Evolution and Creation IV – Man and Nature

From Hugh Owens The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation:

Comments are in red.

4. Theistic evolutionism perverts the relationship between man and nature. The traditional doctrine of creation fosters a right relationship between man and nature.

According to theistic evolution, all creatures, including the human body, have arisen out of lifeless matter through billions of years of natural processes. [(1). The theory of evolution does not necessarily entail life arising from lifeless matter. Self-replicating non-living beings can be subject to evolution, but the scientific theory of evolution itself doesn't as yet have much to say about whether life arose from such non-living self-replicators. It is true that quite a few scientists, because of naturalist suppositions, assume that this is the origin of life. But that is merely an hypothesis. (2). According to theistic evolution correctly understood, if living beings came from non-living beings, their life comes from God. Theistic evolution is, in fact, distinct from atheistic evolution, according to which, ultimately, potency produces actuality.] This perspective harmonizes very well with the popular pantheistic slogan, “The earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth.” [It is true that it harmonizes with pantheism, inasmuch as, if the individual components (atoms, proteins, or such things) that directly produced living beings were, as components, lifeless, and if life can only come from life (since a complete cause must be at least as perfect as its effect), then there has to be another cause of life than those individual components. This could be the whole earth, or the whole universe, but it could just as much, indeed even more be a separate divine being. Thus the view that life is derived from non-living matter harmonizes even better with theism… especially since according to the pantheistic view, life didn't really derive from non-living matter; rather, all matter is alive.] Such a slogan would have been anathema to the Apostles and to the Holy Fathers of the Church. Within the context of their understanding of Genesis, it would have been blasphemous to suggest that the earth in any sense gave man his existence. All of the Holy Fathers recognized the literal truth of the Genesis account of the special creation of man, in which God alone used material elements to form man’s body but fashioned that body and infused his soul by a supernatural act of his Divine Will. According to the traditional understanding of Genesis, God created the whole universe for man. All things in heaven and earth are entrusted by God to us, as the stewards of creation. [This last sentence is setting up a strawman. The earth's being "entrusted by God" to man is just as compatible with theistic evolution as with immediate creation.]

The patristic understanding of Genesis fosters a deep reverence for the sacredness and mystery of life, including each particular kind of life. The traditional understanding of Genesis recoils at the thought of tinkering with the DNA of any kind of living thing, except to repair a known abnormality or genetic defect. [This premise is at the least overstated, if not simply inaccurate. According to this argument, breeding plants to improve their yield, nutritional value, or flavor, or breeding animals to improve their strength, life expectancy, or health would also be wrong. The difference between selecting plants or animals for a given trait, and giving them it directly by altering the DNA consists in (1) the speed with which the change is made, and (2) the fact that our knowledge of DNA and what it produces is quite imperfect. The speed doesn't really matter; our degree of knowledge does. So at most, a belief that each kind of being was separately created, would lead us to be caution or to hold off on altering DNA directly, until we understood it well enough to do so within the limits suitable to each kind of living being. It would not in the least forbid it simply speaking.]

The traditional understanding fosters a profound skepticism in regard to the safety of genetically modified foods, mindful of the purposeful God-given design of plant foods and the grave dangers inherent in tinkering with that design, especially when the genetically modified substances are ingested by human beings without rigorous testing in advance of the interaction between the GMF’s and the human body. [It does not follow from the premise that each kind of living being was separately created, that human tinkering with the design is dangerous, anymore than the premise that God created the earth implies that it is dangerous to dig caves or build hills. Nor, on the contrary, does the theory of evolution imply that tinkering with DNA is safe.]
Whether there is grave danger or not is such "tinkering" ]

[Granting that the theory of evolution and the belief in special creation necessarily, or at least in fact lead to these different attitudes regarding genetically modified foods and altering the DNA of animals, we might ask, what about it? The author of the article seems to take it as evident that the attitude of "profound skepticism" is the right attitude (since "the difference it makes" has always been showing how belief in creation leads to better attitudes than belief in evolution). But this is far from evident, and indeed is probably false. Caution is surely in order, but not "profound skepticism."]

According to theistic evolutionism, billions of years of death, destruction, mutations, and disease, have been the very means God has used to create the various kinds of creatures. To theistic evolutionists it is not at all unthinkable that man create clones, chimeras, or GMF’s, since, in their view, man is just imitating his “Father” who used random mutations and natural selection to “create” the first human body from the bodies of countless generations of ape-like creatures. [Turning the argument around, does this mean that to special creationists it is not at all unthinkable that man build up a man from non-living elements, since he is just imitating his Father who formed the first human body from non-living matter? It would seem to be equally valid. In fact both are inequally invalid. The sin of pride is said to be a certain wanting "to be like God". The fact that God did something does not mean that humans can rightly do it. It is because of human dignity that human cloning is wrong, not because of the historical manner in which God brought man into existence. Again, as regards GMF's, should they be "unthinkable"? No.]

[The next part deals with natural evils in the world, and God's love, and it was particularly that part which led me to begin writing this series.]

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