Blackwell Publishing

Adaptive explanation - Are there explanations for adaptation other than natural selection?


Is natural theology a good alternative to natural selection?

Natural theologians explained adaptation in nature by the creative action of God. We can accept that an omnipotent, supernatural agent could create well-adapted living things: in that sense the explanation works. However, it has two defects:

• Supernatural explanations for natural phenomena are scientifically useless.

• The supernatural Creator is not explanatory. The problem is to explain the existence of adaptation in the world; but the supernatural Creator already possesses this property. Omnipotent beings are themselves well-designed, adaptively complex, entities. Positing a God merely invites the question of how such a highly adaptive and well-designed thing could in its turn have come into existence. As an alternative to natural selection, therefore, natural theology is a viciously circular argument, and unscientific.

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