God and Evolution Don’t Mix

July 10, 2011

Is God involved in any way with natural evolution?  There's zero scientific support for that notion.  But some theologians still press on.  They love the idea of allying with science, but I suspect that they haven't carefully thought through the implications for religion.

Religion promises not merely a God responsible for creation, but also for morality.  If a God has been using natural evolution to produce humanity, what would this God’s morality be like?  

Remember that natural evolution does not regard any species or any individual as special at all.  All life must be sacrificed sooner or later to more life – and suffering and death is essential to this process.  Basically, all life must struggle, die, and get eaten.  Furthermore, no species is really the “purpose” or “point” of evolution:  evolution is a grand thermodynamic process without ultimate aim or direction.  Evolution just maximizes one thing in diverse ways – capacity for reproductive survival in whatever environing niche is available. 

Life depends on evolution, but living a good life is more than just reproductive success. Things that we value may not be valued by evolution in general, and things evolution prioritizes may not be prioritized by us.  It's our bigger brains that permit us to think first and act second, at least occasionally.

Humans have to use our brains, but we can't get too impressed with ourselves.  Intelligence, for example, is just one strategy for survival of a species.  And it is not clear that intelligence pays off in the long run.  Very few species have ever gone far down the path of relying on high intelligence, among the many millions of species that have ever lived.  If intelligence were so great for survival, the dinosaurs would have evolved it among some of their species – they had 200 million years to do it.  Mammals did it -- a few species of mammals, after around 100 million years of existence.  Mammals didn’t do it while surviving under the pressure of surviving the tyranny of the dinosaurs.  And mammals only did it a few times since then (in the high intelligence of dolphins, primates, elephants, etc.). 

From an evolutionary standpoint, there is nothing unusual about the human species except for its intense sociality and recent development of technology.  And don’t be quick to say that our sociality and technology is surely the guarantee of humanity’s long-term survival on this planet.  Over-population or technology may be our doom.  But don't blame evolution.  Evolution by itself has not been trying to produce humanity, and evolution may yet prove less than 'impressed' with humanity's intelligence. 

If God was trying to produce us through evolution, what does that tell us about a God that would use that method?  Here’s some suggestions: 

A.  God prefers diversity, not heights of intelligence or self-awareness. God does not prioritize creatures that can know God and praise God. 

B.  God is quite comfortable with endless horrible struggle and suffering. 

C.  God is quite comfortable with death – lots of it. 

D.  God likely has plans for the future evolution of life that don’t involve humanity.  

E.  God probably is just using us to later get whatever kind of life He really wants. 

What is God really up to?  Maybe God is slow-breeding angels.  Or cyborgs.  Or the Singularity.  Maybe God doesn’t want worshippers – maybe God is seeing if He/She/It can eventually create another fellow God.  There have been science fiction scenarios exploring what God may actually be up to, in the very long run. 

What sort of God prefers to rely on natural evolution?  It may not be a God that anyone could really worship.  It may not be a God that can supply any model for our own moral principles.  Should anyone try to be like this God?  Theologians had better re-check their thirst for an alliance with science.  And religious believers should think first before buying into rosy visions of a loving God behind the heartless process of evolution.



#1 jerrys on Monday July 11, 2011 at 1:17pm

I agree that if there is a god we should be able to learn about it from the way the world is, and evolution is a part.  But I don’t think reconciling a loving god with evolution presents any more difficult a problem for theologians than does the problem of evil, or the manifest fact that the clear evidence is that god doesn’t want us to know it exists.  If theologians can argue” their way around the world as it exists today then the history of life on earth ought to be a “piece of cake”.

#2 don cain (Guest) on Monday July 11, 2011 at 3:14pm

I am seeking a factual basis for atheism.  Is there one?  What is it?

#3 Thomas (Guest) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 at 8:25am

What do you by a “factual basis”?  Atheism at its simplest is merely the realization that there is no “factual basis” for the existence of God.  Perhaps you ought to think about joining the Center for Inquiry forum if you want to know more.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.