Monday, July 14, 2008

a theory of theistic evolution?

It may seem awkward to start this discussion a immediately after not being present at this blog for several days. However this is a subject worth discussing. It is the origin of man, as many of the readers know there is a debate over whether or not humans share common ancestry with great apes or whether they were created in their present form. Just so you know I favor the former rather then the latter. Today the middle-ground view (theistic evolution) is scorned and disliked by both sides. One atheist (Evolved Rationalist in particular) has even gone as far as to say atheists who tolerate theistic evolution are simply appeasers who are too afraid to confront theistic individuals and criticize their beliefs. On the other end of the spectrum young earth creationists have condemned it as compromise, Philip Johnson a leading ID advocate has gone as far as to call it "theistic naturalism."

I think that some of the criticism is valid, and some of the reasons theistic evolution is looked down on by both sides is probably;
--for one thing Christian theistic evolution at least doesn't appear to have any robust coherent model about the origin of Man which is distinguishable from secular models
--Most theistic evolutionists dismiss genesis 1-11 as a work of poetry and largely disconnect the bible from the real world, this is one reason that it is criticized in evangelical circles. Answers In Genesis is given a lot of criticism of theistic evolution mainly centering on this point.
--What seems to irritate atheists about theistic evolution is that it does not say anything distinct about the natural world which can be tested and falsified or verified. This seems to be a major weakness.
--Many theistic evolutionists today tend to put God on the sidelines essentially surrendering to philosophical naturalism. I am not say we should begin opposing naturalistic explanations like creationist what I mean is that many theistic evolutionists don't use God or the bible for any explanatory power. We (I believe correctly) say God is active in the world and in the evolution of life but theistic evolutionists tend to reject the bible when addressing issues which the bible is relevant, such as the beginning, the origin of Man etc.

Now I am not saying we should begin using the bible in science the same way that creationist do. neither am I saying we should declare a theocracy over science, my point is that we have not done a remarkable good job at connecting the bible to the real world. So I suggest a predictable and falsifiable theistic evolutionary model of how everything is supposed to happen. For example: One thing which theistic evolutionists disagree on is the origin of "spiritually aware" humans. The bible give precious little information about the first humans but one thing which can be said is that its possible that God created an entirely different hominid species physiologically, morphologically, and genetically identical to the former hominid but different in intellectual and moral strengths. I believe the best candidate for Adam would be Homo Erectus the reason for believing so is their use of the Achuelian tool kit which shows understanding of advanced abstract concepts, geometry and symmetry. Now if they truly are the first spiritually aware humans then how does Adam fit in? Well Adam and Eve's children would have spread across the globe and have replaced the previous homo erectus. This probably would have happened early in their history. So we should find a gradual replacement of more primitive tools with more sophisticated tools reminiscent of advanced near-human intellect. Of course this isn't necessarily drastically different from the non-theistic evolutionist view s what would be evidence of this viewpoint. Well obviously discovery of true artwork among Homo erectus as such as drawings and cave paintings, also evidence of a language. These would be the most obvious predictions for future research into the field of paleoanthropology made by theistic evolution. Also there should be a few others, the bible states that at least for a short time before the flood they had the ability to make tents, domestication, and using base metals (Genesis 4:20-22) [although Tubal-cain may have simply been a genius inventing wildly advanced technology in the same way that a 19th century inventor might build a matter/antimatter engine], they also built settlements (Genesis 4:17). So I predict the discovery of comparatively advanced technology in Homo Erectus. However one thing is certain, we can prove that this was only possible before the flood and that after the flood this technology was lost. So it would not be very widespread, so the best we can hope to find is evidence of artwork and religious practice in species Homo Erectus. This is only one example of how we could build a model which makes predictions about human evolution remarkably distinct from those of non-theistic anthropologists. This is only one (slightly unlikely) model but it might work.

I believe that if we approached scientific topics relevant to the bible and the Christian faith in that manner we would get more respect from both creationists and atheists.

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