1. Smith makes the argument even more sweeping by arguing (1) that a universe brought to be by a benevolent Creator would have to have as one of its purposes the coming to be of animate creatures, and (2) that a theist cannot fall back on God’s knowledge of counterfactuals because the needed counterfactual in this case “is inconsistent with the semantic properties of counterfactuals” (p. 213).
2.James R. Moore, The Post-Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to come to terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America 1870-1900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979, chapter 10.
3.The Origin of Species, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959, p.221.
4.Christian de Duve, Vital Dust, New York: Basic Books, 1995, p. 9. See also his “The Birth of Complex Cells,” Scientific American, 274 (4), 1996, 50-57.
5.Vital Dust, p. 292. This last inference seems to risk begging the question.
6.Vital Dust, p. 285.
7.Vital Dust, p. 297.
8.Vital Dust, p. 296. What strikes the reader, besides the ingenuity of the tentative reconstructions de Duve offers of the biochemical pathways that could have led from one stage to the next, is the exceedingly tentative character, by his own admission, of some of those reconstructions, and hence the real difficulty in specifying the probabilities involved in a step of the particular sort. There is a temptation to say that if the time taken between one major biochemical development and the next was in a particular instance T, then T is “the time it takes” for a transition of this kind to occur.
9.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, New York: Harper, 1965, pp. 151, 149. Emphasis in the original.
10.Drake’s colleague, Carl Sagan, filled in the details of Drake’s original sketch in his collaborative work with the Russian astrophysicist I.S. Shklovskii, in Intelligent Life in the Universe, San Francisco: Holden-Day, 1966, chap. 29. See my comments in “Estimating the probabilities of extraterrestrial life,” Icarus, 14, 1971, 291-4.
11.This View of Life, New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1964, p. 189.
12.Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, New York: Knopf, 1971, pp. 112-3. Emphasis his.
13.Ibid., pp. 169-70.
14.Ibid., pp. 119, 124, 127.
15.Eight Little Piggies, New York: Penguin, 1993, p. 77.
16.Ernst Mayr, a leading exponent of the synthetic theory, claims that an apparently discontinuous sequence of this sort can easily be incorporated into a broadly Darwinian account of evolutionary change; he recalls, indeed, that he had already indicated the need for such a modification in some of his own early work (Toward a New Philosophy of Biology, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988, chap. 26: “Speciational evolution through punctuated equilibrium”).
17.Wonderful Life, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989, p. 318.
18. Wonderful Life, p. 318.
19.See, for example, Kim Sterelny’s review article, “Understanding Life: Recent Work in the Philosophy of Biology,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 46, 1995, 155-83; pp. 174-8. See also the extended polemic in Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1995, chap. 10.
20.Wonderful Life, pp. 291, 289.
21.Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Chance and creativity in evolution,” in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, ed. F. J. Ayala and T. Dobzhansky, London: Macmillan, 1974, 307-338; pp. 309, 311.
22.”Chance and creativity,” pp. 318, 329.
23.Elliott R. Sober, “Progress and direction in evolution,” in Creative Evolution?, ed. J. H. Campbell and J. W. Schopf, Boston: Jones and Bartlett, 1994, 19-33.
24.Francisco Ayala, “The concept of biological progress,” in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, 339-56.
25.David L. Hull, Darwin and His Critics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, chap. 4: “Teleology”; p. 57. See also his Philosophy of Biological Science, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974.
26.Ernst Mayr, “The multiple meanings of teleological,” in Toward a New Philosophy of Biology, 38-66; Francisco Ayala, “Teleological explanations in evolutionary biology,” Philosophy of Science, 37, 1970, 1-15.
27.The different roles played by material necessity (in the functioning, say, of the materials of the liver) and hypothetical necessity (in the teleological argument itself) leads to some intricate problems for contemporary Aristotle scholars. See John M. Cooper, “Hypothetical necessity and natural teleology,” in Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology, ed. Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, 243-74; D. M. Balme, “Technology and necessity,” in the same collection, 275-85.
28.Wolfgang Kullman notes however, that in practice, Aristotle’s references to final cause are not entirely consistent with one another. See “Different concepts of the final cause in Aristotle,” Aristotle on Nature and Living Things, ed. Allan Gottholf, Pittsburgh, PA: Mathesis, 1985, 169-75.
29.Those who argue that teleological forms of reasoning are central to the biology of today make it clear that they depart from Aristotle at this point. Ayala concludes his defense of the teleological character of much explanation in biology with the remark that Aristotle’s “error was not that he used teleological explanations in biology but that he extended the concept of teleology to the non-living world,” (“Teleological explanations,” p. 15).
30.The long first part of the Timaeus is devoted to the “works of Reason.” See Francis Cornford’s classic commentary, Plato’s Cosmology, New York: United Arts Press, 1957, 33-159.
31.See, for instance, G. E. R. Lloyd, “Plato as a natural scientist,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, 88, 1968, 78-92.
32.Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q.2, a.3c.
33.René Descartes, Fifth Replies (to Pierre Gassendi), in Oeuvres de Descartes, Charles Adam and Paul Tannery, Paris: Vrin, 1964-74, p. 375; translated in Daniel Garber, Descartes’ Metaphysical Physics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992, p. 273.
34.With a view to singling out the sort of teleology that is objectionable to Darwinians, Francisco Ayala draws a distinction between an external “teleology,” a shaping action imposed by an external intelligence, and an immanent or internal “teleology” of a broadly Aristotelian kind that he finds unobjectionable and indeed indispensable in describing the living world (“Teleological explanations,” p. 11). For a similar distinction, see T. A. Goudge, The Ascent of Life, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961, p. 193; Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Chance and creativity in evolution,” in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, ed. F. Ayala and T. Dobzhansky, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974, 307-311; p. 311. But this distinction does not, it seems to me, do the work required of it. Many of those who have found Darwinian natural selection an inadequate explanation postulate something like an élan vital (Bergson) or a psychic energy (Teilhard de Chardin) which is internal to natural process and guides its outcome in ways that indicate intelligent anticipation of outcomes. This form of “teleological” explanation of evolution is equally objectionable from the strict Darwinian standpoint. It is the action of a guiding intelligence, whether external or internal, that the theory of natural selection is held to render unnecessary.
35.The term was first introduced by C. S. Pittendrigh in “Adaptation, natural selection, and behavior,” in Behavior and Evolution, ed. A. Roe and G. G. Simpson, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1958, 390-416; p. 394.
36.Mayr, “Multiple meanings,” p. 45. Emphasis his.
37.”Most of Aristotle’s references to goal-directed processes refer precisely to the same things which Pittendrigh and I would call teleonomic,” Mayr, “Multiple meanings,” p. 47.
38.G. G. Simpson, Biology and Man, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1964, p. 34.
39.Ayala, “Teleological explanations,” p. 10.
40.William Wimsatt brings out this feature of natural selection as a teleological process in his immensely detailed “Teleology and the logical structure of function statements,’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 3, 1972, 1-80.
41.Mayr, “Multiple meanings,” p. 43.
42.Ayala, “Teleological explanations,” p. 11.
43.Mayr, as we have seen, would limit the term ‘teleological’ to processes only, on the grounds that only processes can, strictly speaking, have goals; “static systems” cannot (“Multiple meanings,” p. 51). This leads to some linguistic oddities, reflecting the ambiguities of the “telic” terms, since one obviously can speak of the liver, for example, as having a purpose in the functioning of the organism generally. Mayr is forced to say that “it may be necessary to invent a new term for…biological organs which are capable of carrying out useful functions, such as pumping by the heart” (pp. 52-3).
44.Philip Kitcher, “Function and design,” in The Philosophy of Biology, ed. David Hull and Michael Ruse, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, 258-79; pp. 258-9.
45.Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, New York: Norton, 1986, p. 21.
47.G. G. Simpson, This View of Life, p. 212.
48.Op. cit., p. 210.
49.Op. cit., p. 268.
50.Op. cit., p. 265.
51.In correspondence with Asa Gray. See, for example, the letter of Darwin to Gray of 22 May, 1860, in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, ed. Frederick Burkhardt et al., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, vol. 8, p. 224.
52.Gould, Wonderful Life, p. 291.
53.The Biblical declaration that human beings were made in God’s image has been assumed to authorize believers, conversely, to find in God some of the lineaments of the human, notably intelligence and will. The ascription of purpose, and more generally of personality, to the Creator has been challenged from a variety of quarters in modern times as unduly anthropomorphic. It should once again be noted that the thrust of this essay is not to establish that purpose can be predicated of the Creator on the grounds of evidence found in the world around us, but to ask whether purpose on the Creator’s part in regard to the human is consonant with what we know of evolutionary process.
54.W. H. Vanstone, Love’s Endeavour, Love’s Expense, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1977, pp. 62-3. Quoted by John Polkinghorne, Science and Creation, London: SPCK, 1988, p. 62.
55.Keith Ward, Religion and Creation, Oxford: Clarendon, 1996, p. 188.
56.Op. cit., p. 257.
57.Op. cit., p. 202.
58.John Polkinghorne, Science and Christian Belief, London: SPCK, 1994, p. 81. God presumably does not choose to be temporal. If the future is not yet there to be known (by a temporal being), it is not clear in what sense one can hold that the limitations on God’s knowledge and power that Polkinghorne postulates are a kenosis, freely chosen.
59.Ward, Religion and Creation, p. 261.
60.Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems, transl. Stillman Drake, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953, 367-8.
61.Peter van Inwagen, “The place of chance in a world sustained by God”, in Divine and Human Action, ed. T. V. Morris, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988, 211-235; p. 225.
62.Loc. cit. Emphasis mine. Realizing that this last suggestion is likely to shock some of his fellow-Christians, van Inwagen adds a significant qualification: “I am sure that the existence of animals made in God’s image-that is, rational animals having free-will and capable of love-is a part of God’s plan.” Though there is no theological reason that our own human race need be supposed to be part of God’s plan (he has a strong sense of ‘plan’ in mind), there is, in his view, good theological reason to suppose that human-like life somewhere in the universe is part of God’s plan. He is not alluding here to the vastness of the cosmic scale as the means to this end (he does not, in fact, regard this as sufficient to establish a “plan” on God’s part). Rather, he supposes that it is sufficient for such a plan that God should “decree” that rational life should arise somewhere in the universe by whatever means, leaving the specifics undeclared, so to speak.
63.Van Inwagen uses the term, ‘miracle,’ in a broader sense than usual; it could cover, for example imperceptible processes at the quantum level of the sort that could affect evolution, where God could alter momentarily the causal powers of the entities concerned. If God were to do this, the alteration would, of course, have to be in a particular evolutionary sequence such as ours. In that event, the existence of the human race on earth would be part of God’s plan. Though van Inwagen regards the current neo-Darwinian account of human origins as unsatisfactory (“Doubts about Darwinism,” in Darwinism: Science or Philosophy? ed. J. Buell and V. Hearne, Richardson, TX: Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 1996, 177-191), he leans rather more to the hope that a later extended scientific account will satisfy. The other “special action” alternative he regards as “inelegant and unlovely” (personal communication).
64.See Alvin Plantinga, “When faith and reason clash: Evolution and the Bible”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 21, 1991, 8-32. Two critical responses to his essay appear in the same journal issue: Howard J. Van Till, “When faith and reason cooperate,” 33-45; Ernan McMullin, “Plantinga’s defense of special creation”, 55-79. Plantinga replies to them in turn: “Evolution, neutrality, and antecedent probability,” 80-109. A further comment: Ernan McMullin, “Evolution and special creation”, Zygon, 28, 1993, 299-335; and Plantinga’s response: “Science: Augustinian or Duhemian?,” Faith and Philosophy, 13, 1996, 368-94.
65.See the references in the previous note.
66.See the detailed review and critique of the views of William Pollard, Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne on Divine action, in Steven D. Crain, Divine Action and Indeterminism: On Models of Divine Agency that Exploit the New Physics, Ann Arbor, MI: Ann Arbor Microfilms, 1993.
67.See the exchange between the two authors in John Polkinghorne, “Creatio continua and divine action” (a comment on Peacocke’s approach), and Peacocke’s accompanying “A response to Polkinghorne,” Science and Christian Belief, 1, 1995, 101-8; 109-15.
68.John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998, 57-75.
69.Op. cit., p. 72.
70.Op. cit., p. 60.
71.See Steven D. Crain, “Divine action in a world of chaos: An evaluation of John Polkinghorne’s model of special divine action,” Faith and Philosophy, 14, 1997, 41-61. Peacocke argues, correctly to my mind, that Polkinghorne’s way of inferring from the practical unpredictability of chaotic process to the ontological indeterminism of the process itself cannot properly appeal to what philosophers of science call scientific realism. This latter authorizes provisional inference to the existence of the entities postulated in scientific theories. It does not authorize what Polkinghorne calls inference from the epistemological to the ontological, from our practical inability to specify the initial conditions of certain dynamic processes to the claim that the initial stage of the process does not determine later stages (“A response to Polkinghorne,” p. 111). Many of the essays in Chaos and Complexity (ed. Robert J. Russell, Nancey Murphy and Arthur Peacocke, Rome: Vatican Observatory, and Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995) deal with this and related issues.
72.Arthur Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993, p. 155.
73.Peacocke, “God’s interaction with the world: The implications of deterministic ‘chaos’ and of interconnected and interdependent complexity,” in Chaos and Complexity, ed. Russell et al., p. 180. “God cannot know precisely the future outcome of quantum dependent situations, so cannot act directly to influence them in order to implement the divine purpose and will” (p. 281). Our “newly-won awareness” of the unpredictabilities of physical process “does not, of itself, help directly to illuminate” the manner of God’s action in the world (pp. 281-2).
74.In his most recent work, Peacocke has restricted the scope of unpredictability-in-principle to quantum systems only (“God’s interaction with the world,” pp. 271, 277). Earlier, he maintained that many dynamic systems that are governed by non-linear equations are unpredictable in principle, notably chaotic systems. (See, for example, Theology for a Scientific Age, p. 51.) This has now become a point of disagreement between himself and Polkinghorne.
75.Theology for a Scientific Age, p. 166. See also “God’s interaction with the world,” p. 281.
76.Peacocke, “God’s interaction with the world,” p. 283.
77.There is a larger issue that I have left aside here, the issue of whether quantum theory really does establish the indeterminism of quantum processes. The “top-down” models seem to rely on the indeterminism of processes at the lower level. (Would Peacocke’s “top-down” account work in a deterministic universe?) But, although the standard “Copenhagen” interpretation of quantum mechanics which has been more or less taken for granted since the 1930’s is indeterministic, the alternative Bohm interpretation of the quantum formalism which is deterministic has never really been eliminated from contention and has recently come in for renewed attention. James Cushing argues that the factors favoring the original adoption of the indeterminist alternative were, to a significant extent, historically contingent in character. See his Quantum Mechanics: Historical Contingency and the Copenhagen Hegemony, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
78., for example, Alan G. Padgett, God, Eternity, and the Nature of Time, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992, chap. 3: “The doctrine of Divine timelessness: A historical sketch.” I am grateful to David Burrell and Fred Freddoso for our discussions of the issues arising in this section.
79.to relate the temporality of the creature with the eternality of the Creator without either making temporality unreal (by assuming that the future already exists) or making God quasi-temporal, has vexed philosophers from Aquinas’s day to our own. See Eleanor Stump and Norman Kretzman, “Eternity,” Journal of Philosophy, 78, 1981, 429-459.
80. G. D. Yarnold, “Everlasting or eternal?”, chap. 9 in The Moving Image, London: Allen and Unwin, 1966, 139-152; Brian Davies, “A timeless God?”, New Blackfriars, 64, 1983, 218-224; Julie Gowan, “God and timelessness: Everlasting or eternal?,” Sophia, 26, 1987, 15-29.
81.Atemporal,’ however, has some unfortunate overtones of its own, unfortunate that is for our purposes here, since it is sometimes used to describe entities like numbers or Platonic forms to which likewise the category of time does not apply. But ‘atemporal’ merely says what its referents are not, not what they are. Numbers have no existence as causes in their own right, whereas God is First Cause exercising the fullness of activity.
82.The Consolation of Philosophy, 5.6.
83.Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q.14, a.13.
84.Debate about the manner of God’s knowledge of future contingents intensified after Aquinas’s day, particularly about how it was to be reconciled with the reality of human free choice. It came to a head between the Dominican supporters of Bañez and the Jesuit followers of Molina at the end of the sixteenth century in the famous controversy “de auxiliis.” For an account of the subtleties to which this protracted discussion gave rise, see William L. Craig, The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez, Leiden: Brill, 1988.
85.Some of them are making what they take to be an even stronger case: that the living world is full of examples of “bad” design-the “Panda’s thumb” argument: “If God had designed a beautiful machine to reflect his wisdom and power, surely he would not have used a collection of parts generally fashioned for other purposes…. Ideal design is a lousy argument for evolution, for it mimics the postulated action of an omnipotent creator. Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution-paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.” (Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History, London: Penguin, 1980, p. 20). But a theist will surely ask why a sensible God should not make use of natural process, with whatever “odd arrangements” or “outright imperfections” (Richard Dawkins’ stronger phrase in The Blind Watchmaker, p. 91) that this may entail. Timothy Shanahan makes this point in “Darwinian naturalism, theism, and biological design,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 49, 1997, 170-8.
86.See Ernan McMullin, “Indifference principle and anthropic principle in cosmology”, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 24, 1993, 359-389.
87.For a useful review, see John Leslie, Universes, London: Routledge, 1989.
88.The anthropic argument, it should be emphasized, is a vulnerable one in a number of respects. See Ernan McMullin, “Fine-tuning the universe?,” in Science, Technology, and Religious Ideas, ed. M. Shale and G. Shields, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1994, 97-125.
89.See, for example, M.A. Corey, God and the New Cosmology: The Anthropic Design Argument, Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993; Nancey Murphy, “Evidence of design in the fine-tuning of the universe,” in Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature, ed. R. J. Russell, N. Murphy and C. J. Isham, Rome: Vatican Observatory, and Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993, 607-35.
90.Thomas Tracy offers a helpful analysis from the theological standpoint of what this difference may amount to: “Particular Providence and the God of the gaps,” CTNS Bulletin, 15(1), 1995, 1-18.
91.Following once again a traditional path, it seems consistent to maintain that sinful actions on the part of free agents or natural evils like the AIDS epidemic need not be intended by the Creator but are permitted because they are necessary consequences of something that is intended. I am inclined to think that this is the only way one might meet the objection that has troubled so many since Darwin first proposed the hypothesis of natural selection: how can a good God allow suffering on the cosmic scale that selection appears to require? But the issue of theodicy lies outside the scope of this essay, already over-large.