June 12, 2014

In Their Own Words III: According To Their Kind and Type

Simon Conway Morris is a British paleontologist and Cambridge professor. He is a Christian so he is actively involved in various science and religion debates. Some of these debates include arguments against intelligent design on one hand and against materialism on the other. He has repeatedly made several claims that evolution is compatible with belief in the existence of God (I'm not so sure). The reason I mention him is because there is a common hypothesis/thesis that formed the premise of Simon Conway Morris’ book: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.

In his book, Morris alludes to and traces an apparent “scheme” or “thread” in evolutionary history which seems to converge inevitably on the human species, contradicting the claims made by biologists like John Maynard Smith and Stephen J. Gould of “Cambrian Explosion” and “Punctuated Equilibrium” fame that humans are a product of mere chance and mutations. In philosophy Morris' belief is called determinism. 

Determinism of course requires some form of intent (i.e.: design). It is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere "possibility" and essentially requires there is exactly one way for the world to be. In layman's terms I would stretch this to call it an intended plan. Why? Because the Bible tells me that's exactly what it is. As a matter of fact, the Bible explicitly tells me that some things are predetermined or predestined (not all, that would be fatalism). Some secular philosophers will argue that scientific determinism and theological determinism are different but I view them exactly the same since God is sovereign over all things. Therefore it makes all of this a theological issue for me.
Romans 8:29-30 ~ For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
In Morris' opinion the animal kingdom or natural world is filled with commonalities or what amounts to strange coincidences which seem to imply a proclivity in the evolutionary process to purposefully produce certain “types” or “kinds” of creature. Morris’ own quote in his book sums up his thesis very succinctly:
“If brains can get big independently and provide a neural machine capable of handling a highly complex environment, then perhaps there are other parallels, other convergences that drive some groups towards complexity. Could the story of sensory perception be one clue that, given time, evolution will inevitably lead not only to the emergence of such properties as intelligence, but also to other complexities, such as, say, agriculture and culture, that we tend to regard as the prerogative of the human? We may be unique, but paradoxically those properties that define our uniqueness can still be inherent in the evolutionary process. In other words, if we humans had not evolved then something more-or-less identical to us should have emerged sooner or later.” Simon C Morris- [Life’s Solutions: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, Cambridge University Press (2004) p. 196.] 
Not only does this thesis seem incompatible with the premise of pure chance on which macro-evolution depends, it effectively counters it. It essentially asserts that a being evolved and as advanced as a human is not just pure chance or a possibility but more of a deliberate probability. It also bolsters the biblical account of the creation of plants and animals by asserting that beings in the plant and animal kingdom tend towards certain “kinds” or "types" that seem to follow a preordained pattern or dare I say it...a plan.
Genesis 1:20-25 ~ “And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

What we see here is that even some modern scientific adherents to Darwin’s evolutionary theory are now beginning to question its core tenets and validity. It is possible that science is catching up to the commonsense of the Bible because of the common sense of a few Christian scientists. It could be that they are beginning to augment an all empirical or naturalistic explanation with metaphysical talking points too. 

In my humble opinion, even Morris' theory doesn't go far enough to align itself with the Bible. Sadly, Morris' theory also leads to the implied assumption (unbiblical I might add) that man would probably not be unique in their evolved self-consciousness and that anything would've eventually been substituted in the human's place. The Bible is clear that man is created in God's image and therefore unique. Because of this I have to give Morris an "A+"for the intellectual effort of trying to merge a Christian and scientific worldview but a "D-" for cogent result. It appears his statement only gets us halfway there because of flawed presuppositions. The flaw is that evolution may not even have been necessary to get us where we are now. I suggest that he his clinging too tightly to a theory that may have outlasted its usefulness. Perhaps people should go out in search of a better hypothesis? 

Perhaps by thinking outside the antiquated century old box of choking restrictions imposed by evolutionary theory, someone will come up with a better theory entirely. Maybe a paradigm shift in thinking might even be in order to align with the Bible this time (probably not). If more people would've spent more time trying to harmonize a Christian and scientific worldview instead of deliberately segregating them, I believe we would've had a much better holistic explanation than Morris'.

Regardless, it appears that even the sacred theory of evolution is…evolving. If by evolution, it is an increase in knowledge by including God back into the explanation not pushing Him farther out. Anything else should be considered devolution and the exclusion of a large portion of reality.


barbie pauly said...

I hope my response is intelligent enough for you,lol! I think Darwin challenged God's boundaries, figured it out as he went along, & really did repent as reported by Lady Hope in the local church magazine article that makes hot-headed evilutionists go nuts in YouTube comments sections whenever believers mention all this! :)

Andy Pierson said...

Good to hear from you Barbie! Yes,evolution is dead against what is in the Bible and I believe that is the way they want it. Blessings Barbie. Andy

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