Evolution and Creation VIII – Relationship to God

From Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

8. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters an intimate relationship between Christians and God, their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Theistic evolutionism erodes this intimacy.
According to the traditional understanding of creation, God created the entire universe for man at the very beginning of creation, about six thousand years ago. According to this interpretation of Genesis, there is nothing in the entire world that does not exist for man. [But there are many things that do not exist directly for man, but only indirectly, as parts of a whole. The various parts of the universe that man never sees or experiences directly (e.g., certain sections deep within the earth, or asteroids too small for man to observe), are only for man inasmuch as they are part of the whole universe, which is as a whole for the sake of man.] Man has always been at center stage. Moreover, in the beginning, God and man lived in such intimacy that there was perfect communication between them. Adam’s every thought, word, and deed, unfolded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Adam saw God in all things, and all things in God. From this perspective, it is easy to believe that every human life is worth more than the entire material universe, and that the whole purpose of the universe is to provide a place for intimate union between God and his human children. From this perspective, the most harmful effect of Original Sin was the alienation from God that it produced, and all of the evils of human life—death, disease, mutations, violence, and selfishness—stem from the original loss of intimacy between God and his children.

In contrast to this traditional doctrine of creation, theistic evolutionism denies that man has had any special place in the history of the universe. [Sounds more like atheistic evolutionism to me, though even an atheist could recognize a special place of man in the universe. Theistic evolution, in any case, does not deny man's special place.] According to the evolutionary time scale, for most of the world’s alleged 15 billion year history, man was nowhere to be found. Having evolved from the apes during the last 1 % of cosmic history, man is only a blip on the screen. [This is a very materialistic way of viewing things. Are we to judge of the importance of things by the amount of time spent on them? Is a person's wedding a scarcely significant event because it takes up less than 0.005% of his or her life? The duration of Christ's human life was a fraction of the duration of human history. Does that make it relatively unimportant?] Even then, he evolves into a state of nature characterized by violence, disease, mutations, natural disasters, and a relentless struggle for existence, all of it intended by God from the beginning to be part of man’s experience. Instead of a beautiful, perfectly harmonious universe, the first human beings awoke to—or evolved into—a world of bloodshed and misery. [This view of the perfection of the universe, as consisting in the absence of all natural evils such as pain, disease, and death, is not the traditional Catholic view. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the view that, e.g., creatures such as lions would not have harmed other animals, but would have, before the fall, lived on plants, and not on the flesh of other animals, is "completely unreasonable." The perfection of the universe consists in its order; this order consists especially in the various natures and goods found in it; but there are many bodily natures and goods that cannot naturally exist without other natural evils, as the lion cannot exist without the death of the animals it eats.] Moreover, God willed that man endure hundreds of thousands of years of violence, disease, crippling mutations, natural disasters, and a relentless struggle for existence, in the darkness of false beliefs, until God saw fit to reveal the rudiments of the natural and divine law to the Hebrews a few thousand years ago. [According to the Catholic tradition, the natural law is discernible in creation, and in this sense is revealed by God apart from the historical revelation, or Jewish revelation in particular "For the Fathers of the Church the "sequi naturam" and the "sequela Christi" are not opposed… To follow [reason] is to follow the personal Logos, the Word of God…. the doctrine of the natural law… allows one to illustrate why the pagans, independently of the biblical revelation, possess a positive moral conception" (International Theological Commission A Search for Universal Ethics: A New Look at the Natural Law, n. 26.)] According to this view, God preserved no accurate record of the vast bulk of human history, but simply inspired the Hebrews to re-fashion various pagan myths and legends into morally uplifting myths about 600 years before the Incarnation of Jesus. [The dating of the Scriptures is not directly connected with the question of evolution. They are possibly connected indirectly, inasmuch as there is historical evidence for each. I am not an expert on historical evidence for the dating of the Scriptures, however, so can't comment on that.]

Theistic evolutionism has spawned a host of novel interpretations of Genesis, most of which clash violently with the unanimous [more accurately, majority] interpretations of Genesis made by the Church Fathers. Perhaps the most popular of these novel theories is known as progressive creationism. According to its proponents, the absence of transitional fossils in the fossil record indicates that God created the prototypes of the various kinds of creatures by an act of creation at various points in geological history. However, through their unwillingness to challenge the evolutionist chronology of billions of years, the progressive creationists end by accepting all of the anomalies mentioned in the preceding paragraph—except that they believe that God shone a light in the darkness of geological ages by creating new kinds of creatures from time to time. According to progressive creationism, however, God did not perform these creative acts for the sake of man, who was not created until somewhere between 50,000 and 1,000,000 years ago, but for His own inscrutable purposes, which had nothing to do with creating a harmonious and welcoming home for his first human children. [God's providence is universal, and includes all time. In fact, everything in history that influence any individual man, was willed by God for that man. Much more was everything in the history of the world that has a bearing on the world, and thus on man, willed for the sake of man. (And obviously, on the view that we see the evidence of evolution in fossils and so on, this evolution is relevant for man inasmuch as man sees this evidence.)] Needless to say, such attempts to “reform” or “save” theistic evolutionism and to reconcile it with the Catholic Faith bear little if any resemblance to the Faith of the Apostles, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church.

One thought on “Evolution and Creation VIII – Relationship to God”

  1. I have only had the time to briefly read through your series of posts on Evolution. They are very well done. I appreciate your putting together this critique and argument… I will often sit down with someone and show them (from a Biological Perspective) how evolution does not deny the existence of God, nor his creating of us.

    I think it would have been weird for God to create in the literal fashion described in Genisis. He created these incredible natural laws, written to guide the evolutionary process (with perfection and intent written in the laws) and to simply guide the natural world. Why would He then ignore these laws to create in a way that did not require those laws? brbrI find that evolution brings me closer to God, rather than farther. Maybe it's me as a biologist, but evolution makes me see God's providence in every event, including those events simply moved by the laws of nature (a leaf falling to the ground–caused by gravity, but intended by God through his writing of the law of gravity that governs it.)

    Anyway, good work.

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