Have you heard of it yet? Guided evolution. It means that God is at work overseeing the adaptation and natural selection of every plant and animal species. In other words, he continues his work-in-progress with every generation, never quite getting it right. It’s another subterfuge, another way to sneak God into science.
The problem that some theists have with evolution is not that the theory is “incorrect,” but that the theory does not need a creator to explain so many of the big questions we have about life; for example, why are we here. Ultimately, it is an emotional response to evolution that causes conflict, a desire to have explanations for the unexplained, to feel comforted by the familiar promise of God. Life is now “objectively meaningless”! That is the crux of the issue.
So how does a theologian reconcile evolution and faith so that God can still keep skin in the game? Well, he claims that the two are compatible. Check out Professor Alvin Plantinga’s talk here if you’d like to learn more. Plantinga claims that, because scientific theory doesn’t address whether or not evolution is guided by God–or any other mythical character, I might add—he can be brought in as an add-on to existing theory. I suppose this means you and I can add-on anything we’d like to any theory or scientific law. So I’m proposing that we “add on” a goddess and give her the reins in evolution. I’m thinking a woman would do a much better job with the whole childbirth thing and the excruciating pain women must suffer.
It’s also relevant to note that there is no mention of God’s great hands in the theory of relativity or the law of gravity either. It seems to me if you’re going to add him on as a rider to one scientific theory, he should be attached to all of them.
We should also examine what Guided Evolution fails to either recognize or acknowledge. Theology supports the idea that God is 1) perfect, 2) omnipotent and 3) all-knowing. So tying God onto to the back of evolution’s mighty engine reduces God to nothing more than an inept tinkerer. I mean, for chrissake, are you telling me that, after all these human iterations we continue to be plagued by the common cold and the flu? God cannot master the process of meiosis so that errors do not occur? Seems to me that our human tinkerers have done a much better job with small pox and IVF. I’m sure you guys can come up with quite a few more examples of how God has failed as a scientist, mechanic and creator. After all, he’s left us prone to disease, organ failure, birth defects and pesky viruses and bacteria. Hell, a lowly mosquito can still take us out.
And here’s another thing. If god has his big, clumsy hands guiding the evolution of every species, then why is the world such a hostile place? Why is there so much damn suffering in so much of the world? Plantinga, of course, did not have an answer in his presentation. He falls back on the crusty cliché: “It’s not for us to know.” (You guys saw that coming, right?). The idea of a hostile planet does not reconcile well with the idea of a loving, merciful, just–and present–god. If god’s here fiddling with the world, guiding our adaptations, and he’s choosing not to alleviate suffering, then either our conception of god is wrong or we’re delusional.
While a believer may not read the bible as a collection of facts, there are certain underlying premises that one must accept for belief: that god is all-knowing, not clueless; that god is powerful, not powerless; that god is omnipotent, not impotent. If you believe that your god is the creator of all life, that he created us in his image and that he is perfect in all regards, then you cannot also believe in a second explanation of evolution, which would invalidate the Bible. God either created Adam and Eve “in the beginning,” or he’s been stumbling along in the dark, guiding our creation. You cannot have two true answers to the question: how did we get here?
And Guided Evolution is catching on. In this January 9th column titled, “Evolution is not a matter of belief,” the author writes:
“….despite the way it’s often discussed by creationists and anti-religion zealots, evolution says nothing about the existence of God. A scientific concept backed by an overwhelming amount of supporting evidence, evolution describes a process by which species change over time. It hazards no speculations about the origins of that process.”
Well, hello. Perhaps that’s because we do not yet know, and science does not wish, hope or make ridiculous guesses.
A recent Gallup poll showed that 40% of Americans don’t believe in evolution–they still believe that humans were created by God in their present form. Of those who do believe in evolution, about 25% believe god is the driving force. Only 16% of those surveyed believed that humans evolved from earlier species through an unguided process.
We have some work to do, and that is, making sure that religion doesn’t tack itself to evolution like a tail on a donkey. God should not be added-on simply to help some folks feel better about questions we have not yet answered.
I have nothing against religion. It just shouldn’t be wedded to science. It belongs in church, not our educational system. I don’t want creationism or ID to be repackaged as Guided Evolution.