On Theistic Evolution, A Generic Criticism And A Proposed Paradox – Part 2

INTRODUCTION
In this second part of my criticism towards theistic evolution, I shall delve into what I briefly anticipated I would have done in “part 1” of this series. To recapitulate some useful information, this is what I concluded:
-first, “God’s active will has to be involved in the evolutionary process, for something which should not have happened, happens” (proposition which I labeled as “e)”)
and second,
-“God is [constantly] intervening miraculously in His creation to actualize the evolutionary process” (proposition which I labeled as “f)”).
This brought us to the conclusion that the first pillar of evolutionism, that is, the natural mechanism by which the process can be actualized, does not work.
If a person, therefore, wants to maintain what is left of the evolutionary theory, he can assert only what is remaining. This means that he should hold on to the second pillar of evolutionism (that is, all life arises gradually and transitionally from a common ancestor) while asserting that somehow God constantly and miraculously actualized such process. Ultimately, these people want to reconcile two particular propositions, that is proposition 2) and f).
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 occurred differently without his guidance”.
f) is: “God is [constantly] intervening miraculously in His creation to actualize the evolutionary process”
In this article, I will start showing how the lack of evidence of f) (shown by the lack of evidence of the second pillar of evolution) leads, ultimately to the falsity of 2).

To show the lack of evidence of the evolutionary phylogenetic history (i.e. the second pillar) signifies falsifying the only part left of theistic evolution which could still be true. This will entail the complete abandonment of theistic evolution for a more plausible explanation of origins: philosophical creationism.[1]

DEFINITIONS
To make the text more fluent I will use some terms which have the purpose to encompass a significant amount of non-intuitive meaning. To avoid interrupting the flow of the already poor text which I have written, I will try to define in this section of the article the terms which I consider fundamental.

-”Axe’s requirement”: What Axe’s discoveries entail in the context of theistic evolution version 2). Axe’s requirement would be, practically speaking, the need for God to cause countless specific mutations to actualize the evolutionary tree (i.e. procession of life forms from a common ancestor).

-”Axe’s implication”: Axe’s discoveries discussed in “part 1” shows one fundamental thing: regardless of the theory you hold on to, complex and specified information has to be created by the active will of an intelligence. The genetic code qualifies as complex and specified information and therefore has to be accounted by the active will of a mind, which, most plausibly, is God. The reason is that chance cannot account for the specificity and semantics in such codes as shown by the 10 to the 77th ratio and neither can the passive will of an intellect do so (as shown in the section “A Defense of Proposition e) and f) and their entailments”). Any increase of genetic information shall therefore fall under Axe’s implication, that is, the necessity of an intellect to develop such code. Axe’s implication clearly does not apply to a decrease or a destruction of pre-existing information.

-Supernatural creation: A creative effect brought about by God through his active will. God’s direct creation would have to be supernatural. Axe’s requirement, as proved in “part 1” would require supernatural creation. Such creation can be both “direct” and “indirect” (terms explained later). Supernatural creation has to be brought about by the active will of God.

-Natural creation: A creative effect brought about by God through his passive will, that is a natural process. This is what the theory of Theistic Evolution version 1) would claim. The claimed creative process of random mutations and natural selection would qualify as an “indirect creation” (term explained after). Natural creation can be brought about by the passive will of God.

-Direct creation: God creates something ex nihilo or through pre-existing matter but not intermediary efficient causes. An example of this would be the creation of the universe or the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve. Direct creation has to be, for obvious reasons, a supernatural creation (i.e. there is no natural process which can mediate).

-Indirect creation: God creates something through secondary/instrumental causes. An example of this would be the evolutionary phylogenetic history: one animal comes to be through another animal (i.e. its ancestor). Indirect creation can be either supernatural as in the case of Axe’s requirement or natural as the claimed neo-Darwinian process.

ON THE FALSITY OF 2) GIVEN THE FALSITY OF F)
To reiterate (please forgive me), I will show how it is irrational to believe that God miraculously actualizes the phylogenetic history arising from a universal common ancestor as defined by the theory of evolution.
A PROPOSED ARGUMENT FOR THE FALSITY OF 2) GIVEN THE FALSITY OF F)
To reiterate (please forgive me), I will show how it is irrational to believe that God miraculously actualizes the phylogenetic history arising from a universal common ancestor as defined by the theory of evolution.

This argument, although seemingly straightforward, is divided into several subsections to further facilitate a conceptual schematization and memorization.

 

Part 1: ON WHAT WOULD JUSTIFY THE BELIEF IN COMMON ANCESTRY
To assert conjunctively 2) and f) is to assert the fact that God supernaturally actualized a gradual and transitional creation from a common ancestor via the miraculous actions of actualizing a very specific set of beneficial mutations. But clearly, this somehow ought to be warranted. Why should we believe such a thing? Well, a person would believe such a thing if he held common ancestry to be true. But why should somebody believe in common descent in the first place?
The theory of common descent is justified if we want to explain everything naturalistically through bottom-up causation. The perplexing presence of biological complexity can be theoretically explained naturalistically if such biological structures are gradually reduced to more simple ones, such as the purported first living cell which ultimately arose through material causes. To explain the “more” through the “less” is pretty much what a naturalist ought to opt for; clearly, he cannot say that the “more”/the “complex” came from something even greater, or that explanation would require a greater explanation. Evidently, this chain is interrupted when the “greater” explanation is shown to be a self-sustaining causal agent (I.e. God), but, usually, a naturalist does not take a creationist route.
Given this logic, usually, evolutionists maintain, given the already improbable event of abiogenesis, a monophyletic evolutionary tree (in the sense that there is ultimately, for all animals, a single common ancestor, i.e. the first living cell). To postulate a polyphyletic sort of evolution right at the start of the evolutionary tree would mean to increase the improbability of abiogenesis to an enormous extent (i.e. by multiplying such improbability by the number of the purported other life forms which arose from non-living matter).
We can therefore say that methodological naturalism justifies the inference of “bottom-up causation” (in which the simpler causes the more complex) and bottom-up causation leads to the theory of common descent. Such premises justify, in theory, connecting separate and individual organisms in the fossil record as related through the lenses of evolutionary assumptions. In the absence of such premises, in particular methodological naturalism (which leads to the assumption of bottom-top causation), I hold that the view of common descent is redundant, unjustified, and ultimately ad hoc. Here, having excluded version 1) of theistic evolution, we are working within the context of theory 2) which, by definition, excludes the assumption of naturalism. It follows that common descent, under 2) ought to be unjustified. To show this though, a strong premise just stated ought to be defended: in absence of methodological naturalism, common descent is unreasonable.
We just saw, in my previous explanations, how methodological naturalism justifies common descent, but clearly, the absence of such justification does not logically imply the lack of justification regarding common descent for, there could be other factors which, independently from naturalism, are able to give a sufficient warrant to the theory.[2]

My contention shall therefore be that naturalism is the only warranting explanation. Such defense will hence show how common descent ought to be considered untenable under theory 2).

Part 2: ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DATA
So clearly we all have the same data: the current life forms and the fossil record. The issue is now seeing what this data points to.
There are certain uncontroversial aspects of the data that every theory of origins has to address:
1- life forms exist and existed in the past
2- life forms are structurally and substantially different from each other
3- different strata of earth include a different set on types of animals
4- the succession of strata shows animals which possess similarities throughout the several strata
5- it seems that, generally speaking, the higher the strata, the more complex life forms we find.

Part 3: ON WHAT THE RESPECTIVE THEORIES PREDICT
Now, do these five points support common descent? As I said in part 1 of the argument my thesis is that only naturalism would. But under 2) naturalism is no longer held.
So what would justify the common descent inference over a philosophical creationist model? Before answering this question let’s briefly reiterate the different contentions of the relative theories.
Version 2) of theistic evolutionism asserts that:
a) All specified and complex information comes from God. This is Axe’s implication demanded by Axe’s requirement.
b) all life forms arose from a common ancestor
c) such arising was brought about by a genetic change in the offspring, that is, a mutation (in particular a change in the nucleotide sequence that occurs during the process of DNA replication in a hereditary gene). This is, in other words, Axe requirement.
Which entails that:
d) no animal is directly created (except the very first life form) but produced by a precedent animal (with God’s miraculous mutations). This means that almost all animals are indirectly (and supernaturally) created.
e) all change is gradual
f) there are numerous intermediary animal forms which connect a given ancestor to an actual animal.
g) the more complex came from the less complex

We can therefore say that God’s direct creation is presumably asserted for the first life form, while God’s indirect creation is asserted for all the other life forms (by indirect I intend God using animals to bring about new ones through procreation). Such creation had to be supernatural (as seen by Axe’s requirement) for the most (I.e. for all the changes which required an increase in information), given the fact that most animal forms have more genetic information than the very first living cell and their predecessors. Changes which required only a decrease of genetic information could have happened naturally, that is, through the passive will of God.
On the other side, the philosophical creationist model is significantly more modest in its claims.
Here are its assertions:
a) All specified and complex information comes from God. This flows from Axe’s implication.
He is the cause insofar as he conceived such meaningful code and he supernaturally implemented it via: or the direct creation of the animal life form or by indirect creation causing supernaturally a particular mutation by which a new life form will proceed from the previous one.
b) God created life forms. Some life forms perhaps arose “naturally” through the process of speciation in which pre-existing information in the genome was selected (and therefore itself specified).
Note here that, under this theory, it is not specified whether a specific species or genus was supernaturally created or naturally created via speciation from predecessors with a wider genetic pool (the only criteria is that the natural may obtain through a decrease of information), given the fact that I am not asserting how large of a genome the animals which God directly created had. Neither it is asserted whether creation was brought about via direct means or indirect (i.e. via a mutation).
Under philosophical creationism, God could have created mostly naturally or supernaturally, directly or indirectly. The verdict, under this theory, ought to come from an evaluation of available data, such as the one provided by the fossil record.
On the other side, theory 2) had to be actualized mostly supernatural given the fact that Axe’s requirement would have to apply, given the postulation of more complex life forms (with more complex genetic codes) arising from simpler ones (with less complex genetic codes).
And here is were the great distinction lies.
I shall call the two following propositions (which highlight the distinction) proposition g) and h):
Proposition g): to assert theory 2) and therefore that every life form came from a common ancestor, which is the simplest life form possible, means to claim that God created mainly via indirect and supernatural means.
On the other side, philosophical creationism simply asserts Axe’s implication, that is, that God had to supernaturally create meaningful information.
Proposition h) says: philosophical creationism abstains from making definite and strong assertions regarding whether God created directly or indirectly and to what extent he created naturally and supernaturally.
Proposition g) entails proposition i): under theory 2) animals are ontologically connected through their etiological dependence on other animals.
Proposition h) entails also proposition l): under philosophical creationism, animals may or may not be ontologically connected through etiological dependence on other animals.

Part 4a: ON THE UNWARRANTEDNESS OF PROPOSITION G) AND i) ENTAILED AND PREDICTED BY THEORY 2)
Now that he saw what exactly theory 2) predicts we can ask ourselves if such predictions are sustained by evidence? We already saw what, per se, the fossil record shows us. But what can it tell us? Now for sure it can tell us one thing: it testifies to the existence of genetic information in the past and therefore it testifies to Axe’s implication. Such inference though meets the predictions of both theories.
Is there anything that shows us that the information created was done as predicted by theistic evolutionism version 2), in which such increase of information was implemented via a specific mutation in a specific animal directed towards the gradual formation of another animal (i.e. what proposition g) and i) say).

No, and there is no way the fossil record would be able to suggest this. And there are two reasons for this, a superficial one and a more fundamental one.

The first one is that we are not in an epistemic position to assert this. To be able to know God created in such an indirect way we should be able to know that one particular animal is the particular offspring of another animal. Such thing would mean that we would have to know that this particular fossil is the particular ancestor of the other one. But how can we know this? How can we know that that fossil had offspring and that that particular offspring gave rise to a slightly different offspring? If we do not have a strict pedigree we cannot infer such indirect causation, for the data could fit within a direct creation model. And here comes the most fundamental issue which explains why this is the case.
The fundamental issue is related to how an inference works which ultimately explains why proposition i) cannot be properly asserted. So how does an inference work within the context of two competing theories?.
An inference supports a theory making it trump over another when such inference makes the former theory explain the data better than the latter or vice versa.
For example, think about this hypothetical scenario: we live in a possible world in which just three people exist (person 1, person 2 and person 3), person 1 is found dead with a knife which pierced his chest. If, in this possible world, only person 2 possesses a knife, such data will bring about that, at prima facie, the justified inference that the theory “person two is most likely the murderer” is more plausible than the theory “person 3 is most likely the murderer”. On the other side, if we were to imagine a possible world identical to the previous one, with the only difference that person 2 and person 3 both have the same identical type of knife, the use the evidence of the knife to say “person two is the most probable murderer because the knife corresponds to the knife he had” becomes void of argumentative quality given that person 3 has the very same knife.
Clearly, to make a justified inference of who was the murderer, background evidence is required and other information has to be gathered. We could therefore say that the “sole” knife evidence is “perfectly” inconclusive.
Now, the issue with the two contending theories of origins is that both theories fit the data, therefore representing the scenario of the second type of possible world here described. The data of the fossil record should, therefore, be regarded as “perfectly” inconclusive. But why do I believe such a thing? The reason is that the allowance of direct creation within the philosophical creation theory provides a perfectly viable interpretation for all the data which indirect and supernatural creation may account for. All the fossils we see in the fossil record could have in fact be directly created.[3]

Direct creation, which theory 2) excludes, can predict everything indirect, natural and supernatural can predict.
It is unjustified to exclude direct creation, therefore creationism covers all the theory 2) predictions by allowing direct creation. If both theories explain the data, the data is inconclusive and a decision has to be done through background evidence to see which theory is more plausible. A theory, in fact, is confirmed by the confirmation of its predictions. But if you have two competing theories for which the data confirmed both predictions, the data becomes inconclusive (we shall call this “proposition m”).
A succession of similar animals due to gradual change in the fossil record can, in fact, be accounted perfectly by creation (at least given the sole evidence of the fossil record) and in particular, direct creation.
The fossil record therefore cannot, per se, indicate positively the indirectness of the creative act of God.
Clearly, a study of the background evidence will help us support one theory or another.
I, in fact, think that there must be a point in which other information would be able to tell us that a certain type of data might point more to an indirect creation rather than a direct one. Such information might refer to how God would intervene and other speculations of that sort.
This is to say that direct creation can be, although difficulty, somewhat falsifiable.
For example, if we were to find a series of animals in succession in the fossil record in which the animals in the middle display features that not only link the ones before and after but also cannot be understood in and of themselves, then the prediction of indirect creation would be more properly met than the one of direct creation. If such features cannot be understood in and on themselves and they can be understood within a transitional time frame, then that evidence fulfills indirect creation predictions at the expense of the direct creation prediction. Because God is logos, a feature which does not possess a present rational would be justified only if its end was the production of something which has logos. Its purpose would be therefore found in what has yet to come. Such state of affairs finds a fitting explanation in gradual and indirect creation.
But do these biological structures actually exist? Are there actually features that could not be conceived as proper structures in and of themselves which God would give to an animal in light of what an indirect and gradual form of creation would be able to transform it in? I don’t think so and we shall see why later on.
Regardless of the answer, we can deduce a very important epistemic principle which I shall call “proposition n”: “if a biological feature could potentially be placed as an intermediate between a presumably more evolved one and a less evolved one, possesses an intelligibility of its own, such feature and potentiality cannot be a sufficient reason to assert the veracity of the evolutionary interpretation”.
Someone may ask how personal intelligibility can be detected. It is very simple: if a structure can fulfill a possibly assigned end found in the object itself (and not for example, in a future evolved animal) then we can assess its autonomous intelligibility. For example, because we can see a hand being able to grab objects we can conclude that doing such a procedure provides evidence for the fact that the hand has a purpose in and of itself.
Now a person, realizing how background evidence has to enter the picture (as seen by my last example of how God being “logos” would act), might say that the generative process of prole, which is natural, suggests that there would be no reason to suggest the supernatural intervention in the fossil record. In this case, the etiological dependence demanded by proposition g) (which would point to indirect, and maybe also natural, creation) would be argued from the present knowledge of current reproduction. Such interpretation of data though is clearly wrong, given the active will of God which would be needed to actualize the evolutionary process, as demonstrated in “part 1” through Axe’s implication. Further, if “Axe’s requirement” wants to be overcome by postulating the first living form or the very few living forms as having all the genetic information needed for the formation of all other animals we are directly contradicting version 2) of theistic evolution which still holds on to a loose form of bottom-top causation: the more complex comes from the more simple. To say the opposite is to completely reject the theory.
To conclude and briefly recapitulate the point of this section, what could warrant common descent? ? The evidence from the fossil record? But what part? What data could suggest that? Point -1,-2,-3,-4 or -5? Let’s take form example point -4 and -5. Does the fact that animals represent similarities throughout the strata and the fact that there is an increase of complexity thought the strata support the assertion that the latter comes from the former? In a naturalistic worldview maybe. But Axe’s implication (and requirement) opposes such worldview. Again, to say that the animals in the upper strata or the more complex comes from the animals in the lower strata or the less complex is to assume evolutionism. Clearly this applies to other evolutionary arguments such as genetic and anatomic homology. The circularity of the assumed veracity of such evolutionary presuppositions is very plain when it comes to such purported “evidence”.
Why not simply postulate that God created these types of animals singularity and separately? Philosophical Creationism doesn’t necessarily assert this for a specific case of animals, but, by allowing it defeats a justified belief in common descent and therefore theory 2).
As now, the most consistent claim, given the current evidence treated, should be the one of complete agnosticism.

Part 4b): ON THE PROPOSED EVOLUTIONARY WARRANTING ARGUMENTS
Ok, so now we can say that the assertions of theory 2) such as the fact that life forms arise from a common ancestor are completely unfounded because indirect creation cannot be positively and properly asserted. These very assertions seem to belong to naturalistic expectations only and we happen now to recognize that such background theory is not any more tenable.
But let’s think for a moment. Why should we postulate the assertions of version 2) of theistic evolutionism? Assertions such as “all life forms arose from a common ancestor”, “the more complex came from the less complex” and “such arising was brought about by a genetic change in the offspring” which entails “no animal is [and was] directly created”.
Let’s take once again (please forgive me) take the “evidence” of the so-called “transitional” fossils. First, such fossils to not point to much given the truth of “proposition m”. Without naturalism, to say that succession is an indication of transition, means to assume the lack of direct creation. I understand evolutionist who, even given the possibility of God’s direct creation they opt to provide naturalistic mechanism for a purported transition, but this is not the scenario we are dealing with more. We can, therefore, say that “proposition m” is significantly strengthened by “Axe’s implication” and his extreme pervasiveness in the history of origins (as proven in “part 1” of this series of articles).
But let’s grant, for the sake of the argument, that that particular section of the fossil record actually warrants Axe’s requirement within the context of theory 2) and allows us to see that God created supernaturally and indirectly that specific animal. Given this, we still would not be able to assert universal common descent, which is what evolutionism and theistic evolutionism so boldly asserts.
Given the supernatural action by which genetic code has to be brought about, an assessment of indirect creation of the side of God in one specific occasion does not suggest Him using it elsewhere. We could say that such an indication under a supernatural worldview, has little or no extrapolatory power. The extrapolatory power is severely limited by the fact that these changes are brought about by the active will of God and in particular His most free choice. The standard scientific predictability is predicated on natural processes which are predicated on God’s passive will, not God’s active one (let’s call this “proposition o”). Therefore, the supposed valid inferential power of transitional fossils (which I am granting for the sake of the argument to my evolutionist friends) would be limited to the case which it supports. Given, therefore, that no evolutionist says we have a transitional fossil for every purposeful evolutionary change, universal common descent cannot consistently be affirmed.

“The Perfect Evolutionary Scenario”
But let’s dig a bit deeper.
Let’s assume the following hypothetical scenario in which the fossil record was to represent perfectly the evolutionary tree of life. All life forms which represents an evolutionary step would be preserved. Assuming that God infuses one beneficial mutation per generation[4], we should have, in this perfect fossil record scenario, an exemplar of every animal which represents an increase of information. Now imagine also that all of these exemplars were to be preserved in the fossil record in the exact order which evolutionism would predict. For example, if, from a certain fish, which some postulate being a progenitor of a certain amphibian, 100 particular mutations would have to be infused to reach that amphibian, we would have 100 different exemplars of these 100 slightly different animals in that precise evolutionary order. Let’s apply this now to every single life form.
By doing so the phylogenetic evolutionary tree would find a perfect fossil representation. This is the best possible fossil evidence an evolutionist could ever ask for.
What would that evidence entail? Well, it certainly entails that God supernaturally (i.e. Axe’s implication) created in a way that mimics exactly what naturalistic evolution would predict if it were to work.

So we would therefore see God creating as if naturalism were true. But would we be able to assess that these 100 different life forms came through indirect creation via an infused mutation? We could certainly say that God created them directly also. We also saw, through proposition m, that they have, in themselves, the same likeliness of occurrence given God’s omnipotence. But is there any background information which could tell us that, under this scenario, indirect creation was more probable than the direct one? Well yes, and we saw that in the reasoning which brought me to formulate “proposition n”, but (for now) let’s set this aside.
If a person were to say that because God brings about his effects with the least effort possible, such thing supports indirect creation, we can clearly reject such contention by seeing that, for God to create a whole new being identical to the previous but one gene, or, to supernaturally mutate one gene in the formation of a naturally forming life form, does not make any difference. Why? First of all, God does not make an “effort” in creating. And to create something which, given human perspective, results more complicated than another, makes no difference under God’s perspective. Second, direct creation is not more “complicated”. We humans conceive this sort of complication given the necessity of assembly of parts. Under this perspective, to create a whole new animal would entail a greater work of assembly. But God’s creation does not have to be procedural and, given his omnipotence, to say He does so, would mean to multiply causes beyond necessity: God’s supernatural intervention, whether direct or indirect, is immediate because his inventions can be instantly actualized. To say otherwise would require providing a reason to believe he brought about an effect in several steps when only one (i.e. His immediately actualizing will) was required. To immediately instantiate a mutation or to immediately create, let’s say a fish, makes no difference for the omnipotent Creator of the universe.
Supernatural intervention was needed anyways and to claim that one form of creation is more “natural” when both require one instant creative act is unreasonable.
Therefore, to positively asses God’s miraculous intervention in the formation of an offspring or during the life of a pre existing animal, requires an unreasonable epistemic position which, clearly we do not have.
Proposition I) (“under theory 2) animals are ontologically connected through their etiological dependence on other animals”) therefore cannot be asserted.
But let’s go back to the reasoning which led us to the formulation of “proposition n”.
The only way the perfect evolutionary scenario could lead to reasonably asses indirect creation would be if all the animals in succession, let’s say these 99 animals which lead to the 100th we previously mentioned, did not have autonomous intelligibility in the evolving structures. Although it may be possible that in an evolutionary chain, let’s say the 50th animal would display fully functional structures and have purpose directed abilities and that from such 50th animal the 51th one would rise without intelligibility (in light of what that structure ought to ultimately become), the inference of indirect creation from step 50 to step 51 could not be made. It is, in fact, perfectly feasible that God would have used the gradual mutation of the life forms to arrive at his originally intended 50th animal and then created a similar, one, the 51th to arrive, through the molding of the fifty remaining animals (from 51 to the 100th) another completely different animal. If, therefore, in the series of animals one animals had such logos, such logos would make sense of the very non intelligible structure preceding it, but would impede further inference. Proposition m would therefore epistemically interrupt the claim of the chain of evolutionary progression, only one case of autonomous intelligibility of the evolving structure had to be found.
Now a person might start to realize, given the extremely high need of warrant, the ad hocness and redundancy of the claim of evolutionary progression and, most of all, of universal common descent, how version 2) of theistic evolutionism is much more problematic than previously thought. In “part 3” I’ll address this precise issue: how this very data should lead us to reject theory 2).
Further, we have to remember that it is not sufficient, for the evolutionist to provide an example of a feature without logos. A lot of features could lose their function given genetic decay (and therefore become vestigial) or given diseases and birth malformations. What the evolutionist would have to provide is a feature which does not have logos but finds it within a sequence which confirms evolutionary predictions. Such feature would have to be made sense of through the sequence and would have to make sense of the sequence. In that sense, evolutionary theory would be what is providing the ratio of the feature.
Now, is there any way to know how evolutionism predicts the linear evolutionary progression? Yes, and such predictions impedes the inference of indirect creation. Let me explain: evolutionary progression, that is, what theory 2) tries to maintain in concomitance with Axe’s requirement, predicts that change, for it to be selected by natural selection ought to have an advantage. This is why the idea of “co-option” has been developed: a structure which will eventually find its purpose in a wider, more evolved context, finds a different useful context in its intermediary steps. Such an idea has been used, for example, to counter ID arguments regarding irreducible complexity such as the best explanation of the genesis of the bacterial flagellum. We can say therefore that co-option, on a large scale, implies purported evolving structures to possess throughout their evolution, a personal intelligibility. To say the least, under evolutionary predictions of theory 2), we can assert that it would be extremely improbable to maintain that all purported evolving structure remain vestigial until the actualization of their final end. Such thing makes “proposition m” and therefore unwarrantedness apply. By own evolutionary predictions we can say that the theory cannot possibly be positively tested, for a purpose which evolutionist regard as an intermediary and temporary could well be the very ultimate purpose which God intended that structure to have. Clearly, a person could say that co-option is not needed because, as for Axe’s requirement, God supernaturally preserves and spreads completely vestigial changes in light of their final end, but such claim would seem to me extremely ad hoc and unwarranted (more on this in “part 3”).
Further, besides the very predictions of evolutionism and the “co-option” requirement for transitionality, it is important to state that, independently from all of this, evolutionary theory predicts fully formed and fully intelligible animals as intermediate: whether it is Lucy as a human ancestor or any dinosaur as an ancestor of a particular bird, those very statements interrupt the epistemic grounds to assess indirect creation. A sole example of an intermediary fully formed and intelligible animal is in fact sufficient to completely undermine the claim of universal common descent.
So we see that, even under the most favorable evolutionary scenario in which the phylogenetic tree is perfectly represented by available data, we would not have conclusive evidence for theory 2).
What can be granted is that under this perfect scenario there may be life forms which have structures which do not possess an intelligibility of their one, but in what they would be pointing to if the were inserted in a broader context of indirect creation (that is, an extremely gradual creating process) which probabilistically points to particular cases of indirect creation.
Such thing though, we have to remember, would not warrant the claims of theory 2) such as universal common descent.
Going back to the actual world
We clearly we do not have this hypothetical scenario which I just commented upon.
So how would these two competing theories (theory 2) and philosophical creationism) succeed under the data of this actual world?

The first thing to say is that if theory 2) could not be confirmed by the “perfect evolutionary scenario” it cannot be confirmed by a less perfect scenario, such as the one of the actual world.
Evolutionists propose the existence of some transitional fossils. Fossils like the Archeopteryx and the Tiktaalik. What can we say about these? At least two things.
First, if they really were to point to an indirect creation they would point only to the indirect creation of the species which they claim to connect. The earlier explanation which culminated in “proposition o” showed how the active will of God as the efficient cause of an event impedes predictability and therefore extrapolatory power. God freely acts, God freely chooses. There is therefore no way in which these examples can point to universal common ancestry. Universal common ancestry assesses that all life forms are etiologically dependent. How can this possibly be warranted by singular examples of transition? While naturalism would qualify as a pervasive explanation which would have the reach to assess universal etiological dependence through indirect creation, singular examples cannot.
To claim otherwise would be to argue unjustifiably from the particular to the general.
Second, the argument is deceivingly circular: clearly we would all see how, when evolutionist claim, for example, that certain fish would be a life form which ultimately connects plant life forms (as far ancestors) and, in the long run, humans, to say that fish are the proof that humans find they remote ancestors in fish and ultimately in plant life forms would be ridiculous. Evidently such thing could be only assessed if you were to believe in absolute bottom-top causation and therefore universal common descent. Such a statement would be a mere consequence of prior beliefs, not a proof of them; we know this because we all assume as axiomatic the veracity of “proposition n”.
But if this example results ridiculous, why think that other animals would have a different argumentative power if the only reason by which such animals seem to have greater argumentative power is that, if we assume the evolutionary tree of life, these transitional fossils are claimed to be more immediate mediators of two animal forms. As you can see, the only difference between the first example and the actual purported evolutionary transitional fossils is that in the proposed evolutionary story, the latter, such as the Tiktaalik, mediates fish and amphibians in such a way that less animal forms fall in between such mediation[5]. On the other side, more life forms would lie in between the mediation of the fish with regards to its mediation of plants and man. People assume that an evolutionary distance entails a further intrinsic and personal intelligibility of the structure themselves. But while this certainly can qualify as sufficient evidence given evolutionary presuppositions, it cannot qualify as a necessary one: there is nothing in fact that could impede the existence of closely related animals (under evolutionary presuppositions) which possess “transitional” structures which possess autonomous intelligibility. Therefore, the reason why people realize the lack of proof of distant transitional animals is that their own theory predicts autonomous intelligibility.

But, as I have shown through the co-option predictions, I actually hold that all purported transitional fossils, whether close or distant, possess autonomous intelligibility.
The Archaeopteryx had wings, had actual teeth and feathers. All these features fulfilled their intended purpose. There is no reason to see why God, in his benevolence, would not give such features to an animal and intend them as complete in themselves. Or again, the Tiktaalik: even if the fins which it possesses are particular and seemingly unique, they still fulfill a possible intended purpose such as the one of swimming and moving the body by sustaining its weight. God made those fins insofar as they would fulfill the purpose which we can see they have by the very movement and behavior of the Tiktaalik. [6]
As we can see, therefore, the closeness of mediation does not do much. And how could it? The defeater of proposition “m” is “n” and “n” is not negatively proven by the number of presumed animals which are not present between the middle transitional animal taken into question and the other two “external” ones. The only reasoning which could possibly warrant this is the implicit assumption that “God would not create directly similar animals” but I hold this proposition to be void of any justification.
Once again, it seems to be that the only unifying explanation for universal common descent would be naturalism, which would justify also viewing succession as an indication of transition. The intuitive answer which deems ridiculous the claim regarding the large mediation of fish, is rejected because of an implicit awareness of “proposition m” and “proposition n”. How are these propositions challenged by a supposedly more close mediation?
Ultimately, the closeness of mediation has to be assumed under evolutionary presuppositions and therefore the sole criteria has to be the evaluation of the intelligibility of the structures.
We can therefore say that these transitional fossils, maintaining logos in all their features, because they all have a complete and integrated purpose, are inserted in a disguised circular argument. The disguisement comes from the assumed argumentative power of the closeness in mediation. “Per se” the quantity of animals in between the claimed transitional fossil and the fossil cannot argue anything if all the features maintain logos (certainly the closeness would predict a greater probability of lack of logos, but this is not what we have, what we have is similar structures with similar logos). As we have seen, even the closest relationship possible of the example describing the 100 closest gradual animals, can be, and, probably always is, inconclusive.
All of this reasoning leads us to the following statements:

Conclusion common to part 4a and b of the argument: THE BELIEF IN PROPOSITION G) AND THEREFORE IN COMMON ANCESTRY IS, AT THIS POINT, UNJUSTIFIED

Conclusion of 4b: EXPLANATIONS OTHER THAN NATURALISM FAIL TO WARRANT COMMON DESCENT
In “part 3” we will continue to develop this argument and see how all of this reasoning points to the fact that: first, theory 2) is extremely ad hoc and implausible and second, philosophical creationism results to be (by far) the most simple and plausible theory that fits and explains the data.

Conclusion 4c (which follows from Conclusions 4a and 4b):  PROPOSITION F) IS UNWARRANTED

Conlcusion 4d: THEORY 2) IN UNWARRANTED (given 4c).

 

In Christ, the spoken wisdom of the Triune God,

Amedeo Da Pra

 

[1] For a definition of this term read “part 1” of this series of articles, section “Definitions”.

[2] To say otherwise would be to commit the fallacy of “negating the antecedent”. In the hypothetical, “if p then q”, “not p” does not entail not q”. Therefore in the relation: “if naturalism, then common descent” the logical inference: “no naturalism, therefore no common descent”, although possibly true, does not follow logically necessarily.

[3] Although this is possible, it is clear that neither theories want to multiply causes beyond necessity, or better, multiply supernatural causes over natural beyond necessity. It is evident, therefore, that not all fossils have to be account by either direct or indirect creation, probably, most of them arose naturally from`simple reproduction. What has to be accounted for are the animals which would fall under Axe’s implication. Therefore, an animal in the fossil record which represents an increase in complexity and information, although it might not be the very particular animal God either directly or indirectly created, can reasonably be taken as a representative of such animal.

[4]It would not be prudent to postulate two of those very mutations in one individual within the context of naturalistic evolution, given the already high improbability of even a single useful evolutionary mutation to occour. On this assumption, we should see one (I.e. the least possible) evolutionary mutation per different individual in the fossil record. Theistic evolution, also in it’s second version, would like to tend towards such assumption to distance itself from abrupt creation, even if indirect. Further, the theory would be trying to reconcile God’s intervention with the closest possible scenario reflecting Darwinistic evolution (given how I defined the terms initially). But, going back to the first reason, what sense would it make to be a theistic evolutionist if, besides believing God is miraculously actualizing the process he is also creating abruptly (even if indirect), just as creation allows. If in fact God, let’s say were to infuse 2,3 or 100 mutations, or 1, 2 or 100 new genes so that from, let’s say, a fish, a completely new amphibian would be given birth, such theory would lose all it’s resemblance with the very theory of evolution these theists are trying to maintain.

[5] Now a person might say that such thing is not the only difference. That in the case of close mediation there is a specific structure which we can see change over time. For example, under the evolutionary interpretation, the fins/limbs of the Tiktaalik represent continuity with what were proper fish fins and what are proper amphibian limbs. First, to say that under close mediation we can see displayed the same basic structure under change is to assume evolutionism. In fact, per se, those are not the same structures,they would though be somehow the same (in the sense that they have a proximate common source) if evolutionism were true. Second, under the very assumption which allows them to make the inference that these are the same structure which undergoes change, we would have to say that ultimately even distant examples of transition display they very basic substance which underwent change. Given the assumptions, the plant, the fish and the human would fulfill the observational data just as the fish, the Tiktaalik, and the amphibian.

[6] Now, a possible intended purpose does not have to be a perfect purpose. Such thing is important because it shows how imperfect structures can still possess autonomous intelligibility. If man, for example, had in his purpose to be able to walk perfectly, he would never undergo back pain. Such phenomena (i.e. back pain), though, is not an indication that feet and legs are not full and complete structures which reach their ultimate intended goal to allow the subject to walk. Their goal is therefore to allow man to walk functionally, not to allow him to walk perfectly.

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