I’ve never met an IDer or creationist who could explain this, and it should give pause to theistic evolutionists as well.
An article in Aeon:
A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy
Suzanne Sadedin is an evolutionary biologist who has worked at Monash University, University of Tennessee, Harvard University, and KU Leuven.
A New York Times article on the phenomenon:
So I am a medical doctor, a scientist and a theistic evolutionist. I’ve been familiar with most of this science, and find it fascinating. The article is an entertaining read, and anthropomorphizes the processes here with very value-laden language, inferring purpose and intent onto mechanistic processes in a way that seems almost anti-scientific, like pantheism. It makes a good story and fun read, but there are other ways to tell the story too.
I’m all for telling good science engaged stories, but I’m not sure what here should give me pause. I understand the story very differently, and nothing in science really adjudicates this, except to say that it is silly to really believe that mindless things have internally driven purpose and intent.
Another great example is the “Selfish Gene” that is a powerful image and a helpful concept, but cannot be literally true in a way that needs to be grappled with by a theistic evolutionist. (e.g. this is an interesting expansion on this: http://jongarvey.co.uk/download/pdf/GGE/Chapter_8.pdf ). I do not how to even think about a sequence of DNA letters that are literally selfish in a way that I understand selfishness among humans. It is just a story Dawkins tells in his morality play. Whatever.
Let’s tell our stories, but I do not put much stock in them. Stories are not the truth that science reveals of our world.
No one is claiming that genes are literally selfish little bastards, out to screw their competitors. Mary Midgley accused Dawkins of making that mistake, and the egg is still on her face decades later.
The problem for the theistic evolutionist is not that the fetus and the mother are literally at war, but rather that evolution creates a situation in which they might as well be. As Sadedin writes:
Evolution causes an enormous amount of waste, suffering, and death. Reconciling it with a supposedly omnipotent, omnibenevolent God is an enormous problem for the theistic evolutionist.
A couple of excerpts from Midgley’s comically inept review of Dawkins:
I call bullshit on this claim.
So you buy into the mechanistic world view just like a good IDist. It would appear you and Kirk have more in common than you’d expect.
The problem with the OP, and indeed with all “arguments from evolution” is that if there’s an evolutionary benefit to something, then it follows that it’s for the good. And if there isn’t any evolutionary benefit, then evolution doesn’t explain it.
I know that. I’m just not sure exactly what is to be “grappled” with by me here. I see a value-laden story told using some biological facts as a starting point. I do not agree that evolution actually creates a situation when human mothers and children might as well be at war. I do not even see the logic to arrive at this conclusion.
If an “evolutionary” perspective leads logically to this conclusion (that mothers and children might as well be at war), if you are right, this might suggest that evolution does not give us a complete view of the world. No surprise there for me.
I have a lot in common with Kirk. He is not my enemy. It appears we do disagree with science ability to detect purpose. He seems to think Divine purpose is detectable with science. I do not.
I think we went over this once before. I’m not convinced this is true. This appears to be a one-sided retelling of the story. I do not personally feel or see a strong contradiction here between the God I find in Scripture and the way I know the world to be.
Besides (and let’s’ not go down the rabbit hole), the logical problem is solved with Molinism.
I don’t know why you’re bringing “purpose” into the discussion. I’ll assume you believe God raised Jesus from the dead. Apart from any purpose God may have had in raising Jesus from the dead, do you think his resurrection was undetectable?
If blind, mindless, mechanical evolutionary processes can do anything we can observe (detect) what is the point of being a theistic evolutionist? What role is there for God in evolution?
When you spoke of God creating life via an evolutionary process were you just using sloppy language?
This article is dumb. The final evidence being once again the claim that genes makes child obesity and autism etc etc.
Poor judgement going on.
first people are conceived in sin and a fallen world. so death struggles to destroy life. So it would be a struggle with as without the womb.
Yet not originally in Eden.
The child needing to eat is not a war on mom. Brest feeding gets riough too but not personal.
The article brought up the maddonna. Hmmm. Is this some attempt to say Jesisus wared with Mary as a general attack on the birthing process as not what god would do.
Hmm. Call me suspicious but ID/YEC is so intrusive in origin/generasl biology concepts these days everybody feels the threat in the establishment.
its time for them too go.
There’s a difference between not being able to explain a thing, and not being able to explain a thing to Keiths satisfaction.
I’ve never met an IDer or creationist who could explain this, and it should give pause to theistic evolutionists as well.
Give me one reason why someone should try to explain it? Would this change your mind or the mind of the likes? As seen above, no argument will work if it is not with what you already chose to believe….
If random processes created life you are not happy with, why don’t you use your intelligence and create a better one? Hmmm…I forgot that you can’t… because you and the smart asses like you are not as intelligent as dumb luck…
What a pity…
Not you, J-Mac. You’re grappling with the important stuff:
And your “explanation”, if the other thread is any indication, is that there are loads of people signing up to enter the “earth” simulation in order to experience this:
So “lots of people want to experience gestational diabetes” is your idea of a “satisfying” explanation?
Well, it’s not cancer, a rather more popular pick. But maybe the choices are limited.
A useful clause for discussions of ID/creationism, as it can precede any fact of biology.
You’re missing my point, which is that the metaphorical conflict between maternal and paternal genes sets up the “tug of war” situations described in the article. As Sadedin says:
The question for theistic evolutionists is this: why did God choose evolution as his preferred process when it creates these absurd tug-of-war conflicts between mother and child, with all of the associated problems such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes?
And more generally, why did God choose a process that creates such a vast amount of waste, suffering, and death? Why did God evolve us instead of simply creating us the way he wanted us to be?
I genuinely do not understand your logic here. I am not being difficult, but it does not make sense to me.
I might have well described the exact same situation thusly:
Pregnancy is a precisely balanced system where both the mother and baby have to collaborate together on a genetic, biochemical and physiologic level. If one side of the partnership fails, it can have disastrous consequences for both.
In fact, the mechanisms of preeclampsia and miscarriage that we know so far in humans (though this is still being worked) appear to limit the reproductive exploitation of women by men. Some studies, show that consistently exposing a woman to the semen a man, decreases the chances of miscarriage and preeclampsia for pregnancies conceived with that man, but not too others. This makes it more biologically difficult for men to bear children with women outside of long-term relationships.
Also, this balanced system is required for two reasons: (1) the profound diversity of human HLA types, which gives us strong population level resilience to disease and (2) longer gestations (limited by head size) in contrast with egg-laying, breastfeeding, and the long period of childhood human development create the conditions for long-term families and the emergence of culture.
Without pregnancy, we might not know the meaning of love, or even have need for complex language. Without pregnancy, we would not be human. It should be no surprise, then, that pregnancy and nurturing long-term families is rare in the animal kingdom. The offspring of some spiders literally eating their mothers, but this is nothing like our experience as human.
In humans, one could even say that the molecular and physiological cooperation required between the mother and the fetus foreshadows what family is meant to be, a cooperative connection between related individual for the benefit of everyone.
So you might disagree with my story, but that is not the point. Yes, I am also using “value-laden” language that does not all derive from science. The fact of the matter is that we can tell this story either way.
My story, I would argue, is more accurate for two reasons. (1) it is truer to the human experience of motherhood. (2) it includes more relevant scientific data that is specific to the human situation. But until you can demonstrate the impossible, that my story is false and your story is true, there really is nothing here for me to explain.
It is the same with your characterization of evolution. That is one biased way of telling the story. We will probably agree on the science nearly entirely, but I see the story unfolding in a different way.
Everyone does. It’s a feature of language!
Sure, but science does not tell us these values. Value-laden language overlaid on a scientific account is a very human thing to do, but let us not pretend that the “values” here are anything scientific. They are not.
My conflict is with the author’s story, and the values her morality play tells. It is not with the science. But we disagree with other’s values all the time. Nothing new here. This identifies no conflict between my faith and the reality of this world.
Same here too. This, I believe, is a value laden way to describing the evolutionary story.
Let us start with “waste”. I instead see this as extravagance that declares God’s transcendent glory. Yes, the universe appears much much larger than needed to house us, but this declares that God is that much bigger than us. I see the extravagance of an artist, not the efficiency of an engineer (take not ID people) in creation. That extravagance an engineer would call waste, but that demonstrates that the term is really value-laden, and not derived from the science.
About “death”, this is among the strangest objections of all. If we took this objection to its logical extreme, we would sterilize the whole earth with 1,000 nuclear bombs. This would end all future suffering and death (good, right?), because no one would remain alive. Of course that is absurd, because it would also end the possibility of life, with all the good that brings. This “so much death” objection is so one sided because it ignores the value of life, The way I tell the story: God values good of life so much that He has been extravagant in creating and enabling it to grow and persist for hundreds of millions of years.
The “suffering” objection has similar problems as the death one. If we are to take it seriously, we should obliterate ourselves and all other life so that there is no more of it. The reality is that suffering is balanced with other things too: it is a path for growth, for heroism, for healthy challenges, etc.
Of course, “suffering” is not equally distributed, and this does not seem fair; it is unjust and it is. But as a Christian, I believe two things that alleviates this problem.
(1) injustice is a gift because it reminds us that this world is not what we were made for, it is fallen. We are morally outraged by injustice, even though it is the obvious and logical consequence of every worldview that exists (including atheism and Christianity). This is totally irrational, but why is this so? I propose one reason (not only reason) is that this is a clue that we should look for something beyond this world.
(2) Much more personally, we find that God Himself enters into the suffering of this world. He does not remove Himself from it, but enters into it willingly. This challenges our values regarding suffering, and demonstrates He values avoiding suffering differently than us. It also assures us that He does empathize is not callously pouring pain upon us.
Of course, in this I am talking about the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. I think the value of suffering is that it points to Him as the resolution. I know you are not a Christian, but really does make sense of this. If suffering is your main complaint about my position, you should look more closely at him.
So you don’t really believe that ID or creationism can explain anything then.
I wish you people would make up your minds.
I argue that Molinism actually undermines the free will defense:
Sure, there’s both cooperation and conflict. The question is why the conflict is there if a perfect (and perfectly good) God is in charge.
You don’t think that an omniGod could do better than that? Is he such a klutz that he can’t protect women from “reproductive exploitation” except by killing a whole bunch of them?
Is God too weak to instill those capabilities in us by any means other than evolution?
With equally poor logic one could say that the tug-of-war battles between fetus and mother, along with the pain of childbirth, foreshadow what family is meant to be.
First off, that was a fun conversation about the purpose of theistic evolution. Thanks for joining in that one with me. It is interesting to me that you understand my point than many of the IDists. What a strange situation.
I read your proposal, but I would refer you to the extensive philosophical literature on this exact question. I am not a philosopher, but the professionals (as far as I know) do not think this sort of objection is a defeater. I think the issue is that you have not demonstrated that your counterfactual world is in fact logically possible. But I digress. Take your specific proposal up with the professional philosophers.
From my point of view, I doubt the premise of the question on a linguistic level. What exactly does omniscient, omnipotent, and good actually mean? Usually these are presented as platonic ideals, which is a very foreign way of thinking about this in terms of my understanding of Scripture. How do we know your definition of these terms is correct, especially when you divorce it entirely from the context in which these terms are understood?
If your conception of these three things produces a contradiction with this world, I would take that as strong evidence that you have the wrong definition of one (or more) of these platonic ideals. By “wrong” I mean, “your” conception does not match the God we find in scripture, but that does not mean there is no salient definition that does not produce a contradiction.
And this is a reasonable conclusion too, because God is confined to behaving the way you think He should, and there is no good reason to think our logical instinct is right concerning His nature. Why do these words mean what you think they do? Why would we even think that arbitrary specification of these terms by mere humans has any correspondence with the God of all creation if he exists?
Well, as for me, I do not think we can trust any human’s understanding of God (including myself) with enough confidence to logically reason from our understanding to conclude He does not exist.
You are missing my point. I am not saying that my telling is “right,” and least not demonstrably so. I am just pointing out that we can tell the story however we like, as it suits our purposes.
I have no idea what an omniGod is. I do not think of God as fulfillment of platonic ideals.
I think God can do whatever He wants and He does not answer to us.
What a strange claim. God can do whatever He wants. I think He chose to use evolution. But unless He tells me, how could I know for sure why? Looking at the grandeur of evolution, and the expanse of the universe, it is hard to see it is a failure of power that made Him use evolution.
I can guess, but in the end this is just the “scandal of particularity”. God does what He does. We do not usually know why unless He tells us.
It makes absolutely no sense to say that evolution causes death.
“Omnigod” is a technical term made up by keiths. In most situations where he uses it, it appears to refer to some sort of tri-omnigod.
Yes, that was fun. I enjoy sparring with intelligent Christians.
What’s even stranger is that a good number of the skeptics here understand intelligent design better than the IDists do.
It doesn’t lead to any contradictions, so why wouldn’t it be logically possible?
Also, note that the free will defense itself is incoherent because it rests on the incoherent notion of libertarian free will. My point is that even if we assume the coherence of libertarian free will, the defense still fails.
Third, even if the free will defense actually worked, it wouldn’t “solve” the logical problem of evil. That would require a theodicy, not a mere defense.
Lastly, it isn’t just the logical problem of evil that creates trouble for Christians. The evidential problem is an enormous problem that theists are nowhere close to solving.
Take a look at this recent thread:
Christianity took quite a beating there.
You’re still missing my point 🙂 , which does not depend on either of those ways of “telling the story”. The “war” metaphor is just a metaphor.
It’s the reality that creates problems for the theistic evolutionist, with the reality being all of the complications (such as preeclampsia) that befall us courtesy of evolution. Hence my question:
Thank you for an interesting post. You write:
As I was the author of that thread, I hope you don’t mind if I quote the last paragraph:
I’ve added the emphases. Please note that nowhere in the Bible is God described as omnipotent, omniscient or omnibenevolent. Those are your words. They come from classical theism, not the Bible.
You also write:
Here’s my question: what exactly would you have God do, in order to prevent the life-threatening complications that kill some women during pregnancy? How would you improve on the male and female reproductive systems? If you can’t point to something God could have done better (without resorting to miracles), then your criticism amounts to hand-waving. Perhaps this is about the best that God can do, in a world with our laws of Nature. As for God making a world with different laws: I have no idea what the mortality rate would be like in such a world. And neither do you.
Finally, you might want to argue that Christians are committed to believing that there’s no death and suffering in Heaven; hence, they must agree that God could make a world in which women never suffer. While it’s true that there’s no suffering in Heaven, it’s also true that there’s no reproduction there, either.
Heaven might be a good destination, but I think I like Earth better as a starting point.
Whisper in the ear of the men that run most countries and tell them to fund organisations like Planned Parenthood.
If someone is being told what to do, then they are not acting in freedom.
A person cannot be coerced into giving agape love? It must be given in freedom and in full consciousness. Evolution is the process by which self-conscious, free individuals develop. Individuals who, by their own volition can act out of love.
As Hericlitus said, “we must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being through strife”.
God knows what it takes to produce free spirits and that they cannot just be conjured up from nowhere. God does not perform “holy tricks”, He allows beings to grow in freedom which involves the ability to err.
That does not appear to have been a problem for vjtorley’s deity on many, many other occasions.
Two parts starving children, one part slavery. Or were you thinking of a different recipe?
As a scientist you surely know that you have the burden of proof reversed. There is no objective, empirical evidence nor logical reason to conclude that anything resembling a god exists, let alone the Christian god.
For values of “true” that closely approach “fiction”.
To put it as one of your co-religionists would, how do you know?
Unless somebody has enslaved that individual. And as we have determined, god does not mind a bit of slavery. As long as it’s the right sort of slave anyway.
Which includes allowing multiple generations of people to be other peoples slaves. What a fine god you have to “allow” such errors. I have to wonder about the point of view of the slaves however, and their feelings about being a learning experience for the slavers.
And it seems to me the slavers mostly die believing in slavery, what “growth in freedom” was there for anyone?
There must be reproduction of a sort. At one point there was one god, then there was three gods.
keiths was asked to support his claims that belief in these is necessary for Christian faith by quoting the creeds. But of courses he didn’t.
Yet Christianity “took quite a beating.” LoL. What a hoot.
Do you think that we humans can provide enough food to feed everyone and could provide it if the will was there? And who is it that make slaves out of people? Should we humans take responsibility for our own actions? What do you think?
Do you think that a deity has ever communicated with a human in any way, shape or form?
Be careful, now. Too many statements like that and it sounds like you know “the mind of god”, then you won’t be able to use the “mysterious ways” argument.
You have a very narrow perspective on the meaning of freedom.
Of course I do. Whether or not the individual is receptive to that communication is another matter.
Then that is at odds with humans taking responsibility for their own actions, don’t you think?
The classic cop out. Should I be wearing mixed fibres or not?
And you are full of cop outs. Come be my slave for the rest of your life, and you will be just as fulfilled as you are now because you are free mentally. I’ll even pay your plane fare. It’ll be a one way ticket, obviously.
So when do deity’s communicate and what do they communicate? Have they talked to you? What did they say?
And given that it’s likely you believe the same deity that created the individual is talking to the individual, what’s the point of talking to the individual at all given that the deity that created it is talking to it and presumably knows how it’s going to respond? The mere idea of such communication makes a mockery out of the whole deity concept in the first place. Mysterious ways indeed.
I’ve said before, it’s not an argument I would use. Besides there are others here who are stating opinions on the actions of God, and they are even telling us how God should act.