On Theistic Evolution, A Generic Criticism And A Proposed Paradox – Part 1

PREMISE

This article does not have the goal to strictly “debunk” theistic evolution or to show it’s inconsistency with Christian belief (judgment from which I shall abstain in this specific article), but simply show several weaknesses in the belief of certain theistic evolutionist. My hope is that theistic evolutionists may reconsider their precedently unquestioned confidence in theistic evolution, which will hopefully and ultimately lead them to a serious reconsideration of the Intelligent Design movement and its arguments.

 

INTRODUCTION

In this article, I want to present the result of a long thought process I underwent in the past few weeks regarding the explanatory power of theistic evolution. The thesis I shall be defending in this article is the following:  theistic evolution is not an explanatory device that can be used to overcome problems pertaining to naturalistic evolution because either it coincides with it or ends up  being an inconsistent theory.

Throughout the article, all of this will result more clear to the reader. For now, let me just say that the defense of my thesis will conclude that theistic evolution is not, unlike common belief, a position which lies in between naturalistic evolution and creationism.

Depending on how theistic evolution is interpreted, the theory either coincides with naturalistic evolution or it coincides with a needlessly invasive form of progressive creationism.

A person might ask himself why write something like this. What weight could your conclusion possibly have within the debate of biological origins? The answer is very straightforward: I heard too many times, brothers and sisters in Christ answer significant challenges posed by the Intelligent Design movement (which I passionately adhere to) with regard to the theory of evolution with the following simplistic sentence: “It is obvious that biological structures didn’t just arise by pure chance! No intelligent person would believe that! We believe in guided evolution, an evolutionary process guided by God!

The scope of this article will show the internal inconsistencies of this very answer. Either the theistic evolutionist has to believe that naturalistic evolution is true and plausible or he has to reject evolutionism as a whole, including his understanding of theistic evolution.

This entails that a person cannot use theistic evolution to safeguard evolutionism from scientific objections while remaining consistent with his evolutionary beliefs.

Let me anticipate that this article will not have the primary scope of proving the supremacy of the Intelligent Design Theory over the Naturalistic Neo-Darwinian Synthetic theory of Evolution, but simply the intention to criticize its inconsistent use in the debate of origins.[1]

 

DEFINITIONS

To develop and make clear my thesis let me first define some terms:

theory of naturalistic evolution: the theory which claims that all life forms arose naturalistically from simpler life forms via random mutation and natural selection. Such attempt to reduce life forms to “bottom-top causality” ultimately leads to the belief that all life arises gradually and in a continuous way from a common ancestor which is ultimately the simplest life form possible, given the further contention that it would have to have arisen from non-living matter.

So we can summarise the theory of naturalistic Darwinian evolution as the claim that

1) the formation of new life forms proceed from the process of natural selection operating upon random mutation.

2) life arises from a common ancestor

I shall call throughout the article, the former claim as the “first pillar” of evolutionism, while the latter as the “second pillar” of evolutionism

philosophical creationism: in this article, I will intend the term “creationism” solely as the theory that claims that all life forms arose from the creative act of a Creator, a theistic God. For this reason, I preceded the term with the term “philosophical” to indicate it’s appartenance to the realm of natural theology and not necessarily biblical theology.  The term, therefore, will not have the common Christian implications of a literal interpretation of Genesis, the age of the earth, the veracity of the Bible etc.

By saying that all life arose from a creative act I do not necessarily assert these possibly purported entailments:

1) God created everything at the same time or within a small time frame
2) God created directly every single living form

The form of broad “creationism” I am defending allows speciation and adaptation brought about by a decrease/selection of pre-existent genetic information and therefore the possibility of a common ancestor among a determined species/genus/family[2].

This form of Creationism is therefore nothing but a synthesis of scientific conclusions (the inference of an intelligence) which arise from ID argumentations and philosophical conclusions which address the nature and attributes of the intelligent agent concluding that the theistic God is the most plausible explicans of the datum we are trying to explain.

-theistic evolution: the theory which tries to reconcile the theory of evolution with God. Such reconciliation does not subsist in simply positing the truth of both God and evolution, but by positing a specific relationship between the two. God, in his sovereign providence, guides evolution to its final end: the formation of biological organisms which glorify him, in particular, mankind. In this theory, the evolutionary process is therefore guided by God; Directed in such a way that His original end may be accomplished.

Throughout the article, I will define many other terms, but for now, I think we have sufficient tools to delve into this quest.

 

INTRODUCING THE PARADOX PART 1

Now, the whole article hinges upon what is meant by the terms “guided” and directed” and what explanatory power people want to attribute to the theory of theistic evolution.

So how can theistic evolution be intended and used?

Here are the different options which arise from an inference via dichotomic reasoning:

Or

1) God guides evolution in such a way that evolution would have happened regardless of his guidance

or

2) God guides evolution in such a way that evolution would have not occurred or would have occurred differently without his guidance

For simplicity, throughout the article I will refer many times to these two options simply as “theory 1)” and “theory 2)”.

Given the apparent jointly exhaustiveness of proposition 1) and 2), (given by would/ would not) I believe this dichotomy is a true dichotomy in the sense that, if theistic evolution is true, then, necessarily, 1) or 2) is true.

The paradox continues in the following way: but theory 1) is false and theory 2) is highly implausible, therefore, Theistic evolution is either false or highly implausible.
I hold, as mentioned in the introduction, that if the reader were to not accept this last conclusion (i.e. the actual paradox), the article would still instill epistemic uncertainty in the theistic evolutionist given that I will show how certain improbable entailments of theory 1) and 2) will have to follow necessarily. The argumentations, in fact, would nonetheless call the theistic evolutionist to hold on to his prior beliefs with a conviction that he ought to have a higher and more sophisticated level of warrant given the high burden of proof that lays on him.

 

ANALYZING THEORY 1) AND IT’S ENTAILMENTS

So, if 1) is true, then

a) evolution is a theory that has to explain itself naturalistically. If in fact God’s guidance is not really relevant or determinant, the theory of theistic evolution, on a physical level, is identical to naturalistic evolution. A helpful, although slightly imperfect, analogy may be the following: imagine you had your son riding a bicycle, and you, the father, were to lay your hand on your kid’s shoulder without providing any strength or pressure. Your hand is following the kid’s direction so that you and your kid are moving in the same direction. In this case, because the father’s hand has no physical influence on the kid’s movement, the kid’s movement has to be explained physically without the father’s hand as part of the explicans.

In version 1) of theistic evolution God would have to have the equivalent role of the father’s hand given his non-determinant influence of what he is “supervising”. Such form of behavior entails the claim that evolution is able to explain itself entirely without God, which presumably means entirely on a physical level. Such theory would equate naturalistic evolution in the context of its explanatory elements, which entails the following proposition:

a1) the random origin of complex biological features has to be maintained, God therefore simply “supervised” something which is not directed.

Given this, it is clear that if a) and a1) is true, then it follows that

b) a scientific criticism directed towards the evolutionary theory counts as a potential defeater to this form of theistic evolution.

Given modus ponens, and assuming the truth of 1), we can infer that:

-if 1) then a)
-if a) then b)
-1) therefore[3] a)
-a) therefore b)

Proposition b) should already, per se, help the theistic evolutionist who believed (knowingly or not) in “theory 1” and at the same time gained confidence in the evolutionary mechanism from God’s guidance to question his unquestioned certainty. Maybe this version of theistic evolutionism is susceptible to a greater amount of criticism than it was previously thought.

In any case, in a subsequent section of the article I will actually try to argue that there is, in particular, one argument which acts as a defeater towards naturalistic evolution and therefore theory 1). Such argument is the Douglas Axe discovery which I will present throughout this article.
But, besides this, what is the very essence of the argument I will soon present?

The main problem with theory 1) as you will see, is the lack of synthetic ability of the mechanism of evolution to produce meaningful genetic code.
We can say:

-evolutionary process requires the production of meaningful genetic code
-the evolutionary theory cannot account for the production of meaningful genetic code
-therefore the evolutionary theory cannot explain the entailment (the production of meaningful genetic code) of what it implies ( the evolutionary process).

I hold the first premise to be uncontroversial and also the last if the second premise were shown to be true. The second premise will be the essence of the defense of Axe’s discoveries. 

But beyond the paradox and its scope, there is a further point to be made. These last considerations put to light the inconsistency of the belief that a theistic evolutionist who holds to Darwinism can also believe in purpose-driven design. If the outcome of present and past biological organisms which have lived would have happened regardless of God (which points to the fact that it happened without God’s influence), what we have is a product of chance, a casualty that God allowed to happen. God could also give the assent of his will to what would happen independently from his active will, but nonetheless, we would not be able to assert that the patterns of design we see are so because God purposely willed them. If God allowed the process of Darwinism, He allowed a “random” process. The trees you see, the complexity of the life forms you witness are not designed for His greater glory, neither there are made for human delight nor they are made out of love. They are simply allowed, just as He allows people’s sin.

Now, a person could say that the passive will of God could sovereignly allow a random process making it necessarily reach purpose-driven goals. But as I show further down the article (see section “A Defense of propositions e) and f)”, such thing is not possible (His passive will, in fact, could not have selected specific purpose driven outcomes given the generality of the axiom on which it operates). If God had desired a purpose-driven outcome such as the one of the appearance of design and biological complexity, He would have had to intervene with his active will. To intervene with His active will means to directly contradict the definition of version 1) of theistic evolution (i.e. God guided the process in a way that it would have happened regardless of his guidance).
I know this can sound confusing, but as you will continue reading, the distinction between the active and passive will and their consequences will result more and more clear.

 

ANALYZING THEORY 2) AND ITS ENTAILMENTS

On the other hand,

if 2) is true, then c) evolution does not have to explain itself entirely via naturalistic/physical causal explanations.

If the father’s hand were to act a force in a determinant way, it would mean that without that hand the movement of the kid would be altered or possibly interrupted (otherwise the hand would not be determinant). In the same way, God is and can qualify as an explicans for a lot of seemingly scientific/physical problems.

And if c) is true, then d) a scientific criticism directed towards the evolutionary theory does not really counts as a defeater or a potential defeater to the theory, given the powerful explicans which God is. Such explicans (i.e. God) would, in fact, be easily able to overcome scientific riddles.

Again, given modus ponens, and assuming the truth of 2) we can confidently state that:

-if 2) then c)
-if c) then d)
-2) therefore c)
-c) therefore d)

If 2) is true, as we already said, “evolution does not have to explain itself entirely via naturalistic/physical causal explanations” (point c). But 2) has also another logical entailment, which we will call e) which proceeds from the concept that evolution would not have been the same or at all existent without the guidance of God. So what is the proposition e) which I believe follows from 2)?

Here it is:

e) God’s active will has to be involved in the evolutionary process, for something which should not have happened, happens.

A state of affairs is in fact “overthrown”[4] (we can call such state of affairs “y”) via the actualization of another state of affairs[5] (we can call such state of affairs “z”) which would be actual only thanks to the intentional, purposeful and specific will of God to actualize “z” instead of “y”, which would have been actual God had not intervened in the way just defined.

Such divine intervention entails the proposition f) which is that “God is intervening miraculously in His creation to actualize the evolutionary process”.

While all of this seems to make logical sense, is this actually sound? I think so, and I shall soon show why.

 

A DEFENSE OF PROPOSITIONS E) AND F) AND THEIR ENTAILMENTS

I use the term “miraculously” in proposition f) because the action needed from God to supply the incapability of a random process to produce complex features has to be “extra-ordinary”. Let me explain.
While informed Christians maintain that practically everything would not be the same God hadn’t willed it, this very thing happens on a more fundamental level. God is, in fact, the sustaining cause of everything including every process in the universe, as argued by Aquinas mainly in his 1st and 2nd way. In this perspective, we can say that all those things are ordinarily actualized by God.

In this sense, for example, the descriptive law of gravity represents God’s passive will to make things be attracted to a center of mass.
What happens with the laws of physics though is that the outcome is repetitive and therefore represents an ordinary and testable action from God, in which uniform outcomes are produced. In this sense, all science builds upon the passive and sustaining will of God. Such will is so “ordinary” and predictable, that operational science possesses an intelligibility of its own. That means that we can construe descriptive theories, and etiological ones to a certain extent, without the strict need to mention God (we can describe gravity and laws of physics without God to a certain point).
On the other hand, proposition e) which states that “God’s active will has to be involved in the evolutionary process, for something which should not have happened, happens”, somewhat demands a different type of intervention on God’s side. Why?

The reason is that the historical evolutionary process, that is, the descriptive account of the phylogenetic history of biologic life forms isn’t repeatable through a uniform pattern. This is because the evolutionary theory entails numerous, different and multiform outcomes (at least as many as the different types of lifeforms which exist or existed). There is, for example, a set of mutations which causes one particular gene to arise, and another set which causes another gene and so on. Ultimately the genetic code present in every singular living being varies from the ones of other individuals; plus, the genetic code of the singular living being taken in isolation represents itself a lack of complete periodicity.[6]

All of this biological variety therefore clearly isn’t fruit of a regular and singular pattern which produces a repeatable outcome (i.i. What the passive will of God would do).

Ultimately all different life forms, if they want to be accounted by intentionality, cannot be explained by a passive, repeatable process (whether willed by an agent or not). If you want to assess so, you would be holding to theory 1). But, besides this inconsistency, there is a more troubling mistake: every purposeful evolutionary mutation is an extraordinary event given the extremely low improbability of their occurrence. More on this point in the subsequent section of the article “Douglax Axe Discoveries”. With this in mind lets proceed in our reasoning.

Just as a particular car with its multifaceted features cannot be explained by gravity or any casually uniform law (a repeatable process with strictly predictable and uniform outcomes), life forms cannot either[7].

“On the Active and Passive Will of God”
Because I consider this section a digression, I will utilize the cursive

Now, a person might ask “why such a distinction? Why should the uniform be explained by the passive will and the extra-ordinary be explained by the active will?” After having thought about it for a while I think I came up with the fundamental reason which should explain the perplexities expresses in the question.
A pattern which has a repeatable outcome can be willed by God independently from the different consequences which this outcome can have. Let’s take, for example, the law of gravity. God can will such repetitive behavior to be instantiated in matter without “per se” willing all of its several consequences. Consequences such as the allowance of gravity to permit rainfall to supply water to an entire village or to destroy entirely a town with its people in it both arise from the repeatable process of gravity (which allows the rain to reach the ground). Or again, just to complicate things, God can assent through is active will that he will be the first cause of every human movement (see Thomas’s first proof) by actualizing the movement the subject intends to do. In this way, God would implement this broad universal pattern in a way which allows Him to will the pattern or original axiom itself without giving an assent of the will to the specific outcomes. God can ultimately cause the movement of a hand killing a person and the hand of somebody which saves someone’s life.
In this sense, it can be seen how God doesn’t necessarily have to directly will one or the other consequence, whether the good one or the bad one: he can will that the process may remain constant, such as the constant and coherent action of gravity, in every situation regardless of what happens.
In this sense, it can be seen how the evil caused by a constant pattern such as gravity can be tolerated and not willed, for the will is directed to the simple fact that this law ought to be constant and universal. The consequences, therefore, can be seen as a second effect of a willed action which can also not be directly willed, yet tolerated.
On the other side, when we have an extra-ordinary action of God, that action has to be directly willed, for his will cannot be directed towards a more fundamental repeatability (for such repeatability does not exist). Therefore, when a repeatable pattern, such as the one of gravity is interrupted in order to cause something else (let’s say the ascension of Jesus into Heaven) such action has to be willed for the sake of the action itself. We could therefore say that the passive will is permitted by events which qualify as a double effect (one is the repeatability and one is the specific action which flows from it). In this case, God has the power to only passively will, or permit, the second effect which is the action which flows from the repeatability. On the other hand, the will which lays behind a singular, unique and “extra-ordinary” action, commonly speaking qualifies as a singular effect which flows from the will of God. Now a person might ask why would God will in the first place a repeatable outcome in this world, and the answer lies in the fact that consistent behavior allows the study nature, coherency of laws allow sciences, and overall recurring patterns show the world’s logos, that is, it’s ratio and logical structure.
In the case of the process of evolution, we see that every change that would have happened to cause our current biological lifeforms are products of different and unique changes (in particular different and unique mutation which would encode different and unique genes). It is therefore demonstrated that the evolutionary process under theory 2) would have to be actualized by the active will of God.
Forgive me for this further tangent, but what has to be clarified before proceeding, is that God’s passive will, as defined here, allows for God to not want the second effect, but that does not imply He actually does not want it. There are cases, therefore, in which God can bring about an outcome and decree through natural causes. The issue here is that, in this case, to assert this for evolutionism, would be to assert an impossibility for God cannot bring about a contradiction (such as a non repetitive effect from causes which always produce repetitive effects). 

It follows that God would have to intervene in an extraordinary way. In this case, with such sort of intervention, the theory of origins in question, would not have a scientific intelligibility of its own, because God action is unique, directly intentional and willed, supernaturally and unpredictably enforced and therefore cannot be considered natural, but supernatural.

We can therefore conclude that proposition e) entailed by version 2) of theistic evolution contradicts the first pillar of evolutionism which was “the formation of new life form proceeds from the process of natural selection operating upon random mutation” which is deemed by naturalist as the efficient cause which explains how (and also why) life arose.

The contradiction arises because theory 2) entails, as we just saw, the miraculous intervention of God which is a competing cause. It is a competing cause because they both try to address the same thing (i.e. to give an etiological account of origins) while these two explanations are mutually exclusive: something cannot both be a random and a miraculous action from God.

The active will of God in fact intentionally interrupts the “ordinary” to purposefully actualize something “extra-ordinary”.

Even if we were to reformulate the proposition of the first pillar of evolutionism without the word “random” substituting it by “guided” we still have two competing explanations. In fact, a miracle or a set of miracles is not a “process”. Even if singular miracles can add up to a pattern and a thelos we do not have a process which has an intelligibility of its own (that would only be allowed by the passive will of God). To therefore say that these mutations (assuming they really happened by assuming the phylogenetic history of evolutionism, i.e. common descent) are simply “guided” would be misleading.

As shown, given theory 2) God would have to miraculously cause that particular mutation knowing that he would then cause another mutation, which would ultimately culminate in the miraculous formation of complex biological features, throughout several generations.
Important is to state that if someone were to accept theory 2) (i.e. evolution with God’s miraculous intervention), he could then not consistently deny the theory of Intelligent Design, which asserts that biological features are best explained by an intentional mind.

Another important thing to say is that to resort to “second causes” as a way to elude entailments e) and f) is wrong. Whether God used an instrumental cause that would mediate His will with the actualization of the wanted effect or not, no proposition of my argument is denied or contradicted. It follows that my argument remains untouched.

In fact, ultimately, the instrumental cause which God actualized would have to be subject to the very reasoning the presumed evolutionary causes are now being subjected to in this article.

It follows therefore that the instrumental causes would have happened either 1) regardless of God or 2) only with God (which would entail proposition e) and f) anyways given that also those would have to be explained by the active will of God).

These two options related to the instrumental causes equate the propositions which compose the paradox and therefore are subjected to the same sort of criticism.

But to what extent e) and f) are incompatible with the first pillar of evolutionism? It is certainly possible that God used his “extra-ordinary/super-natural” powers to instill change over time only in the cases in which teleological change (i.e. a change which leads to increasingly complex organisms) would not be possible without His intervention. In this case, it could be stated that a certain amount of teleological change could happen “naturalistically” (through the passive will of God) just as believed by theory 1) of theistic evolutionism.

But is such integration of theory 1) and 2) even plausible? No, and the reason is that the naturalistic etiological account of origin (the first pillar) ought to be completely substituted by the more plausible version of God’s active intervention. This means, that if evolution is true, practically every meaningful change would have to have been caused by God’s miraculous intervention. Why? The answer will lie in my brief presentation of the discoveries made by scientist Douglas Axe.

 

DOUGLAS AXE’S DISCOVERIES

This section of the article has three purposes: The first one is to offer an argument which defeats theory 1) of theistic evolution because it would show that evolution does could not work if God were to leave it to naturalistic causes to form biological structures. Consequently, the second purpose would be to prove the part of theory 2) which says that evolution would not have happened without God and ultimately. The third purpose is to provide a tangible example of how proposition e) and f) would have to be applied. This last point will be argued in such a way that it will show how God completely overthrows the first pillar of evolution given that God’s intervention would have to entirely supply to the lack of power of the first pillar of evolution.

Assuming the reader has a basic knowledge of modern genetics I will make only brief background explanations.

Knowing that the genetic code has a semantic value conveyed through an alphabetical sequence (which means that only a specific nucleotide sequence can create a meaningful “word” or gene), scientist Douglas Axe calculated the ratio to which a nucleotide sequence is meaningful to the one in which the sequence is not meaningful. In simple words, the probability of a mutation which brings about meaningful information functions just as the probability of a combinatorial sequence which ought to be found among many others (just as letters which create an English word or numbers which make up the combination of a lock).

The study performed by Douglas Axe can be found in the academic paper “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology 341 (2004): 1295– 1315.

Just as the nature of an alphabetic language would predict, the number of meaningful sequences was incredibly smaller than the non-functional ones. To be precise, Axe discovered that for every meaningful and therefore potentially functional amino acid sequences of 150 amino acids there were 10 to the 77th power non-functional amino acid sequences[8] (which are ultimately dependent upon the nucleotide sequences). By “non-functional sequence” is intended a sequence of amino acids (and ultimately nucleotides) that doesn’t bring about the folding of the relative amino acids in a functional protein. There is therefore 1 possibility out of 10 to the 77th possibilities that a change in the genetic code due to mutations will bring about a new gene and it’s protein. Just to give some perspective, as scientist S. C. Meyer pointed out, our galaxy has 10 to the 65th power atoms.

This is of fundamental importance because natural selection can operate only on what mutations give it, it follows that genetic variability is the only source for meaningful change. Consequently, the debate hinges upon the creative power of mutations.

A non-functional mutation could acquire functional power when combined with even if combined with many other particular mutations, but is this feasible? Douglas Axe argues that it is not. Here is why. A mutation can either modify an already functional genetic sequence or it can modify a non-functional sequence. If you want to try to overcome this probabilistic problem via the former option you will see quite soon why such choice is not a wise one: Douglas Axe in his study “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors” shows how a nucleotide change in the code (which accounts for the existence of a certain gene) is almost certainly going to simply destroy the gene (in the sense that it stops making the coded protein to fold). The big issue with trying to modify existing genes is that, for a change to be beneficial and functional, multiple specific mutations would practically have to happen at the same time, just as, normally, a complex sentence would have to be changed in several parts in order for it to convey a new meaningful proposition. To make it simple, more specific changes would be needed to make a new gene than random changes to destroy one.[9]  On the other side, when mutation operates on a non-functional part of the genome, more of an accumulation process is allowed, that is, less simultaneity of specific mutations is needed. In fact, a non-functional mutation can happen without harming anything in the first place because that section of the genetic code was a non coding one. From that non-functional non-harmful mutation, other mutations could therefore be built upon the former one, presumably throughout several generations. For this reason, most evolutionists opt for the formation of new genes on non coding sections of the DNA, and it is here where the probability of 10 to the 77th applies.[10]

The issue with this second option is that, although you are more likely to not have harmful mutations, you are going to have nonetheless the extreme unlikeliness to form a meaningful genetic code from scratch. And the unlikeliness is the one previously mentioned through Axe’s discovery. Certainly, not all the mutations would have to happen at the same time, but this is far from being a real advantage. In fact, a mutation, which per se isn’t useful, could find a functional role in the distant future through the fortuitous accumulation of just the other right mutations throughout several generations, but, nonetheless, such scenario is unrealistic. Natural selection, in fact, cannot preserve a non-functional gene sequence forkowing that it will eventually become functional so that improbability may be overcome. So what are the probabilities of unlikely scenario to happen?

To answer this question, Stephen Meyer in his book “Darwin’s Doubt” explains how high improbabilities have to be put into perspective via the assessment of the possible trials which would allow chance to cover, in time, the possible contemplated outcomes. If, for examples, you had one possibility out of ten to guess a winning number (a random number picked from the set of numbers which goes from 1 to 10) and you had 10 possibilities to guess the number, the number of trials will eventually exhaust the possibilities rendering therefore possibly actual an outcome however improbable it might have been. So, let take a non-functional genetic sequence and let’s see how improbable it is for it to turn into the 1 out of the 10 to the 77th functional sequences. Now, what are the trials available?

Axe calculated the number of trials relevant to evolutionary history in the following way: first, you take into account the estimated quantity of living organisms that have ever existed since the first living cell. By including even the most numerous life forms such as bacteria, Axe estimated that 10 to the 40th power animals have lived since the first life form. Even by assuming that each animal is an evolutionary ancestor of the other (which is clearly not, but let’s help out our theistic evolutionist friends) and that each generation had one mutation within the hereditary genes[11] to pass to the following offspring, we would only have 10 to the 40th trials to form one single functioning gene! It follows that the probability of forming a single gene, had all the existing life forms tried to produce one by passing random mutations to each other, would be 1 chance out of 10th to the 37th outcomes (i.e. 10 to the 77th minus 10 to the 40th).
And let’s remember that the more we go up the phylogenetic tree, the more it is improbable that a new gene is formed given that the amount of trials is significantly smaller. For example, a new gene that would help enable, for example, water adapting features in certain sea mammals does not have 10 to the 40th trials at “his disposal” (in this case bacteria are far down the phylogenetic tree!).

Further, genes had to exist before 10 to the 40th power of possibilities were exhausted (a number which includes also the latest animals). We had to have several complex genes for example in the first animals, such as vertebrate organisms. Clearly, at that stage, there were not 1 to the 40th trials.

Or again, how was the very first gene formed? Clearly, it did not have that many trials at his disposal.

And let’s remember that this is to form only one single gene! I guess there is more than one gene out there though. Also, there are a lot of proteins which are significantly longer than 150 amino acids. Several proteins reach 400 amino acids for example.

In conclusion, the evolutionary mechanism on natural selection operating upon random mutations .has been shown to be untenable.

Therefore, when high improbability is reached and such improbable outcomes represent a meaningful and specified outcome, we can reasonably infer the presence of intentionality. This inference is the same inference made in the so-called “Fine Tuning” argument defended by several philosophers such as W.L. Craig and others.

We can therefore conclude that, every meaningful evolutionary change would have had to be caused by God, given the universally applicable fact that the formations of new and functional genes are extremely unlikely and therefore, to be actualized (not not mention that they would have to be actualized on a consistent basis to make the whole evolutionary process possible) an intelligent agent as the efficient cause is needed.

Proposition e) and f) are therefore proven to be pervasive in the sense that God’s intervention would have to have happened at least as much as the number of evolutionary mutations happened since the formation of the first singles cell organism.

In conclusion, God’s miraculous intervention, to supply to what Darwinian mechanism cannot create, would have to be continuous and completely substitute the first tenet of the evolutionary theory (the mechanism of mutations and natural selection).

The natural aspect of mutations and natural selection guided by the passive will of God cannot therefore be maintained as we already saw and this leads us to the conclusion the naturalistic evolutionary process has to be completely abandoned regardless of whether inserted in a theory 1) or theory 2) context. The natural process by which evolutionary history could be actualized has been shown to be inadequate.

 

DEVELOPING THEORY 2) AND ITS ENTAILMENTS

Version 2) therefore leads to the refutation that God can at the same time guide in a determinant and meaningful way the evolutionary process, and guided it naturalistically (i.e. passively). It cannot be contemporary true that Darwinism is true, and God guidance of evolution is significant. If you want to maintain Darwinism, you have to adhere to version 1) and all of its implausibilities, regardless of whether God “supervises” such an evolutionary path. If you hold to version 2) you are not believing in evolutionism any more, you are believing in God making million of miracles to create a new species by playing, throughout generations, with the genetic code of other animals.

What would therefore remain about the evolutionary theory to still assess 2)?

What would remain is the phylogenetic history which ultimately reduces the provenance of all life forms to a common ancestor. This means that the second pillar of the evolutionary theory is the remaining aspect which, at least for now, seems to still possibly stand under theory 2). If the natural process by which evolutionism has been shown to not work, a supernatural intervention could  entirely actualize the evolutionary history of life.

In this sense, God would be continuously, gradually and miraculously be intervening in this world to bring about transitional forms, and ultimately new species by willingly and supernaturally causing specific meaningful mutations in biological organisms that will eventually bring about the gradual phylogenetic history described by Darwinism.

But is it coherent to maintain this? Is it legitimate to believe proposition e) and f) and yet maintain what is left of the evolutionary theory? Are we justified in maintaining the belief in common descent if a) methodological naturalism is understood to be false[12] and b) the mechanism of natural selection and random mutations is understood to be false or incomplete?.

My answer is no, we are not justified in holding such compatibilist view because I believe proposition f) to be unwarranted and almost certainly false. Via Modus Tollens, theory 2) will be demonstrated untenable.

To summarize what has been said and what will be demonstrated here is how the formal argument is constructed:

-If 2) then e)
-If e) then f)
-But f) is unwarranted
-If f) is unwarranted then it is almost certainly false
-If f) is almost certainly false, then 2) is almost certainly false.

For clarity and commodity let’s report what propositions 2) and f) are:

2) is: “God guides evolution in such a way that evolution would have not occurred or would have occurred differently without his guidance”.

f) is: “God is [constantly] intervening miraculously in His creation to actualize the evolutionary process”

In the following article I will show how the latter falsifies the former.

In particular, in “part 2” of this series, we will see why proposition f) is unsupported by evidence (which will lead to its unwarrantedness and, ultimately, falsity).

In the meantime, I pray that God may abundantly bless the reader with His most precious love.

 

In Christ, our mighty Creator, 

Amedeo Da Pra

 

[1]  For a complete and free platform which reports and presents peer reviewed articles pertaining the defense of the ID theory advise to download this resource: http://discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=10141

For compete and academic articles regarding ID I advise this link: http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/index or, for a more popthe more popular treatment of the subject, the website https://evolutionnews.org/ and https://www.discovery.org/id/.

[2] the three taxonomic categories here reported are exemplificative, the lack of other more fundamental categories doesn’t necessarily coincide in my denial of the possibility of a more extended common ancestor. The presence of these specific categories reported in the sentence is to be therefore seen more as a prudential and not strictly as an assertive claim.

[3] The extended version of the proposition would be 1) is true therefore a) is true and so on.

[4] the state in which evolution would have been different or not have happened at all

[5] the actual commonly understood evolutionary process which is believe to have happened, but with the “help” of God.

[6] a periodic code would be a singular strict alphabetic pattern which, for the sake of the argument, may be the sort of code that could be generated by a law with repeatable outcomes

[7] and, in particular their genetic code. The repeteability of the genetic code in, for example non coding sequences, cannot count as an argument against this reasoning given that I are arguing for the supernatural genesis of the creating and distinctive sequences that differentiate one animal from another.

[8] To be precise Douglas Axe discovered that there was only 1 sequence out of 10 to the 74th power that would lead to a foldable protein. The reason why we use the “10 to the 77th power” factor is that not all protein folds are functional. Given this, the functional protein folds are represent only 1 code out of 10 to the 77th codes.

[9] For more information on this point, read “Exploring the Conformational Properties of the Sequence Space Between Two Proteins with Different Folds” by Francisco Blanco

[10] Evolutionists usually believe that a functional gene gets duplicated so that changes can happen on one of the two genes without having a loss of function and, at the same time, without having to start from zero to form a new gene. The improbability calculated by Axe includes such scenarios.

[11] This is an extremely generous estimate which favors the evolutionists for two reasons: 1) very often, bacteria, which covers a large part of the total, reproduce by transmitting their exact DNA to their offspring and 2) a lot of the bacterial mutations which happen in their hereditary genes are identical among each other and therefore do not count really as a “different” trial.

[12] given that we are criticizing theory 2) that works on the assumption of God’s intervention

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