Saturday, May 16, 2009

Inevitable Humans?

Jason Rosenhouse wrote an excellent, right-on-target post about Christianity, Evolution, and the inevitability of humans:

Jerry Coyne has a post up on the subject of whether a highly-intelligent, self-aware species is the inevitable end result of the evolutionary process. He begins:

Over at that hilarious goldmine of accommodationism, Francis Collins's BioLogos website (generously supported by The Templeton Foundation), they have posted an answer to the question, “Did evolution have to result in human beings?” Now if you know anything about this history of faith/science accommodationism, you know that the answer has to be “yes”, at least if you construe the question to mean “Did evolution have to result in a rational, highly intelligent being that was capable of apprehending and worshiping its creator?” If God is running the evolutionary process, as the accommodationists maintain, then the evolution of humans (who are, after all, the goal of this process -- the one species made in God's image) could not have been left to chance.

Get the idea? See the original for appropriate links.

I think Coyne is right both about humans not being inevitable and about the importance of this question to religious folks. If Stephen Jay Gould was right about humans being unlikely to evolve a second time were we to replay the evolutionary process, then Christianity is really in some very serious trouble. It's pretty hard to argue that humans are the point of creation if it's a serious possibility that evolution would never have gotten past the trilobite.

Rather than reahsh that argument, however, I'd like to make a different point. Let us grant for the moment that humans really were the inevitable end result of the evolutionary process. Does that really make Christian theism seem plausible?

I think Christianity has a serious problem either way. If humans were not inevitable, them our cosmic significance is greatly reduced. But if we were inevitable, then why the four billion year preamble to our emergence?

Accepting the Francis Collins / Simon Conway Morris / Ken Miller thesis means that God set in motion four billion years of savage, wasteful bloodsport to reach an endpoint that was foreordained. Why did he do that? Why not simply get to the point and create humans right from the start (just as the Bible says He did)?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Why not simply get to the point and create humans right from the start"

Time may not matter as much as we think.One might ask as to why seven days were taken?