Many believers today accept the theory of evolution. In doing so, however, these believers often refute a central conclusion of the theory, namely that it makes obsolete God’s role in creating human life.
These believers assert instead that God somehow guides the process of evolution – what I call the Divine Guidance Hypothesis (DGH). Believers are generally very vague about what sort of experiments might be conducted to test the DGH. To help them out, I would offer the following conceptually simple, yet practically challenging, test: demonstrate that, in the absence of God’s guidance, evolution would look different to what it does now, or that it might not have occurred at all.
Even in the absence of such a test, the absurdity of the DGH is readily demonstrable. We simply need to ask the following question: how would a believer be able to tell the difference between evolution guided by the Christian God as opposed to, say, Vishnu, or Zeus? The only way the believer could answer this question is if she had knowledge about how each god was likely to influence evolution – surely an impossible requirement.
Another problem with the DGH is that it is proposed, very suspiciously, for only a special class of scientific processes, namely those that have traditionally been associated with God’s creative power. An example is the origin of the universe, which is perhaps the believer’s favorite application of the DGH today. It would seem, then, that the DGH is postulated for evolution not because there seems to be some real influence of God that demands explanation, but because the creation of human life used to be within the jurisdiction of religious beliefs, and believers are reticent to let that aspect of their faith be subsumed, like so many others, by science. It is for this reason that you don’t see believers postulating divine guidance in gravitational forces, plate tectonics, or solar physics: these things are not commonly associated with God’s influence (as commonly portrayed in popular sources such as scripture).
So, I offer my test to proponents of the DGH: demonstrate that evolution without God would look any different, and I’ll be happy to change my mind.