Is Evolution the Best He Could Do?

We have already discussed, very briefly, how the God that uses evolution must be limited. With this in mind we should make a few more issues clear.

I recently read through the discussion on evolution held over at times and seasons. There Glen Henshaw wrote a great post on evolutionary algorithms and their potents usefulness in designing wonderfully complex and productive artifices. This is according to Orgel's second rule, "Evolution is cleverer than you are." He gives an explanation which brought to my mind the metaphor of smaller cranes building larger cranes, until we have huge cranes capable of accomplishing tremendous things.

He then concludes with the following:
It seems to me that in the debate between evolution and creation, the burden of proof was often on religious advocates of evolution to demonstrate why God would choose to use such an strange way of creating humans. But now that evolution is being proven to be such a powerful, flexible design technique, the burden of proof is shifting, and maybe it’s now incumbent on detractors to explain why He wouldn’t.
I think the analogy has a great deal of merit but hardly warrants the conclusion drawn from it. In the comments Gordon Smith pointed out that such a scenario is "silly" unless one believes that God is less than omniscient or omnipotent. I fully agree. Luckily, Mormons don't believe in a absolutely omnipotent God, and there is more than enough room for a less than absolutely omniscient God.

Where I disagree with his conclusion, however, is his shifting the question to "why wouldn't He have done it this way?" Because, whereas the engineers are using an evoluitonary algorithm to create wonderful things by designing thousands upon thousands of models and then dumping them, all in virtual reality, the Engineer of this world actually creates His models in actual reality, complete with death, waste and suffering, for the purpose of creating humans. The scientists find the "optimal design and then only really create that one design. God, it seems, couldn't do this. In other words, the scientists are doing it better than God! In other words, the question is definitely "Couldn't God find a better way to do it?" instead of the other way around.

If He was not able to, He is limited in His power to some degree, but He is still omnibenevolent, vastly powerful and still worthy of our worship and allegiance. If He could do better, but chose not to, we can maintain that He is still "omnipotent," again in the limited Mormon sense, but we cannot believe Him to be all-loving. Our allegiance to Him is such a state of affairs in questionable.

Some may say that He could have done better, but He chose not to in order to protect a greater good, but this only moves the question. Could He not have accomplished that greater good without having to allow so much suffering and waste? If we are to accept evolution, even the most basic beliefs about it, to be true, we must posit a God quite limited in His creative abilities.

Engineers are currently using evolutionary algorithms, analogous to biological evolution, as a substitute for hard work and creativity. The results have been very successful showing the power behind the theory of evolution. Attempting to use this example to show God's wisdom in using evolution does not solve many of the problems of evil discussed earlier.


I also failed to mention another comment on that thread:

"On 11/18 in the “Our Ambiguous Origins” thread, I wrote…

“…without implicitly endorsing all of Blake Ostler's ideas, let me second his interpretation of the spiritual creation. I think of it as God running a vast number of computer simulations on his heavenly PC until one of them provides a clear path to his desired outcome. The final program constitutes the ’spiritual creation,’ and provides a pattern to be followed in the physical creation.”

That comment seems to fit even better in this thread." - Last Lemming

I thought this went quite well with what we have been discussing at the preexistence posts.

3/20/2005 07:51:00 PM  

I think things get even easier to resolve if one concludes that God the Father takes a hands off approach to creation. If it lies in the hands of Christ and other pre-mortal spirits, then some of the issues mentioned seem to be much less troubling. From this view, many of the problems that arise do so because we are working things out as they happen. The best resources that were available (via evolution) were chosen and we are dealing with the consequences that they have. The consequences can get mitigated by the atonement and following the spirit, but unless everyone chooses to do this, we are in a fallen world.

3/21/2005 09:43:00 AM  

While I obviously have some issues with some of Ostler's beliefs, mainly with respect to foreknowledge, I do think that God does largely take a hands off approach. So I'd definitely agree with Chris.

3/23/2005 01:15:00 PM  

I think that the hands off theory of creation does have its merits. We should not, however, trick ourselves into thinking that that is what the scriptures are teaching us about the creation, for they clearly are not.

3/26/2005 02:40:00 PM  



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