Four Reasons “God Made Evolution Happen” Makes No Sense

This piece was originally published in AlterNet.

“Of course I believe in evolution. And I believe in God, too. I believe that evolution is how God created life.”

You hear this a lot from progressive and moderate religious believers. They believe in some sort of creator god, but they heartily reject the extreme, fundamentalist, science-rejecting versions of their religions (as well they should). They want their beliefs to reflect reality — including the reality of the confirmed fact of evolution. So they try to reconcile the two by saying that that evolution is real, exactly as the scientists describe it — and that God made it happen. They insist that you don’t have to deny evolution to believe in God.

In the narrowest, most literal sense, of course this is true. It’s true that there are people who believe in God, and who also accept science in general and evolution in particular. This is an observably true fact: it would be absurd to deny it, and I don’t. I’m not saying these people don’t exist.

I’m saying that this position is untenable. I’m saying that the “God made evolution happen” position is rife with both internal contradictions and denial of the evidence. You don’t have to deny as much reality as young earth creationists do to take this position — but you still have to deny a fair amount. Here are four reasons that “God made evolution happen” makes no sense.

Phylogenetic tree
1. It contradicts a central principle of the theory of evolution.

According to theistic evolution (the fancy term for “God made evolution happen”), the process of evolution is shaped by the hand of God. God takes the processes of mutation, natural selection, and descent with modification, and uses them to direct life into the forms he wants — including the form of humanity.

But in evolution, there is no direction. At the core of the theory of evolution is the principle that whatever survives, survives, and whatever reproduces, reproduces. Each generation has to survive and reproduce on its own terms: there’s no selecting for a particular feature that’s harmful now but will be useful ten generations later, after a little more adapting. If a particular trait isn’t either beneficial or neutral to these animals, these plants, these bacteria, in this generation here and now — it’s going to be selected out pretty darn quick. Evolution is all about the immediate present and the very near future: it’s about surviving, and producing fertile offspring that live long enough to reproduce.

And there’s a huge amount of random chaos in the mix. If any of a hundred thousand quirks go a different way, the outcome can be different — sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. A flood shifts the course of a river, and a plant’s seeds float south-south-east instead of due south, and the seeds sprout on the part of the continent that splits off and becomes South America. An asteroid hits the planet and wipes out the dinosaurs, and these weird rodent-like creatures start reproducing like gangbusters, and in a few hundred thousand years some of their great-great-thousands-of-times-over grandchildren wind up as human beings. Random stuff happens: if it happens differently, then different living things survive and reproduce, and it all turns out differently. Yes, the particular forms that life takes right now are wildly improbable — and if things had turned out differently, those forms would be wildly improbable. There’s no direction: there’s no selecting for life to take any particular form at any point in the future.

So it makes no sense to say that evolution is real, exactly as the scientists describe it — but that God is guiding it in the direction he wants. If evolution is exactly as the scientists describe it, there’s no direction for God to be guiding it in. God hasn’t got a thing to do with it.

Now, if the evidence suggested that evolution actually did work in this interventionist way — if the theory of evolution were based on it having no direction, but there were a bunch of evidence suggesting that it did have a direction, with some outside force pushing things in that direction — then the “no direction” part of the theory would have to go. And that would be fine. Our understanding of exactly how evolution works has shifted many times over the decades, and if there were a preponderance of evidence pointing to a Divine Tinkerer, we’d simply have to adjust the theory.

Which leads me to:

evidence stamp
2. There’s not a scrap of evidence for it.

If there really were a Divine Tinkerer mucking about with evolution, like civil engineers re-directing a river or kids putting sticks in a stream, we’d see signs of it. When we looked at the fossil record, we’d see human knees suddenly re-shaped to better suit upright bipedal walking. We’d see human female pelvises suddenly re-shaped to better accommodate their infants’ larger brains without dying in childbirth. We’d see human brains suddenly re-shaped to better understand long-term cost-benefit analysis. And that’s just the humans.

We don’t see any of that. When we look at the fossil record — and the genetic record, and the geological record, and the anatomical record, and every other record from every branch of science that supports the theory of evolution and investigates how it works — we don’t see any signs whatsoever of outside intervention. What we do see is exactly what we’d expect to see if evolution were an entirely natural process, proceeding one generation at a time.

Now, some adherents of theistic evolution don’t think that God is tinkering with the process every day, or even every millennium, or even every epoch. Some theistic evolutionists are really more like deists: they think God set the entire process in motion, four billion years ago at the dawn of the planet, or 13.7 billion years ago at the dawn of the universe. They think God set the parameters way back in the mists of time, knowing how things would turn out, and is just sitting back watching it all unfold. That’s what they mean by “God made evolution happen.”

But there’s not a scrap of evidence for this, either. If your god is so non-interventionist that he’s entirely indistinguishable from physical cause and effect — what reason do you have to think he exists? In all of human history, the supernatural has never turned out to be the right answer to anything: natural explanations of phenomena have replaced supernatural ones thousands upon thousands of times, while supernatural explanations have replaced natural ones exactly never. So why would you think that an invisible god who set the wheels of evolution in motion, in a way that looks exactly like physical cause and effect, is more plausible than simple physical cause and effect?

As Julia Sweeney said in her performance piece “Letting Go of God, “The invisible and the non-existent often look very much alike.” Given that there’s not one scrap of evidence suggesting that this invisible Divine Tinkerer actually does exist — and a whole lot of evidence suggesting that he doesn’t — why would you conclude that he does?

Which leads me to:

Gray994 Sagittal section of nose mouth, pharynx, and larynx
3. There’s a whole lot of evidence against it.

Sinuses. Blind spots. External testicles. Backs and knees and feet shoddily warped into service for bipedal animals. Human birth canals barely wide enough to let the baby’s skull pass — and human babies born essentially premature, because if they stayed in utero any longer they’d kill their mothers coming out (which they sometimes do anyway). Wind pipes and food pipes in close proximity, leading to a great risk of choking to death when we eat. Impacted wisdom teeth, because our jaws are too small for all our teeth. Eyes wired backwards and upside-down. The vagus nerve, wandering all over hell and gone before it gets where it’s going. The vas deferens, ditto. Brains wired with imprecise language, flawed memory, fragile mental health, shoddy cost-benefit analysis, poor understanding of probability, and a strong tendency to prioritize immediate satisfaction over long-term gain. Birth defects. 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies ending in miscarriage (and that’s just confirmed pregnancies — about 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and as many as 75% of all conceptions miscarry).

And that’s just humans. Outside the human race, you’ve got giraffes with a vagus nerve traveling ten to fifteen feet out of its way to get where it’s going. You’ve got sea mammals with lungs but no gills. You’ve got male spiders depositing their sperm into a web, siphoning it up with a different appendage, and only then inseminating their mates — because their inseminating appendage isn’t connected to their sperm factory. (To wrap your mind around this: Imagine that humans had penises on their foreheads, and to reproduce they squirted semen from their testes onto a table, picked up the semen with their head-penises, and then had sex.) You’ve got kangaroo molars, which wear out and get replaced — but only four times, after which the animals starve to death. You’ve got digger wasps laying their eggs in the living bodies of caterpillars — and stinging said caterpillars to paralyze them but not kill them, so the caterpillars die a slow death and can nourish the wasps’ larvae with their living bodies.

You’re going to look at all this, and tell me it was engineered this way on purpose?

Yes, there are many aspects of biological life that astonish with their elegance and function. But there are many other aspects of biological life that astonish with their clumsiness, half-assedness, inefficiency, pointless superfluities, glaring omissions, laughable failures, “fixed that for you” kluges and jury-rigs, and appalling, mind-numbing brutality. (See Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes for just a few of the most obvious examples.) If you’re trying to reconcile all this with a powerfully magical creator god who made it this way on purpose, it requires wild mental contortions at best, and a complete denial of reality at worst.

On the other hand, it is very easy to reconcile all this with an entirely natural theory of evolution. In fact, according to the theory of evolution, it would be hugely surprising if biological life didn’t turn out this way. Again: Evolution proceeds one generation at a time. Each generation is only very slightly different from the generation that preceded it. It makes perfect sense that biological life would consist of awkward, inefficient, ad-hoc adaptations to forms that no longer exist.

And at the risk of anthropomorphizing: Evolution doesn’t care if you’re comfortable. Evolution doesn’t care if you’re happy. Evolution doesn’t need you to be perfect: it just needs you to be better than your competitors, your predators, and your prey. Evolution cares if you survive, and produce fertile offspring that also survive. Actually, even that’s not exactly true. Evolution doesn’t care if you live or die. If you die, something else lives. Evolution doesn’t give a damn who it is.

Evolution doesn’t give a damn about any of this. But God supposedly does. So why did he do it this way? If God is so powerful that he could bring all of existence into being simply by wishing it; if he’s so powerful that he can tinker with the genetics and circumstances of evolution simply by wishing it — why would he wish it to be so clumsy, half-assed, inefficient, jury-rigged, superfluous, and brutal?

Which finally leads me to:

God from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
4. If it were true, God would either be incompetent or malicious.

Here’s the thing about evolution. Evolution has led to some truly wondrous, truly amazing forms of life. (Or, to be more precise: Evolution has led to human brains that are capable of the experience of amazement, and that are inclined to be amazed at the variety and complexity of biological life.)

But evolution is messy. Evolution is wildly inefficient. See #3 above. It’s not just the products of evolution that are inefficient, either. The process itself is inefficient — inherently so, almost by definition. If you’re an all-powerful magical being trying to create sentient life, evolution is the long, long, long way around. If you’re trying to get from Point A to Point B, evolution is a slow, meandering walk down convoluted dirt roads, with thousands of stops on the way to visit your doddering uncles who never shut up.

And evolution is brutal. It’s not just that the results of the process are often uncomfortable, frustrating, even painful. The process itself is inherently brutal. The process ensures that most animals die in dreadful suffering and terror: they die from starvation, from injury, from disease, from birth defects, from being torn to pieces and devoured by other animals. Of all the billions upon billions of conscious living beings that have ever existed, an infinitesimal minority got to die peacefully in their beds surrounded by their families. The overwhelming majority died brutally, in pain and fear. And that includes the ones who actually won the evolution sweepstakes, and got to live long enough to reproduce with fertile offspring.

If there were a god who was using evolution to direct life in the direction he wanted, it immediately begs the question: Why? Why on earth would anyone do this?

If God were powerful enough to magically tinker with the process of evolution, in undetectable ways entirely indistinguishable from natural cause and effect — why wouldn’t he be powerful enough to just “whoosh” humanity into existence? If God were smart enough to know precisely how to set the parameters of existence so that billions of years later it would unfold into conscious human life — why wouldn’t he be smart enough to do it in a way that avoided the inefficient, hideously violent processes through which evolution has unfolded, and continues to unfold?

If theistic evolution were true — if there really were a god who either tinkers with evolution to create human life or who set the universe in motion knowing that evolution would eventually result in human life — then that god would either be grossly incompetent or cruelly malicious. That god would have to be either incapable of using the system of evolution to create life efficiently and with minimal pain — indeed, incapable of coming up with a better system for producing life in the first place — or brutally callous to the great suffering he has caused for hundreds of millions of years, and that he continues to cause on a daily basis.

Is that really the god you believe in?

A For Effort, F for Execution

I understand the desire to reconcile science with religion. I really do. People have a lot of reasons to be religious — community, family identity, cultural identity, an attachment to the ritual, a built-in sense of meaning and purpose, a desire to believe that the creator of all time and space personally cares about you, a desire to believe in an afterlife. And I definitely understand the desire to accept science: as flawed as it is, science has repeatedly shown itself to be the best method we have for understanding reality.

I understand that people want their religion to reflect reality. But there is no religion that reflects reality. If you want to accept reality in general, and the reality of evolution in particular, you need to accept that.

Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

{advertisement}
Four Reasons “God Made Evolution Happen” Makes No Sense
{advertisement}
The Orbit is (STILL!) a defendant in a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

25 thoughts on “Four Reasons “God Made Evolution Happen” Makes No Sense

  1. 1

    Also, pseudogenes. In humans and other apes, most especially the Vitamin C pseudogene. A perfectly good gene for making Vitamin C, borked in one place so it’s nonfunctional.

    Leading to scurvy if one does not consume Vitamin C from external sources.

    If we’re this god’s highest aspiration, then the least he could have done was unbork the Vitamin C pseudogene as he was “guiding” evolution. Unless this god hates sailors and loves the orange industry.

    The Vitamin C pseudogene is proof positive that “theistic evolution” is either a lie, or the god involved in that activity is an incompetent boob.

  2. 2

    As Julia Sweeney said in her performance piece “Letting Go of God, “The invisible and the non-existent often look very much alike.”

    Are you sure about this? I’ve listened to “Letting Go of God” a bunch of times and don’t remember hearing this line. On the other hand, I’ve seen it attributed to Delos McKown.

  3. 3

    You’ll have to give “Letting Go” another listen, arensb. The line is in there, in the section titled “I’m Becoming So Cantankerous!”

    I doubt Sweeney is the origin of the line–and I don’t think she claims credit for it anyway. In the monologue, she presents it as something “they” say.

  4. 4

    If theistic evolution were true — if there really were a god who either tinkers with evolution to create human life or who set the universe in motion knowing that evolution would eventually result in human life — then that god would either be grossly incompetent or cruelly malicious.

    Often the theists rebut this with “God works in mysterious ways, no human can understand God’s mind.” Usually these are the same theists who say “God hates abortion and contraception” and “God hates homosexuals” and “God loves you giving us 10% of your income.” Apparently their god’s mind is perfectly understandable when it coincides with the mouthpiece’s opinions and prejudices.

  5. 5

    My objections are largely philosophical. If God (as known by His behaviors) is so vague that He can’t be proven or disproven, you’re just flogging tautology. You’re announcing that your deity is meaningless and has no bearing on your life.

  6. 6

    Greta, from a philosophical point of view, I don’t think you can make the case for divine powers in general. You can certainly show that it makes the traditional Judaeo-Christian God look an unlikely contender. And you can show that you don’t need God. But you can’t show God is unnecessary because the theist making the argument can always shrink God down to size.

    So for example, lets go all the way back to the big bang. I am going to play God here and I am going to set up the initial conditions, light the blue touch paper and now I’m out of here.

    Having created a universe with a hundred billion galaxies of a hundred million stars, I know that the process of evolution is going to lead to intelligent life on at least one. So I am claiming ‘creator’ status. But I am not so much the architect as the construction code author. And an absentee one at that.

    It does not matter how the game is played, there are always three places to hide God: Free will, the prime cause and consciousness.

    Now we could imagine a universe in which it was possible to prove free will does not exist. But we don’t live in that universe.

    What we do know about a creator God is that if there is one they created the universe by definition and anyone who is looking anywhere other than the physical universe (e.g. scriptures) to find the nature of God is looking in the wrong place. If we look at the universe it is clear that if there is a God then either they do not want to be found or acknowledged or they are the most colossal jerk imaginable.

    So the logical conclusion is that yes God does exist by we should honor his wishes and pretend that he doesn’t.

  7. 7

    There’s an alternative to God-guided evolution: Something, which we might as well call God, wrote the rules, cranked in the initial conditions, then pushed the Big-Bang Button. He then sat back to observe the results, because He’d built a little chaos into the rules, so not even He could predict the behavior of the system in detail. This is the Deists’ God, who isn’t going to contaminate His experiment by sticking his hands in the reactor. It’s an unpopular hypothesis, because it draws fire from both the theists and the strong atheists. This hypothetical creator doesn’t even have to be unique. I can imagine a set of them competing to see who could get the most interesting results from the smallest ruleset. This isn’t a theory, of course. It’s untestable, indistinguishable from the atheistic null hypothesis, but it’s why I’m an agnostic atheist instead of a Strong Atheist.

  8. 8

    @Rebecca 7,

    That is what I was getting at. Only adding the point that if there is indeed a deity involved, our observation of the natural world very strongly suggests that they don’t want to be found.

    However, having done that science thing, I don’t deal in absolutes anyway. I look for confidence intervals and probabilities. And narrowing down the possibilities for the deity to one that can’t stick their hand in the reactor or not existing at all is quite significant.

    A deity of that type does not need or want priests to intermediate and is indifferent to whether people believe in them or not.

    As for the falsification issue, we have abundant evidence that allows us to reduce god to minimal deity and as you point out we test a theory that distinguishes between the two positions. In fact I think we can go further and say that we cannot currently even describe the difference. So the upper and lower bound of the confidence interval are the same.

  9. 9

    This is basically why, when I realized that Genesis couldn’t be true, I didn’t go for “liberal Christianity.” It just seemed to be a way to acknowledge the way things work, with a desperate attempt to hold on to the god concept thrown in. It took me all of about a day to understand that I could skip that step of my deconversion.

    One comment, though, about the eye being “wired backward and upside down.” That’s how you’d do it if you designed it. It’s how your camera works, too. To cause the image to focus “upright” on the retina would require a second lens, and it’s much easier and less subject to failure just to flip the image in the wiring or the software. The blind spot in the center would, of course, be terrible design, if it were design.

  10. 10

    A minor cavil: when you complained about the strange course of the vagus nerve, you should have referred to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN). The vagus proper follows a fairly straightforward path to reach the heart and abdominal viscera.

    The fibers of the RLN leave the brain stem not with the vagus nerve but with the spinal accessory nerve. Then they join the vagus to pass down into the chest. At the level of the heart they leave the vagus and pass back up to the neck, where they innervate the vocal cords. It’s like driving from San Francisco to Sacramento by way of Philadelphia.

    The pointlessly excessive length of the RLN may explain, in part, why giraffes don’t talk. By the time the words come out, everyone else has changed the subject.

    Another example is the seventh cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve because it mostly innervates various bits and pieces of the face. It winds all over the head to get there, including a stopover to innervate the stapedius, a tiny muscle in the middle ear.

    Meanwhile the fifth cranial nerve (a.k.a. the trigeminal nerve) also makes a stop in the middle ear to innervate a tiny muscle, the tensor tympani. Then it wanders on to supply the skin of the face and the muscles of mastication.

    As with the RLN, no intelligent designer would even have considered doing things this way. It makes sense only in the light of evolution and embryology.

  11. 11

    mistertwo @ 9:

    You’re right about “upside down.” Any normal camera works the same way. That’s just optics.

    By “backwards,” though, I think Greta meant that the retina is inside-out. The light from the pupil has to pass through blood vessels, nerve fibers, and two layers of nerve cells before it can reach the photoreceptors. That’s why there’s a blind spot. The nerve fibers have to gather together somewhere to feed into the optic nerve, and at that point there’s no place to put photoreceptors.

    An intelligent design would have the photoreceptors facing inwards instead of outwards. That way nothing would obstruct the light path, and there wouldn’t be a blind spot. That’s how squid eyes work.

  12. 13

    Rebecca Rush and Phillip Hallam-Baker,

    A god which doesn’t manifest itself in any fashion is identical to a non-existent god.

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again today
    I wish, I wish he’d go away
    –Hughes Mearns

  13. 14

    Actually, while I was reading your article (which I truly enjoyed, by the way!), it occurred to me that there’s another objection here, at least for Christian God. Let’s say this “God” actually went through all of the torture of using evolution. Why? Perhaps because if he/she (let’s use ” ‘e “) didn’t use evolution, then humans at a later time would be able to “prove” that ‘e exists! God can’t simply create humans because it would prove that ‘e exists and thus undermine that silly “faith” thing!

    If that’s true, however, then that means God actually knew beforehand that humans would be in a position of needing to use faith to believe. That means that God knew about “The Fall” beforehand and planned, using evolution, such that humans wouldn’t have proof that ‘e exists. If God knew about “The Fall”, then why did he put the damn tree there to begin with! So, ‘e knew we would end up in the world we have now, complains bitterly about it, but allowed it to happen anyway, using evolution just to make sure we can’t tell ‘e exists!

    This is really beginning to sound like a God with serious mental problems!

  14. 15

    @13, that is what I was saying in a very convoluted fashion by saying the upper and lower bound are the same.

    This can be made into a perfectly solid argument. It is essentially the cosmological argument for first cause and using free will to limit the deity’s influence to that point.

    It can’t be used to exclude the possibility of a deity completely but the role of the deity ends when science begins a nanosecond after the big bang and the deity bears no relation to any deity of any religion ever.

    It does however look suspiciously like a few of the deities Douglas Adams invented.

  15. 18

    Really nice post Greta.
    Another thing worth mentioning is that the very means by which mutations occur is due to an ERROR in the copying mechanism. Without that error there would be no descent with modification and thus no evolution. If God designed this mechanism, evolution only works when his design fails.

  16. 19

    Greta Christina wrote:

    They insist that you don’t have to deny evolution to believe in God.

    In the narrowest, most literal sense, of course this is true.

    Thanks for conceding that upfront. Of course, in the broadest, most universal sense, it’s also utterly impossible to disprove, but we’ll get there.

    I’m not saying these people don’t exist. I’m saying that this position is untenable.

    Well, it’s a free country, so you’re free to say anything you want, however badly supported. Saying that this position is untenable, of course, is almost the definition of saying something that is utterly unsupported.

    You don’t have to deny as much reality as young earth creationists do to take this position — but you still have to deny a fair amount.

    [citation needed]

    In actuality, one needs to deny Absolutely Zero reality to take that position. In fact, it takes a significant amount of reality denial to fail to grasp how easily grounded such a position is. Let’s get to your four reality-denying arguments, then:

    1. It contradicts a central principle of the theory of evolution.

    Not at all. This invented principle is the opposite of necessary to fit the evidence. This is scienc-ism at its laziest: arguing for the inviolability of parts of a theory that are utterly unnecessary to explain the data.

    You claim that evolution self-evidently requires having no direction. The basic logic error this falls under is called “assuming your conclusion”. Especially because it is the polar opposite of a proven, scientific fact that evolution has never had and cannot ever have any guided direction.

    If there turns out to be a guide to some parts of evolution, or any natural laws of inevitability of it going certain ways, then the theory of evolution will happily accept those with Zero change to present understandings. Theists will continue to call those new natural laws “the Will of God” and non-theists will call them “newly discovered laws” and your entire point here will be discarded as the circular and meaningless argument it presently is.

    Directionality cannot ever be disproven, nor would even proven directionality ever prove the existence of God.

    2. There’s not a scrap of evidence for it.

    Good luck convincing anyone anywhere that there js a scrap of physical evidence for your personal subjective experience having any reality at all that can be convincingly, independently demonstrated to anyone else.

    How would that make belief in your subjective consciousness untenable? Or anything remotely close? You are the one putting forth this swiss-cheese theory that such a belief in both God and evolution is logically untenable. The burden of evidence is on you to prove your assertion, or to accept the Null Hypothesis that holding both beliefs is logically tenable.

    Listing this bizarre point of illogic is, again, assuming your (unstated) conclusion: anything without independently replicable material evidence cannot and must not exist.

    3. There’s a whole lot of evidence against it.

    Absolutely nothing, not one single thing, that you so pointlessly listed as “evidence against” is actually evidence against an Omniscient Clockwork Creator, a “recreate the universe with every quantum instant of planck-time” Creator, nor a “pervade all parts of reality (and possibly make tweaks) at the ubiquitous level of foaming spacial-froth” Creator.

    You’ve disproven several lesser, stupider concepts of the divine, sure. Strong work! But not one single bit of that means a thing as to whether or not a transcendent God is intimately and inextricably involved in every single moment and every single part of the ancestry and existence of every living and extinct creature that has ever (and will ever) live.

    4. If it were true, God would either be incompetent or malicious

    Here, you finally make a decent philosophical argument that isn’t riddled with logic errors. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything to say belief in God is untenable, only that belief in a loving, benevolent God is untenable.

    Consequently, this point completely fails to disprove the tenability of Satanism, Lovecraftian horror-worship, belief in Sithrak, and all blood-sacrifice religions. Maltheism is completely good to go.

    As for non-maltheistic religions, there have been answers to the Argument From Evil from time immemorial, regardless of whether or not other people particularly like those answers. Regardless, those answers are logically tenable.

    As but two of those (many, many) answers: the God of the Philosophers is coterminous with every experience of every life, and experiences the same pain and suffers the same agony that every single creature does, but keeps sustaining reality anyway out of love or duty for those beings. And when they die, a God of Transcendence can easily be there to sustain their subjectivity before and beyond their material life, if they are willing to allow it.

    People can believe all that, and tenably also believe in evolution. Your theory is not supported by your arguments, so the Null Hypothesis prevails.

  17. 20

    Al Dente wrote:

    A god which doesn’t manifest itself in any fashion is identical to a non-existent god.

    True enough. Most theists, of course, consider the entire perceptible universe itself, and countless other imperceptible but conceivable things like “singularities” and “galaxies more than 20 billion light years away” and “dimensions 5 through 11”, to be active manifestations of God.

  18. 21

    dolorian wrote:

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the very means by which mutations occur is due to an ERROR in the copying mechanism.

    That is significantly oversimplifying reality. Mutations can occur as copy errors, as radiation damage, as chemical damage, as biological side-effects of viruses, as chromosomal-recombination side-effects, and as simple entropic breakdown. Maintaining a quasi-coherent genome is an astonishing amount of work.

    Without that error there would be no descent with modification and thus no evolution. If God designed this mechanism, evolution only works when his design fails.

    This is rather a pea-sized and inaccurate view of God’s design. God’s design clearly encompasses the inevitable copy errors, as well as all the radiation, chemicals, viruses, chromosomal recombinations, and entropic decays.

    It also clearly encompasses every one of laws of physics, chemistry, and biology, known and unknown.

    All of that design, working exactly as designed, gives rise to the infinite diversity across infinite space that we can both witness and speculate about. How is that a bad design at all, for what such a Creator might have had in mind? Inefficient tubing and unstable genomes aren’t impediements to that design unfolding. They may well even be necessities for it to work out.

  19. 22

    Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:

    I don’t deal in absolutes anyway. I look for confidence intervals and probabilities. And narrowing down the possibilities for the deity to one that can’t stick their hand in the reactor or not existing at all is quite significant.

    That’s not what you or Rebecca Rush have remotely proven, of course.

    You’ve only narrowed down the possibilities to a deity that doesn’t stick their hand in in ways that can be independently and repeatably measured by other material beings. That rules out close to absolutely Zero things, especially where consciousnesses are concerned.

    Never mind that every single particle and wave in the observable universe could easily be quantum-entangled with others hundreds of trillions of light-years away, beyond any hope of our understanding the interconnections.

    Never mind that every atom of every molecule of every organelle of every cell of every tissue of every organ of every being everywhere is filled with “mostly nothingness” that is not stable and not fully observable, ever, period, by our increasingly-ironclad understandings of physics at that scale.

    Never mind that countless trillions of physical interventions can be happening inside you in less time than it takes for you to read a single word of this paragraph.

    Never mind that our entire existence may be flickered into reality 10 to the 44th times every single second.

    Never mind that every miracle is, by definition, a nondisprovable one-off, and that every hand-wave trying to say “anecdotes are not data” absolutely goes both ways: scientific data can never even begin to address 99.999% of the qualitative aspects of most people’s daily anecdotes, which are (understandably) the only truly important things in their lives.

    A deity of that type does not need or want priests to intermediate

    Certainly true enough. Such a Deity can choose any time and any place if it feels the need for bigger displays.

    and is indifferent to whether people believe in them or not

    [citation needed]

    Such a Deity doesn’t need belief for its own needs, obviously. But it can absolutely be interested in whether or not creatures within its creation have a connection to it, and prefer that such a loving connection exist rather than prefer its absence, while leaving the decision to engage in such a connection up to creatures in question, without compelling the connection.

  20. 23

    while leaving the decision to engage in such a connection up to creatures in question

    The alien you describe does not comport with any alien worth knowing.

    In addition, it pretty much goes against the fundamental tenet of just about every religion one cares to mention. Especially the ones that condemn the person choosing not to connect with this mega-alien to an eternity of torment.

  21. 24

    The woo-woo is strong with this one.

    Consciousness is an emanant property of matter. No matter, no consciousness. Ascribing to a non-material being (ie, a “god”) a property of matter is illogical on its face.

  22. 25

    darththulhu @19

    You claim that evolution self-evidently requires having no direction. The basic logic error this falls under is called “assuming your conclusion”. Especially because it is the polar opposite of a proven, scientific fact that evolution has never had and cannot ever have any guided direction.

    Your sneer at the first sentence is contradicted by the last sentence. Evolution has no direction. Mutations are completely random. Your last sentence is a restatement of Greta’s argument.

Comments are closed.