William E. Carroll on Darwin and Evolution

Another great video by William E. Carroll courtesy of the blog Eclectic Orthodoxy.


An article on this topic can be found here.  Set forth below is an excerpt:

An important fear that informs the concerns of many believers is that theories of evolution, cosmic and biological, “transfer the agency of creative action from God” to the material world itself, and that this transferral is a rejection of the religious doctrine of creation. The theological concern is that to recognize the complete competence of the natural sciences to explain the changes that occur in the world, without any appeal to specific interventions by God, “is essentially equivalent to . . . [denying] divine action of any sort in this world.” We have already seen how Aquinas responded to very similar fears in the Middle Ages. Aristotelian science seemed to threaten the sovereignty and omnipotence of God. But remember that Aquinas recognized that a world in which the natural processes are explicable in their own terms does not challenge the role of the Creator. One need not choose between a natural world understandable in terms of causes within it and an omnipotent Creator constantly causing this world to be. Aquinas thinks that a world of necessary connections between causes and effects, connections which he thinks are the hallmarks of its intelligibility, does not mean that the world is not dependent upon God. Necessity in nature is not a rival to the fundamentally different kind of necessity attributed to God.

Those like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, who argue for a denial of creation on the basis of evolutionary biology, see the incompatibility between evolution and divine action in fundamentally the same way as theistic opponents of evolution. They fail to distinguish between the claims of the empirical sciences and conclusions in natural philosophy and metaphysics. That is, they assume that the natural sciences require a materialist understanding of all of reality. Furthermore, they mistakenly conclude that arguments for creation are essentially arguments from design in nature, and, thus, the creation which Dawkins and Dennett deny is really not the fundamental notion of creation set forth by thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas.  (footnotes omitted)

Eclectic Orthodoxy

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About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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1 Response to William E. Carroll on Darwin and Evolution

  1. There would not be a problem with actual science that explains accurately any evolution… biological or otherwise… the problems occur along with the believing of anything. Personally, I would prefer to believe nothing. However, living in form really isn’t designed to support that option, at all. The conundrum unleashes itself with great confusion and contradictions then when even I’d profess simplicity to believe only in what is good and necessary. I choose to believe that a creator gives the laws of nature and that at least this universe supports most completely only events and circumstance that its observers fashion by a much higher consciousness than that is readily available while in form, as material beings.
    One area of that confusion is scientific empirical evidence. If we look at evolution, all of the empirical evidence seems to support that evolution follows from simple natural laws of physics and biology. The points though of any transformation also follow from natural selection; according to simple laws. For instance, a star causes elements to be created by nuclear fusion. Each element has specific characteristics that are unchanging although we know that no two atoms of say gold may be exactly alike; they are still gold and the only way known to transform gold into a higher element is by fusion or by decay (if it is not made stable of 79 protons and 118 neutrons).
    Ockham’s razor (the simplest of competing theories may be assumed) predicts that biology works similarly. If a cell is to evolve into a different cell, then there must be a simple process that governs this evolution from a simple to a more complex cell. Following with another simple law, the evolution would expect to create more complex cells from simple cells. In order to study this process, we’d have to be able to observe, test, and predict. Now, the evolution of cells is the most challenging and important problem of modern Biology. Just as the periodic table details the evolution of elements, a universal phylogenetic tree (dendrogram – diagram showing evolutionary interrelations) of a group of organisms as they are derived from a common ancestral form is necessary for use to document the simple evolution that we’d expect; as this as based on the previously mention natural laws. I’ll buy it that attraction is not much different than was mostly and simply gravity the force that attracted hydrogen to clump into the tremendously compact core of a star. So the force that causes cells to attract to each other must also be simple and all-encompassing. Unfortunately, the subatomic attraction of hydrogen to more hydrogen has to do with more than gravity alone. This of course is a problem in biology as well since cells are made of subatomic particles as well. This is actually more a huge problem to biology and biological chemistry of organic compounds and cells than it is to the matter of minerals.
    The scientism of biology would have us believe that evolution is neatly explained while the actual science of evolution is unable still to explain natural selection. Logically, there must be a lwa that governs selections and it will be mostly understood, eventually.
    As a believer that there is absolute knowledge and that absolute knowledge is impossible to obtain by anything more than fleeting glimpses, while we are bound by space-time the complete knowledge will evade us – a complete understanding is easily predictable but impossible to record; as spiritually inclined agreed by earlier prerequisite enlightened discourse.
    In a model of science that explains evolution, we have huge problems with forming of the basic building of even an atom. Science guesses that the early universe expanded after the big bang for maybe 3 seconds before it cooled into subatomic particles that assembled into atoms. The forming of hydrogen atoms, the simplest type of atom, occurred in a unknown fusion so that stable hydrogen has one proton. As the universe aged a little (roughly 300 million years) the hydrogen atoms started to clump together by forces of mostly gravity; but again, the chances are that this occurs by gravity only is unlikely.
    We have a similar unknown that makes it impossible so far to create complex organic cells from inorganic atoms.
    We may LOL when scientism speaks of any knowledge of the beginnings of evolution. It doesn’t exist.
    As long as the evolution of atoms is a mystery because we lack the laws of evolution to fully explain what happens when energy becomes matter, the same applies in biology and so on.
    The debating is all theory and not substance.
    Science is a great tool. Real science contributes to our lives; scientism is foolish promoting of theory in the media and in education as if there were empirical evidence.
    Neither is our enemy.
    I know that I learn about spiritual development by watching the errant scientism fail to live up to its proclamations. Spiritual gurus also promote beliefs that are errant. In fact, really the same holds true as to spiritual beliefs. While we are bond in space-time, there never will be a complete spiritual knowledge. It is elusive and follows from the same laws that are unknown.
    As we move forward, the laws of spiritual reality must be explicable if we are to find the knowledge of a unified theory that fully explains evolution – of any type.

    ~ Eric

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