Does God’s existence depend on the validity of biological evolution? I believe that evolution does not prove or disprove the existence of God (or gods). On a recent post of mine I was asked to clarify this belief.
To begin with, one might argue that evolution disproves the literal account of the creation story as found in the Bible. This is true, but the literal account is held by only one group of Christians living in a world where there are many other Christians (as well as other theists) who don’t necessarily hold the same view. I have the privilege of knowing some Christians who accept the idea of an old earth and biological evolution, but who still have a personal and meaningful relationship with their god. For them, evolution does not necessarily close the door on faith; they feel no threat, they see no conflict. Ultimately, the threat of evolution is only a threat to the theist who holds a literal view of religious text.
After all, a supernatural being could have started the whole process of evolution billions of years ago, as many theistic evolutionists believe. To see evolution as part of a god’s creation can be a wonderful insight to the theist who seeks understanding of the natural world around us.
For example, Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975), who made incredible contributions to our understanding of evolution in the context of genetics, was himself a Christian. In his essay, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution, he wrote:
"I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's, method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way... Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology."
And what of the deist, who believes that a god (or gods) created the universe and then took a back seat? It is possible that the deist’s god can exist, even if life was not predestined or created by supernatural means.
So I don’t believe that evolution disproves or proves the existence of a god (or gods). At best, it only provides a possible god with a less defined role in the development of life on earth. For me, my non-belief in supernatural beings has nothing to do with biological evolution; it has everything to do with philosophical, and other, problems that I have with religion.
Francois Tremblay was kind enough to bring my attention to a counter argument to what I've written above (see here). If I understand it correctly, the argument is as follows: the only mechanism that we know of that produces intelligence is natural selection. In other words, intelligence is a product of biological evolution. The conditions that cause biological evolution did not exist before the existence of the universe. Thus, intelligence did not exist prior to the universe. Therefore, the universe did not have an intelligent creator. Read it through and let me know what you think.