Discussing the theory of evolution and Christianity and why the two do not conflict.
Posted by KnightofEquulei on Mar 31st, 2014
"Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268
"Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning."- Thomas Aquinas, Summ.Theol. I, 73, 1, ad. 3 et resp. 3
"God has established fixed laws governing the production of kinds and qualities of beings, and bringing them out of concealment into full view." ~ St. Augustine
These quotes from St Aquinas and Augustine both describe a form of evolution. Centuries before Darwin, these two saints had proposed a form of evolution. That's what this article is about: Christianity and evolution, which continues to remain a controversial subject although it really shouldn't be.
There are Christians today who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis and a 6 day creation, some even go as far as believing that the earth is only 6,000 years old despite all the evidence contrary. Early Church fathers struggled with the idea of a literal interpretation of The Bible such as Origen:
"For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally."
Origen here, shows that Genesis cannot be literal since it places the creation of the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day, yet there is already light and darkness on day one, not to mention solar days without a sun. I myself always doubted a literal interpretation of Genesis due to its "day to day" development process.
However, as always, I remain a critic of the godless evolution that atheists would propose. Intelligent Design has been reduced to being called "pseudo-science" even though it's a philosophy and not science. The way I see intelligent design and evolution is that the former defines the fixed laws and proprieties of this universe while the later (like all the processes of nature) was set in motion by God, as the instigator.
Atheistic evolution is refuted (as are all allegedly claimed "self-starting" natural processes) by the observable truth of causality. Everything that is an effect has a cause (in other words: everything in motion had an instigator). From this, we can say that evolution (just like all the other natural processes of the world) proceeded from something and was God's plan for the ever developing and expanding cosmos.
Evolution neither refutes God or Christianity. It's just another mechanism at work in a world wherein God instigated all processes at the initiation of the universe. This sound doctrine is supported by the philosophical arguments of the necessity for a First Cause/Prime Mover and the philosophical, scientific and observable fact of causality.
Evolution only explains the variation of species, not the origin of life or the universe and therefore it is a red herring (means that it misleads and distracts from the real argument) in the God debate as well as the debate against Christianity. The truth of the prophecies of Jesus and moral teachings of him are not invalidated by evolution. More importantly, evolution and the origin of life is irrelevant to the core themes of Christianity of Jesus as the Messiah and his teachings.
I hold that evolutionary processes occurred but I believe that the complexity of DNA reveals a designer was behind life (as Francis Collins would argue too) and that life was not a "spontaneous" event as the evidenceless hypothesis of abiogenesis would state.
If anyone says abiogenesis is an established fact or scientific theory, they're lying:
(1) What is the origin of life on Earth? Criticism of Abiogenesis and Panspermia.
(2)Life on Earth Began Three Billion Years Ago. Discovery News. news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/life-began-3-billion-years-ago-dna-101220.htm
(3) The RNA World And Other Origin-of-Life Theories
panspermia.org/rnaworld.htm (This contains an index of sources at the bottom of the page) Karl R. Popper, "Reduction and the Essential Incompleteness of All Science," p 259-284, Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, Francisco Jose Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky, eds. University of California Press, 1974. p 271.
"Nobody understands the origin of life. If they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you." - Ken Nealson PhD, 2002 Robert Roy Britt, "The Search for the Scum of the Universe," Space.com, 21 May 2002.
(4) How Did Life Begin? NOVA and Andrew H. Knoll PhD, Havard University.
Abiogenesis is only being researched because the alternative would be to say "God did it" and since God isn't a scientific established fact, it's not a possible alternative in science, since science is all about testing and method. However the philosophy and logic (what we observe) argue against abiogenesis and establish God as the instigator. Even abiogenesis still wouldn't refute the concept of God but I believe many atheists use it (just like evolution) in an attempt to do so, even though its currently speculation and nothing more.
In conclusion: I hope this shows that evolution is not against Christianity or God as the creator. Evolution, however, isn't just misunderstood by creationists but by atheists who would use it as an argument against the existence of God, a view that even had Darwin perplexed.
In leaving, I leave this, from Laura Keynes, a direct descendant of Darwin who is Catholic:
"I like a good muddle, philosophically speaking, and uneasy truces make for the more interesting intellectual state," she says. "Atheists prefer certainty and use Darwin's theory of evolution to state categorically that God does not exist, overegging Darwin in their argument in a way that Darwin himself would be uncomfortable with. He thought agnosticism the more coherent position, saying, ‘I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect.' Resting in doubt, he allowed others their conscience. He set out to follow the evidence where it led, not bring down Christianity. The evidence did not have to lead inevitably to materialism, but, for various cultural reasons, this is where it led: to materialism and the culture of death. This is the real battle: the culture of life, supported by Christianity, vs. the culture of death, supported by materialism."