Spiritual Evolution

 

A Facebook friend made the image above and shared it in the Facebook group Celebrating Evolving Creation. What do you think of it? It seems to me to encapsulate nicely the idea emphasized in Karl Giberson's book, Seven Glorious Days, about evolution having reached a stage where it has brought love into existence. But I confess that I can't hear the phrase “spiritual evolution” without thinking of the Level 42 song “World Machine”

 

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    The barbarism of abortion hardly argues for the spirituality of modern man.

    • Kaz

      I suspect that abortion, like the eugenics practiced at the time the Scopes Trial took place, are natural consequences of Darwinian theory. They may or may not be *necessary* consequences, but they’re certainly in harmony with a worldview that holds that man is just a relatively advanced primate.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        Why is it that Christians, who ought to be particularly aware of how their own religion or its name have been co-opted for purposes that in fact find no justification in its beliefs, practices, or Scriptures, nevertheless fall for dubious claims that other things, in particular evolution, do in fact justify all the things that social programs and worldviews claim it does?

        • Kaz

          I didn’t say that evolution justifies abortion or eugenics. I said that such practices seem to follow naturally from Darwinism.

          In your worldview, what we choose to believe by faith must be qualified by what is held to be true by scientific consensus. You’ve also asserted that creation testifies truthfully about God, with which I agree, but you hold that part of that truthful testimony is the notion that God allowed all forms of biological life to emerge and go extinct via Darwinian processes.

          One would think that for you Darwinian processes are good in the eyes of God. If so, then why shouldn’t some chose to believe that eugenics is also good? After all, eugenics takes what is good about Darwinism seriously, does it not? If God sees the elimination of weaker animals by predators as good, then why wouldn’t he consider the elimination of weaker humans by those who desire to expedite God’s good process as equally good?

          In case it isn’t obvious, these are rhetorical questions. I think that abortion and eugenics are abominations based on what God has revealed to me in Scripture and in my own nature, which I believe was designed to reflect the image of God. What I don’t understand is what basis you would have to reject eugenics, since you accept Darwinian evolution while simultaneously maintaining that the Bible contains the error-ridden words of men. If science reveals a more accurate picture about man’s origins than the
          Bible, then why not take your lead about what is good from the
          principles behind the process God himself used?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            I think that if you had a better concept of the nature of biological evolution, instead of caricatures, you might not object to it in the way that you do. The poetry of “nature red in tooth and claw” describes an aspect of nature, which is there whether evolution occurs or not: some organisms eat others, some organisms infect others. The point of evolution is not that such devouring is in some sense morally “good” but that organisms which have advantages that allow them to survive – greater resistence to infection, greater speed, etc. – survive and thus are more likely to pass on their genes to the next generation. So too those organisms that learn to create strong bonds of cooperation that enable them to work together to survive where individually they might perish.

            I don’t see how any Christian would find such a process any more abhorrent than any other about which they say “in all things God works for good…”

            But of course, I am talking about biological evolution, and you are talking about the caricature of “Darwinism” which exists only in the minds and writings of cdesign proponentsists.

            • Kaz

              At the heart of Darwinism is the notion that there are mutations that render living organisms more likely to survive, while others render them less likely to survive (some would likely render survival downright impossible). One of the benefits of this process is that the non-preservation of organisms with detrimental mutations can help to reduce the recurrence of the specific detrimental mutations that lead to the initial extinction in question. Since this is part of God’s good process, why wouldn’t it naturally follow that it might be a very fine thing to help that process along if you are able?

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                I still don’t think I understand. Do you deny that there are genetic issues and external illnesses that cut short lifespans? Or are you denying that they are part of God’s creation?

                I still do not understand your objection, but it seems that even if we were to sort out who you think created viruses and bacteria and genetic abnormalities and everything else, you will still be arguing an ought from an is, in making your dubious argument from biology to eugenics.

                • Kaz

                  I’m obviously doing a terrible job in helping you to understand my point, and I’m not confident that restating it will help. It isn’t important.

              • rmwilliamsjr

                re:
                At the heart of Darwinism is the notion that there are mutations that render living organisms more likely to survive,

                you need to review the scientific literature because this is simply not true.

                evolutionary fitness is a measure of an organism survival to reproduce, a measure of it’s contribution to the next generation.

                a simple pushing definitions to their limits will demonstrate this.
                suppose there is a mutation that causes a 200 year life expectancy but makes you sterile. it has 0 fitness, OTOH suppose there is a mutation that causes a 20 year life expectancy but every egg within a mile is fertilized on your 18th birthday if your a male, or if a female you are pregnant on your 18th. that fitness is pretty close to 1.

                fitness is not differential survival but differential reproductive success.

              • Susan Burns

                Then you would be playing God. It is unbelievably narcissistic to think you could know the criteria for selection. I suspect your criteria is bigger, faster, stronger.

  • Kaz

    So love didn’t exist before the emergence of man?

    • Susan Burns

      A “proto-love” exists in every mammal. A mother nurses her young and protects her young with her life. The more helpless the infant at birth, the more “love” is expended by the mammal mother to her offspring.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I don’t know that we can say that love does not exist other than in humanity, and I didn’t understand that to be the point. But I would certainly be happy to say that love, compassion, and other such things have achieved an unprecedented level through the self-awareness and our increased awareness about one another that is an aspect of our present human situation. I don’t think any other species tells a parable like the Good Samaritan or acts inspired by such a story in the way that humans do, to give but one example that somewhat resembles what is depicted in the poster.

    • Kaz

      If love exists outside of the realm of human beings, then what do you think the odds are that a creature could evolve by unguided processes that would just so happen to perceive such an immaterial abstract entity?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        I don’t think I understand the question. If other beings evolved to experience love, then presumably as many as did so perceive it. Are you asking how frequent I think that is? I don’t see how we could tell, except to estimate by extrapolating from what seem to be loving behaviors. But in the absence of verbal communication, I don’t see how we could really answer what I think your question is asking.

        • Kaz

          I’m asking what you think the odds are that a purely materialistic process could give rise to creatures who are able to apprehend abstract entities such as love? I suspect that the odds are essentially zero, but I’m curious what you think.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            It depends what you mean by “purely materialistic.” Clearly matter is capable of being organized into persons and other organisms that can reproduce, and brains that think and love, not to mention computers that can mediate conversations like this one. And so matter seems to have the potential to do and to be an astonishing range of things. And so this makes me think once again that there must be something I am missing in your question. If we as matter do these things, and feel these things, and reflect on these acts and feelings, then the potential for matter to do that can be said with hindsight to be 100%. But if you are asking whether the emergence of these emergent properties is probable, that I cannot say, since we only have one world capable of life that we have been able to examine in detail, and it has life that loves, but that is anecdotal evidence. :-)

            • Kaz

              Yes, we apparently aren’t connecting again. This in itself is fascinating, as it may be additional evidence that reveals just how much our worldview affects our perceptions. Had William Lane Craig or the late Greg Bahnsen read my question, I suspect that either of them would have known immediately what I was getting at, while you, another intelligent man, regularly miss my points. No doubt some of this is because I haven’t always communicated as clearly as I could have. However, I suspect that a large part of our problem is worldview related.

              So, to clarify, I’m not asking whether it’s possible for beings _composed of matter_ to apprehend abstract entities such as love. Rather, assuming that love exists outside of human experience (e.g. that “God is love” [1 Jn 4:8] and that His angels apprehend this), I’m asking:

              What do you think the odds are that _purely material processes_ could give rise to just that type of creature who is capable of apprehending such abstract entities?

              To me, our very ability to apprehend things like love, morality, good, evil, screams teleology so decisively that it simply isn’t plausible that naturalism can account for it.

              • Kaz

                Ok, “are” and “could” may be misleading. Let me restate the question:

                What do you think the odds were that _purely material processes_ would have been likely to give rise to just that type of creature who is capable of apprehending
                such abstract entities?

                Your inclination may be to say 100%, because, in your worldview, we _did_ emerge via purely natural processes, and we _do_ apprehend such abstract entities. But from my worldview, we did _not_ emerge via purely natural processes, and so I’m posing the question in relation to statistical probability just to get you pondering the problem.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  I don’t see the problem that you think is self-evident, if your language is anything to go by. We human beings love, and we are material beings and that love is just one of many transcendent realities that emerge from the material processes that make up human beings. But because those aspects of existence are so important, and so precious, for some reason you feel compelled to disconnect them from the material realities that make up our humanity, and the material processes that led to our existence in the form in which we find ourselves. But this is not an either/or situation, and I do not understand your desire to try to force it to be one.

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:
                  _purely material processes_

                  what exactly is a purely material process?
                  is this a claim that modern evolutionary biology makes a sufficiency claim that life evolved from NOTHING BUT matter in motion?

                  it doesn’t, science doesn’t make any sufficiency claims, it makes provisional, as far as we know, to a level of beyond reasonable doubt, we are reasoning to the best explanation as currently available types of arguments. philosophy and religion make NOTHING BUT types of claims however, claiming absolute knowledge and certainty versus science’s confidence.

                  perhaps you are mistaking your religious certainty for science’s confidence, unfortunately, they are not the same thing.

      • rmwilliamsjr

        re:
        evolve by unguided processes

        evolution does not propose “unguided process” but rather a process which by increasing the fitness of individuals over time allows an increasing match of a species to it’s environment. imagine increasing fitness as a set of ever enclosing walls and a better match of a species/niche as the unintended but real objective. there is no invisible hand at work, but the task gets done nonetheless.


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