Human origins: theistic evolution



As for Darwin’s classic book, The origin of species, writes Edward Larson in his book Evolution: the remarkable story of a scientific idea:

The origin of species offered a new way of looking at life and reached audiences far beyond the scientific community. It sold out of its initial printing on the first day and was reissued in six revised English versions. editions and eight foreign translations during Darwin’s lifetime.

Since humans have long been classified as animals by scientists, it seemed natural to assume that humans, like other species, had also evolved. In 1871, Darwin published Descendant of man in which he saw humans evolve physically from other animal species by natural selection. For many people – theologians, philosophers, scientists and laypeople – placing humans in the broad evolutionary sequence with other species meant that evolution was linear and gradual: humans were surely the most evolved and represented the pinnacle of creation. . In an article by free survey, Adam Neiblum writes:

“From religious literalism and creationist thinking to the more secular minds of scientists and atheists, most of us believe that evolution is inherently incremental and focused on improvement. It’s not.”

Adam Neiblum also writes:

“Each species is also – and literally – unique by definition. Ours only feels particularly so, and it feels so because of what is essentially a cognitive bias, reaffirmed, encouraged and perpetuated by pseudoscientific origin stories. exceeded.

Some people see humans as a built-in feature of evolution, a feature that was planned when their god set up the process of evolution. In his book Faith versus reality: why science and religion are incompatible, Jerry Coyne writes:

“In other words, big-brained humans, or similar humanoid creatures, were a foreseen result of evolution, and were therefore inevitable.

From this point of view, evolution is seen as gradual with humans –Homo sapiens— as the culmination of a planned process. In other words, humans are the goal of evolution.

This process of evolution by natural selection requires no divine or supernatural intervention. For some people, the idea of ​​evolution resulting from random events threatens their religious beliefs about creation. While some people simply reject the whole concept of evolution and science, others see how evolution might be compatible with their religious beliefs. Edward Larson writes:

“In the United States, at the end of the 19th century, Asa Gray virtually co-opted the term “theistic evolution”‘ for his theory that God guided the evolutionary process by providing beneficial variations to species. In Britain, the Duke of Argyll and St. George Jackson Mivart separately devised alternate versions of theistic evolution in which a knowing God gave direction to the laws of development themselves, so that species evolved over time to adapt to changed conditions. As an explanation of organic origins, however, theistic evolution failed the test of methodological naturalism that had come to define science. It had nearly run its course as a serious scientific theory by 1900, and survived thereafter mostly as an ill-defined popular belief.

Asa Gray (1810-1888) was an important 19th century botanist who served as professor of botany at Harvard for several decades. He insisted that there was no conflict between religion and the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. While Gray was a friend of Darwin, he believed that the conception and evidence of a deity should be seen throughout nature and therefore that God (presumably, the Christian deity) was the actual source of evolutionary change. In his book Dawiniana, he attempted to merge science with Christian theology. Susan Jacoby in her book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism,writing :

“Natural selection could therefore be seen as the mechanism by which God chose to manifest in the physical world.”

The English biologist St. George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900) attempted to reconcile the evolutionary theory of natural selection with his Catholic beliefs. In 1871 he published On the genesis of species and Charles Darwin responded with a point-by-point rebuttal. In his latest books, Nature and Thought (1882) and Origin of human reason (1889), St. George Jackson Mivart denied that evolution could be applied to the human intellect.

In 1885 Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), a well-known Congregation minister, published Evolution and religion in which he viewed evolution as God’s method of creation. According to Beecher:

“It is the duty of friends of simple and pure Christianity to greet the rising light and reveal every element of religious teaching to its wholesome rays.”

In the 20th century, the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) proposed another version of theistic evolution. Daniel Dennett, in his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life, Chardin writes:

“He proposed a version of evolution that places humanity at the center of the universe and discovered Christianity to be the goal – the “Omega point” – toward which all evolution tends.

He sees Christ as a new stage of evolution. The Catholic Church, however, considered his ideas a form of heresy. Not having the right to teach in Paris, he went to China where he spent the rest of his life studying fossils. He died in 1955 and in 1959 his book The phenomenon of man has been published. Neither the scientific world nor the Catholic Church were impressed by this work. Daniel Dennet writes:

“The problem with Teilhard’s vision is simple. He categorically denied the fundamental idea that evolution is a senseless, aimless algorithmic process.

Some see Teilhard de Chardin The phenomenon of man as an example of natural theology while others believe it can be more accurately described as a theology of nature. Ian Barbour, in his book Religion in the Age of Science, writing :

“His unifying vision is indebted to both evolutionary biology and the Christian religion. tradition, and that informs all of his writing.

In 1990, Pope John Paul II of the Roman Catholic Church said that during evolution, when the human line separated from other animals, God inserted a soul into man, distinguishing him so are other animals. Jerry Coyne writes:

“With regard to evolution, the position of the Catholic Church differs from biblical creationism only in the amount of God’s intervention.”

The evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci, in an entry in The New Encyclopedia of Disbelief, sums up theistic evolution thus:

“Theistic evolution comes as close as possible to a completely materialistic vision of the universe for a religious person: God exists and he created the universe, but then events unfold under the action of natural laws (put in place by the Creator , of cours). Evolution by natural selection, therefore, is the way God has decided to make things work in the biological realm.

In his book Deception by Design: America’s intelligent design movement, Lenny Flank sums it up like this:

“There is another school of thought, the ‘theistic evolutionists’, who argue that evolution is simply the method God used to create life, and that there is no conflict between science and the Bible. Almost all mainstream religious denominations (as well as most scientists) are proponents of theistic evolution. Although they may be considered “creationists” because they claim that the universe was created by God, theistic evolutionists are seen by fundamentalists as the “liberal enemy” who does Satan’s work..”

Theistic evolution is not a unified hypothesis but has a number of variations. In some approaches to theistic evolution, people see their god sporadically interfering with evolution, guiding it toward the emergence of humans. Jerry Coyne writes:

“Divine interventions are deemed necessary to ensure both the initial appearance of life and the eventual appearance of humans, for such matters simply could not be left to naturalism.”

There are people who think that their god has constantly guided or modified evolution to ensure human evolution. Jerry Coyne writes:

“These could involve preserving endangered species, creating new mutations, or tinkering with genes or environments. These interventions have two characteristics: they are undetectable, making them impervious to scientific investigation, and they are invariably used to give God a means to ensure the evolution of humans.

For people whose religious beliefs are based on a creator god who created all living things at once as they are today, the basic idea of ​​evolution, including theistic evolution, is frightening and intolerable. For others, the idea of ​​evolution in itself is not the real problem, but rather the idea that humans have evolved in the same way as other species. For these people, theistic evolution – the idea that evolution and especially Human evolution – part of a divine plan of creation makes evolution acceptable. The different versions of theistic evolution, however, are not really supported by scientific findings. For this reason, theistic evolution, along with intelligent design and creationism, are considered religious beliefs rather than scientific hypotheses. Jerry Coyne puts it this way:

“The biggest problem with theistic evolution, as with all attempts to twist theology to fit new facts, is that it is simply a metaphysical addition to a physical theory, a supplement demanded not by evidence but by the emotional needs of the faithful.”

More human origins

Human Origins: Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin

Human origins: Lamarckian evolution

Human origins: sexual selection

Human origins: bipedalism

Human origins: the big brain

Human origins: the great chain of being

Human origins: humans as naked apes

Human Origins: Humans in Transition

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