A False Choice: Believe in Evolution or a Divine Architect!

Photo: This snowflake was photographed in Russia. Is this not a most amazing picture? Let’s see, this is either the result of evolution or a Divine Architect. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………….What do you think?

A pastor in Colorado recently posted the above image on his Facebook page and made the following comment:

This snowflake was photographed in Russia. Is this not a most amazing picture? Let’s see, this is either the result of evolution or a Divine Architect. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………….What do you think?

Well, since he asked, here’s my retort:

Why are there no in-between options? Why couldn’t God have used evolution as the method of creation? The cosmos and earth have obviously changed a great deal over the past 13.7 billion years (once there were only hydrogen atoms, now there are stars; once there were dinosaurs, now there are not; once there were no humans, now there are, etc.).

Crystals don’t just jump into existence out of nowhere. Each one has a history and obeys physical law. Crystal formation, like the cosmos as a whole, follows simple principles that lead to complexity over time, and that’s the same idea in biology (from a simple principle, natural selection, complex systems evolve).

It still seems pretty darn miraculous that simple laws (in physics, chemistry, and biology) bring about complexity over time. If it’s not a miracle, it will do till the miracle gets here. And all the evidence of science converges on an old and changing cosmos. So if you give evolution to atheism, you’re basically telling religious believers to reject mainstream science. But my response is: Even an architect builds her structures in time; they don’t just appear as rabbits out of a hat. If God exists and is an architect, She is an architect in history, in time. And that means that maybe science over the past 150 years has simply discovered God’s methods of creation and you’ve got God in a box of your own making.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to A False Choice: Believe in Evolution or a Divine Architect!

  1. Peter Smith says:

    Now why is that more people do not embrace the simple common sense of what you said?
    If a creator God exists then the laws of nature are the means chosen by God to run the Universe. So we should expect that all phenomena observe the laws of nature, without exception. Saying that they do so is not a contradiction of God since we should expect that God would work in this way.

    One person I know replied to this assertion by saying that in this case we could not tell the difference between the Universe created by God and an entirely natural one, one that was not created by God.

    Yes, that is true, they would look the same(provided the atheist could provide a natural explanation for the laws of nature) . So how would we know that God exists? This is the problem that creationists agonize over. They need more tangible evidence for the existence of God and cling to the idea of young earth creationism because it seems to provide this evidence and confirm their faith. A highly educated friend of mine clings to young earth creationism because of his strong emotional need for this confirmation as a bastion against the many questioning and critical voices in society.

    I happen to think there is far stronger evidence available that does not violate our scientific understanding of the world but he remains unconvinced.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      The “where did the physical laws come from” question must always unsettle the thoughtful atheist, I think.

      And based on the last sentence you wrote above, I’m curious to know what book(s) you might recommend (that you think best makes the case for God’s existence). I’m an agnostic, but think Feser’s book, though didactic and obnoxious in places, is good. I also especially like Spitzer’s book (“New Proofs”). And Barr’s book. (I’ve posted links to the books I’m referring to at the bottom of this post). All three are Catholic writers.

      As for the Colorado pastor v. the author of Proverbs 8:22-31, I’ll go with the Proverbs guy. He seems to have a ballpark intuition here about the role that natural law and rationality (“Wisdom”) would play in an Architect God’s designs:

      The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. […etc.]

      Feser’s book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Superstition-Refutation-Atheism/dp/1587314525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384872077&sr=8-1&keywords=Feser+edward

      Spitzer’s book: http://www.amazon.com/New-Proofs-Existence-God-Contributions/dp/0802863833/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384872141&sr=8-1&keywords=new+evidences+for+the+existence+of+god

      Barr’s book: http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Physics-Ancient-Faith-Stephen/dp/0268021988/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384872502&sr=8-1&keywords=barr+physics+faith

      • Peter Smith says:

        thanks for those references. I have been wanting to buy the Feser book but was waiting for a Kindle version to become available. Happily it is now available. The other two books look very interesting as well.

        As for recommending books, Paul Davies is first class. I am working my way through Ultimate Explanations of the Universe by Michael Heller. He is a Catholic philosopher and gives a clear, balanced account.

        As you say, Feser can be quite bombastic, indeed polemic. I enjoy his blog and find that he is a careful exact philosopher. He is a Thomist and while I find much to admire in Thomism I think the scientific worldview supersedes it. Too much talk of forms and substance. I like your quote from Wisdom.

        As I’ve outlined in another comment, I think the issue is beyond proof. I think the only reasonable way to handle the debate is to identify starting, ground premises and then build best case hypotheses for both theism and atheism. Evidence for both cases must be collected and a final decision made on a balance of probabilities. I happen to think, that when one looks at the totality of the evidence, the balance of probabilities strongly favours the theist case. But I don’t think we will ever construct a satisfactory proof, no matter how persuasive the arguments of Catholic philosophers. In fact I think there are important reasons why God would not want a proof to be available (now that will surprise you!).

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