Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Evolution, the existence of God, Küng and his existential argument

Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 5.

So, is it God who throws dice?

Küng is of course clear: Certainly it would be unfair to postulate God, as Monod insists, from molecular indeterminacy, or other such facet of the evolutionary process. This would merely project a ‘God of the Gaps’. However, Monod’s rejection of ‘creation-mysticism’ is also hardly ground for the rejection of a Creator and Director (Lenker) of the world.

Under the subheading ‘An existential alternative’, Küng presses his reasoning: Either a person says ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to an original foundation, and original goal (Urgrund, Urhalt, Urziel) of the evolutionary process. If a person says ‘no’, then he or she must also agree to the senselessness of the whole process, and the loneliness of humanity. If a person says ‘yes’, then this person may accept a sense in the whole process of evolution, even if it is not based on the process itself, but, trustingly presuppose it (cf. p. 163). Those saying ‘no’ must still answer, ‘Why is there something, and not nothing?’ - a question Küng himself addressed in part B (section 5) of the book. Indeed, there appears to be an unavoidable metaphysical element in human thinking, one that cannot simply be turned off. Metaphysics is not answered, proved or disproved through an acceptance of the physical and chemical nature of evolutionary development. And so the ball ricochets off the hard wall of evolutionary chance, and lands back on our court: Will we say a ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

Labels: ,


At 5/24/2006 2:46 PM, Anonymous Carl W. Conrad said...

For what it's worth, I've long thought (originally in pondering the arguments of Lucretius) that, however, simplistic it might be to formulate it thus, the academic chasm between those who hold that Physics is logically prior to Biology or Biology to Physics is really a matter of whether one envisions LIFE as or NON-LIFE as essentially characterizing the universe. LIFE may have a hit-or-miss record of success, but it surely seems to have an essential characteristic teleology -- perhaps something more than what Spinoza called a "conatus in suo esse perseverare": let's call it "drive toward improvisation and improvement." Of course, to affirm that sort of thing requires a faith comparable to that expressed in the affirmation in Genesis 1, "God saw that it was good."

At 5/24/2006 10:51 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Carl,
... really a matter of whether one envisions LIFE as or NON-LIFE as essentially characterizing the universe

Yes, I think Küng is saying something similar, not with respect to 'life' as a feauture of the universe itself, but rather as a relation of the human to reality as a whole, i.e. the metaphysical questions of origin and goal.

Thanks for your thought provoking comment!


Post a Comment

<< Home