evolution

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated.See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

evolution

Dooyeweerd did not complete his work on anthropology because of uncertainty as to how to handle the issues of biology related to evolution. This was to have been the third volume of Reformation and Scholasticism. He had hoped that J.H. Diemer would be able to assist him.(Verburg, 268, 317).

If evolution is seen as the striving for greater unity, then involution is the reverse, the differentiation of unity into diversity. In these sense, Dooyeweerd’s philosophy involves both involution and evolution. Everything is “from, through and to the Origin” (I, 10). Things point to each other pointing to the Origin (I, 62). thinking is from and to the Origin (I, 12).

Of course, not all views of evolution suppose a drive to greater unity. Some view it as ever-increasing differentiation. Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is not compatible with such a view.

It is questionable whether Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is compatible with Creation Science. Some have used his work to argue that reality cannot evolve from prior aspects to later aspects, and that there can be no evolution from one realm of being [inorganic, organic, animal] to another.

However, a letter from Dooyeweerd seems to show that he himself took no position on this issue. He writes to Prof. Dr. JJ. Duyvené de Wit of Bloemfontein, South Africa. De Wit had written to him about creation science. Dooyeweerd says in a letter Feb. 11, 1964:

Ik dacht dat van te voren voor lezers en hoorders dit duidelijk moest zijn: òf er een genetsiche lijn loopt van een eencellig wezen via meercellige organismen tot de eerste mens, daar kunnen we geen ja èn geen nee op zeggen. Het antwoord op de vraag “how God geschapen heeft” ligt buiten onze menselijk-creatuurlijke wetenschappelijke mogelijkheden. En wie hièr ja òf ook nee gaat zeggen, meent als mens naast God, wat dan meestal neerkomt op: op de plaats van de Schepper, te kunnen gaan staan.

[I thought that it should be clear at the outset for readers and listeners: whether there is a genetic line that runs from a one-celled being via multi-celled organisms to the first man–about this we can say neither yes nor no. The answer to the question “how God has created” lies outside our human-creaturely scientific possibilities. And whoever says yes or no to this pretends to stand as human next to God, which usually is the same as to stand in place of the Creator.]

and

Wanneer we tegen hen die een “macroëvolutie” met behulp van de “mechanismen der microëvolutie”, mutaties e.d. die we vandaag kunnen waarnemen, opwerpen: Mijne heren, op deze manier wordt de “genenpot’ alleen maar minder en kan nooit méér worden dan is dat wetenschappelijk van groot belang maar bewijst niet en kàn niet bewijzen dat er geen macroëvolutie heeft plaats gehad.

[Whenever we try to oppose “macroevolution” with the help of the “mechanisms of microevolution,” such as mutations and so on that we can observe today, we may say, “Gentlemen, in this way the “gene pool” can only grow smaller and can never become greater.” That is of great importance scientifically, but it does not prove, and cannot prove that there has been no macroevolution.]

Dooyeweerd says that whether we say that science can show that there is a phylogenetic relation from the first cell to man, or whether we deny such a relation–both arguments will lead to a falsification of science, to speculative philosophy and to false prophecy. Dooyeweerd says that it is hard for a scientific person to acknowledge that he stands here before a boundary (grens). Remarkably, Dooyeweerd places this boundary question in the context of the cross of Golgotha:

Aan het Kruis van Golgotha heeft onze Heiland Zèlf het “Mijn God, Mijn God, waaròm?” uitgeroepen vóór Hij de Geest gaf met het “In Uwe handen beveel ik Mijn Geest”. Maar dan staan we ook bij het Kruis dat de Joden een ergernis en de Grieken een dwaasheid was.

[On the Cross of Golgotha, our Saviour Himself called out “My God, My God, why?” before He gave up the Spirit with “In your hands I commend My Spirit.” But then we stand by the Cross which was a hindrance to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.]

Dooyeweerd says that Teilhard de Chardin, who as a Christian wants to say that there is evolution from Alpha to Omega, does not want to accept a bit of that hindrance of the Cross. Dooyeweerd says that his philosophy of the WdW and the principle of “Sovereignty in its own sphere” show the special sciences their place, but that it also shows the boundaries for the special sciences. He does not think that Jan Lever’s view of creation science has seen this, because Lever is too concerned about the supposed static nature of the irreducible modalities.

In his article “Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960, 97-150, Dooyeweerd says at p. 115:

De planten- en dierenwereld bestond reeds langvoor de eerste mens op aarde verscheen en wij weten uit de fossiele vondsten dat zij van meetaf aan de dood in biologische zin onderworpen waren.

[The world of plants and animals already existed long before the first man appeared on earth, and we know from the fossil records that they were from the very beginning subjected to death in the biological sense.]

Baader also has a view of involution and evolution. He says that the center is the starting point [Ausgangspunkt] of an organism. In this Center, the individual limbs lie in an undifferentiated state (in potentia). It is our Ground, as distinct from the Urgrund (the hidden One that first by involution becomes the Center in order to then evolve with and in this Center (Geistersch, Werke 4, 214).

Revised Jan 29/08; Dec 24/16