Theological Problems of Theistic Evolution
FRED VAN DYKE
Assistant Professor of Science
Fort Wayne Bible College
1025 West Rudisill Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46807
From JASA 38 (March 1986): 11 -18.
A critical examination of the scientific nature of evolutionary mechanisms, specifically differential mortality and resource scarcity, lead to significant anomalies in current interpretations of theistic evolution. Theistic evolution necessitates that mortality and resource scarcity are the creative agents of God. The Bible consistently identifies them as being 1) a consequence of human sin, 2) a curse on the human species, 3) a tangible manifestation of sin's operation, 4) opposed and abhorred by Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry, and 5) destined to be abolished in the kingdom of God. Theological, philosophical, and scientific research on evolutionary mechanisms aggravates rather than ameliorates these anomalies, and generates others. Theistic evolution fails on a broad spectrum of issues to offer an integrative paradigm of evolution and biblical revelation. Until such anomalies are resolved, theistic evolution cannot be viewed as an adequate response to the question of origins.
The controversies generated by the relationship of evolutionary theory to biblical revelation regarding origins have been with us for some time (Moore 1979) and are likely to continue (Aulie 1975). The debate is many centuries old, but has intensified particularly since 1859 with Darwin's publication of Origin of species.
Evolution, in its most restrictive and technical sense, may be defined as change in average population gene frequencies over time. This has been referred to as the .. special" theory of evolution (Kerkut 1960, Jones 1978). In this precise sense, evolution is not a theory, but an empirically demonstrable process. This may be contrasted with a broader definition of evolution, sometimes referred to as the "general" theory of evolution (Kerkut 1960, Jones 1978). In this sense, evolution refers to the process by which living organisms have descended from ancestors unlike themselves through the gradual acquisition of heritable traits, and that all organisms can be traced to a common ancestry which was itself derived from nonliving material.
Theistic evolution may be broadly defined as the belief that God brought about the present diversity of life through the process of (general) evolution. Many see this as an intelligent manner of reconciling science and Christian faith on the question of origins. For example, Aulie (1975) sees evolutionary theory as being derived from a Judeo-Christian world view. "The idea of progress-necessary for the theory of evolution- was strengthened by the secularization of an attitude toward nature that was drawn initially from the Judeo-Christian tradition" (Wagar 1967, cited in Aulie 1975). Aulie sees the reconciliation as essentially complete. "Contemporary Protestantism has long since made its peace with Darwin" (Aulie 1975).
Evolution has a long lineage as both theory and philosophy. Its roots can be traced to Thales and Democritus several centuries before Christ. Evolution began to take on a more scientific nature, especially in biology, in the seventeenth century. It gained supremacy in that field through Darwin's theory of natural selection (Moore 1979). Though changes in evolutionary theory since Darwin have been significant enough to warrant the label "Neo-Darwinism" (e.g., Moorhead and Kaplan 1967), the fundamental theorem of evolution, natural selection, has survived essentially intact.
The theory of natural selection states that the traits of organisms which reproduce more offspring increase in frequency over those which produce less offspring in any given population. Despite recent criticisms (e.g., Thompson 1981) of the tautology inherent in this logic, natural selection's influence on scientific thinking in biology has not noticeably lessened. Conditions necessary for natural selection to occur within a population include competition, differential survivorship, and differential reproduction. Competition may be said to occur when two or more individuals attempt to appropriate a necessary, but limited, resource, with the result that 1) at least one individual is excluded from the use of the resource and 2) such exclusion has a measurable effect on the individual's survivorship and reproduction. Simple mathematical effects of competition's effects on organisms are familiar to biologists as the Lotka-Voltera equations (Colinvaux 1973:330ff.) and, conceptually, as the Competitive Exclusion Principle (Krebs 1972:231). Competition demands resource scarcity.
Problems with integrating natural selection through resource competition with a biblical world view begin at this point. The biblical account of creation provides no principle that scarcity should be a necessary condition of life. Instead, the antithesis of scarcity is described. The newly created world is portrayed as one of abundance.
Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is on the surf ace of the earth, and every tree which has fruit Yielding seed: it shall be food for you, and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food. (Gen. 1:29,30; NASB)
God's command to all creatures to "be fruitful and multiply" assumes a condition of abundance, not scarcity, on the earth. The theme of material abundance as the normal and desired condition for creatures and creation does not disappear in the books following Genesis. After the fall, the theme is persistent in Old and New Testament writings as a condition to which God intends to restore the creation. The concept is physically presented to Israel as the land of Canaan, "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Ex. 3:17). Abundance is repeatedly represented to Israel in prophecies of the ideal kingdom as "every man under his vine and fig tree" (Zech. 3:10; NASB). "They will not hunger or thirst" (Is. 49:10; NASB). The biblical view of "abundance," God's unrestrained meeting of every form of need, recurs consistently in all descriptions of the kingdom of God.
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.... Listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. (Is. 55:1,2; NASB) Biblical writers do not skirt the realities of scarce resources in the real world. But they consistently attri- bute conditions of scarcity, competition, and want, which limited resources create, to the consequences of human sin, not to the creative activity of God.
"Cursed be the ground because of you," God says to Adam. "In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread" (Gen. 3:17-19; NASB). Rebuking the returning exiles of Israel for their neglect of God's temple, and, with it, their neglect of worship and godly living, God says through Haggai:
You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house whia lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, because of vou the sky has withheld its dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I called for a drought on the land, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on man, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands. (Haggai 1:9-11; NASB)
More important to the success of the evolutionary mechanisms than even the competition for limited resources is the certainty that, in such struggle, some individuals must perish. This "perishing" can occur either directly as the organism succumbs from insufficient resources (i.e., lack of food or exposure due to lack of shelter) or indirectly through predation, to which a weakened or transient animal is more susceptible (cf. Errington 1946, Curio 1976). Indeed, the biological concept of density dependence assumes that, through one means or another, some animals perish as a result of resource scarcity (Lack 1954). The same is true of the 11 threshold of security" concept (Errington 1945). According to this model, predation losses are minimal for an animal population up to a certain density ("threshold"). Above this threshold density predation becomes a major mortality factor.
The biblical account of
creation provides no principle that scarcity
should be a necessary condition of life.
Instead, the antithesis of scarcity is described
Putting it bluntly and briefly, then, we are fully justified in stating that natural selection, and, therefore, evolution, cannot operate without death. Such death must be differential and selective, removing less fit organisms before they have the opportunity to reproduce. The identification of evolution as the activity of God (theistic evolution) necessitates that such death is an act of God and an agent of His creative activity. Supposedly, man himself, destined to carry the image of God, was created by this process.
Biblical Views of Death
Internal biblical evidence offers little support for this position. Paul, almost as though he were addressing this idea directly, states to the Roman Christians, "Death entered into the world through sin" (Rom. 5:12; NASB). Using only this passage, it could be argued that Paul is here referring only to "spiritual death," to the eternal separation of man from God that constitutes hell. However, other passages would not seem to support this interpretation. At the death of - Lazarus, Jesus tells Lazarus' sister, Martha, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Far from approving this response, Jesus confronts it with a direct challenge: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall have life even if he dies." He then proceeds to go and physically raise Lazarus from the tomb (John 11:20-44; NASB). The verbs employed in the passage describing the Lord's emotional reaction to the situation ("deeply moved within" "troubled") suggest, in the Greek, not only sorrow but anger. Apparently there was something in death which God found unnatural and repulsive. Christ's other confrontations with death such as that of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:22ff), and the widow's son (Luke 7:12ff), and His reaction to the prospect of His own death (e.g. Luke 22:41ff), all indicate that He viewed death as unnatural and abhor- rent. With regard to His own death, Hendricksen (1978:982) is certainly correct in noting that His horror arose not merely from abhorrence of death itself, but that in His death He would experience separation from God, His Father.
The New Testament writers, especially Paul, also consistently stress that Christ, in allowing Himself to enter into death, also allowed sin to be imputed to Him. To use the Pauline phrase, He "became sin" for us (11 Cor. 5:21), those whom He came to save. In the biblical view, "death" (both physical and spiritual) and sin are inseparably linked, with the former being the explicit, ultimate manifestation of the latter (cf. Rom. 6:23). Prophetic writers in both the Old and New Testaments emphatically rule out death in the future kingdom of God. John, in Revelation, refers only to humans (Rev. 21:4), but Isaiah is more comprehensive, including not only people, but all created things.
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together. And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; their young will lie down together. And the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will lay by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his head in the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. (Is. 11:6-9; NASB; emphasis mine)
Such passages have been the subject of intense theological scholarship, but the fruits of that labor do not bring us closer to reconciliation with evolution, but further from it. J. G. Simpson writes:
Death, as we know it, is spoken of in scripture as the kingdom of the devil. It is a result of sin and has no part of the divine order. (Morris 1955:7)
Wolff (1974:8) states the specific implications of this conclusion:
Prior to the Fall Adam's body was not subject to death, but this condition was subject to change. His condition was mutable and relative; the potential immortality of his body might be lost. The possibility became an actuality through disobedience. C. S. Lewis restates this thought in Afiracle.3: Where the spirit's power over the organism was complete and unresisting, death would never occur.... But, when God created man He gave him such a constitution that, if the highest part of it rebelled against Himself, it would be bound to lose control over its lower parts; i.e., in the long run to suffer death. (Lewis 1948:152,156)
Other scholars could be cited. Suffice it to say that such divergent individuals as James Denny (1909), Charles Hodge (1906), Trenaeus (Niebuhr 1664:176), Thomas Aquinas (ibid), Martin Luther (ibid), and Francis Schaeffer (1972), to name a few, have all come to essentially the same conclusion about death: that it is a satanic intrusion into God's created order, not an active, creative agent of God.
... we are reminded over and over again that we live in an abnormal world; since man has revolted things are not the way God made them originally. (Schaeffer 1972:121)
Ethics and Evolution
If this were the extent of all problems with theistic evolution, perhaps the whole issue could be set aside and the paradigm saved. Unfortunately, this brief discussion reveals only the tip of the iceberg. Not merely death itself, but death imposed selectively in the competition for limited resources, is the creative hand of evolution (i.e., natural selection). This has led to the continual, but still unsuccessful, attempt to build ethical principles from biological events, the most recent and comprehensive being E. 0. Wilson's Socio- biology (1975). These and similar efforts have been labeled as failures by the philosophical community, for the ethics derived are certainly not biblical. Upon close inspection they prove to be not even very ethical.
.... the term "natural selection" is misleading, for selection implies choice or purpose. Such a phrase contributed to the ready acceptance of "natural selection" as a surrogate for divine providence .... The danger here is of misleading people to overlook the fact that natural selection is blind and irrational. The dominant view ... of current philosophy is that evolution offers no assurance either of continued ethical progress or of any certain ethical guidance. (McCampbell 1983:171)
Evolutionary ethics also lead to logical incoherency.
The naturalistic fallacy is involved when anyone says that the total meaning of "good" can be replaced by a natural term such as pleasure, happiness, or even love ... if we say "good means pleasure," what do we mean when we say "pleasure is good?" Surely we do not mean "pleasure is pleasure." (McCampbell 1983:170)
T. H. Huxley was prophetic in his own conclusions about evolutionary ethics. He realized that natural selection is the very antithesis of ethics. In 1889, near the end of his life, Huxley wrote,
I know of no study which is so utterly saddening as that of the evolution of humanity. Man eynerges with the marks of his lowly origin strong upon him. He is a brute, only more intelligent than other brutes, a blind prey to impulses which as often as not lead him to destruction, a victim to endless illusions which make his mental existence a terror and a burden, and fill his physical life with barren toil and battle. (cited in Landau 1984:265)
The Bible portrays a God whose ethics embrace the fall of a sparrow (Matt. 10: 29) and the needs of the grass (Matt. 6:30). Natural selection leads us to ethics that are at best nonsensical and at worst bestial. C. S. Lewis captured the pathos of theistic evolution in his Evolutionary Hymn:
Ask not if it's god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.
too long have sages vainly,
Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.
Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny Spreads
and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present be.)
Standards, though it may we.)
(cited in Livingstone 1983:120)
Creativity and Evolution
Theistic evolution requires that creativity be demonstrated in the process of natural selection itself. Some perceive this, and offer it as evidence of a Creator and of biblical support for selection as the creative mechanism. Secular scientists, too, see natural selection as creative. Dobzhansky claimed that "selection is a fully creative agency just like the composition of a poem or symphony." But this, too, is logically invalid. Selection is merely opportunistic, and explains only the survival of what survives. It cannot simultaneously be creative in the sense that humans use the word, of moving towards a goal in any sense of the way an artist's creativity lies behind a great work of art. In developing this argument, Livingstone (1983) concluded
Now, if you see evidences of purpose, creativity, or indeed progress in nature, I have no objection to your identifying them there.... It would be very odd if traces of a Creator's handiwork were totally absent from His creation. But in this instance, purpose is predicated on a specific cosmological religious belief, and is not dependent upon mystifying, even deifying, a natural mechanism by imbuing it with creative capacity.
The conditions necessary for evolution to occur, competition and death, exist in the present. They also apparently existed in the times of biblical writers, for they are frankly acknowledged. However, whereas theistic evolution necessitates that such conditions represent the activity of God, biblical perspectives identify them as the consequences of human sin. Their absence before the Fall and their removal in the kingdom of God is consistently and repeatedly assumed. Death, shortage, and competition cannot rep-resent, at one and the same time, both the activity of God and the consequences of human sin. Our problem is not now one of simply rejecting six 24-hour day "creation weeks" and immutable "kinds" of organisms. It is the problem of trying to identify death and scarcity as creative agents of a God who steadfastly expresses that such conditions are 1) a consequence of human sin, 2) a curse on the human species, 3) a tangible manifestation of sin's operation, 4) opposed and abhorred by Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry, and 5) destined to be abolished in the kingdom of God. Biblical scholarship and exegesis of these passages confirms the depth of our problem. Logic alone reveals others. The process of natural selection is in itself neither inherently ethical, progressive, nor creative,, yet the Bible identifies God the Creator as being all of these things to a superlative degree, and much more.
In light of these anomalies, the "reconciliation" of science and faith which theistic evolution purports to achieve becomes suspect. Basic and distinctive Christian views of sin and death, and of the scripture's ability to communicate the attitudes and attributes of God, are so compromised that the resulting synthesis is, at best, questionably Christian. Theistic evolution fails us as a satisfactory integration of science and faith when evolutionary mechanisms are considered in detail. At this point we find ourselves in remarkable agreement with Darwin; as D. Gareth Jones put it, "Darwin ... sought and found solace in secondary forces as the direct cause of evil seen in the world" (Jones 1983:75). Competition and Evolution In light of these theological and philosophical anomalies, the recent debate on the ecological role of competition (Strong et al. 1984) is significant. Recent experimental tests of competition, in addition to rigorous reanalysis of classical studies of competition as a selective force, have led some investigators to conclude that competition is not a major organizing force in natural communities and that past investigations of competition have led ecologists "to waste a monumental amount of time" (Lewin 1983:636). For example, in a study of the effect of interspecific competition on red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) nesting success, Janes (1984:866) noted "Despite the loss of territory to Swainson's hawks (Buteo stvainsoni)-which often possessed high prey densities, no significant differences in reproductive success was found between red-tailed hawk pairs contending with Swainson's hawks and those that did not." In a study of competitive interactions in an Arizona lizard community, Tinkle (1982:62) could document no significant change in perch height,
In the biblical view, death" (both physical and
and sin are inseparably linked, with the former ,
being the explicit, ultimate manifestation of the latter. (cf. Rom. 6:23).
body size, physical condition, population density, or survivorship of the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporous undulatus) after complete removal of its two primary lizard "competitors" from the study plots. Tinkle concluded, "The results of this study suggest that habitat occupied by S. undulatus on my study area is not a result of current competitive interactions with the two species removed from the experimental area." In a summary of long-term studies of bird communities, Wiens (1983a:34) concluded, " . . . birds that breed in America's shrub steppe and grasslands exhibit little regard for the predictions of ecological theory. Variations in the population size of one species in an area are largely independent both of the presence or absence of other species and of variations in habitat features.... We find little evidence that they are currently much concerned about competition with one another or that competition in the past has led to an orderly community structure," and "We now think that direct, on-going competition is infrequent in these systems and that it may have relatively little to do with the organization of bird communities - . . " (Wiens 1983a:30). In a dialogue between Wiens and Schoener featured in American Scientist, Wiens (1983b) stated that competition is a failed Kuhnian paradigm. "It can no longer be regarded as the single dominating conceptual framework for ecological research" (Wiens 1983b:234). Schoener, who had argued earlier in the same journal (Schoener 1982) that competition was not a failed paradigm, made a defensible (albeit embarrassing) retreat in the face of Wiens' arguments by replying that "Competition is not now a failed Kuhnian paradigm, I would argue, because it was never a paradigm in the first place" (reply to Wiens 1983, Amer. Scientist 71:235).
Death" shortage,, and competition cannot represent,
at one and the same time,, both the activity of God
and the consequences of human sin.
Schoener's sophistries aside, current research and debate on the role of competition cannot be viewed as helpful to the position of theistic evolution. This paper is not primarily concerned with scientific evidence against that theory, but the significance of current conclusions in mainstream scientific literature should not be missed. It is the glory of science to progress, and new studies may change our thinking radically again. For the moment, however, natural selection through resource scarcity (competition) seems to leave the Creator with an impossibly weak mechanism for achieving biological world order.
Rethinking Traditional Categories
Objections raised so far apply not only to theistic evolution, but to the gap theory and progressive creationism as well. This does not undermine the argument, but rather demonstrates how robust such objections are, and bow desperate the need to rethink traditional and cherished categories of thinking about origins. A genuine determination to express a biblical view of the creation challenges the most deeply held beliefs of most biologists, Christian and non-Christian alike. It is the personal observation of this biologist that most biologists deeply want to believe, in their heart of hearts, that creation is not really flawed. We still long for visions of perfection in our studies of nature. We want to believe that sin is manifested in creation only in humanity's misuse, exploitation, and pollution of it. We are reluctant to consider the possibility that the fundamental cycles of birth and death in nature may carry the scars of sin. Some have argued that God could not have created a world without death and scarcity, that the strategists like flies, locusts, and bacteria would have filled the earth, consumed all resources, and destroyed all life. This line of thinking makes that which is the measure of that which was, and the imperfect the measure of the perfect. just as man is not the measure of his Maker, so a fallen world is not the measure of an unfallen creation. Even under current conditions, predation, consumption, and limitation are not nearly so " necessary," even in an ecological sense, as some would naively insist. In actual studies, predators typically occupy less than one percent of the total numbers, energy, and biomass of any system (e.g., Odum 1971:80). Their activities are significant, but the overwhelming majority of creation's individuals, energy, and biomass is, at any one time, fixed in non-predatory components. Is it, then, really so incredible to suggest that predation may be a post-fall evolutionary product? God does not condemn predators for being what they are (Ps. 104:21). Neither does He appear content to leave them be (Is. 11:7). God can give death as well as life (Ps. 104:29), but the clear message of scripture is that God's creative, caring activity toward His creation is found in the giving of life (Ps. 104:30). Likewise, the "futility" to which creation is subjected (Rom. 8:19ff) cannot be referring only to human exploitation and pollution of creation. The society of that writer's day was no match for its modern counterpart in these activities. At that time major portions of the planet were still largely unaffected by any significant human exploitation. Yet the "whole creation" groans in its longing for redemption. The futility and corruption to which creation is now enslaved is something which, though originating in man, now exists independent of human activities. One scriptural passage does mention death in the kingdom of God, Isaiah 65:20. In this verse, however, death has no creative function. It is spoken of as an event forestalled, neither creative nor selective. Ironically, this passage also ends by promising that predation will be abolished in the kingdom (is. 65:25).
Such concepts are pervasive in both the Old and New Testaments, the law and the prophets, gospel and epistle. The problem is not literalistic in nature, for it is concerned with world view (i.e., what is the role of death), rather than fixed detail. Neither is it simplistic. I am not arguing here, like the Church against Galileo, that the earth cannot orbit the sun because "the earth cannot be moved." There, a clear alternative interpretation was possible, and provided a sound solution. Here it is the alternative itself which creates the problem, and which would necessitate changes in basic concepts of the nature and character of God.
A Viable Creationist Paradigm
Some claim that belief in an ex nihilo creation of fully formed organisms is unsatisfactory for science and places the scientist in a position of ignorance. But all people, and scientists in particular, need to be reminded that the ultimate goal of science is not satisfaction," in the Kuhnian "puzzle-solving" sense, but rather the understanding and elucidation of events which actually occurred. The effects of a supernova can be scientifically studied, though the event itself, the supernova, may occur suddenly and be but poorly understood. We do not call astronomers who study supernovas unscientific. Neither do we label such individuals as non-scientists. The mechanism of the creation event may have occurred suddenly and be but poorly understood, but its effects can be scientifically studied. A belief in the creation event does not necessitate ignorance, but does redefine the focus of investigation. Biblical revelation implies that conditions necessary for evolution to occur, namely resource scarcity, competition, differential survival and differential reproduction, did not exist prior to the Fall, nor will they exist in the kingdom of God. However, biblical testimony and empirical evidence confirm that such conditions do exist in the present. and the former
It is the
personal observation of this biologist that
most biologists deeply want to believe, in their heart Of hearts,
that creation is not really flawed. We still long for visions
of perfection in our studies of nature.
suggests that they have existed since the Fall as a consequence of human sin. Therefore, the sum of biological processes-of adaptation that we refer to as evolution could have been at least potentially operative since the Fall. Originally created forms could have evolved into other, different forms. Indeed, parasitism and predation, as well as adaptation to avoid predation like mimicry and cryptic coloration, would have no apparent reason to exist in the pre-Fall world.
This view is not original. David Willis, for example, has stated that
Major forms of life were indeed brought into existence by some unique and non-repeatable mechanism (creation?). Thereafter, natural selection or other natural factors led to diversification within broad limits. Determination of the range of these limits is a subject for scientific investigation and ... must remain an open question for the present. This approach actually fits the general data of paleontology as well as the general theory of evolution does. In addition, it serves to explain the evident absence of transitional forms between major groups of organ- isms and the lack of evidence for phyletic evolutionary origins. (Willis 1977:10, emphasis mine)
The most staunch creationists admit that the variability observed in a dozen species of Canis (Gish 1979:36),'all fourteen of the Galapagos finches (Gish 1979:36), and even those well-traveled veterans of evolutionary controversy, the horses (Hyracotherium, Mesohippus, Merychippus, Equus, and others; Moore and Slusher 1974:420) is, at least potentially, the product of natural selection.
The only weakness with such positions is that 1) they have not been pursued to their logical conclusions and 2) their power as a scientific theorem has not been recognized. The premise that existing species represent variations of a created type provides specific guidance and direction to the actual investigation of phylogenetic relationships, i.e., a Kubnian paradigm. Ultimately, the creationist paradigm must move beyond the critique of existing evolutionary theory. If a new paradigm fails to direct and produce good science for existing problems in its field, it must ultimately be rejected (Kuhn 1970). 1 am dismayed by creationist writings which attempt to discredit the process of natural selection itself, especially since it is so easy to demonstrate that selection actually occurs in natural populations. The real questions which consistently separate the evolutionist from- the creationist are not whether selection occurs, but 1) did the Genesis creation event actually take place and 2) is natural selec- tion capable of producing the diversity of present and past life forms from one common source? The evolutionist will answer no and yes, whereas the creationist will answer, respectively, yes and no.
Stephen Jay Gould recently penned a valuable rule of scholarly investigation. "Don't only weigh what you have;" be wrote, "ask why you don't see what you ought to find. Negative evidence is important- especially when the record is sufficiently complete to indicate that an absence may be genuine" (Could 1985:25). Gould was referring to absences in the fossil record, but the rule is appropriate for other records as well. Why don't we find compelling philosophical or scientific arguments that would make natural selection
revelation implies that conditions necessary
for evolution to occur, namely resource scarcity, competition,
differential survival, and differential reproduction,
did not exist prior to the Fall, nor will they exist in the kingdom of God.
a process which should naturally lead to progress, creativity, and ethics? More disturbing yet, why don't we find in the biblical record evidence which would link the processes of selective death and resource scarcity with the creative work of God, and, if this is still the correct interpretation, why do we find so much that seems to speak against it? Mechanisms of evolution other than natural selection have been proposed. These may offer potentially more hope for a biblically sound view of theistic evolution. At present, however, no proposed evolutionary mechanism known to this author will operate effectively without selective mortality. Perhaps theistic evolution can ultimately be a viable integrative paradigm for the Christian's understanding of origins. Presently, however, it can lay no claim to that title. Unless theistic evolution can deal comprehensively with the tremendous theological, philosophical, and scientific issues it raises, it cannot continue to be viewed by religious intellectuals as a Christian panacea to the origins debate. Those issues will demand more original thinking than they have currently received. On the other hand, some type of creationist model, the premise that observed organism variability is the product of natural selection operating on previously created life forms, is a viable scientific paradigm and can provide positive new directions in origins research. However, unless creationists follow this lead and direct their emphasis away from indiscriminant attacks of evolutionary theory, their ideas will ultimately be rejected in favor of the established evolutionary model.
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