A natural selection of creation and evolution posts

The_Creation_of_Adam

As a follow-up to my recent series of posts on creation and evolution, here are links to some of the other posts I’ve done on this topic over the past few years.

There are three main elements to the creation/evolution issue. First, what the Bible says about creation; second, posts looking at the science of evolution; third, posts looking more generally at the philosophy/theology of science. In terms of the “discrete narratives” concept discussed in my recent posts, this equates to looking at “theological narratives”, “scientific narratives” and the relationship between the two. I’ve also included details of some other suggested reading on this issue.

In each of the lists of links, I’ve put one link in bold as the “must-read” item in that category.

What the Bible says

Psalm 104 and evolution: the viewpoint expressed in this post is fundamental to my understanding of how science (and in particular evolution) relates to our faith in how God works in and through creation.

See also the last couple of items in the “random and undirected” post listed below, which look at the “literary” approach to the early chapters of Genesis.

Posts about science

A beautiful image of creation’s family tree.

SINEs and wonders: convincing DNA evidence for evolution. A follow-up post adds further arguments from Christian evolutionist Stephen Matheson.

Philosophy/theology of science

A key post: Creation is complete, but not closed. Based on Ken Miller’s distinction between the universe being complete (so that “methodological naturalism” is a valid assumption for science to work from) but not closed (as asserted by philosophical naturalism). We should not let Richard Dawkins et al get away with claiming that methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism are the same thing, or that the former requires or implies the latter.

Evolution and the weather: if God can work through “random and undirected” weather processes, why can’t he work through “random and undirected” processes of evolution? (See also: my post on Psalm 104, listed above.)

Coherent patterns of explanation: Owen Gingerich argues that science is not concerned with “proof” so much as providing “coherent patterns of explanation” – and that evolution performs this task very well. (I think he is spot-on in his comment about Philip E. Johnson approaching science like a lawyer.)

Random and undirected: a post from when I was moving rapidly back to a pro-evolution position, summarising some of the things I was reading that were sending me in that direction. (Posted only a couple of weeks after this post in which I was still taking a relatively “pro-ID” view.)

A series of posts on Alister McGrath’s book Dawkins’ God: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6. See especially the second and fifth posts in that series.

Then there’s the latest series:

Update: See also my subsequent post from March 2010, Evolution and other stories.

Further reading

These are some of the books that played a significant role in shaping my views on evolution, creation and the relationship between the two:

  • Henri Blocher, In the Beginning. Blocher’s classic analysis of the opening chapters of Genesis from a literary standpoint. In my experience this has been very influential on many evangelicals, at least in the UK. Reading again at the moment.
  • David G. Hagopian (ed.), The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation. Lee Irons and Meredith Kline present the “framework” view (against J. Ligon Duncan III and David Hall on the “24-hour” view, and Hugh Ross and Gleason L. Archer on the “day-age” view), and in my view make the strongest case of the three. See also the Meredith Kline links in my “random and undirected” post.
  • Sean Carroll, The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution. A brilliant and persuasive account of how DNA analysis has provided an almost unassailable body of evidence in support of evolution.
  • Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor’s Tale. If only Prof Dawkins would stick to writing popular science books rather than dross like The God Delusion. The Ancestor’s Tale is a superb retelling of evolution in reverse, taking the reader back through 3+ billion years of evolution in search of LUCA, the “last universal common ancestor”.
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7 Responses to A natural selection of creation and evolution posts

  1. DRB says:

    I put together this web page to summarize the three views of your second recommended book:

    http://dawningrealm.org/creation/

  2. Pingback: A confessional Lutheran on evolution « Theologia Crucis

  3. joel hunter says:

    Thanks for organizing these posts, John. I’ve really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject.

    Recently I listened to a lecture by Richard Colling on randomness. It struck me that there’s a semantic halo around that term ‘random’ that provokes unnecessary suspicion, much like ‘relativity’ theory in physics was often misappropriated and misunderstood. It isn’t uncommon to see the same shenanigans over Heisenberg’s “uncertainty” principle.

    I’m very tempted to get his book Random Designer. Do you know anything about it?

  4. I have proposed a Gravitation Force Theory of Creation and Evolution. According to this theory Gravitation Force is Creator, Preserver (Sustainer) and Destroyer of the entire universe. Gravitation Force is also the main cause of mutation of genetic characters and origin of species and various forms of life

  5. Lito Cruz says:

    John,

    if God can work through “random and undirected” weather processes, why can’t he work through “random and undirected” processes of evolution?

    This is begging the question, it is “random” from our perspective but how sure are you that God is not “directing”. It is confusion of categories to have God and randomness sit together in the same sentence.

    Randomness is our euphemistic way of attributing something we do not know how the exact process ticks. To quote Prof. M. Kaku on the subject of Hawkin’s idea of Singularity in black holes- it is a term to hide our ignorance.

    I am skeptical of allowing evolution as a paradigm for how God might have done it. It is because it presupposes death yet in Romans 5:12, death came only after Adam sinned.

    LPC

  6. John H says:

    Lito: what I mean when I say “random and undirected” in respect of the weather is scientific study of the weather is able to proceed successfully on the assumption that weather involves “random and undirected” processes – there are no gaps which require meteorologists to hypothesize an “intelligent director” of weather processes in order to explain how the weather behaves.

    Now, we know from his Word that God directs the weather for his purposes. However, he does so in a way that is mysterious and undetectable from a scientific perspective. It’s not that the scientific narrative of weather processes is incomplete on its own terms; it’s just that the scientific narrative is not the only story there is to tell about the weather.

    In the same way, I’m arguing that we don’t need to claim that the scientific narrative of evolution is fundamentally incomplete and broken on its own terms; our time would be better spent insisting that the scientific narrative is not the only story to be told about our origins; that even once science has finished telling us its story, there is still more that can (and needs to) be said about us.

    On randomness generally: when it comes to the weather and other natural processes, the point is that randomness is a valid approximation for scientific purposes. The major exception to this is quantum mechanics, where randomness is not merely an approximation, but is built in to the equations themselves. In other words, if quantum mechanics is true, the truly random events do occur.

    As for death before Adam, I refer you to this quote from Luther on the distinction between animal and human death. Human death is the loss of that divine “breath of life” that was given to us in Genesis 2:7. Animal death is qualitatively different, which is why Jesus wept tears of grief and anger when he saw Lazarus’ tomb, but not when he saw the dead fish in Peter’s nets.

  7. Lito Cruz says:

    John,

    Understood but I see no relevance on the meteorologists necessitating a religious explanation for the weather. Indeed when they make forecasts, they are doing so in the context of our lack of knowledge, that is why they can come up with a far off prediction of the weather. We do not sue them when they are wrong. The things revealed by God are for us and our children, those not revealed – well what is it to us, our duty is to go follow Jesus.

    Furthermore, evolution by its very presupposition hits on creation narrative of the Scripture. I fail to see why it is benign to the Bible which suggests fiat creation.

    Re: Luther’s quote, I have much to say but if you accept evolutionary theory that we came from a single simple cell that still posits death even if you consider that single cell to be human.

    On the other hand if you posit the single cell to be an ‘animal’ one would wonder if you are being consistent with the ‘breath of life’ as to when that occurred in humans, in short, surely you and Luther are not using the same phrase in the same sense.

    I remain in my skepticism.

    LPC

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