Q: How does scientific evidence of human imperfection contradict intelligent design?This is an argument that has been made against ID for some time. Neil Shubin describes the tortuous journey of the facial and trigeminal nerves in his book Your Inner Fish. Literature abounds on ERVs, which have incorporated themselves into our genome and become indispensable, despite having a viral origin. Work on pseudogenes has revealed that much of the human genome simply doesn't work anymore. These are hard to square with an intelligent design model.
A: Proponents of intelligent design understandably focus on the many beauties of life, claiming that smooth-working biological traits prove direct creation by a supernatural deity. However, natural selection in conjunction with genetic processes can also produce complex biological systems that usually function well. So both natural selection and intelligent design are consistent with the appearance of biological craftsmanship. Serious biological imperfections, on the other hand, can only logically be expected of nonsentient evolutionary processes that are inherently sloppy and error-prone. They're more troublesome to rationalize as overt mistakes by a fallible God.
About how to view God in the process, he says this:
Q: Why do you think theologians should welcome evolutionary discoveries?This is similar to the evolving creation of Polkinghorne and, while having more than a hint of deistic undertones, is common among theologians. In my experience, Christians tend to fall into three camps about theodicy. Some believe that everything that is evil in the world derives from the fall of Adam and that only the new kingdom and new earth will make these things right. Others argue that, while the Garden of Eden was real, the very nature of life dictates that there must have been death even there (Genesis, after all, does not say anything about the animals not eating each other or the local plants). A third perspective regards the Eden story as symbolic and meant to teach the finitude and stupidity of man and woman, while contrasting that with the omnipotence and glory of God. I tend to be somewhere between the second and third perspectives, depending on what day of the week it is. While the latter two perspectives are consonant with Avise's ideas of theodicy, the first is in opposition to it, making God directly responsible for much of the genetic ills in the world. Such is not, I believe, the work of a benevolent and just God.
A: Theodicy is the age-old conundrum of how to reconcile a just God with a world containing evils and flaws. With respect to biological imperfections, evolution can emancipate religion from the shackles of theodicy. No longer need we feel tempted to blaspheme an omnipotent deity by making him directly responsible for human frailties and physical shortcomings, including those we now know to be commonplace at the molecular and biochemical levels. No longer need we be apologists for God in regard to the details of biology. Instead, we can put the blame for biological flaws squarely on the shoulders of evolutionary processes. In this way, evolutionary science can help return religion to its rightful realm - not as a secular interpreter of the biological minutiae of our physical existence, but rather as a respectable counselor on grander philosophical issues that have always been of ultimate concern to theologians.
Does this contradict the passage in Romans 5, where Paul talks about death coming into the world through the sin of Adam? Daniel Harlow writes this:
In Gen. 3:22–23 we read,While we have fallen spiritually and morally, we seem to have the physical creation we were meant to have all along, warts and all. Read the whole interview.
Then the LORD God said, “See, the ’AdAm has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and live forever”––therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden . . ."
Evidently, then, God does not want the ’AdAm to live forever, so he exiles him fromthe garden. From these verses it seems that mortality is regarded as part of humanity’s original creaturely finitude. Indeed, the story presumes that the man and woman were created mortal; otherwise, the presence of the tree of life would be superfluous. The notion that physical death entered the world only because of human sin seems therefore a mistaken notion, one based in part on a misguided interpretation of Gen. 2:17 and Rom. 5:12.
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