Theistic evolution is a theological concept associated with some versions of Old Earth Creationism which involves accepting the scientific theory of evolution and attempting to reconcile religious beliefs with that theory and with science in general.

The approach taken is different from church to church and a wide range of views and nuances are included in the concept. However, the generally accepted idea is that of a deity-assisted abiogenesis followed by an indeterminate amount of time during which evolution took place. There may have been further alleged direct divine intervention, e.g. with Adam and Eve, though this is not always the case.

Theistic Evolution and Natural Selection

In some interpretations of Theistic Evolution the "evolution" part is assumed to have been carried out wholly by natural selection. Nevertheless, if this definition is accepted it is not completely clear how such evolution would be "theistic". After all evolution itself would be driven solely by natural causes. At least some theistic evolutionists of this type possibly see God as beyond the finite limits of space and time that Humans know about. Therefore, God may predetermine every "chance" interaction of material objects happens in the course of natural selection as scientists observe it.

Some form of theistic evolution is the accepted position of the largest Christian denomination, the Catholic Church, along with many non-fundamentalist Protestants and some liberal Muslims.

Theistic Evolution and Guided Evolution

Others feel that this philosophy refers to some form of "guided evolution" whereby God used evolution to create mankind.[1] While yet others' hold a position closer to Progressive Creationism and feel that a series of explicit interventions were made.

Objections to Theistic Evolution.

  • Whichever view of evolution is taken it is clear that most (and probably all) Theistic Evolutionists view mankind as the objective or final goal of the evolutionary process, something which is completely alien to the concept of unguided evolution by natural selection. However, the unguided nature of evolution can only be affirmed from the viewpoint of the spatial-temporally located observer, which may allow theists to affirm an eternal purpose to the process taking place within the perceived limited bounds of space-time without intentional duplicity (though this is by no means true of all theistic evolutionists).
  • Occam's razor favors an explanation that is simpler and involves fewer assumptions. Theistic evolution adds another (apparently) unnecessary factor, a God. This seems to makes the theory more complex and less probable, though it is debatable whether this objection is really any less true of theorizing the existence of an unobserved multiverse which produced our universe through an unoberservable process of cosmic natural selection as some atheists claims it is by definition. In any case, it certainly goes beyond the usage made of the razor made by William of Ockham himself, so that attribution of this principle to him looses its value when used in such cases.


Adapted from Atheism Wiki