Science is not concerned with the purpose of creation. Religion is. Science focuses its attention on the “how” rather than on the more philosophical question of “why.” This is simply an extension and outcome of science’s interest in facts and religion’s interest in values.
Science does indeed recognize that people live by values, but values are subjective choices and do not have an objective existence outside of us (like the moon has). Therefore, values are not a proper subject for scientific investigation. In spite of this, I am going to propose in my next book, Proving God, that values DO have an objective existence outside of us – starting with the idea that Love is the ultimate substance of the universe (substantia prima).
Allow me to give you a small “taste” of where my labors are headed concerning the how and why of creation and evolution. To start, it will be profitable to share with you a very, very, simple overview of the various scientific and theological camps along with their contentious views.
Evolutionary Science (the neo-Darwinian synthesis) embraces natural selection. Simply put, mutational variation within evolutionary biology has physical causes rather than Divine causes. This theory’s greatest challenge is that the fossil evidence does not do an adequate job of demonstrating the principle of gradualism. Often the fossil record shows distinct “jumps” of accelerated speciation (punctuated equilibrium).
In Creationism, we are given a totally theological answer for evolution. The laws of the universe have emerged from God’s Holy Word. Humans are viewed as a distinctly unique creation from other creatures – with an important role to play in the drama of the cosmos. While Creationists do not have an answer for the mechanism by which God creates all the richness of the manifest universe, they point out that no one has ever witnessed one species transforming into another distinct species (macroevolution).
Intelligent Design allows for purposiveness (teleology) to be used as an explanatory tool for explaining the emergence of bio-complexity in nature. Unfortunately, it leads us to an intellectual dead end in not being able to enlighten us to the wisdom of God’s grand scheme. For instance, detractors will ask why evolution must be so wasteful in order just to bring forth the human species, a species whose actions are threatening the globe? While Intelligent Design sees itself as a scientific approach, most scientists feel it uses bad science.
Theistic Evolution believes in both natural selection (good science) and that God is the Creator and Maintainer of the universe (good theology). It has serious problems in trying to marry the concept of purposeful creation with the blind and non-intelligent mechanism of natural selection. Somehow, God is able to hide His activity within the scientific framework of randomness.
I would like to propose another concept which I believe straddles the “how” and “why” of creation. I call it CONJUNCTIVE DESIGN, which is based on the scientific and theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg put forth the idea that a God of love must create a world because Divine Love needs a subject to love (something other than itself). Evolution is also necessary to creation because for Love to find perfection and fullness, it must be reciprocal. In other words, a creature has to emerge with the appropriate higher-order complexity to recognize a Creator and love God back. Love cannot be one-sided.
God creates only by conjunction, and, can only have conjunction through self-representation. In other words, the Lord’s love and truth can only flow into, and have relationship with, forms that in some way mirror the Divine nature. Therefore, all created things are created for their usefulness and utility – which is an expression of love. Intelligent design misses this theological point. (I will address the theodicy issue and evil in the world in another post.)
The reason why science and theology can be unified is that evolution is spiritual. The engine of adaptation is not from the strategies of “selfish” genes to ensure survival from the ever-changing external pressures of a given physical environment. Humans have evolved to exploit a more rarefied niche – information. This includes becoming receptive to religious values – which have their objective existence in God’s eternal Being.
Evolution is the exaltation of love (through more complex and noble forms of usefulness). The Lord’s conjunction with the universe is perfected through His covenant with humankind, especially when humans adopt the tenet of loving the neighbor as the guiding principle for their industriousness.
Religion is God’s strategy to extend the evolution of the biosphere into a non-material realm (we call this realm heaven). The directionality of evolution has been towards the spiritual world, because as God’s principle of love descends more perfectly into matter and physical complexity, utility ascends and becomes more spiritual. The ultimate purpose of creation and evolution is to form a heaven from the human race – the only species whose utility can evolve to actions of conscious love. It is through conjunction with God that we can have a blessed and eternal life.
Do you believe we are more than our genes?