Joined: Aug. 2005
In the "Fundamental Religious Argument" comments from PT, (recent posting by Jack Krebs, 350 + comments) I made the following post. It was swamped out by several overlapping and interminable arguments. I'd like to expose it to a lttle scrutiny, and see whether it's a viable part of the arsenal of anti-creationist argumentation, or a non-starter. (I know what you think, GoP, but I'd be happy to let you have it as a punching bag for a minute if you've got any input.)
|The strong theist sees atheist implications of the idea of natural selection, that the fantastic web of biodiversity we see is the product of a process that simply cannot “see ahead.” So, long-term Purpose would seem to be absent. But what makes these people so sure that Divine Purpose would be so easy to detect, were it in fact operative?|
Presumably strong theists believe that God’s purpose is active and ongoing, so why do they not see a problem with our “undirected” economy, in which a large and dynamic construct is the product of short-term decisions made in the interest of individual gain, without top-down oversight? Where is God amidst all this activity by the “Invisible Hand”? If this seemingly purposeless process can be the instrument of providence, why not the short term reproductive advantage of competing lineages?
The only specific reply was this:
|Free will. Most Christian theists dissociate the ‘events’ of their lives - which occur on the basis of free-will, with the ‘value’ of their lives - which depends on God.|
To which I replied:
|Sure. But “God helps those who help themselves,” right? Meaning that a strong theist who works hard, prides himself on honest dealing, and gets wealthy, will certainly “thank God” for his good fortune, even though, looking back, every transaction, every good deal, was made by individuals, with, as you point out, free will, and their own interests at heart. On the surface, this collective outcome would seem as “undirected” as the “good fortune” of human evolution.|
Now, let me be clear. I am not proposing that this analogy "proves" evolution, or "disproves" theism, or anything of the sort. Rather, I am interested in the theist objection to "undirected" processes, and skepticism about the powers of such processes. If the theist is comfortable with God's role in the undirected economy, then why is it so hard to imagine that he has a role in the undirected (in human terms) course of evolution? Why is it easier to imagine god "pulling the strings" in a human sphere (where the agents putatively have free will, by fiat of God no less) than it is to imagine him tinkering in an undetectible way with what looks to us like "unguided" evolution?
The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.