus mine which was inaccurate):

Geoff Barnard was for seven years a Senior Research Scientist at the in the Department for Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK. He has been a Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at three other UK universities and visiting scientist at the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
Alistair Donald is Chair of Apologetics, Church of Scotland, and Chaplain at Heriot-Watt University. He holds a PhD in Ice Age Geology.
Steve Fuller is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick.
Greg Haslam is Senior Pastor at Westminster Chapel, London.
Phil Hills has been in pastoral ministry for the past twenty-three years and has led churches in Coventry, Birmingham and Swansea. He is currently the pastor of the Elim Church in Dundonald, Belfast. He has a Masters degree in theology from Manchester University.
R. T. Kendall is is an author, speaker, and teacher, and was pastor of Westminster Chapel, London, for twenty-five years.
Andy McIntosh is Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds (contributing here in a private capacity).
Alistair McKitterick is lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies at Moorlands Theological College.
Norman C. Nevin OBE is Emeritus Professor of Medical Genetics at the Queen’s University, Belfast and Head of the Northern Regional Genetics Service.
Michael Reeves is the Theological Advisor for UCCF. Previously he was an associate minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. He is the author of The Unquenchable Flame: Introducing the Reformation. He holds a doctorate in systematic theology from King’s College, London.
Andrew Sibley is studying towards a PhD in theology at a UK university examining the science, theology and philosophy of Intelligent Design arguments. He has an MSc from the Open University in Environmental Decision Making and works part time as a specialist weather forecaster in the environmental arena. He has authored a couple of books, including Restoring the Ethics of Creation, and has a keen interest in promoting social and environmental ethics from a Christian perspective.
John C. Walton is Research Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews.

Available postage-included (to the UK) from Amazon UK for £7.50, here.

This is my first post at UD, so I’d better say “hi”, and thanks to Dr. Dembski for inviting me. Rather than an intro, I’ll just send you to my home page, here.

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29 Responses to Published Today: Should Christians Embrace Evolution?

  1. Good that this work is being done. Wishing all the best and hope it will have a wide distribution. As for Dr. Denis Alexander’s Book, I was somewhat amused to find that he suggest that Adam is from Neolithic period. Being trained in prehistoric archaeology I find that quit hilarious. The person who wants to appear so scientific (or claims to be scientific) seems light years away from the “present prehistoric archaeologist and palaeoanthropologists view”.

  2. Why do some have such a hard time understanding that objections to Darwinism — undirected evolution, or perhaps all powerful evolution might be a better way of putting it — are often science based and have nothing to do with religion?

  3. 3

    For me, “theistic” evolution is analogous to the claim that the Last Supper resulted when Leonardo Da Vinci’s cow accidentally kicked over a couple of buckets of paint in his barn. It sort of gives credit to Da Vinci, but it is still insulting to the painter, and—more importantly–to our intelligence.

  4. Coming from a Catholic background, I find it strange to make such a categorical claim as “theistic evolution is both bad theology and bad science”. I am not decided yet if ID can be detected, but don’t most proponents of ID acknowledge some sort of guided evolution?

  5. Why do some have such a hard time understanding that objections to Darwinism — undirected evolution, or perhaps all powerful evolution might be a better way of putting it — are often science based and have nothing to do with religion?

    What do you think that science is? Most scientists have said that science is the search for natural explanations for some time now. If that’s the case then all purely “science based” objections to evolutionary creation myths will build or be based on another evolutionary creation myth. If science is the search for natural explanations (whatever natural means) then objecting to evolution is the equivalent of objecting to science.

  6. What do you think that science is?

    A methodology for understanding nature.

    Most scientists have said that science is the search for natural explanations for some time now.

    How is insisting that something happened the couldn’t have, an explanation?

    With regard to ID, how is objectively describing natural events solely via natural means not a natural explanation?

  7. Science, btw, is not a rejection of the supernatural.

    It is the admission of a limitation regarding its methodology in being able to deal with supernatural.

    Regardless, the supernatural neither involves ID nor a rejection of Darwinian evolution.

  8. “I am not decided yet if ID can be detected, but don’t most proponents of ID acknowledge some sort of guided evolution?”

    All ID proponents acknowledge some sort of guided evolution. At least at one point in time. But the limitation of this concept is what many in the ID camp call the absurdity of Theistic Evolution. Has some intelligent guided evolution? ID certainly says yes but by saying yes ID does not say that every aspect was guided or it was guided a certain way. One problem with a lot of TE’s espousing Darwinian processes is that there is no evidence that it happened this way. So like the atheists and YEC’s, many TE’s force their science to bow to their ideology. So how is that one truth which means that science and theology should not disagree.

    An appropriate view should be, there is one truth and not try to force one’s world view into an ill fitting slot. I understand Catholicism does not say anything official on evolution, only that God had a part in aspects of it. But I have seen many Catholics try to force the Darwinian paradigm into their theology. There are many Catholics in ID, and Michael Behe and Bruce Chapman are two prominent ID people who are Catholics.

  9. Kontinental (#4): ” I am not decided yet if ID can be detected, but don’t most proponents of ID acknowledge some sort of guided evolution?”

    The problem is that Theistic Evolutionists think they can have their cake and eat it too. Darwinistic RV + NS entirely explains evolution, but oh by the way God has also directed it. This gets down to supposing that genetic variations can be entirely random with respect to organization and reproductive fitness (required by Darwinism), and at the same time somehow be directed by a higher force to produce adaptation. A real contradiction, which is just attempted to be glossed over by the proponents. When this contradiction is pointed out, the last resort is to point out that God is truly omnipotent and not limited by such logic.

  10. 10

    Kontinental,

    Allow me to give my 2cents in response to your question.

    TE is theological before it is scientific. I think it would be more beneficial for your understanding to ask why TE is opposed to ID, rather than why IDists reject TE. TE rejects ID because of their view of God. They don’t believe that God is confined to reason. As such, he does not have to leave physical evidence for his existence. They believe that ID confines God to reason, and this is why they reject it.

    IDists reject TE on scientific grounds, rather than on theological grounds – the same reason why they reject Darwinian evolution.

  11. I reject TE on scientific and theological grounds.

  12. I reject the term “Theistic Evolution” because everyone in their right mind knows that basic evolution occurs – whether that be the evolution of bacterial resistance OR the evolution of the design and construction of a new automobile.

    People like myself and Dembski would be considered Theistic Evolutionists if by the term “evolution” you only mean “change over time.”

    But since we think design is the real cause of the specified complex information- we dont call ourselves evolutionists – but perhaps IDists.

    So what is really meant usually by the term Theistic Evolution – is “Theistic Darwinism”. And this is an oxymoron.

  13. 13

    Well yes Clive, thanks for the clarification. It’s not either or, but both.

    Frost,

    I think another problem with the term TE is that it’s a misnomer. There’s no real deity involved, apparently.

  14. It particularly interacts with Dr. Denis Alexander and his recent work, “Creation or Evolution – do we have to choose?”.

    ok, this is cool. I just recently bought Denis Alexander’s book, so now I’ll have something to read alongside it.

  15. For me, “theistic” evolution is analogous to the claim that the Last Supper resulted when Leonardo Da Vinci’s cow accidentally kicked over a couple of buckets of paint in his barn.

    I think if we were to find Leonardo’s cow at a 1st Century Passover in Jerusalem we might indeed require a “design” explanation.

  16. If science is the search for natural explanations (whatever natural means)

    Exactly! Why should we give “science” the “natural” high ground.

    If God exists, how can God not be the most natural being in existence? What is a “natural world,” when at all times God is maintaining it in existence?

  17. TE’s would reject the term Darwinism and many do not adhere necessarily to Darwin’s ideas. Especially to an undirected process. The question is how did the direction occur and here is where they get into inconsistencies. If God directed it through quantum events or some other such secondary way, what is the difference between that and creating the change ad hoc. Just because God set in motion a process that led to evolution does not make God not responsible for the effects of evolution which is a motivation behind some of their beliefs.

    ID would be completely consistent with changes occurring through quantum events or some other obscure method so in reality ID and many TE’s are almost the same. People try to pigeon hole TE’s like it was some organized ideology. Just as many try to pigeon hole those who are pro ID.

    Before people start asserting what they know about TE’s they should read some of the ASA comments over time about the term. They have had long discussions about it. And if people here are frustrated with how ID is interpreted then they are often as equally guilty of misinterpreting TE’s.

    My only problem with TE’s is their wide spread disdain for ID without any valid basis. And by the way they are as well informed about ID as many here are informed about TE’s. Which is not much. I would not use Ken Miller or Francis Collins as good examples.

  18. “…God-guided Darwinism…”

    This is a contradiction in terms. That’s the real problem with TE. It’s nothing more complicated than that.

  19. That’s right Tragic mp. God guided Darwinism is just an oxymoron.

  20. God guided Darwinism is just an oxymoron.

    But surely, God guided Darwin into atheism.

  21. I think you’ll find that many “theistic evolutionists” accept evolution, but reject “Darwinism”, with Darwinism meaning “unguided evolution”. I’ve encountered many (Stephen Barr being a prime example) who use “Darwinism” basically as another word for “evolution”, not “unguided evolution”.

    They do tend to think that design cannot be detected scientifically. And I consider many of them to be at least a little naive (thinking that “unguided evolution” is regarded as going beyond what science can say, in the eyes of most scientists. In reality, I think the treatment is vastly more hypocritical and political.)

  22. Thank you all for your kind comments – certainly food for thought.

  23. —-Jerry: “The question is how did the direction occur and here is where they get into inconsistencies. If God directed it through quantum events or some other such secondary way, what is the difference between that and creating the change ad hoc. Just because God set in motion a process that led to evolution does not make God not responsible for the effects of evolution which is a motivation behind some of their beliefs.”

    Exactly right.

    —”Before people start asserting what they know about TE’s they should read some of the ASA comments over time about the term. They have had long discussions about it. And if people here are frustrated with how ID is interpreted then they are often as equally guilty of misinterpreting TE’s.”

    For my part, I am less concerned about their differences and more concerned about what they have in common. Not all TEs are created equal, sure enough. However, they key point for me is their insistence that God’s handiwork cannot be detected in biology–that we must “believe” in God’s design because we cannot “perceive” it. That’s big, and it flat out contradicts Romans 1:20, one of the most important verses in the Bible.

    Atheists are “without excuse, so the Bible tells us, “because they refuse to acknowledge the beauty of God’s creation. One does not simply believe that something is beautiful—beauty is understood, perceived, and apprehended by the senses; it is not assumed or believed by faith, as the TE’s would have it. [That, by the way, is why it is so ridiculous for PZ Myers and Abbie Smith to purr on about the "beauty" of Darwinistic evolution.]

    For most TEs that I know, God revealed himself in cosmology, where his handiwork can be perceived, and then hid himself in biology, where we must then take the TE’s word for it that design is “inherent in the evolutionary process,” as Stephen Barr puts it. It makes no sense to me, and for my money, Bsrr is the most formidable TE in the mix. On the contrary, the Bible does not say that we must believe in TEs, or even in God himself, to apprehend design. All we need to do is just look around. As Thomas Dubay puts it, beauty has “evidential power.”

  24. jerry, when you say ‘ID would be completely consistent with changes occurring through quantum events or some other obscure method ‘ I am still struggling to understand what your issue is with the theory of evolution. If, for you, ID is compatible with evolutionary change over time, and if evolution could be guided via events that to us mere mortals appear as random, what need is there left to invoke ID?

    fG

  25. fG:
    “If, for you, ID is compatible with evolutionary change over time, and if evolution could be guided via events that to us mere mortals appear as random, what need is there left to invoke ID?”

    Because appearance can be deceiving and because ID proponents aren’t satisfied with giving up on science and invoking “chance of the gaps.” It has a lot to do with the end product. Is the end product characterized by either law (mathematical description of a regularity or pattern defined by the physical properties of the units utilized to create the pattern) or chance (referring to unguided processes which produce satistically random patterns); or is it best characterized by foresight (modelling the future, generating a future target not yet in existence and then engineering/fine tuning law and chance in the present to produce that end goal in the future)?

    We invoke ID for the same reason that “Me thinks it is like a weasel” can appear to generate itself from a random selection of randomly mutating letters. Yet upon closer inspection and from what we understand about cause and effect, the flow and transformation of complex and specified probabilities, and how both chance and intelligence operate, we can arrive at the tentative conclusion that until someone provides evidence otherwise the phrase most likely had its origin in intelligence, working alongside chance and law.

    In fact, an evolutionary process is itself some of the best evidence of previous intelligent fine tuning. Evolution is indeed the perfect example of the co-operation between intellingece, law, and chance — intelligence harnessing law and chance to produce end targets which wouldn’t exist through the workings of chance and law absent previous intelligence.

  26. Faded Glory,

    You still do not understand the debate. When I say that quantum events would be consistent with ID, I am not saying that is how it happened. I am just saying that if an intelligence did decide to do it that way, then ID would have no problem. And in fact that could have been the way it happened.

    What ID says is that there no evidence that it could happen naturally. That is a huge difference. If it happened naturally then it would leave a trail and no such trail exists. Quantum events directed by an intelligence would not leave a trail. Quantum events not directed by an intelligence would leave a trail. Naturalistic non quantum processes would leave a trail.

    The issue is that there is no trail. Just what you would expect from an intelligence working on evolution. It all happens suddenly through no known natural process. Just as you type at the keyboard. All naturalistic processes, quantum or otherwise would leave a trail. That is why ID and a lot of science are different. A lot of science, not all, is based on trails and repeatable events. An intelligence is neither. just as your comments are all unique and will generally not be repeated or if they are repeated they will not be repeated in any specific pattern that is on going as would be by natural laws. Intelligence over rides natural laws and that is what we observe in macro evolution. In micro evolution natural laws operate but they operate on an intelligent system built to take advantage of natural laws.

    Think of it as like a garden with a gardener. The gardener, plants, weeds, fertilizes but in general lets natural laws do most of the work under his initial and boundary conditions and his occasional intervention. The initial conditions are the seeds, the ground, etc. The boundary conditions are the extent of the fertile area, the normal amount of rain fall and sunlight, a fence and scarecrow to keep predators away, etc. But nothing productive would happen if the intelligence did not design the garden and intervene at various times. That is what we find when we look at life.

    ID says there are no trails. When there are no trails, the most likely explanation is an intelligence. The main trail that is missing is the gradual build up of information over time to explain the increased complexity witnessed over time. No natural process has been discovered that builds up information over time. And no observation of increased information has been observed. It was all sudden and in the past.

    I hope this helps you.

  27. jerry says: ID says there are no trails. When there are no trails, the most likely explanation is an intelligence. The main trail that is missing is the gradual build up of information over time to explain the increased complexity witnessed over time. No natural process has been discovered that builds up information over time. And no observation of increased information has been observed. It was all sudden and in the past.

    - I am not sure what this ‘trail’ is that you would expect from natural evolution. There are two very important trails that show that life on this planet evolved over time, the fossil record and the molecular phylogenies.

    How gradual the gradual buildup of information would have to be is an open question. Exactly how fast the observed changes happened has not been determined, I think. What is certain is that the fossil record is a very coarse sampling of the long sequence of generations that have lived on earth. Even ‘abrupt’ appearance of new species was not necessarily abrupt at all in biological time, and may well have taken place over many, many generations of organisms.

    We know that most of the differences between ‘less complex’ and ‘more complex’ biological organisms are caused by differences in their genome. There are many known natural mechanisms that modify genomes, and if some of these modifications result in changes that have benefits in real life, it is not hard to see why such changes become fixed in the population.

    How does you saying that no observation of increased information has been observed match with Cornelius Hunter’s post, some pages down, describing the appearance of de-novo genes? Why wouldn’t that count as increased information?

    fg

  28. For me, the answer to “Is evolution compatible with the Bible?” is no. Evolution presents modern man as an improving animal. The Bible presents modern man as the degenerating descendant of a perfect man.

    The idea that God direct evolution (theistic evolution) in order to produce man is also incompatible with what the Bible states about God’s personality and qualities. If God guided the process of evolution, it would mean that He guided man into its present diseased and distressed state. However, the Bible describes God as being perfectly just (Deut. 32:4,5). Mankind’s present suffering is not the result of God-directed evolution.

    One of the basic teachings of Christianity is that Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). The Bible clearly states that Christ paid the price for Adamic sin (Rom. 6:23). If we doubt the biblical statement that “in Adam all are dying” then how can we hope that “in the Christ all will be made alive”?

  29. Evolution presents modern man as an improving animal.

    Actually, no. No improvement at all. Just an animal. Just different, is all. Can’t let man get too different. Numerous differences, to be sure. But not so different as to be all that different from an animal. If that makes any sense.

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