DO I BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION AS A CHRISTIAN?
There is no “theory” of evolution. There are actually, “theorIES” of evolution.
– Lamarckian Evolution
– Darwnian Natural Selection
– Neo-Darwinian Evolution
– Niche Construction
– Evolution Through Symbiogenesis
– Evo Devo
– Process Structuralism
– Intelligent Design
– a few among others
I’ll make a case and talk about a few as concise as possible.
The theory of evolution spoken today by the common layman is Neo-Darwinian Evolution which, as Theodosius Dobzhansky explains is
“Evolution is change in gene frequencies in populations.”
This is where many people believe we evolved from fish or apes thanks to randomness/ chances/ probabilities/ luck. This is Neo-Darwinian equation
Darwinian Natural Selection + (Gregor) Mendelian Genetics = Neo-Darwinian Evolution
But this is not Charles Darwin’s original view that ONLY randomness or chance is responsible for human evolution; that has been interpolated by contemporary logical formulae of scientists. Charles was open minded to the existence of other natural laws that may have directed evolution and limit the amount of randomness that could successful occur.
So trust me, Darwinian Evolution Theory is not the only game in town.
I believe in the evolution theory that is “goal orientated” so that it be consistent with other coherent world views I hold regarding the “useful fiction” we philosophically have that life has a teleology or goal-orientation as seen in the anthropic principle and the fine-tuning of the #universe to allow for intelligent life on earth 🌏 . For we cannot bear to live with ourselves (especially morally) if our mentality is “survival of the fittest”. Sometimes, the weakest get all the love, attention, protect and get others to die for them in altruism.
NICHE CONSTRUCTION …
…says organisms do not just adapt to environments (from Epigenetics) through the chance of random variations in offspring but that organisms shape environments just as much as environments shape them. In essences, it’s the whole nature vs nurture debate. We co-construct and co-define with our environment, sometimes making the environment adapt to us and not just adapting to the environment alone … sometimes to the detriment of refusing to adapt ourselves, we adapt our environment to suite us. Animals do it and Humans do it so perfectly as far as us determining factors by which to culturally limit our selection processes. Sometimes the singer gets to pass their genes on, sometimes a the muscle man does. We (including other animals) give our own evolution it’s telos or direction with thoughtful considerations and not mere randomness.
PROCESS STRUCTURALISM (a leeway to intelligent design)
While Darwinian Evolution and it’s randomness suggest “chance”, meaning that if we rewind biological evolution backwards, we will not get the same speciation and human life like we do nowadays, Christians like me take into consideration that assuming that
– universal fine-tuning (of galaxies) remains constant
– Epigenetics is true
– the Anthropic Principle is a fact
I believe that if you reverse biological evolution backwards, all other factors being true to “guide” evolution, we would still end up with similar organism structures and intelligence nowadays. It sounds like intelligent-design evolution-theory from a scientific method of metaphysical-naturalism. But it’s the reverse, it’s the methodological-naturalism part of the argument. One works from the (inferential) top-down scientific approach, the other works front the (calculated/ constructed) bottom-up approach respectively. And since many people hate to have forensic top-down science in biology… let’s just stick to he bottom-up approach of biological evolution called “Process Structuralism” which states that…
…the kinds and types of organisms that we see, their body-plans, and many of their traits are the result of (fixed) natural laws rather than being merely the byproducts of historical contingency and chance genetic mutations.
There are certain natural laws that govern the evolution of biological structures and organisms.
Robert Bieri said this
“If we ever succeed in communicating with conceptualising-beings in outer space, they won’t be spheres, pyramids, cubes, or pancakes. In all probability they will look an awful lot like us”.
This includes bigger brain, vertebrates with ability to walk on feet. Standing upright erect etc
The biggest proof for process structuralism is the facts of Evo-Devo theory which states that it’s possible to devolve backwards … but it agrees regarding the convergence of species as well as divergence of species in evolution. In divergence of species, organisms from one common ancestor diverge and go their own way DNA-wise. In convergence species, we see organisms with different common ancestors taking similar attributes such as evolving to glide, climb. The shark and the dolphin have different common ancestors but they are physiologically converging to swim. Or look at the Saber Tooth tiger and the Thylacosmilidae (a creature that went extinct lately from Africa). The Thylacosmilidae is closely related to a kangaroo but the Saber Tooth tiger is closely related to a giraffe. Both evolved on different continents yet, converged in speciation as to co-interact in adaptation and Epigenetics.
Also, the evolution of the camera eye converged from different common ancestors across the world and 15 independent cases where the common ancestor didn’t have a camera eye or photo-receptor with a distinct lens but it jut popped into being in the next generation.
Here are a few examples of convergence speciation for those interested (find more at Simon Conway Morris Book “Life’s Solution”)
– Euscocial Organisation
– Compound Eyes
– Courtship Behaviour
– Family Structures
– Antifreeze Proteins
– C4 Photosynthesis
– Nicotine Oxidases
(I’m not smart enough to know these things guys, I have books 📚 and many teachers lol).
This shows that evolution is less of an accident than we give it credit for.
Intelligence in species of different ancestors shows convergence too. We see this in apes, crows/ ravens and dolphins. If we human being didn’t evolve to be this intelligent, all other universal factors being constant, other intelligent animals would have evolved to then become like us – kinda like being half-man-half-crow or half-man-half-Dolphine. One could argue that our common ancestor was half-man-half-ape. But that is another debate for another time.
My point for now is, evolution appears to have a rational structure, a mind or law or telos or goal behind it – and this is what intelligent design theory suggests although that is not what we’re talking of today in this post. For now, let’s concentrate on Process Structuralism Evolution Theory.
Since believing in evolution doesn’t always equal to neo-darwiniansm, can I still be a Christian and believe in evolution… the answer, is yes.
Does this contradict with Adam and Eve narrative that God made them from the “dust” of the earth? No – “Dust” could means anything even if it was mud where a fish came from to then become a man.
We have scientific researches going on in genetic engineering regarding the mathematical consistencies of believing in a Y-Chromosomal Adam and a Mitochondria-Eve. And with the irreducible complexity of the Cambriam Explosion still standing in the the way to bring doubt on the Darwinian Evolution theory, we have good reasons (not to know) but to rationally “believe” that life (including human life) may not have specieated from a #CommonAncestor but may have popped into being as though they were just planted there by a #CommonDesigner 😜 😁 👨🎨
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