Theistic Evolution? No Such Thing

Nov 25, 2014

By Jeffrey L. Falick

Not too long ago someone asked me if The Clergy Project was in any way related to The Clergy Letter Project. The two should definitely not be confused! The Clergy Project is a private forum for current and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs.  One of its founders is the editor of this blog.  The Clergy Letter Project is an effort by liberal religious leaders to support the teaching of evolution.

Now I can’t argue that this is not a laudable goal. We should be teaching evolution. Unfortunately, The Clergy Letter Project is grounded in an unsupportable idea.

In order to support teaching evolution, those behind it promote the idea that religious beliefs and the findings of science are perfectly compatible. This is what biologist Michael Zimmerman, the effort’s founder, has written on the sitehttp://www.theclergyletterproject.org/Backgd_info.htm:

For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution. I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.

Zimmerman is in good religious company. Just as I was preparing this piece for publication, his viewpoint received a big boost from none other than Pope Francis himself who reiterated the Church’s support for evolution in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.  He said:

“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of [God’s] creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”


 

Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

22 comments on “Theistic Evolution? No Such Thing

  • @OP – I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.

    Zimmerman is in good religious company. Just as I was preparing this piece for publication, his viewpoint received a big boost from none other than Pope Francis himself who reiterated the Church’s support for evolution in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He said:

    “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of [God’s] creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

    Theistic evolution is double-talk with the false claim that evolution was god’s tool to create humans as the central feature of the universe. First they claim to “accept the science” – then they claim “god-did-it” and try to redefine to word “science”, to mean circular faith-thinking”!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_Francis

    On October 27, 2014, Pope Francis issued a statement at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation,” warning against thinking of God’s act of creation as “God [being] a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything.”[61][62][63][64]

    The Pope also expressed in the same statement the view that scientific explanations such as the Big Bang and evolution in fact require God’s creation:

    “[God] created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and their fullness of being. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things… The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Catholic_teaching_and_evolution

    159. Faith and science: “… methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (Vatican II GS 36:1)

    283. The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers….

    284. The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin….

    Paragraph 283 has been noted as making a positive comment regarding the theory of evolution, with the clarification that “many scientific studies” that have enriched knowledge of “the development of life-forms and the appearance of man” refers to mainstream science and not to “creation science

    “Creation Science” mentioned here is YEC pseudo-science. The Vatican claim that THEIR pseudo-science (defined above) is “mainstream science”, is of course a lie – as any competent biologist familiar with the scientific theory of evolution can tell you! Sheeples, faith-thinkers, and scientific illiterates, – on the other hand will just parrot their pope’s false claims.

    Benedict also made a statement on evolution claiming to “accept the science”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_Benedict_XVI

    BUT:- The Church’s stance is that any such gradual appearance must have been guided in some way by God, but the Church has thus far declined to define in what way that may be. Commentators tend to interpret the Church’s position in the way most favorable to their own arguments.

    In addition, while he was the Vatican’s chief astronomer, Fr. George Coyne, issued a statement on 18 November 2005 saying that “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be.

    While decrying YEC type “intelligent design”, they are pretending RCC pretends that god-did-it” by “evolutionary design”!

    YECs are teaching the “wrong form of creationism”, -according to the RCC.

    Other denominations and cults – and for that matter individuals – have their own versions of pseudo-scientific “god-did-it” – by magic – to suit the argument of the day! The pope denies the magic but offers no alternative explanation! – No surprise there!!!

    Having said that, they have moved on a little bit since the “infallible” Pius IX responded to Darwin!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_Pius_IX

    “9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.” (Vatican Council I).

    “10. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.” (Vatican Council I).



    Report abuse

  • 2
    Robert Firth says:

    Interesting article. But it was a little unfair of Patheos to illustrate it with the title page of Thomas Burnet’s Telluris theoria sacra, since Burnet explicitly denied the notion of repeated divine intervention in history. He believed God has created the world perfect, and perfectly evolving, from the beginning



    Report abuse

  • The notion that intelligent life was inevitable is just dead wrong.

    Especially when you consider how long we have been here compared to single cellular life. We just love to think in our average hum, drum lives that we are the spectacular reason for the universes existence. The staggering level of self importance must be one of the most telling things about us. I suspect though it is the animal in us that sees the world as all about us. The real sense of humility and humanity comes from seeing yourself in context of the universe as a whole. The religious it seems to me are half way there, they see themselves as small and unimportant – but only in comparison to God who created the whole universe for our ultimate purpose….just need to take that final step.



    Report abuse

  • @OP – For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution.

    Which translated into literate science says: “I am lying, and trying to create confusion about the science which refutes my delusional god-claims, by asserting there are ‘misconceptions’!”

    I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory

    Which translated from theist-speak into English states: “They have been told on faith in the authority of the pope (or other church leader), to claim to accept and understand evolution.” – (usually with no actual understanding of it!)

    “and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.

    Which means: “I still have absolutely no understanding of cosmology, evolution, or scientific methodology, but I have accepted it on the authority of “faith” as {insert religion} approved knowledge, with the proviso that “god-did-it” must be cobbled into it, and any REAL science (Not to be confused with TRRrrrooooo science), which refutes RCC etc. dogmas, must be excluded!”

    Of course there are NO EXPLANATIONS of how exorcisms, miracles, saints, souls, magically transformed biscuits, holy water, infallible popes, or risen zombies, fit into this!



    Report abuse

  • Hmm, interesting how religions themselves evolve. A few hundred years ago destroying dangerous books, ideas and people was the stock trade of religions. When Darwin’s work cropped up they were already unable to pursue these pass times and all they could do was fume about it and promulgate lies and dogma. Now they simply say evolution? Of course it was god’s plan all along. Just a bit of hermeneutics with these verses and…… No Dramas we’re all on the same side!

    They are so desperate.



    Report abuse

  • Considering that science is always provisional in the sense that new facts or understandings can overturn what was formerly accepted, I always find it sad that people hijack science for their own purposes. Evolution, in itself, says nothing about a creator. A deist, for example, would have no issue with evolution. It also ignores how intelligent agents can use selection and mutations to shape species. For example, look at all the different breeds of dogs or the work being done in genetics to improve our crops. Unless the rabbi has some kind of a time machine, he cannot know if an intelligent agent such as God played a role in the evolutionary process that gave rise to us. By the same token, neither can the intelligent design folks demonstrate that God or any other agent played a role in the process.



    Report abuse

  • 9
    Mcguffin8 says:

    It would seem that evolution itself is the creative ruling paradigm of the cosmos. Whatever truth science is moving toward, the greatest danger to that journey is still the power of religion. Kindly old Francis does not seem to apprehend the danger to the power that superstition faces from science as intuitivly as does the insular bureaucracy.



    Report abuse

  • david.graf.589 Nov 26, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Considering that science is always provisional in the sense that new facts or understandings can overturn what was formerly accepted,

    However some established laws of science are confirmed to very high levels of probability, as anyone stepping out of a 25th floor window and expecting some “new physics” to turn up refuting gravity, is likely to find out!

    I always find it sad that people hijack science for their own purposes.

    Very much so, in the case of gratuitous doubt-mongering, pseudo-science or attempts at the fallacy of Argument from ignorance
    .Argument from ignorance or argumentum ad ignorantiam in its most formal definition is a logical fallacy that claims the truth of a premise is based on the fact that it has not been proven false
    things like: “Science doesn’t know everything.” (Well, of course science doesn’t know everything). But because science doesn’t know everything, that doesn’t mean science knows nothing.

    Evolution, in itself, says nothing about a creator.

    Actually it refutes a vast number of creation myths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_creation_myths

    A deist, for example, would have no issue with evolution.

    True, – but then most religions are NOT deist, – although some pretend to be when it suits their arguments.
    Most deists are just theists, hanging on to the last remnants of their earlier beliefs in anthropomorphism, or animism.
    There are billions of years of Earth history with no evidence of any intelligent presence, and even more billions before the Earth existed.

    In an absence of evidence, the default position is scepticism, not credulity!



    Report abuse

  • @OP – Just as I was preparing this piece for publication, his viewpoint received a big boost from none other than Pope Francis himself who reiterated the Church’s support for evolution in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

    the Church’s support for evolution in an address to “Pontifical Academy of Sciences”. – You have to laugh!
    Which reputable scientific establishments ask preachers for views on how science works????

    http://www.atheistmemebase.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/092-Science-doesnt-know-everything-650×650.jpg



    Report abuse

  • Quoted in the OP:

    The coming to be of “higher” or more complex forms of life, and eventually of humanity, is not brought about by the specific and conscious planning of what is sometimes called “intelligent design.” But neither is it random and therefore inherently without meaning. It is rather the result of an inbuilt movement within the whole of being, the underlying dynamism of existence striving to be manifest [emphasis in original] ever more fully in minds that it brings forth and inhabits, through the emergence of increasingly complex and reflective selves.

    I suddenly feel “an inbuilt movement within the whole of being” to go and vomit at such bilge water, apparently written by an intelligent ape.



    Report abuse

  • Unfortunately, The Clergy Letter Project is grounded in an
    unsupportable idea.

    Well of course it is. But you know what? I don’t give a damn. Theistic Evolution, by definition, destroys the notion of biblical literacy. Biblical literalists are the worst kind of religionists and anything that weakens their position is ok by me. Get rid of creationsism today – worry about theistic evolution tomorrow.

    To draw the inevitable WWII metaphor, the Creationists are the Hitler and the Theistic Evolutionists are Stalin. I don’t like either, but at this point in time I’m happy to withhold criticism of Stalin if it will help weaken Hitler. Taking them both on is spreading my forces too thin.



    Report abuse

  • Robert Firth Nov 25, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Burnet explicitly denied the notion of repeated divine intervention in history. He believed God has created the world perfect, and perfectly evolving, from the beginning

    There’s really no limit on the diversity of religious fudge, and the use of meaningless terms such as “perfect”, when theologians try to square their triangular circles, to make them look as if they are consistent with scientific evidence.



    Report abuse

  • Try as they may, the pompous, pontificating peddlers of piffle, can’t quite make it into the realm of rationalism, reason and reality.

    But now, as an adult, just for a moment, imagine or remember yourself aged seven again, gazing up at the adults around you and hanging on every word they say; and look, there’s a man in a frock wearing a big hat and talking funny; everyone’s listening to him in wrapped silence so I think I should too.

    Is it Father Christmas? No, he hasn’t got a beard; and anyway, he doesn’t seem to be very jovial!

    As time passes you learn that that was the Priest and he was talking bollocks; or, perhaps you don’t realize it, and go on believing all the balls.

    And although in your teens you shrugged it all off, along with all your other rocks, it snapped back and bit you in your butt, and like a bull dog it won’t let go of you; and still it clings on, and now you’re resigned to it, and give up struggling against it.

    Does religion render enrichment of lives? I think not.

    There endeth my “Thought for the Day”.



    Report abuse

  • On Thesitic Evolution

    Theistic evolution is similar in many ways to biological evolution. it’s extremely slow and wasteful, yet throws out remarkable new species of theist that to an uneducated person, being unaware of how long it’s been going on, seem almost designed to fit into the socio-economic niche they exploit but in reality have been constantly changing to remain able to survive within an environment that really doesn’t care.

    Some for example have developed “morals” which seem like the sort of morals you’d find within any other social culture until you look closely and see they’re actually adaptions of vestigial strategies of survival from a more violent past, adapted into something that looks like a moral and is often used to camoflage the thesist’s true nature so it can exist within a modern society unhampered.

    All theisms share a common ancestor. of course there’s no way of knowing what that ancestor looked like but we can infer from similarities within contemporary groups, along with archological records, that it would have arisen within a particualrly inhospitable environment competing with other proto-theistic groups for available ignorance. The core structure of ignorance that has prevailed has managed to survive extinction so far thanks to a protective outer layer of certainty, or “dogma”, under which ignorance can be replicated through the generations with minimal mutation.

    Today we imagine theistic evolution has led to vast numbers of spereate species with varying ornate rituals, coats and head-dresses but there’s no way of telling how varied theism might have once been, throwing up long-extinct belief systems beyond our limited imagination, but ultimately a study of theism shows they’re all basically the same, made up of just a few replicating base assumptions but in countless new arrangements.

    Interesting to note that all theisms believe they were created at the begining of time and have remaind unchanged since then, even though examples of evolution happen within our own lifetimes and a long-term view shows a clear trajectory towards extinction as an element toxic to all theists, reason, becomes more prevalent. today theisms seem to use one of two strategies, either one of symbiosis where it becomes more tolerant of reason and slowly becomes extinct through absorbtion into modern social cultures, or through enforced ignorance, where groups become agressive enough to fight reason off along with any infected individual, ultimately leading to mutual extinction as they compete for resources.

    The one other thing that thesitic evolution has with biological, is a misconception among the credulous that they were brought into being by some form of intelligence, rather than just an accident of nature.

    S. Cat



    Report abuse

  • I’ve met several Theists: 1) the traditional one who still claims, despite the evidence against, that a magical being created the world, the animals and Man; 2) the one who believes in evolution but believes that the Joujou created bacteria and then evolution occurred and did the rest, and last but not least 3) the most “advanced” Theist who believes not only in evolution but in the Big Bang!! but the Joujou caused the Big Bang and evolution did the rest.
    A theist will never give up the existence of a magical being
    that creates directly animals and humans, or the conditions for their formation or creation. In comparison with the traditional Theist, there has been an “evolution” in the thought of many Theists, but Joujou is still in their minds.



    Report abuse

  • Jon Dec 2, 2014 at 10:59 am

    So the Catholic Church has determined that the Clockwork Universe is the right view?

    This just means that they are slightly reducing the levels of science denial, and gradually catching up with Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton!



    Report abuse

  • Theistic Evolution is just mixing dogma with science, in the hope that mixing the woo with evidenced reputable science, may confuse the into uneducated into believing that the woo is as reputable as science.
    It’s just like the 10 commandments which stick some respectable moral points on the end of the list, after the “priority” dogmatic god-mythology demands.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.