Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can Biology Answer Questions of Cosmology & Ethics?

"Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear. ... There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That's the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either." 

- Dr. William B. Provine, professor of Biological Science at Cornell University, in Origins Research 16 (1), p.9

"Logically viewed, this statement is simply laughable. Nowhere within the published, peer-reviewed literature of biology - even evolutionary biology - do any of the statements of which the professor is 'absolutely certain' appear as valid conclusions of sound research. One trembles to think that an expert in the field would not know this or else would feel free to disregard it. Biology as a field of research and knowledge is not even about such issues. It simply does not deal with them. They do not fall within the province of its responsibilities. Yet it is very common to hear such declamations about the state of the universe offered up in lectures and writings by specialists in certain areas who have a missionary zeal for their personal causes."

- Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today, p.5

 [Provine quote included in Willard text]


  1. Agreed that first quote is a wild overreaching of what evolutionary biology can demonstrate or even dare to theorize. But I think it is also true that "orthodox" Christian theology has not yet adequately re-considered traditional ideas about God's sovereignty over the natural world given the seemingly-random processes of evolution.

  2. Anonymous, I agree. Nevertheless, it all hinges upon what one means by "orthodox." If by this one means the "conventional wisdom of the masses" then, of course, there are many who have yet to even affirm evolution let alone re-consider the traditional ideas of God's sovereignty. This is unfortunate in my opinion and I would lean toward your sentiment expressed above.

    At the same time, there is indeed wonderful re-consideration of traditional theology being done in light of contemporary science. If you're interested, I would check out the Process school of theology and individuals like Philip Clayton or Wolfhart Pannenberg.

    Thanks for the comment and sharing.