Author: Spiros Kakos
Religion-Science Philosophy articles series
The Theory of Evolution of Wallace and Darwinis one of the most discussed scientific theories nowadays. Some people think that the implications of the theory on our existence are significant, others that they are not. Some people think that this theory has deep philosophical side effects, others disagree. The true nature of evolution is one of the most popular things that trouble modern philosophers and scientists as well.
This article will deal with the question “Can and should the theory of evolution be applied to other fields besides biology, like philosophy?” and it will try to justify that “No” is the correct answer. The “Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection” is a valid scientific theory, while philosophy is a completely different realm with different rules. I will also attempt to present the basic points of a theory called BioLogos which attempts to reconcile the valid biological theory of evolution with the philosophical stance of theism.
What is the theory of Evolution
The theory of evolution is a biology theory according to which that species have evolved through time by means of natural selection.Actually the phrase “Theory of Evolution by means of natural selection of changes caused by random mutations” is the full-correct term.Random mutations generate variations in species and natural selection sees that only the fittest ones for survival do actually survive. Weak (i.e. not fit for survival) animals simply die. There have been many version of the Theory of Evolution. The initial theory proposed by Russel and Darwin has changed a lot since then. The so called “neo-Darwinian” synthesis is what refers to the new “version” of that theory. 
Theory of Evolution is correct! But for everything?
The first thing that must be said is that the theory of evolution is a valid, well evidenced and elegant biology theory. But valid not for “explaining everything concerning life”. Valid for “explaining one of the many possible mechanisms with which species change their characteristics” and noone can scientifically seriously argue against that. Many fossils show how evolution really worked in the past. Live examples also exist – consider the viruses which grow more immune to antibiotics in hospital environments. It is more than true that random DNA mutations do exist and that all species increase their chances of survival by natural selection: most weak ones dies and thus the total population tends to keep the most beneficial of these mutations as time passes. You can hardly find a modern biologist who denies the theory of evolution. Such a clarification is of the utmost importance. Most public debates on evolution are caused by the denial of the validity of the theory of evolution by people who believe in God. What I want to clarify here is that the theory of evolution is a correct and valid biological theory that has nothing to do with philosophical problems of existence, or with problems of life in general (we do not even know what “species” is, see below). Many geneticists (like Francis Collins) practice biology and at the same time believe in God! It is actually a pitty that some narrow-minded people today “use” the idea of Christianity to promote ideas like the “God created the world in 6 actual man-days”. We should not confuse Christian tradition and old texts with religion philosophy and with scientific facts. Please refer to my Knol What a Christian is NOT for more details on these issues and an analysis of how one can be a Christian with no such “conflicts”.
Some common misconceptions
It is generally very important to clarify the things one talks about. Most disagreements are a result of language misunderstandings. That is why Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, thought that before discussing anything you should first define the things that you will talk about. The main misunderstanding concerning the theory of evolution is that many people wrongly believe that there is only one theory of evolution and that this theory can explain everything related to life…
Not one single “Theory of Evolution” exists
Since Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin there have been many debates between biologists about evolution and its mechanisms. One must bear in mind that not ONE theory of evolution exists. There are many different versions of the theory, some of which have great differences. 
What some evolutionary biologists think about the main aspects of evolution are depicted below.  It is important to understand these differences so that we do not ask questions like “do you believe in the theory of evolution?”, but rather questions like “do you believe that the natural selection can result in speciation?”.
|Common ancestor||Gradual evolution||Population-based speciation||Natural selection|
TABLE 1 – Various aspects of Theory of Evolution for some biologists
The table above is a simple indication of theTheory of Evolution is not just one solid piece of theory.What we refer today as “Theory of Evolution” is the modern evolutionary synthesis which was based on Darwin’s theory but not for every of its aspects. In fact, many things advocated by Darwin in his time, are now considered completely wrong. That is the way science promotes and progresses: constant criticism of existing theories. That is not something bad. I mention it just because we must have it in mind if we want to really understand the depth and meaning of the theory of evolution.
We should remember that Charles Darwin did not propose only one thing about evolution but many. Along with the mechanism of natural selection, he also proposed for example the fact that all species come from a common ancestor. Knowing what you talk about is crucial.
Not one universal definition of “evolution” exists
Additionally to the above-mentioned complexity of the Theory of Evolution as a whole, there is also added complexity to the matter with regards to the meaning of the word “evolution” per se, which must also be addressed. People generally hold one of three beliefs concerning the origin of species:
- Naturalistic evolution : Evolution happened according to purely natural forces and processes without any (divine or not) guidance.
- Theistic evolution / Intelligent design : Evolution happened and its mechanismwas/is created/guided by God. These two terms are oftenly misunderstood and used wrongly. The ID movement is a movement that attempts to prove the theory of evolution wrong, while theistic evolution accepts the validity of the theory of evolution while at the same time accepts God as the source of its mechanism. Francis Collins has proposed the term “BioLogos” (see below).
- Creationism : Species were created separately by God.
When a person is asked in polls if they believe in evolution, they might interpret the question as belief in naturalistic evolution only. Alternately, they might consider it as asking whether one believes in either naturalistic or theistic evolution. Pollsters tend to like simple yes and no answers. Sometimes they do not handle questions well where there are more than one discrete positions.
Micro or Macro-evolution?
Another dimension of confusion regarding evolution (besides the philosophical one mentioned above), is related to the “level” to which this evolution refers to. Almost all biologists use the term “evolution” to talk about two different things: the evolution of a species being the first and the creation of new species being the second. This confusion could be a result of a mistake or ignorance, but it almost certainly is the result of bad intentions: Because hard scientific data that prove the creation of new species are difficult to find (if any), scientists (or better “scientists with a hidden agenda”) use the same term for both these notions in order to base their belief in the second to evidence they have for the first. Clear evidence for the evolution within a specific species do exist (micro-evolution). However evidence for the creation of new species (macro-evolution) do not exist in the extent some scientists would want. For example various experiments with thousands of generations of fruit-flies have not resulted in the creation of a new fruit-fly species. That is why they deliberately (?) use the same term for both – so that confusion may make some people think evidence for the first also support the second. You can visit the very insightful Knol on that subject Evolution – Facts, Theories, and Fiction . I will concentrate my efforts to make you understand the misuse of the abovementioned sound biological theory in philosophy.
I must note that I do not believe macro-evolution is wrong. I just understand that it hasn’t been proved by science up to now to the same degree micro-evolution has. We have not seen the creation of new species from existing ones in nature for as far as we can remember. We have not been able to “produce” new fly-species from experimenting on fruit flies. However there are some cases where scientists could have discovered possible mechanisms for macro-evolution    .That means that the “macro-evolution” is still a good theory almost pobbibly correct and it remains to be seen in what degree it is verified or not. I have nothing against the specific theory or any other theory in general. But I am against speculating and turning “theories” into “facts” just because we want to. I am against leaving our philosophical assumptions dictate our scientific conclusions. And I am against mixing things that cannot be mixed. And my antithesis to such ways of thinking is even more intense when I know that the basis for such ways of thinking is the materialistic philosophical dogma. Today it is “macro-evolution”, tomorrow it could be “Theory X”. The important thing is not to let our philosophical beliefs dictate our science.
The “Species Problem” – About the definition of “species”
It may not be clear to everyone, but the definition of “species” is not clear and something “science” has decided upon! Biologists even today argue about what the correct definition should be. Some have suggested that different species cannot interbreed and that this is the main point to consider when searching for a definition. Dobzhansky defined a species as 
“… that stage of evolutionary progress at which the once actually or potentially interbreeding array of forms becomes segregated into two or more separate arrays which are physiologically incapable of interbreeding” (Dobzhansky 1937)
However the application of that biological species concept (BSC) to a number of groups, including land plants, is problematical because of interspecies hybridization between clearly delimited species  . Many times completely different species of plants have been mixed together to produce a new one.
And one should have in mind that there is also an abundance of asexual populations that this definition just doesn’t apply to  . This is not just an “exception”. Asexual organism are the vast majority of organisms and the first ones to ever appear. So having problems with defining their “species” is as much as saying that we have problems defining the beginning of everything.
Last but not least, interbreeding experiments to verify that two animals belong to different species are almost never conducted  . How can you say that two species are different, when you do not conduct decades of experiments to determine if this is indeed the case?
Many of the debates on species touch on philosophical issues, such as nominalism and realism, as well as on issues of language and cognition  . Realism and Nominalism are philosophical subjects that come up in debates over whether or not species literally exist. From one perspective, each species is a kind of organism and each species is based on a set of characteristics that are shared by all the organisms in the species. This usage of “species” refers to the taxonomic sense of the word, and under this kind of meaning a species is a category, or a type, or a natural kind. This view of a species as a type, or natural kind, raises the question of whether such things are real. The question is not whether the organisms exist, but whether the kinds of organisms exist. There is a school of philosophical thought, called realism that says that natural kinds and other so called universals do exist. But what kind of existence would this be? It is one thing to say that a particular giraffe exists, but in what way does the giraffe category exist? This question is the opening for Nominalism which is a philosophical view that types and kinds, and universals in general, do not literally exist  . If the nominalist view is correct then kinds of things, that people have given names to, do not literally exist. It would follow then that because species are named types of organisms, that species do not literally exist. This can be a troubling idea, particularly to a biologist who studies species. If species are not real, then it would not be sensible to talk about “the origin of a species” or the “evolution of a species”. As recently at least as the 1950s, some authors adopted this view and wrote of species as not being real   .
One is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, part 2, 1891
Darwin himself was very much against the idea of the very notion of “species” and theclear distrinction between “species” based on the species defined as a group of individuals with similar characteristics.
For Darwin, since all individuals evolve continuously the definitionof distinct species is something completely arbitrary and based upon the subjective opinion of each taxonomist! He was actually proud that he had solved the problem of the definition of “species” by pointing out that the evolutionary mechanism continuously changes the characteristics of populations and where one “draws the line” to define a new/different species is completely subjective!!! 
Species could be literally a creation of our own flawed mind, which likes putting labels on everything and categorizing what it sees. If we like to say that “Bird A” is different than “Bird B”, that is fine by nature. But that does not also mean that nature thinks the same way…
Language mistakes and the Tree of Life
Scientists have for a long time tried to create a tree diagram with all the predecessors of human species – from a biology point of view. That tree is often calledthe “Tree of Life” and isthe source of many misunderstandings. The Tree of Life that most people refer to is similar to the following picture.
The “classic” view of the Tree of Life
Having a simple tree-diagram with brances that only move up without cross-sections can create the wrong impression for the reader. First of all it must be noted that according to new theories the tree is not so simple and it consists not of simple tree-like branches but of a more complex grid of lines going in many directions. What is more, scientists agree that we know very little about the lower levels of the tree: that levels could be consisting of a group of primitive cells rather than just one – so the ancestor of all species could be more and not one as many scientists today believe. Moreover, versions of the Tree of Life created based on the rRNA do not have roots at all! As strange as it may sound, the tree of life is not as simple as Darwin thought. 
What is more, new discoveries of huge viruses indicate that the “common ancestor” theory is not applicable to everything. Marseillevirus was a huge virus discovered by French scientists to have a mixed genome that contains material from different sources including plant and animal matter, bacteria and other giant viruses such as the Mimivirus. The genome of the so-called Marseillevirus encompasses a complex repertoire of genes that are “very different from the DNA of other virus forms,” and shows that there is genetic exchange between other micro-organisms such as giant viruses and bacteria found in amoeba.Didier Raoult, head of infectious and emerging tropical disease research at Aix-Marseille 2 University in France, said the mechanism was not foreseen by Charles Darwin’s theory that life comes from a common ancestor.“The idea of a common ancestor makes no sense in the light of viruses,” he said. “That was Darwin’s idea, but he was clearly wrong”. 
But it must be noted that whatever form the Tree of Life has, we must be very careful not to extract the wrong conclusion from it. The proximity of two organisms in the tree could say very little about the actual proximity of these organisms in reality. For example in the Tree of Life humans are very close to chimps. However that says nothing concerning the true in-life differences between the two: as I analyze in the end of the article (see “Explanation of evolution mechanism is not explanation of human nature”), humans have many unique characteristics that no animal has at all. So claiming close relationship between humans and chimps is not a solid “truth” (whatever that word means) but more a category mistake – a language error. In the same way “living matter” is a “branch” that sprung out of “lifeless matter” – does that mean that life is closely related to stones and dirt? It is unfortunately very easy to make language mistakes. Lets define “thing” as “something that exists”. Does that make us all humans “things”? Yes! Or…no?
Scope of Theory of Evolution is limited
Another misconception is related to the breadth of issues covered by evolution / design. Some people (like me)regard evolution asa scientific theorycovering only the development of life forms so as to adjust to their environment (micro-evolution) – thus leaving space for thinking human as being something more than dust and electones. Others (like Dawkins)include the origins of the universe, the reason of our existence [whichthey believe itdoes not exist, since natural selection and physics laws existed there for ever and with no reason at all], the development of galaxies, stars, planetary systems, development of mountain ranges, continental drift, etc – thus leaving no space for purpose or something more ‘spiritual’ in our lifes.In my opinion it is of the utmost importance to recognize the scope of the Theory of Evolution and be very careful not to go beyond it.Science can explain the physical phenomena, but not the super-natural ones. The latter must be left to the philosophers…
In that aspect, the Theory of Evolution is a biological theory as stated above and
NOT a philosophical one …
Can a watch exist without a watchmaker?
Theory of Evolution has yet to solve smaller mysteries than the abovementioned ones, like how random mutations generate new information (modern information theory tells us that “noise” – which is the equivalent of random mutations in the DNA – in an information system does not create information, but destroys it), how lifeless molecules come into “life”, how species are different every day but still “the same” (refer to Parmenides philosophy and to Theseus paradox) et cetera. Thus, it is difficult to answer the question “do you believe in evolution” with a simple “yes” or “no” without first having clarified all these issues. It may be better to leave the details of biological diversity to the scientists and the great metaphysical questions to the philosophers. According to an opinion that is becoming more and more popular over time, natural selection is something that explains well how species evolved, but does not answer any of the philosophical questions man has from the beginning of time, nor does it rule out the existence of God or purpose in the Universe.
Humans against “Evolution”
It is also very important to see that the behavior of humans is contradictory to the basic laws of the Theory of Evolution. Humans for example have the tendency to help species that are on the verge of extinction to survive. This is clearly against the very basic law of evolution according to which “the more weak are selected by nature to die”. And since we are one of the most important parts of what we call “nature”, this behavior should trouble those who claim to have found the solution for everything in the sayings of Darwin… For example Huxley, prominent figure of modern evolutionary biologists who was one of the people who formed the new evolutionary synthesis  was also in favour of eugenics:
“The lowest strata are reproducing too fast. Therefore… they must not have too easy access to relief or hospital treatment lest the removal of the last check on natural selection should make it too easy for children to be produced or to survive; long unemployment should be a ground for sterilisation.” 
Julian Huxley, Huxley J.S. 1947. Man in the modern world . Chatto & Windus, London. Originally published in The uniqueness of Man , 1941.
These views actually reflect the true nature of the foundations of natural selection. Had it been that this “law” governed our behaviour as humans, we should stop immediatelly offering help to those in need – BUT we do not! Had it been that this “law” dictated our ethics, we should start immediatelly killing the old and the weak – BUT we do not! We, as humans, DO NOT FOLLOW THE LAW OF NATURAL SELECTION!!! And that is a good thing for us! Love and compassion should be our guides, not the law of killing the weak…
I do not claim to make any arguments based on Huxley. I am sure that many many evolutionary biologists are nice people who do not want to kill the weak and the poor. But wait a minute…WHY would they not want that? Is not that what the Theory of Evolution tells us? Could we decide something different that what “Nature” has decided, i.e. that the death of the weak be the source of all life and of humans? It seems that we do. And good for us!!! Before going any further, evolutionary biologists should answer those hard questions. Because love and compassion are basic for humans (at least for the…evolved humans) and if the theory of evolution cannot explain that, it must change. Maybe not completely change, but at least the basic part of it.
Evolution does not explain everything…
The main reason that lies behind the Theory of Evolution – Intelligent Design advocates is that some evolutionary biologists try to get out of their realm of expertise and attempt to use the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolutionfor things it never meant to answer in the first place.I do not believe in natural selection as an explanation to everything…According tothe logic of many people(and nottheir faith) it seems illogical to base human existence on probabilitiesand to think that all the beautiful things people do are just a product or probabilities – that the human existence as a whole (not human evolution through the last 1,000,000 years, which may be well explain via Darwin) is based on probabilities. For example, for me it is logical to say that since people perform altruistic actions to stranger that are not made public to anyone else, then the theory of evolution must have missed something there… The logic of someone elsemight say something else. Noone has evidence to explain altruism or love or all emotions right now. And it is unfortunate that some peopleuse the findings of evolution theory to claim that “Species evolved” => “No Grand Designer needed” => “God doesn’t exist / Purpose doesn’t exist”. It is a very popular line of thinking among atheists and one of the reasons for the conflict that some people wish to exist. In other words: even though I think the theory of evolution is correct for the explanation of species evolution and biodiversity, I don’t think it applies to the beginning of life (how inorganic matter turned into living organisms), the existence/non-existence of purposeor to other grand metaphysical questions.
What is more, many great biologists even think that the dogma (axiom)of modern science that humans are just an evolved form of animals is questionable. Alfred Russel Wallace, the founder of the Theory of Evolution (see Russel Wallace and Evolution Theory ) believed that evolution mechanisms could not be applied to humans. Humans do have some higher quality intellectuall and spirituall skills that can not easily be seen as extended, improved “versions” of respective skills animals have.
To quote the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “The more general philosophical issues associated with evolutionary theory—those surrounding natural teleology, ethics, the relation of evolutionary naturalism to the claims of religious traditions, the implications for the relation of human beings to the rest of the organic world—receive no single solution from evolutionary science”. 
Science is theory-driven, not evidence-based. First theories are proposed and then they are backed up with evidence. So for the matters of altruism, love, purpose one may propose a theory, I maypropose another. This is what scientists do. I cannot understand why a theory should be allowed to be spoken and another not. Saying that a ‘Grand Designer’ is the cause of Universe’s existence is as scientific as claiming that ‘Nothing’ is the cause for Universe’s existence!
Until we have all the answers it is not proper for any of us to claim he holds the key to the ultimate truth. Especially biologists should be very carefull when addressing these issues. Dealing with human life and existenceis a very sensitive matter.
Human altruism and love make evolution obsolete?
It is true that in nature the fittest species survive. We see that everyday. This is what the Theory of Evolution is based upon. But humans have the tendency to help the weak members of their society. Humans have the tendency to love and show altruism. Humans have the tendency to provide help to those who need help. All of the above actually nullify the whole “evolution process”, since it seems that humans do not really “care” about their species evolution – they prefer to have weak people whom they love than only “Strong people who survive” around them. How does the Theory of Evolution takes that parameter into account? It does not.
The problem of ethics
The Theory of evolution has really hard time dealing with ethics. If survival is the ultimate purpose, then what stops us from lying or killing to make sure that we survive? We say that “killing is bad” or “lying is bad”, but what if you had to kill or lie in order to survive as species? Does that mean that – by the Theory of Evolution – we did the “right” thing? And what if a Muslim kills people in Europe in order for him to survive? Would that make his actions moral or more “correct”? And what if a Christian killed in the name of “God” so as to survive in what he sees as an atheistic theatening environment? And what if communists killed religious people so as to keep the state running and help their ideas “survive”? Do the “survival” needs of anyone justify his – ovisously – wrong actions when examined via the filter of the Theory of Evolution? I do not think many people would agree with that. And that is why morality is one of the things evolution cannot explain. Things that are so “obvious” to everyone (like “you shouldn’t kill”) are not so obvious for Darwin.
The “poison” of materialism
Many scientists are materialists and they often confuse that philosophical stance with the very nature of science. As I mention in other Knols (see The Limits of Science ) materialism (orphysicalism)is a not-proven proposition and basing everything on it is a matter of choice with no objective way to know anything about its “validity”. Materialism excludes the possibility of the existence of spirit or anything different than matter in the cosmos, so it is not surprising that scientists who believe that view cannot “find” anything different between the humans and the animals.
Be careful to know the underlying foundation of the other opinions, so as not to confuse “opinion” with “scientifically validated truth”…Everyone has pre-assumptions in his mind when speaking. The point is to make them publicly known in order to have an honest dialogue…
Great scientists’ objections for evolution
Many great scientists object to the belief that the theory of evolution explains everything – with the most critical questions not answerable by evolution being human properties and the great metaphysical questions of existence. Among these scientists two men are worth special reference:
- Alfred Russel Wallace: Wallace was the person who first publicly promoted the idea of evolutionvia means of natural selection , one year before Darwin published the same exactly theory. He was elected head of the anthropology section of the British Associationin 1866, president of the Entomological Society of London in 1870 and head of the biology section of the British Association in 1876 . In his work ‘The Limits of Natural Selection as Applied to Man'(S165:1869/1870) [http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S165.htm], he argues that the theory of evolution cannot explain’higher’ human properties. He proposed the existence of a ‘Higher Intelligent’ being’ to explain such things as the passing of inorganic matter to living matter or the existence of consiousness  .
- Francis S. Collins: A genetist that was the head of the Human Genome Project. He is a believer in God and does not believe that the theory of evolution can explain everything. He has also published a book to provide ‘evidence for belief’ (see Bibliography).  
The existence of such big scientists that are leaders in the biology section of science, puzzles many atheists. This should not be the case however, since many logical arguments exist in favour of the existence of intelligent design in nature and human in particular.
BioLogos  is a new term proposed by Collins  so as to refer to “theistic evolution” in a way that cannot be confused or misunderstood in any way with other “ID” theories. It also does not use the term “theistic” in it so as to avoid any confusion with “creationism” theories. This new term frees us from the burden to analyze and clarify any possible intermix with existing theories and provides us with a “fresh start” in order to build the theory of “the existence of an ultimate being” in the world. BioLogos schema is actually a line of thinking that is in favour of the existence of a Designer (God) in cosmos. That Designer is the source of the laws and every complexityin Universe. The existence of a Designer does not mean that Evolutuon theory is wrong – quite the contrary. The world is designed by a Designer and then it evolves based on the physical laws (e.g. evolution mechanism) established in its design.What that Designer does and if he/she/it unterferes with the everyday life is a point that is not clear up to now and mostly irrelevant to the basic principle advocated by BioLogos Theory (at least up to the point I have understood): that a purpose exists in the Universe.
The BioLogos theory tries to (successfully) combine the theory of species evolutionvia natural selection (at a biological level) and the philosophy of purpose existing in the universe (at a philosophical level), thus attempting to avoid the error conducted by the Theory of Evolution (which tries to cover both science and philosophical level with one purely biologicaltheory).
Thus, it can be said that the “BioLogos” theory is actually a “marriage” between the biological scientific theory of Evolution and the philosophical stand point of theism (and not a new biological theory). The BioLogos theory does not deny the Theory of Evolution, but it fully accepts it. Its arguments just take a stand for the philosophical problems concerning our existence (“why do we exist”, “is there a purpose in our lifes” etc), with which the Theory of Evolution has nothing to do at all.
Arguments in favour of BioLogos
There are many logical arguments in favour of the BioLogos theory. The main thing one must bear in mindis that the differences between Theory of Evolution and BioLogos theoryhave nothing to do with the details of biology. Both theories accept that the”evolution through natural selection” concept is correct for species (although many argue that it does not apply to humans). However if someone attempts to [wrongly] apply the theory of evolution tothe abstract level of philosophical questions, then conflict do arise. Some of the logical arguments in favour of the BioLogos theory include:
- If causality exists in the world (i.e. everything happening has a prior cause), then everything must have a cause. So the BigBang must in turn have a prior cause, that cause another cause and so on. However it is not logical to say that the Universe exists for ever without any reason. It is not logical to say that there is noinitial cause to the existence of the cosmos, because you would then deny the fact that causality exists: it is not logical to say that everything has a cause, but that the existence of universe has not!Sothere must be an initial cause that would ‘break’ that indefinite chain of causes (this is the “First Cause” argument – see Religional Science for an analysis of the argument). The initial cause proposed by the theory of theistic evolution / BioLgos is a divine creator, since only such a being can play the role of an initial cause (sincethat divine creator is outside the bounds of time and space – thus not requiring a prior cause for its own existence).In the same way the theory of Evolution proposes (but has not proven scientifically) that there is no initial cause. None of these arguments can be proven with hard data. However the proposal of the Intelligent Design theory is more logical (and logic is a scientific tool).
- Most things in life seem to have a purpose for their existence (teleological argument). Many aspects of human life propose that we have a higher purpose in life . We everyday strive to improve spiritually and intellectually, we write and read poetry, we cry when we hear a favourite song, we choose to give our precious life for abstract noble ideas (like freedom or dignity or love), etc. If our life as dust particles is the only thing we have, then we would never choose to commit suicide.No hard evidence can be found for the existence of purpose in the Universe. However it is a logical thing to say such a thing. Claiming that existence is an accident seems highly illogical and, thus unscientific, for a species that creates art, thinks, loves, cries… We everyday try to improve ouselfs and go past the strict boundaries of our mortal bodies, everyday we try to improve our spirit and our souls, so telling that we have the same purpose in the world as a banana sounds rather ‘not correct’.
- The Achilles’ heel of the theory of evolution seems to be “goodness”. Humans have the tendency to be altruistic , do good to other people not for gaining profit but just because they want to do good. This is impossible to be explained in a world were the “survival of the fittest” rule (i.e. theory of evolution)exists. Despite numerous attempts to explain altruism and goodness as a result of evolution, no such thing has ever been acomplished. Male apes or lions may kill the offsprings of other males so that they can dominate, females may eat the males after reproducing, monkeys of a team may attack monkeys in another team, but humans may do good to other humans EVEN THOUGHthat will gain them nothing (consider for example altruistic actions that happen in private without the one doing good wanting to say publicly what he/she has done). Only the existence of a higher purpose and a ‘Designer’ who has embedded in us the sense of Moral Law and the tendency tobe goodcan explain such a behaviour.
- The Universe itself has been proven scientifically that it is specifically designed to support life . Some 10 basic universe parameters (like the gravitational constant, the electon charge etc) have exactly the value they have to so as to support life: a minor change to the 200-th decimal point to any of those parameters would condemn us to non-existence. This looks like design – and the existence of a designer the only logical explanation for such a thing to exist.
- Modern developments in molecular biology strongly indicate that the concept of ‘design’ is inherent in nature and the various species. Darwin did not know about the concept of DNA, which on its own shows that many traits of humans are coded into genes. Above all, the fact that we are beginning to design new forms of life on owr own (e.g. imrpove the human genome, create new viruses for biological weapons etc) clearly shows that the idea of ‘design’ in life is more than just a theological idea – it is rather part of reality.
[Please refer to the article Religional Science for a more extensive analysis of these arguments.]
Important thing to note about logic: Even Aristotle, the founder of Logic, did not know what logic was useful about. He could not say whether logic is a tool to find the ultimate truth or just a tool to discover the limits of our language. Post-modern philosophers have thought much on that.To be precise, we do not even know whether such a thing as ‘ultimate truth’ even exists! As Wittgenstein once said, wecannotknow the boundaries of our thought, because in order to do that we should be able to think of what we cannot think!
One can clearly counter-argue that logic says that since we have no hard measurable evidence for the existence of purpose in the universe, then non exists. That could very well be the case. The point is that my logic may not reach the same conclusions as your logic. The logic of Godel (the greatest mathematician-logican after Aristotle) told him that God existed (see my knol Religional Science ). The logic of another person might say something different.That is the reason why people argue for many things. It is human. I do not claim that I have the key to the ultimate knowledge, but I would ask from everyone else not to claim such thing either (those who think they do, try and read my knol The Limits of Science ).
Many people who are against the theistic evolution proposed by BioLogos theory as a philosophical idea believe that it has already been famously demolished by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). The fact that Hume could only provide a plausible criticism of intelligent design, but not an alternative explanation for the complexity and diversity of life, was remediated by the theory of Russell-Darwin  . However what these people fail to see is that while they talk against the notion of combining philosophy (and in particular the idea of “theism”) with biology, they do the same when they conclude that the Theory of Evolution has proved that a divine creator is not required.
Debate over BioLogos
Many people ofter misunderstand terms used and I am no exceptio to that. When I read books over the subject, I can almost instantly undertand that the terms are not used consistently from one writer to the other. I use the term “BioLogos” that Collins suggested so as to refer tio “theistic evolution which accepts the biological validity of the theory of evolution”. Many people could confuse that with the Intelligent Design movement. Many people claim that theistic evolution is not science but religious dogma. This is not true. Science is the logical explanation of phenomena in our cosmos. Ancient Greeks saw things and they thought hard to explain them. So they reached to the theory that the world is composed of atoms, even without having the tools we have today! These ancient Greeks are regarded highly as the first scientists. In a similar way, the Intelligent Design supporters simply suggest a logical explanation of the facts they see (like the fact that all Universe parameters have exactly the values needed to support human life), in the same way as people who believe in Evolution suggest another. Neither of themhas hard data – i.e. scientific measurements to illustrate how or what created the universe. Thus, “soft” logic (in contradiction to “hard” mathematical logic)is our only means of finding out how the universe was created. Maybe in the future another explanation is found. But at this point our logic says that not everything is based on chance. Godel, the greatest logician after Aristole, concluded logically that God exists. Thus, Intelligent Design is logical thus scientific.
Moreover, saying that chance is the source of our existence (as evolutionarists do claim), is highly un-scientific. Science from the beginning of time tried to find logical explanations to things andnever relied on chance to explain various phenomena. Science from the beginning of time tries to find the causes of all phenomena, so it is rather ironic that some scientists claim that there is no initial cause. It is not logical to say that every event has a cause, but that the universe it self has not! After all, when examining an event, e.g. a glass of water that falls on the ground, you try to find the initial cause. If you say that “the glass fell because of the law of gravity” you would have “cheated”. You did not find THE cause, you just stated the first-most immediate cause. For your analysis to be complete, you must find the cause of the law of gravity, the cause of that cause etc…If no initial cause exists (God?), then actually the simple phenomenon of the glass falling has no cause at all! The world would stop from being intelligible…
Most scientists I speak to believe in the existence of a God. Other scientists do not. There is a controversy over the matter. The fact that the theory of evolution has not convinced so many years after its initial proposal, shows something that noone should ignore: it seems as though the Evolution theory has crossed its boundaries of expertise and falsely claim knowledge of things it cannot prove or justify. Explaining how fish evolved does not necessarily mean that we have explained the purpose of the Universe!
The difficulty in explaining *everything* with one theory (e.g. theory of evolution) is clearly depicted by the following video of Richard Dawkins interview.In that interview Dawkins was asked to name one biological process that increases the information in the genome, thus leading to new more evolved species. Richard Dawkins simply did not answer…
Dawkins fails to explain information increase via evolutionary process
Important note: Please do not confuse the main point here by paying attention on the fact that this video is tagged as “Richard Dawkins stumped by creationists’ question”. I am not a creationist and this page is not a page that promotes their ideas. YouTube videos have titles of their own and I cannot change them.
Concerning the “nature” of the Theory of Evolution
Think of comparing dogs with humans with respect to the theory of evolution standards of what “evolved” means. We humans work 12-15 hours per day to be able to eat, while dogs have us feeding them. We must get tired to have a place to live, while dogs have houses we provide them. We may not even have health-care, but dogs have the best doctors we can find for them. Many humans could be alone and suffer from depression, but dogs always have a human at their side for company. In terms of “evolution”, which of the two species seems more “fit to survive”?
And of course that would be much worse if we compare us humans with bacteria. Bacteria have proved that they can survive better than we do. They are more fit for survival and they have certainly beaten the mechanism of natural selection. What does that mean from an evolution point of view? Are they more “evolved”? The question could be fomulated us: What does “evolved” mean anyway? Are bacteria “higher” or “lower” in the ladder of species evolution?
If they are more fit to survive, why don’t we try to evolve into something similar? If not, how did they survive better than every other species?
The very basis of the theory of evolution is fuzzy and I can clearly see many philosophical dogmas underlying its foundations. Like the “we are no different than dogs and bacteria” kind of dogmas…
And do not forget that the notion of design exists even in the theory of evolution. All species evolve in a way so that the fittest to an environment survives over the least-fit species. This means that the evolution process is ‘designed’ to promote the survival of the fittest (and not, for example, the survival of the weakest animal thus leading to the degradation of our civilization). Who or what gave that ‘purpose’ to the evolution mechanism?
Being logical is the only way to reach truth – and logic says that when you play at a casino your chance will finally give you up and you will loose all your money…
Explanation of evolution mechanism is not explanation of our human nature
It is very important to clarify one big misunderstanding: Even if we explain and analyze every little detail of the mechanism of evolution, that will mean absolutely nothing for our understanding of human nature. Modern neo-darwinian theory of evolution has only scratched the surface of the mystery of life…Knowing how mutations work into producing changes tells nothing about the nature of these changes. Even after having a complete theory of evolution we will still have to explain the things that make us humans: our moral values, our culture, our spirit, our inclination towards philosophy and art, our human values. There are many things that make us unique in the cosmos and explaining how nature “selects” the more beneficial mutations tells null about what are the exact changes that actually took place for human to exist as such a unique creature. Unfortunately some atheists / materialists tend to take advantage of such subtle misunderstandings to promote their own agenda: they claim that if genes are all that makes us humans and if we differe gennetically from chimps so little, then we must not be so unique. This line of thinking is wrong because it is prejudices with assumptions not clearly stated: First of all it takes the correctness of monism (i.e. that we are only matter and not spirit as well, as dualism says) for granted – something wrong, since it has not been proved yet. It is also based on the wrong assumption that the changes in genes can account for every trait of human beings, something again wrong: we know so little about the human brain and mind that saying something like that can at least be characterized as immature. In that way atheists / materialists ignore all the things we everyday see that we only have as part of our nature and attempt to reduce us to over-evolved chimps. Seeing the whole picture and paying extra attention to how one speaks and thinks correctly and without prejudice is the only way to avoid misunderstandings like that. No animal thinks like we do about its existence, no animal has moral values system developed, no animal has developed civilization, no animal has philosophy or poetry. Our uniqueness is very compatible with an evolutionary mechanism which produced unique changes. It all remains to be proved, but with mind clear of any pre-assumptions…
1. ‘Dissent Over Descent’, Steve Fuller.
2. ‘The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Man Deduced From the Theory of Natural Selection’, Alfred Russel Wallace (S93: 1864).