Evolution Vs. God?


August 21, 2012 by mattfradd

The theory of evolution proposes an explanation for how life in general and mankind in particular arose. It holds that that there was a long period in which natural processes gave rise to life and to the different life forms on earth.

This in no way conflicts with the idea of God. As the omnipotent Creator, he is free to create either quickly or slowly and either directly or through intermediate processes that he sets up.

He can even do a mixture of these things, such as creating the universe in an instant (as apparently happened at the Big Bang) and then having it experience a long, slow process of development giving rise to stars and planets and eventually life forms including human beings.

He can even intervene periodically in these processes going on in the universe, such as when he creates a soul for each human being or when he performs a miracle.

From its perspective, science can learn certain things about the laws governing the universe and the processes occurring in it. But that does nothing to eliminate the idea of God, for the question remains: Why is there a universe with these laws and these processes in the first place?

Consider an analogy: Suppose that after a thorough and lengthy scientific investigation of the Mona Lisa, I concluded that it was the result of innumerable collisions of paint and canvas which gradually went from indecipherable shapes and colors to a beautiful and intriguing picture of a woman.

My analysis of the painting may be correct. That is, in fact, what the Mona Lisa is and how it developed. But it by no means disproves nor makes unnecessary Leonardo Da Vinci as the painter behind the painting.

Furthermore, if we were the product of a purely random processes then we have good reason to doubt our mental faculties when it comes to knowing the truth. Why? Because our mental faculties would be the result of a random evolutionary process which is aimed, not at producing true beliefs, but at mere survival. But if that were the case then why should we trust the idea that we are the product of purely random factors? The mental processes leading to this conclusion would not be aimed at producing true beliefs.

Charles Darwin seems to have understood this when he wrote:

“With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

This worry disappears if God was guiding whatever process led to us and if he shaped the development of the human mind so that it was aimed at knowing him, and thus knowing the truth.

12 thoughts on “Evolution Vs. God?

  1. Paul S. says:

    An explanation of Original Sin in lieu of evolution of man would be appropriate I think. That’s where a lot of people lose it.

  2. mattfradd says:

    Thank you Paul & Phillip. In his encyclical, “Humani Generis” Pope Pius XII writes:

    “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty.

    For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

    Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”

    Is this a help?

    • mattfradd says:

      In the fifth session of the council of Trent, it states:

      If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,–which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, –is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be [Page 23] saved. Whence that voice; Behold the lamb of God behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other; As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ.

    • Paul S. says:

      Great response. Thank you.

  3. Great article. Really.

  4. The only people who have a problem reconciling evolution and creation are fundamentalists on each side – religious fundamentalists who believe the Book of Genesis is a science text with a 100% accurate scientific explanation of creation, or fundamentalist scientists who believe that one cannot believe in God and science at the same time, that one precludes the other. I always say that “truth” cannot contradict “truth.” If we have a religious truth and a scientific truth that seem to conflict, it ony means that there’s something about one or the other – or even both – that we as yet do not know. Eventually, they will agree. Furthermore, as a Christian, I am not in the least worried that some scientist is going to disprove the existence of God. How can knowledge of his creation prove He doesn’t exist?

    • Rachel says:

      Exactly Father! I dont get why some people cant accept that God and Theory of Evolution/Big Bang Theory arent mutually exclusive – and thats on both sides of the fence.

  5. […] I posted an article entitled “Evolution Vs. God?” This opened up a lively discussion on the Biblical account of creation. In this article […]

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