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Evolution and Teleology: A Critical Response to Ted Peters

Evolution and Teleology: A Critical Response to Ted Peters

Francisco J. Ayala

University of California, Irvine




In chapter 19 of Ted Peters’ new book, God in Cosmic History, he addresses the knotty question of teleology in evolutionary biology. This requires further discussion. Scientifically speaking, we can perceive design in nature without a designer. On the one hand, there is purpose in nature. Human eyes have a purpose, namely, to see. Teleological explanations are required in biology for (1) goal oriented behavior; (2) self-regulating systems; and (3) the function of organs and limbs. On the other hand, the natural history of evolution does not require a Creator or a planning agent external to the organisms themselves. There is no scientific evidence of any vital force or immanent energy directing the evolutionary process toward the production of specified kinds of organisms. Even if a scientific account of natural history is open to the God question, it will take a theologian to propose an answer. 

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Science, Religion and Culture


Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82


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