Elliott Sober’s July 2008 article titled Evolution without Naturalism, addresses concerns of Theistic Evolutionists.2 Many have tried to reconcile God and evolution by thinking of evolution as a guided process – one in which God intervenes from time to time to guide it for a purpose. However, evolutionary theory is a materialistic theory of origins. It posits an unguided process, driven by random variations and natural “selection.” The random interactions of the properties of matter, energy and the forces supposedly account for life, not the guiding mind of a creator. Sober suggests they can reconcile the conflict by believing in a “stealth God,” whose non-detectable “interventions fly below the radar of evolutionary biology.”
A guided process is one directed by a mind to achieve a goal conceived by the mind. The construction of a bird’s nest is guided by the mind of a bird for a purpose – to incubate eggs. An unguided process is one not related to a mind. It merely reflects random interactions of the properties of matter, energy and the forces. Imagine a drop of rain falling onto the surface of a placid pond. The resulting perfect circle that appears on the surface of the pond is the product of an unguided process driven simply by the interactions of matter (the drop of rain) being pulled by the force of gravity into a substance having the properties of a liquid to impose a force on the liquid that results in a perfect circular ripple. The ripple is not due to a guiding mind. It just occurs due to a series of material causes for no purpose.
The Theistic Evolutionist has two concerns with life arising from an unguided process. An unguided process driven only by mindless material causes cannot result in a purposeful effect as purpose derives only from a mind. This is true even of a purposeless process set in motion by a mind. I can close my eyes and let my fingers randomly fly over the keys to make a pattern like this: ‘i gf h h’‘[ qgu vn It is one devoid of meaning, because the fingers were not guided by a mind to create one. They just flew randomly. If life is just an occurrence that results from an unguided purposeless process, then it has no inherent purpose, even if set in motion by a mind.
Furthermore, if all the relevant evidence reflects an unguided process, then faith in a stealth god who leaves behind no evidence of his work lacks a rational basis. In that case, we all have a clear “excuse” for non-belief. Any belief in a God is then based only on faith and not in part on a rational analysis of the available evidence. Such a faith is called fideism. This is a concern for the theist in her religious ompetition with non-theists over the mind of her son. Atheists and “Secular” Humanists will tell her son that Atheism/Humanism is evidence based and rational, while the theistic belief of his mother is not – it is based on faith and mythology….
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