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posted 15. January 2005 13:43
A Critique of "Theistic Evolution" As a Supplementary Model of the Relationship between Darwinian Theory and Religion
by Jakob Wolf
Abstract: Advocates of the concept of “theistic evolution” as a model for the marriage of Darwinian theory and religion accept the Darwinian theory of the evolution of nature as a satisfactory explanation. They integrate this theory with religion by saying that the religious theory – to the effect that a transcendent God created nature – underpins Darwinian theory as a first cause. A transcendent creative power backs the Darwinian mechanism. The problem with this model is that it is excessively speculative. It is speculative in the Kantian sense in that, rather than building on empirical observations, the theory is ultimately just a speculative idea. Speculative theory, however, should be avoided because it is impossible to determine whether speculative hypotheses are right or wrong. They risk being merely wishful hypotheses. An alternative to the “theistic evolution” model is a Kant-inspired model. Kant deemed it absurd to hope for an explanation of the emergence of the organismal world in terms of undirected natural laws. In our day, the biochemist Michael Behe has re-affirmed the position that the hopes for an explanation of the evolution of very complex organisms in terms of undirected natural laws and chance remain wishful speculations. But available as an alternative to the Darwinian account of the evolution of the complex organism is the solution suggested by the spontaneous analogical cognition of the organism, which sees it as the result of intelligent design directing its evolution. There is a compelling analogy between the structure of a complex organic system and that of a manmade machine. This phenomenological insight needs to be taken seriously. On this model, the relationship between religion and the Darwinian theory is articulated through the characterization of the latter as a methodological reduction which takes no account of the phenomenological cognition, of which cognition the religious theory is an interpretation. The religious proposal is not speculation. Rather, it is an interpretation of the content informing the phenomenological cognition. On this model, then, the phenomenological analogical insight “mediates” between Darwinian theory and religion.
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