Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Evolution Creates No Break

I'd been holding onto this link waiting till I came up with some clever post expanding on it, but really James Chastek of Just Thomism covers the topic so well there's little to add:
we’re wasting all of our time talking about evolution when in fact our problem is more general. The Christian objection to evolution is identical in all relevant details to an objection against generation or reproduction. There’s no difference between the claim “our species arose from descent with modification, and therefore not from an act of special creation” and saying “I arose from the sexual activity of my parents, and therefore not from an act of special creation”. We know this is the case since Christians have had such an argument before, namely over traductionism, that is, the idea that since human being arose from the sexual activity of his parents, there was no need for an act of special creation to explain them. St Thomas treated this question at considerable length – there was a good deal of dispute about it in his day, and again in the Reformation period, and it was still a live topic during the Enlightenment – and all that’s changed in moving from traductionism to evolution is that gone from asking about any old person being generated from purely natural causes to asking about whether the first member(s) of some population arose from purely natural causes.

The objections that Christians legitimately have to evolution don’t concern evolution as such. We can flip this around and point out that an attempt show how theism and evolution are compatible also doesn’t concern evolution as such. Darwin’s theory and its various developments are not the problem: the problem of compatibility would be no different if Darwin, upon sailing to the Galapagos Islands, didn’t end up finding various lengths of finch beaks but instead found a large tree that grew new plant and animal species out of giant seed pods. The fundamental problem remains irrespective of whether nature generates the first member of some new population by seeds or by chance or by aliens. For that matter, the same problem would remain if all species have existed for an infinite time. The fundamental problem is whether natural science suffices to explain human beings.
This is just spot on. Somehow when people start worrying about evolution they seem to get the idea into their heads that there's something magical about species, such that it's okay for each individual creature to be the result of reproduction on the part of its parents, but it's not okay for speciation to be the result of reproduction within a population of creatures.

Clearly, we long ago came to the conclusion that we are God's creatures despite the fact that we are also the direct biological result of our parents having sex. Evolution really doesn't change this picture at all in any substantial way.


Batsheva said...

Great point. This is basically exactly what I've always said. Just not in such high-falutin' words.

rhinemouse said...

Yes, exactly.

What really baffles me are the people who think that the blind chance of evolution leaves no room for God--yet somehow, the blind chance of one sperm and one egg combining to form one set of DNA poses no challenge Divine Providence.

(Word verification: trusnerm. This is either the next generation of IVF technology, or else a species of magical pachyderm that can only speak the truth.)