God and evolution (Evolution)

by dhw, Friday, March 24, 2017, 12:39 (66 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: But your hypothetical explanation for the delay is that it may have been caused by God’s limitations, which can only mean there were difficulties he could not overcome for 3.X billion years.

DAVID: I do not accept limitations out of God's control as you imply. I merely suggest it as one approach to interpretation of the history.

I thought you had offered it as a hypothesis to explain why, although his purpose was to produce humans, he waited 3.X billion years - designing countless other life forms, lifestyles and natural wonders - before doing the one thing he wanted to do. However, when I offered it to you as a hypothesis, you rejected it on the grounds that “any power that can produce a fine-tuned universe can then see to the creation of humans without difficulty.” You are therefore left with only one hypothesis: namely, that he is all-powerful and chose to wait 3.X billion years before doing what he wanted to do. But you cannot find any reason for this.

In my last post, the other contradiction I pointed out to you concerned your vacillation between a God with attributes and a God without them, and I’ve been trying to work out just what underlies all these contradictions. In particular, why you suddenly brought pantheism into the discussion. I’ll offer you my thoughts, in the hope that this might make for a clearer picture. I had said that this was irrelevant to the subject of God and evolution, but I now see that it’s not.

The pantheist God is without attributes, and might just as well be called Nature. Some folk regard pantheism as a form of atheism, since it denies the existence of a personal God. That is the sort of God which most of the time you are advocating. Supposing for a moment, then, we substitute “Nature” for God, so that we rid ourselves entirely of attributes. Nature is impersonal. It does what it does, and we cannot always explain why it does what it does. It has produced billions of life forms, lifestyles and natural wonders extant and extinct. And it has produced humans.

So far, this would appear to fit in with your own concept of God. But you want to go further. Your God is a “He” and your God “wants” something, and (in yesterday’s post) you are sure not only that what your God wanted was to produce humans, but also that he had a reason for doing so. This is the point at which you abandon the pantheist concept and embrace a personal God – personal in the sense that it has a specific intention in its mind. And this is where the two subjects overlap: 1) Why has evolution proceeded in the way it has? 2) If your God is not just impersonal Nature but is manipulating Nature (your panentheistic God is outside as well as inside), what IS his purpose? And the moment you give God a purpose, you have to humanize him, and you plunge into the two problems we keep being confronted with: 1) if all he wanted was humans, why the delay? 2) If he has a purpose in creating humans, what is it? This is when you the panentheist scurry back to impersonal pantheism, because although you are happy to offer possible purposes (wanting a relationship, wanting us to solve problems, alleviating his own loneliness)...well, I’ll leave it to you to explain why you acknowledge that “He” must have a purpose but you would rather not discuss it.

It seems to me that this leaves two possibilities. Either 1) you settle for the pantheistic God of Nature, without personal attributes, and so without a personal plan hatched for personal reasons right from the start, with all of creation geared to that one personal desire. Or 2) you settle for a personal God who designed life for personal reasons. If it’s the latter, any one of my three theistic hypotheses will explain why evolution took the course it did, all three allow for your God being in charge, and all three provide a clear explanation for the late arrival of humans – which did not “make sense” to you, by which you meant you could not find a clear explanation.

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