Thursday, August 11, 2005


Divine Evolution

(A more expanded commentary on Frederick Turner's article can be found over at Gladmanly, our companion blog.)

Frederick Turner is on a mission, and he thinks he’s reached a point of transformation in his ongoing debate. I’m not sure the folks most heatedly in conversation with him agree, but I find his approach a refreshing one to consider.

In his continuing series of articles on Evolution, Turner has now hypothesized a synthetic framework (as in “synthesized,” rather than “ersatz”) for reconciling Evolution and Intelligence Design in Divine Evolution, up at Tech Central Station.

Turner catalogs some areas in which some Intelligent Design proponents are willing to more or less accept some (theoretical) aspects of Evolution, as well as other, broader conceptions found in current astrophysical research.

Turner is hopeful that these developments in the debate may signal the readiness for a conversation, “a fruitful inquiry that includes good biological science but does not exclude the insights of other disciplines.”

Turner suggests an analogy, given the state of today’s science, that is compelling in suggesting design:
But if the true analogy of the watch is not the eye or the flagellum, but the initial parameters of the universe itself, all packed into the atom-sized singularity of the first moment of the Big Bang, perfectly and uniquely fitted to produce orchids and finches and sperm whales and human beings after 13 billion years, one begins to wonder. Doesn't that look a heck of a lot like design?
But Turner doesn’t let the Creationist off the hook either:
What would we say about a creator who started a universe with the evident intention of producing life and intelligence, but who needed to step in every few billion years, or every few seconds, to fix the process, rewrite the program, give the actors new lines, touch up the brushstrokes of the painting, seize the conductor's baton and introduce a new melody?
Turner resolves the dilemma he poses -- but you'll have to follow the link to the Turner piece (or excerpts over at Gladmanly.)

Illumination from Joe Katzman

Joe Katzman, responded to the Turner piece with a post at Winds of Change.
Spiritual progress can be made very complicated, but at its core it's very simple: "be and become more like G-d."
While Joe comes from a different faith tradition than I, what he shares about cultivating a direct relationship with God, and that we must assume responsibility for advancing spiritually, are entirely consistent with the imperatives of my faith as a Christian.

Joe asserts that love and responsibility are a pair of wings we need to fly:
For G-d is not just ultimate love. G-d is also ultimate responsibility. Responsibility requires knowledge, even experience. You know how your parents' decisions start to look smarter as you get older?

So connection with love, removal of ego, humility, clear perception, giving... these are all aspects of the divine.

Understanding, responsibility, learning about creation and what it means to be a creator - these, too, are aspects of the divine.

We are learning that we need both wings to fly.
Joe makes an excellent point on the critical importance of valuing and pursuing spiritual growth and observance. What takes its place if we don’t?
If we renounce the spiritual side or pledge worship to our fellow man, we get hell on earth. The 20th century was one long, eloquent demonstration. As one Jewish scholar put it "The Holocaust may make faith in G-d difficult, but it makes faith in man impossible."
Which, I think, brings us back to the limitations of a purely Scientific Man, who cannot accept the conception of an Intelligent Designer. Faith in God may be difficult, but Faith in Man (alone) is indeed impossible.

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