Thursday, 1 January 2015

Is Evolution a Great Story? Specifically Theistic Evolution?

Peter Kreeft was lecturing on Tolkien and on beauty and ugliness. I switched to that youtube from another put online by diocese of Arlington. In which he had said that evolution was a great story and worthy of a great storyteller, which is why it was an argument FOR Theism.

[Correction : in which Thomas Joseph White says etc. New correction: they both say it and I conflated their arguments into one.]

I don't think evolution works anyway, not just because of abiogenesis, not just because of irreducible complexity in general, I also see a specific version of irreducible complexity in the case of mammalian chromosome numbers. So, I don't think it is an argument for God because I don't think it is an argument for anything, not being true itself.

But supposing God had used evolution, what story can you make out of that?

For one thing, soul as in spirit, soul as in rational soul, cannot evolve. It is a gift from God directly to whatever creature is or is partly such a thing. Suppose then that God had used evolution to produce man. At some point, some creature would have the gift of spirit though its parents had not so.

Have you read the creation of Narnia in The Magician's Nephew? At Aslan's song hillocks burst into life which turns out to be animals. A little later, some of them are taken off from the others, chosen as it were, by Aslan, and He gives them spirit, He makes them talking animals.

He did not pick out all the stags to be talking stags, nor all the dogs to be talking dogs, and it would even seem Narnia had a few non-talking jackdaws left. In this story there is no problem - because to the talking ones, the non-talking were never in a position of parents anyway. Suppose Adam's body were the product of evolution. Then Adam's parents would have been male and female "non-talking" (not necessarily quite so) and non-rational animals. How horrible it would have been for him to be chosen to have a perfection which his parents hadn't - especially since the perfection enables him to see how much worth it is to be able to admire one's parents over oneself. Narnia's creation story spares us that half of theistic evolution. To a Narnian dog chosen to be a talking dog, the non-talking dogs were not the ones which had taken care of it as a puppy.

Again, the Theistic Evolution scenario involves things like anatomic humans not being real humans (it was seriously discussed by Theologians under Pius XII whether Cro-Magnon predating agricultural revolution were really human) and therefore tends to encourage the worst racialist behaviours towards anatomically human people who behave in ways we consider as unworthy of humanity as spiritual. And the problem of Cain's wife (oh how much more elegantly solved in Narnia where King Franks children married naiads and dryads or oak gods and river gods) would not only have been able to have the right solution it had anyway (marrying a sister back in that generation was no incest), but it would also have involved avoiding the wrong solution of mating with anatomically human but really non-human women/females.

Creation vs. Evolution : Scenario impossible

But why not take a look at why Peter Kreeft thought it was a good story?

It implies a degree of perfections - here indeed a Young Earth Creationist agrees. An irrational animal is not perfect as man is perfect, a bird is not quite as imperfect as a fish.

But it also implies rising in an ordered way through these degrees of imperfections - and indeed, at each point of supposed (but never actually verified) rising to a higher perfection, a leaving behind of former fellows of a kind in their relative imperfection.

But even worse, it implies that the means used for culling off the "imperfect remnants" from the "perfected new" in populations where these are to take upper hand is - death and suffering.

Yes, sure. An intelligent superhuman being CAN choose death and suffering as means to perfect whomever he choses to perfect. If Orcs are supposed to be more perfect than Elves, indeed, that is how Morgoth did it. If Zionist cynics divorced from the merely egoistic cynicism of usury were what Hitler intended to produce by Auschwitz, well, then Hitler seems to have had some affinity with that evil power.

But these are not the ways of God. Not with unfallen creation.

Indeed, believing evolution to be true, believing therefore suffering and death to have predated the fall of Adam, they came to an erroneous conclusion which is not quite free from either Mazdaistic or Albigensian errors.

Recall that chapter in Problem of Pain where CSL says some might smile at the idea of Satan tempting lions (or dinosaurs) to carnivorousness, and he responds that Satan had other ways of shere power to corrupt irrational animals than "temptation". Had he, really?

Tolkien paints it out in making Morgoth fall during the Ainulindale and being present as already a fallen angel when the decisions of creation were to be applied in its material being.

Thereafter Morgoth does create a few ill-boding creatures, like wolves (and possibly even cats, whether that was a joke or not).*

Tolkien's rationale - this was during the power of the Valar, while angels as such, including but not limited to Satan, held a sway they have not held since man came to full responsibility. CSL gets even worse, though not in the Narnia stories : Satan is the "bent Oyarsa", or the guardian angel of Earth, third planet from Sun. Yes, if God is creator, if animal suffering is neither because God doesn't care (but St Augustine says He does love all He has created), nor because of fall of Adam, then it must be because of fall of Satan. But that could only function if Satan had the kind of direct preeminence over Earth in God's original plane that according to the Bible Adam had and Satan had none of till Adam became his slave through sin. So, Theistic Evolution encourages honouring Satan as more concerned with Earth we live on than he is, and forgetting that it is of God we say "He's got whole world ... in His hands He's got the whole wide world in His hands".

So, if the century which saw Theistic Evolution accepted among Christians, not just in the Catholic Church, but also in already traditionally Schismatic or Heretical ones, has also seen a great surge in either direct Satanism or Enki-ism, or in the kind of "we are all responsible for climate warming"-ism that Copenhagen Conference and Bill Gates promote, this is not a coincidence.

If then CSL and JRRT make me see Theistic Evolution so bleakly - should I quit reading them? No. It was partly thanks to them I could think these matters through. Imagining stories is a great propaedeutic to thinking through the implications of diverse stories.

"If reason is the organ of truth, imagination is the organ of meaning". (CSL)

Not quite wrong, when we deal with "imagination" as the modern world uses the word.

And thanks to these, I have thought the matter through, and I have rejected Theistic Evolution. If someone else says Theistic Evolution does not really mean this, let him tell me how it means sth else. If he can, which I doubt.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
Circumcision of Our Lord

Update on New correction: Kreeft says it's a story requiring a storyteller, White says the progress over degrees of perfection requires a divine mind.

* Opposed of course by better Valar. Silmarillion scores Mazdaistic error level, Perelandra Trilogy and Problem of Pain (relevant chapters) score Albigensian error level in parts. But of course only on this question. Through a blessed inconsistency, CSL and JRRT were still Christians.

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