Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Deistic evolution

We at BioLogos believe that God used the process of evolution to create all the life on earth today.  While we accept the science of evolution, we emphatically reject evolutionism.  Evolutionism is the atheistic worldview that says life developed without God and without purpose. 
Supporters of Intelligent Design accept more of evolutionary science, but argue that some features of life are best explained by direct intervention by an intelligent agent rather than by God’s regular way of working through natural processes.
The BioLogos view celebrates God as creator. It is sometimes called Theistic Evolution or Evolutionary Creation. Theism is the belief in a God who cares for and interacts with creation. Theism is different than deism, which is the belief in a distant, uninvolved creator who is often little more than the sum total of the laws of physics. Theistic Evolution, therefore, is the belief that evolution is how God created life.
BioLogos differs from the ID movement in that we have no discomfort with mainstream science. Natural selection as described by Charles Darwin is not contrary to theism. Similarly, we are content to let modern evolutionary biology inform us about the mechanisms of creation with the full realization that all that has happened occurs through God’s activity.
BioLogos celebrates the reality of miracles, including the miracles of Scripture, but also those we experience in today’s world through answered prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. However, the demonstration of such supernatural activity in the history of the natural world is, we think, unlikely to be scientifically testable.

This statement reflects the tensions in theistic evolution. Evolutionary theory operates with an essentially closed-system view of the universe. Events unfold according to a chain of physical cause and effect. There are roughly three ways in which this can be modeled:

1. Naturalistic evolution

This is thoroughly secular. No supernatural agent outside the universe plans the outcome, initiates the process, directs the process, or intervenes once the process is underway. 

2. Deistic evolution

There are basically two models:

2a. Frontloaded evolution

Like the acorn to the oak, God has programmed evolution to unfold according to a predetermined outcome. Once God puts the initial conditions in place, he doesn't intervene. 

2b. Stochastic evolution

God kickstarts evolution, but the process is autonomous. It has no predetermined outcome. No teleological progression. No back door for God to rewrite the code. 

Theistic evolutionists generally prefer the frontloaded model, but the problem with their preference is that, according to the standard evolutionary narrative, the origin and development of life are haphazard and wasteful. And theistic evolutionists have bought into the standard evolutionary narrative, since the alleged evidence for evolution is what makes them rejection fiat creationism. So they can't turn back at this point.

You can see the deistic cast of theistic evolution in their antipathy towards ID theory, with its interventionist model of divine action. God should't monkey with the natural mechanisms or causal continuum. At this point, their concession to miracles and answered prayer is ad hoc, for that kind of divine "interaction" tinkers or meddles with the uniformity of nature. 

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