The author of the book develops a version of evolutionary theism in which God reveals His presence both in the cosmic evolution and in the genesis of human species. Through divine immanence in the laws of nature, God's creative power is manifested in the process of evolutionary growth when new cosmic structures emerge. The very process of multilevel emergence implies important scientific, philosophical and theological questions. To answer them one should distinguish between methodological and ontological naturalism. Methodology should be never transformed in metaphysics; to avoid facile metaphysical commitment practiced in the well-known bestsellers by Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett one should refer to the concept of supervenience, probabilistic compressibility and downward causation.

In 1859 when Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, only a few authors claimed that there must be an inevitable opposition between evolution and creation. Most of the adherents of evolutionary ideas argued that there is no real opposition between the Creator and the laws of biological evolution because God acts through these laws to disclose His divine immanence in evolutionary processes. There was no need for "creation science" when "creation", "evolution" and "science" referred to various forms of the expression of God's creative wisdom. The situation changed radically when the understanding of the very term "evolution" evolved. At the end of the 19th century, as a result of the positivist critique of classical metaphysics, any reference to extra-natural factor was consistently eliminated from scientific theories, whereas some methodological principles were transformed into a substitute for metaphysics.

In scientific research, a fundamental role has been played by the principle of methodological naturalism, also called methodological positivism or scientific naturalism. This very principle claims that in scientific theories the particular state of a physical system must be explained by reference to other physical states of the same system. Any attempt to appeal to non-physical factors would be inconsistent with the methodology of the natural sciences. The accepted research procedure does not exclude the existence of non-physical factors, only for methodological reasons it restricts the domain of acceptable scientific explanation to physical objects. Methodological naturalism has been necessary in scientific exploration of nature; it does not, however, imply ontological naturalism in which the existence of God is denied.

Darwin himself intentionally avoided metaphysical questions, concentrating his cognitive attention upon physical-biological aspects of the explored evolutionary changes. However, when in post-Darwinian debates some scientists resigned from key concepts that for a long time had played an important role in the philosophical understanding of creation, their critics immediately declared that in such a world blind chance and deterministic necessity must reign in the realm of evolutionary changes.

The various meanings of the so called "blind chance" are discussed in the book. Considering the complexity of physical situations to which this concept is applied, one must observe that processes believed to be accidental in relation to a given law of physics may, in a different system of physical principles, be due to the non-accidental operation of the laws of physics. In considering the ontological structure of nature, one should distinguish specifically the probabilistic compressibility of nature. It manifests itself when physical processes that earlier appeared accidental, uncoordinated, "blind", on a greater scale begin to reveal internal relations described in the language of probability theory. What earlier seemed a manifestation of physical disarray is compressible to the general formulae of the probability calculus.

Considering metaphysical and theological aspects of the probabilistic structure of nature, it should be noted that, from the vantage point of theology, speaking of the role of "blind chance" in evolution does not make sense. The expression is deprived of theological meaning as it seems to suggest that in the process of creation God loses control over a certain class of events that seem to depend only on chance; God, however, is present in the same way in strictly deterministic and in probabilistic laws. Coming into existence of particular conditions may be unlikely, but this does not justify the claim that the processes that produce them are "blind".

Innovative studies are being conducted in many fields revealing new manifestations of the cosmic order constituted by stochastic relations which, until recently, have been believed symptoms of disorder. John Barrow, Michal Heller, Joseph Silk any others authors seriously consider a possibility that the probabilistic relations at the deep level of nature may underlie the mathematical symmetries and universal laws that physics describes at the higher levels. From this perspective, the fundamental "law of nature" would be the cosmic game of probabilities. The emergence of new structures on various level evolutionary processes expresses the essence of the emergent universe.

The coexistence of chance and necessity in evolutionary processes leads to philosophically interesting consequences, justifying the claims that deterministic and quasi-teleological processes are mutually complementary. Consequently, the Ideologically understood power of the Creator manifests itself in the laws of nature and not in gaps in our knowledge. In the proposed version of Christian evolutionism, God understood as an evolutionary attractor shares with all creatures their openness to a future that is not fully determined. Into evolving nature He introduces His own canons of cosmic growth, but does not impose them deterministically. God's action should be conceived of in a persuasive rather than in a coercive manner. His creativity, expressed in divine "persuasion", recognizes the autonomy of created beings and brings proposals of evolutionary growth which need not be necessarily followed in the process of human evolution. The future of evolution is not the result of cosmic determinism. The future of our species depends to a large extent on correlating our activity and creative cooperation with the action of the Divine Creator.


Summarized by Józef Życiński

Autor: Andrzej Zykubek
Ostatnia aktualizacja: 13.01.2010, godz. 16:46 - Andrzej Zykubek