Author Archives: Jon Garvey

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.

Teleology and the extended evolutionary synthesis

Jonathan Bartlett is an ID guy, but he has commented here, mainly because I mentioned favourably the conference he organised on Alternatives to Methodological Naturalism, which has now become a book that sounds well worth exploring. He recently did a podcast, available on YouTube, suggesting that the unifying theme behind the various disparate strands that make up what is called the “Extended Evoluionary Synthesis” is teleonomy.

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How did he do that?

The commonest rejoinder to any design argument in nature, you will no doubt have noticed, is “Who’s the designer, then?” Although the ID reply is actually perfectly rational – that inference to design cannot, intrinsically, tell one the nature of the designer in detail – the question is in reality just an over-elaborate, if hackneyed, attempt to show that there is a hidden agenda of religion which, once uncovered, would render design unscientific in principle and, probably, a threat to the body politic. It’s Catch 22 – stick with methodological naturalism and design is deceitful creationism: mention God in reply to the question and it’s an illegitimate insertion into science.

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Easter and the revised laws of nature

Even within the “semi-deist” version of Evolutionary Creation, the Resurrection of our Lord holds a special place as an example (in some cases the only example) of a true miracle within an otherwise “natural” creation. But the Resurrection isn’t actually a miracle at all.

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A brief theological history of secondary causes

BioLogos comments, as Eddie’s last piece details, are all over the theological shop at the moment. That’s brought into almost comic relief by a few threads in which outsiders suggest there are theological problems in Evolutionary Creation, only to be contradicted by a host of BioLogians closing ranks in defence of orthodoxy by disputing any of these these problems exist, whilst simultaneously contradicting each other’s theology. I’m not sure how productive it is priding oneself on being a broad church and then defending the soundness of ones theology. It makes for a lively, if ultimately frustrating, talking shop I suppose. The ensuing thoughts are prompted by at least a couple … Continue reading

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Molinism can’t salvage randomness

A couple of times recently I’ve heard the suggestion, seriously made, that the way to resolve true randomness in aspects of creation, and God’s ability to bring his plans to fruition, is through Molinism. It’s four years since I addressed that idea, and it still seems to be around at the highest levels of theistic evolution and ID, so let’s give it another turn in the spotlight. Because Molinism works even less for “chance” than it does for the “libertarian free will” for which it was first designed.

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Genetic determinism, emergence, eggs and baskets

One product (literally) of genetic determinism (and incidentally another that was, like molecular biology and eugenics, massively funded by the Rockefeller Foundation) is genetically modified seed. Twenty years ago, my son was at college studying aquaculture, and I used to argue with him about GM, which to him was simply a targeted improvement on selective breeding, but to me a potential ecological disaster because of our ignorance of how the genome actually works. He was evidently taught the hubristic reductionist version of genetics I discussed in my recent post.

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RIP Trevor Sandford

I’ve just heard of the death of my old university friend, Trevor Sandford, who in those days was part of the best Christian acoustic group around, Water into Wine Band. He first introduced himself by finding his way into my room when I was out, and leaving a cryptic note signed “Rover T”, but before long I met him and found he wanted me to play support to WIWB, or as it was then called the even more unwieldy Bill Thorp’s Water into Wine Band, on a tour of the Cambridge college common rooms and bars. And so I ended up being Jon Garvey’s Water into Newcastle Brown Ale Band … Continue reading

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Divine compositionalism, faithfulness and free choice

When I wrote my recent piece on the new theory of divine action called “divine compositionalism” I decided to restrict it to a general defence of the viability of occasionalism, of which it is a variant. I was answering the charge that occasionalism renders causation, and therefore nature, a “sham”, by attempting to show that reality is just as multilayered and “deceptive” without occasionalism as with it. Furthermore, I pointed out that our sense of being deceived if God is the active cause of events is highly enculturated, ancient man (and pre-scientific cultures even now) being happy to attribute even their own deepest actions, ultimately, to God whilst retaining effortlessly … Continue reading

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Some thoughts on genetic reductionism and determinism

The Human Genome Project promised enormous practical advances, took fifteen years and cost $2.7 billion, though under Francis Collins it came in ahead of schedule and under budget. Though there are those who would disagree (which fact is really the main burden of this post), many feel that it failed – or rather, than in succeeding spectacularly, it destroyed its main raisons d’être, as this conclusion from a paper by the Dutch Professor Hub Zwart well describes:

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Metaphysics, creatio continua, etc, again

I’ve just come across an interesting new version of the metaphysical position on divine action called occasionalism, that has been termed “Divine Compositionalism” by its proposers, philosopher Walter J Schultz and biologist Lisanne Winslow, both of Northeastern University. It seems to me to have a number of strengths. For background, check out my 2014 piece on the three main metaphysical contenders in Christianity for understanding divine action. In the end, exactly how God acts is beyond our ken, but how we conceive things makes a great deal of difference to how we understand the world.

Posted in Creation, Philosophy, Theology | 2 Comments