Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Plantinga on evolution

This is Plantinga's discussion of the issues concerning evolution; he clearly does not think that theism rules out evolution; he just thinks that if you are a theist you ought to consider other possibilities.

Judgements here, of course, may differ widely between believer in God and non-believers in God. What for the former is at best a methodological restriction is for the latter the sober metaphysical truth: her naturalism is not merely provisional and methodological, but, as she sees it, settled and fundamental. But believers in God see the matter differently. The believer in God, unlike her naturalistic counterpart, is free to look at the evidence for the Grand Evolutionary Scheme and follows it where it leads, revising that scheme if the evidence is insufficient. She has a freedom not available to the naturalist. The latter accepts the Grand Evolutionary Scheme because from a naturalistic point of view this scheme is the only visible answer to the question what is the explanation of the presence of all these marvelously multifarious forms of life? The Christian, on the other hand, knows that creation is the Lord's; and she isn't blinkered by a priori dogmas as to how the Lord must have accomplished it. Perhaps it was by broadly evolutionary means, but then again perhaps not. At the moment, 'perhaps not' seems the better answer.

4 comments:

Ahab said...

The Christian, on the other hand, knows that creation is the Lord's; and she isn't blinkered by a priori dogmas as to how the Lord must have accomplished it. Perhaps it was by broadly evolutionary means, but then again perhaps not. At the moment, 'perhaps not' seems the better answer.


Scientist's do not accept the theory of evolution because of a priori dogmas. They accept it because of the overwhelming evidence favoring it. So at the moment 'perhaps not' is not the better answer.

Philosophical naturalists certainly could be charged with a priori dogmas, but then so could the Chrisitan.

While we both agree that evolution does not entail atheism, it seems obvious to me that it does still have an impact on how people look at God. For example, any theology that insists God created everything 6,000 years ago in a periods of six 24-hour days is obviously false from a scientific viewpoint.
And from the scientific view of evolution, there was and is no need for God to intervene to bring about the diversity of life we see. Any theology that insists on such direct on-going intervention is going to be unhappy with it. I'm guessing that is the main reason some theists are so unhappy with the theory. It is in conflict with their a priori theological dogmas.

Perhaps some ot these theists should follow the evidence and revise thier theology. Seems more reasonable than trying to pretend their theology should be accepted as science.

Mike Darus said...

Ahab said,
"And from the scientific view of evolution, there was and is no need for God to intervene to bring about the diversity of life we see."
Ahab also said,
"While we both agree that evolution does not entail atheism,"

It seems to me that "no need for God" is a pretty good definition of atheism. The conclusion that "there was and is no need for God" is WAY beyond science and DEEP into philosophical dogma. It would be interesting to trace that conclusion back to the evidence at hand. I suspect it will be easy to find many and large gaps between the evidence and the conclusion that can only be filled by a priori assumptions.

Ahab said...

Mike,
Suppose the front tire on my car goes flat. I examine it and find the cause for the flat tire is a nail. I've provided a purely naturalistic explanation for why the tire went flat and there is no need for me to invoke God to explain it. Do you think that entails that God does not exist?

Now if you believed that only God can make a tire go flat you most likely would think I'm going way beyond science and deep into philosophical dogma.

In the same way, I can understand why you might think I am doing this with my view regarding the scientific explanation for the diversity of life.

But just as providing a naturalistic explanation for the flat tire does not entail atheism, neither does the naturalistic (scientific) explanation for the diversity of life.

In either case, you can still believe in a God. You also have a choice: you could decide that you were mistaken about the way God acts or you could continue to believe in a God who causes flat tires and the diversity of life.
I don't particularly care which you choose. But if you do continue to believe that your God causes flat tires or brings about diversity of life, just don't expect me to buy it as a scientific explanation.

Steven Carr said...

Why should scientists presume that there is a need for a God when explaining how bird flu might mutate into something which may kill 20 million people?

And where is the need for a God to explain where rabies , cholera ,HIV, smallpox, Ebola virus come from?

Is it really dogmatic blindness of certain atheistic scientists to look at these life-forms and stubbornly maintain that they can be explained without reference to a God?