Evolution and Unification Thought


By David Burton

BurtonWhen dealing with issues of science and religion, evolution is probably the most well-known point of contention. The two camps, “Creationist” and “Evolutionist,” are entrenched. Most Unificationists tend to side with the Creationist camp because of its support for theism. Although Unificationists often take a strong stance against evolution, a rejection of evolution is not required by the underlying teaching, and the situation is actually far from clear.

There is a middle ground in the debate between creation and evolution: It does not have to be creation or evolution, but can be both creation and evolution. This is the message of Divine Principle, when it suggests that internal and external truth should develop in full consonance.

If we are to bring about a true unity between science and religion, what is needed is a more inclusive approach, which can be derived from the ontology in Divine Principle and an acceptance of the validity of scientific knowledge. Unification Thought provides fertile ground for exploring the relationship between religion and evolution.

In contrast to the Creationist a priori rejection of evolution, one of the goals of Unificationism is to establish a unity between science and religion. Exposition of the Divine Principle clearly addresses the importance and significance of science. It states “the way of religion and the way of science should be integrated and their problems resolved in one united undertaking; the two aspects of truth, internal and external, should develop in full consonance.”

The text also acknowledges the validity of scientific knowledge, and even goes further in suggesting that religious teaching has changed over time to come closer to science. “Today,” it asserts, “people will not accept what is not demonstrable by the logic of science … Indeed, throughout the long course of history, religions have been moving toward the point when their teachings could be elucidated scientifically.”

Each area of science has its own techniques for investigation, but all branches follow a consistent logic of theoretical and experimental validation: the scientific method. Biology, too, has its own methods of investigation, but it adopts the same standards of proof as the rest of science. Evolution thus has no less validity than any scientific theory, and these passages from Divine Principle should apply equally to evolution as to theories in physics or chemistry.

From these passages, we might expect Unificationism to accept evolution, but in fact, we find a general opposition to evolution. I believe this arises from the Unificationist opposition to communism. Evolution has come to be viewed as one of the pillars of communism, in fact, of atheism in general. Consequently, the Unification theistic opposition to communism leads to a rejection of evolution. However, it is possible, and important, to separate the science from its adoption by atheism.

Further muddying the water the Unificationist opposition to evolution tends to adopt some parts of creationist thinking. I suggest that the approach of the creationist movement cannot lead to the larger goal of unity between science and religion found in Divine Principle. In the first instance, this is because the creationist movement begins from a position of rejecting the science of evolution. All too easily the rejection of evolution then leads to a general condemnation of science that is divisive rather than unifying. The forward-looking purpose of a new type of reconciliation between science and religion as found in Divine Principle is incompatible with the backward-looking purpose of creation science. Adopting creationist thought does not align with the purpose of Unificationism.

Evolution in Unification Thought

The ontology of Unification Thought (UT) and Divine Principle is a general description of how things exist. The texts describe existing things as they are now, but do not explain the process of how things came to be that way. In other words, they do not contain a theory of evolution. Unification Thought, however, does contain the basis for an explanation that could perform this function. UT states:

“[H]uman beings possess the Sungsangs and Hyungsangs of minerals, plants, and animals and, in addition, they possess a Sungsang and Hyungsang of a still higher level … as the levels of existing beings ascend from minerals to plants, to animals, and to human beings the Sungsangs and Hyungsangs become more substantial and elaborate layer by layer.”

UT goes on to connect this layered structure to the developmental process of God’s creating all things. In the process of creation, according to Unification Thought:

“God first formed or visualized, in His mind, the idea of a human being as a being of united Sungsang and Hyungsang. Only then did He form the ideas of animals, and then plants, and then minerals, one by one, by subtracting their specific elements from the Sungsang and Hyungsang of human beings and lowering their dimension.”

This is a direct application of the layered structure to development in creation. First, within God’s mind, there is a downward process that starts with the idea of the highest level, human beings. When the specific characteristics of human beings are subtracted, what remains are the layers within animals. If the specific characteristics of animals are subtracted, what is left is the layers within plants, and a final subtraction leaves the characteristics of minerals. After this downward process within God there is subsequently an upward process of creating actual things. UT accordingly notes, “in the actual process of creation God followed the reverse order ― that is, based on the ideas He had formed, He created actual minerals first, then plants and animals, and finally human beings.”

Each new step or layer that appears is a distinct creation by God. This successive creation is not directly an evolutionary theory, but in describing the appearance of progressive change in creation it does lay the groundwork for explaining the appearance of evolution.

A new approach

We normally consider evolution to represent change to the shape and behavior of the individuals in a species. In contrast, contemporary biologists tend to talk about evolution in terms of populations. In a population, change to some individuals does not necessarily constitute evolution. In fact, change to individuals is ongoing in a population even in periods of evolutionary stasis. If we change our perspective from the individual to the population, then observable evolutionary change corresponds to change in the collective average of the population rather than to change in some individuals within it.

One big advantage of taking the perspective of the population rather than of the individual is that it allows us to deal with the randomness inherent in individuals, i.e., the randomness of mate selection and individual mutations. Despite randomness on the individual level, the evolutionary change to the population is not random. This means evolution from the perspective of the population is potentially compatible with a concept of teleology or purposeful creation as found in religious thought. It allows us to deal with evolution in the context of religious thought without negating the science or randomness that seems to be an integral part of nature.

Evolution in the broadest sense simply means continuing change of any kind over time. Darwin’s theory of evolution applied only to living beings. However, this does not do justice to contemporary science. Darwin proposed his theory before there was an understanding of the role of things like plate tectonics, mass extinctions, meteorites, or the expansion of the universe. In other words, he did not know how the universe and earth change with time, and how this has affected the evolution of life. He was proposing an explanation for change in living beings that acted independently of the environment against the essentially static backdrop of an unchanging earth. Contemporary science suggests, however, that evolutionary change in living beings happens in the context of their dynamic relationship with a changing, not static, environment.

Adding a changing environment into the mix completely changes the picture from one based only on living beings. Descent with modification is then no longer a sufficient scientific definition in and of itself to describe evolutionary change. This shifts our notion of the driving force for evolution from random change in individuals to the non-random relationship of populations and ecosystems with a changing environment. We can start to describe evolution in the context of emergent individual truth bodies at larger scales than that of individual organisms. Life is inextricably connected to its environment, and hence the context for understanding change in living beings must also include an understanding of change in the Earth.


The times of existence of the various hominid shown in the chart above are based on dated fossil remains. Each species may have existed earlier and/or later than shown, but fossil proof has not yet been discovered.

UT’s description of the process of God’s creating addresses this. The layered structure of existence, the inner downward development of logos within God, and the outer upward creation of existing beings all include minerals as an integral part of the explanation. The progressive creation that UT uses to explain evolution in life would then also apply to the evolution of structure that is not alive. From the formation of atoms to stars and galaxies, there is an overarching evolutionary process at work. The definition of evolution, therefore, should not just be restricted to change in living beings, but extended to include change in the universe as a whole. The evolution of life, then, is but one component of this larger context of evolution as progressive change in the universe.

Following this expanded view of evolution, we can turn to the key question for religious people. How is God involved? This moves into more speculative areas not directly addressed by science, and it is not straightforward to address. UT sees every new thing to be a direct creation by God in a way that is not random. Yet randomness is a fundamental aspect of nature.

This suggests we should look for God’s involvement in the directed nature of the overall change and in the selection processes themselves, perhaps even in the changing environmental conditions that drive the change in equilibrium positions for living populations. So, superimposed on the underlying randomness is a “pressure” toward a particular direction from God. In other words, God does play dice, but they are weighted dice such that in the statistics of large numbers there is selection toward a particular outcome.

Teilhard de Chardin’s approach

There is some precedent for this type of approach in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionary theology. Teilhard, a Jesuit priest, was also a paleontologist. His writing combined science and religion and tried to stay true to both, with remarkable results. He presented an evolutionary theory that begins from inorganic particles leading up through living things to the emergence of consciousness and God. That is, he already has adopted the larger context of evolution suggested here, building an overarching theory that encompasses all things.

For Teilhard, the key parameter in evolutionary change is complexity. He sees the universe beginning in a state with large numbers of particles of low complexity. Then over time complexity progressively increases to give fewer and more complex beings that integrate all the simpler particles that preceded them. The final unity of everything in one most complex being, the Omega Point, represents God. The future emergence of the Omega Point provides the impetus, acting backwards in time, toward increasing complexity found in all things. This scheme allows for randomness in science, teleology in religion, and God’s involvement in a way that is consistent with our discussion here.

Though some aspects of Teilhard’s thought are quite distinct from Divine Principle and Unification Thought, the overall picture he presents is remarkably compatible with a relational view of existence, with the addition of the evolutionary component missing from Unification Thought. His work points to one way to begin to develop a general evolutionary theory in the context of Unification Thought. In particular, his idea of evolution as most essentially a progressive increase in complexity driven by God provides the key paradigm for such a theory.

If we can combine the basis developed here with important elements from Teilhard’s thought, it may give us a more general evolutionary theory that has universal application. In its compatibility with both science and religion, the theory may also be a step toward developing the new approach to reconcile science and religion advocated in the introduction to Exposition of the Divine Principle.♦

Adapted from “Evolution and Unification Thought: An Alternative Approach,” Journal of Unification Studies, Vol. 15, 2014.

Dr. David Burton (UTS Class of 1990) teaches chemistry at the University of Bridgeport. He holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. He and his wife, Kathleen, both graduated in 1990 with an M.Div. from Unification Theological Seminary.

30 thoughts on “Evolution and Unification Thought

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  1. David,

    I would not agree with the statement that most Unificationists align with the Creationist argument.

    A number of us are aware of the brilliant work of Dr. Jonathan Wells, who has published Icons of Evolution and articles for the Discovery Institute, which is the home of Intelligent Design advocates. This is the third camp, Intelligent Design. It integrates belief in a creator, God, with scientific research and analysis refuting some of the notions of Darwinian evolutionary theory. All three camps are very involved arguments and I doubt that most people have even thoroughly studied them.

    In addition to Teilhard de Chardin’s theology, I highly recommend researching the Discovery Institute publications as well as Dr. Sang Hun Lee’s notes on evolution and UT presented to our Ph.D. scholars and our Founder’s own words about it and his references to “love” as a force of growth and development.

    [Editor’s note: Jonathan Wells wrote on Intelligent Design for the AU Blog here]

      1. David,

        Unification Thought is not founded on dualism, but the integrated twin axes of being, the vertical and the horizontal, spiritual and material, internal and external, yang and yin, male and female, etc. To be rooted in God and an ontology of being is a good way. Not all Creationism is wrong, just as not all evolutionary theory is wrong. Some biblical notions are symbolic and/or mythic, just as some scientific conclusions or theories are mythic, not based on scientific logic and evidence. Jonathan Wells reveals the fallacy of embryonic comparisons.

        I think Teilhard de Chardin is a special theologian. Glad you gave value to some of his ideas on this post.

        [Editor’s Note: The full version of Dr. Burton’s original article, which appeared in the 2014 Journal of Unification Studies, contains a comment from Dr. Wells and Dr. Burton’s response]

        1. Donna,

          Scientific thought requires both theoretical explanation and experimental support. The experimental component keeps it from being mythic. The problem with any form of creationism is that it rejects experimentally supported explanation and offers only philosophy in response.

  2. David, I think you are outlining a position very compatible with some people who hold an intelligent design view.

    While, like Donna, I don’t want to be characterized as a “Creationist” when you express your opinion of what you think other Unificationists believe, I do think there were many early believers who held a traditional Christian view because they had studied the Bible more than they had studied science.

    This may somewhat characterize some of True Father’s views as well. I remember a story (it would be good if anyone could verify it) that, when True Father first visited Egypt and the pyramids, he was astonished to learn that human beings lived more than 6,000 years ago. However, he accepted a more scientific explanation when it arose, rather than dogmatically clinging to a literal (creationist) interpretation of the Bible. That strikes me as his desire to reconcile science and religion, and his support for the ICUS conferences aimed at doing just that.

    1. Gordon, yes, accepting more scientific explanations when they arise is a key, and often difficult, issue for religious people with a received tradition. In this context, it is science that calls religious thought to change rather than vice-versa. I think this position is also characteristic of Divine Principle. However, rather than embrace the change, “Creationist” thought in general functions to resist it.

  3. David,

    While I’m very much in agreement with what you write, I also find the whole “evolution” versus “creationism” debate somewhat contrived. I see no incompatibility between the concept of evolution and a belief in a Supreme Being. Evolution goes a long way towards answering the question “how”. It does not begin to answer the question “why”. For that, you must either deny there is any “why” at all, or else you have to posit the existence of a greater consciousness that created the process of evolution in the first place.

    Clearly, there are still unresolved questions in the theory of evolution regarding mutation, natural selection and the point at which a new species comes into being. Our understanding of these will no doubt grow with the passage of time. But these issues themselves seem trivial in comparison to the overarching question whether there is a Presence greater than ourselves in the Universe.

    1. Graham, yes I totally agree with you. Further, attempts to scientifically prove the existence of that Presence cannot succeed — we can’t even conclusively prove that the physical world has an objective existence. Take the path of trying to supply proof and God becomes merely an hypothesis for which there is no experimental evidence. Then, in the words of Richard Dawkins, I believe, God becomes merely a failed hypothesis.

  4. In a discussion with the late, great Dr. Young Oon Kim on the creation/evolution debate, she said that the best word she could find to describe the DP view was “emanation” and that Unificationists are “emanationists”. Maybe it is not a word found in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it had the right sound to my non-scientific ear.

    1. David, rightly or wrongly, emanation is associated with panentheism in my mind. If you look at the structure of the Original Image in UT, which describes God, you see all things are part of the Original Image too — in the outer developing quadruple base — which I believe most closely fits a panentheistic model. So there is some congruence with Young Oon Kim here.

  5. David,

    Evolution as they have it in UT is phenomenology and cannot by itself define creation/universe/cosmos or whatever name you prefer.

    It seems to me the universe is an environment created for humankind and done so through heart and love — Shimming as they say in lectures. So self is the key to it all and moreover the relational self.

    The Theory of Evolution is powerfully flawed, materialistic and atheistic (Darwin describes his atheism in his letters) so it definitely needs some work. One big problem in evolution is speciation which is tied to ontology which is tied to self. There is nothing in evolution to offer us an adequate explanation or definition of self or ontology in the Theory of Evolution and layers and population only confuse matters more.

    Part of the problem of the universe is resolved in studies touching on evolutionary consciousness. In fact Paula Pizzi, a quantum mathematician, takes consciousness (or rather pro-consciousness) right down to the Planck level so at least we can say ontologically we as conscious human beings have a rationale from which we can emerge from in a continuum or relational way — deep ecology if you take ecology all the way back.

    As far as I can see, Principle is a systems theory and perhaps complexity can be shoehorned in there too but a conscious system as it were biological or otherwise is still not a deep emotional or heartistic system if we say autopoietic systems define biology, the human and community.

    So where do we go? The psychology of Attachment, the prevailing model now and Affect Regulation at least give us the evolution of the brain, identity and other human virtues tied to good nurture — healthy socialization for example. In affect regulation, we find the neuroscience and a massive amount of clinical work (also science) tied into the ontogenesis of the brain as a three stage and hierarchical structure. This adult-like development unfolds from birth to 18 months. Moreover, neuronal growth is propagated by the rich emotional environment lying between mother and infant and slightly later between father and infant. Emotions, or rich and timely emotional events, give rise to a bioregulation model which includes emotional and dopaminergic shunts giving rise to dopaminergic reactions which then promote neuronal growth.

    In one example the hexose monophosphate shunt, generates such biosynthesis and this is tied to facial recognition with the mother and simultaneously with the visual cortex coming online at a specific time frame. However this is not all biology or neuroscience as the “mechanisms” for neuronal development are tied to the powerful emotional ties lying between the mother and infant. This explains scientifically how such nurturing events, emotions and heart trigger RNA synthesis for example. Of course there is much more to this but in this model nature gives way to nurture so that brain and mind evolve in their proper and timely stages to a successful evolutionary conclusion. It also locates behaviors, virtues, ethics, and so forth even to specific areas of the brain. It likewise reveals that the right hand side from amygdala, to cingulate, to the frontal area, is significantly more developed even physically so emotions and intuition retain a primacy in functions throughout life — science 101. From there we find the regulation and interaction of hemisphere in a wholistic function which tends to support holisms rather than fractions and fractures.

    I suggest any description of evolution has to seriously take note of what I call the self, how it comes into existence and how it functions optimally in any synthesis of what we used to call religion and science. Brain hemispheres left otherwise functioning in a dis-regulated fashion through less than adequate nurture are defined pathologically in a book called, The Master and His Emissary, whereby an unregulated left hemisphere has continually given rise to the fragmentation of Western culture by over-analysis and unfeeling intellectualization. Evolution has to take into account the fullness of the human being and his or her creative functions including all relational proclivities. This is more than layers and populations.

    1. Yes, as you may imply, this is why our Founder mentions “Love” as a significant evolutionary force in commenting on Darwinian theory.

    2. Derek,

      If you limit evolution to just Darwin’s theory, I agree it is difficult to reconcile with the existence of God and there is a case for regarding it as atheistic. However, as I try to show, contemporary theory is very different to Darwin’s thought and as such is not necessarily atheistic at all. From the religious side focusing only on Darwin and failing to address contemporary theory leads to a kind of fallacy.

      1. Thanks, David.

        The simple reason for posting on Affect Regulation is that we see the development of the infant brain in three hierarchal stages from birth to 18 months in an evolutionary process; but it functions when the emotional bond between mother and infant drive this growth. That is to say the excitement, joy, and play between the two, create, in the infant, bioneurological trophic responses. For simplicity’s sake, joy translates to dopamine responses and dopaminergic surges from the Ventral Tegmental Area, which then go on to produce neuronal growth and neuronal networks, i.e., the brain develops and becomes established in adult-like fashion at 18 months. Moreover, behaviors are already identified as belonging to specific brain regions. Self is therefore an evolutionary, emotional, and scientific project. Perhaps a good model to look at.


Processes like these tied to relationships and emotion (affect) reflect the founder’s ideas IMO where he says the purpose of creation is to create a loving relationship with humanity. OSDP brings up creation by heart and Logos; Shimjung, meaning heart. If authentic evolutionary processes are identified in infant growth there’s no problem, but the word evolution is so often conflated with the Theory of Evolution which, I think we agree, is both materialistic and atheistic. But I am not against evolution where true.

        Moreover, I enjoyed William Haines’ addition of inherent directive nature, etc., though that piece is lacking in science, which you, David, might be able to correct — just a thought. However, if human development is already defined by science, emotion and heart, I suspect the creation, to a lesser extent, must also be defined this way too. So far, mental-like properties, proto-consciousness, have been identified at basic levels (Planck) and through complexity in the creation we come to self-consciousness in humankind — there is a logical, rational, which runs throughout the system – so could there not be a case for saying something similar about some feeling toned function in the entire cosmos?

  6. The real problem is that Unificationism insists on a literal and historical Adam and Eve. There is no reason at all to believe such a couple ever existed and there are a million reasons to accept that it did not.

    Unificationism generally does not tell us when and where this couple is supposed to have lived. If it would settle upon a time and place then there would be a basis for at least a sensible discussion.

    Interestingly, a time and place can be gleaned from Sun Myung Moon’s speeches. He has said the couple lived in the Middle East 800,000 years ago. However, nobody in the Unification Church seems to take Rev. Moon’s position on this seriously though.

    1. Graham,

      In 2007, at East Garden, Father explained his revelatory understanding of the creation event of Adam and Eve. He had previously shared it personally with Dr. Young Oon Kim prior to 1982 as she shared her testimony of her personal conversation with Father in Spring 1982 to the women of my theology course at UTS.

      He said that God provided a “special womb of creation” for Adam and Eve to be born. And, they were “born simultaneously…as twins…like two peas in a pod…” that opened at that special creation event in a simultaneous birth. He went on to say: “Each was the pillar of creation…each was equidistant from the Godhead…each was the substantial body of God…and each purely perceived the principles of creation.”

      Although he did not give other details about the year or location in this specific talk, his words show the integration of both creationist and scientific principles. In fact, this revelatory content is more scientific than the “myth” of creation in Genesis and the explanation of Eve being born after Adam and from the rib of Adam. This myth, like many myths, has been believed for well over a thousand years, just because it was repeated over and over from biblical history.

      Scientifically, it is most believable that one cell division creates a pair of cells, as it states in biology and DP (Origin/Division/Union). Therefore, Adam and Eve were, in this special case, divided from one cell as male and female zygotes, as “dyzygotic twins” in the womb that God created. They came from the same source and were of the same substance of God’s substantial body. As it expresses in DP, God created Adam and Eve because He was lonely and wanted to create His co-creators, Adam and Eve, as the expression of his being in the world. His being is most aptly expressed by the union of Adam and Eve and the give and take of Adam and Eve, more than just one body existing for itself.

      It is not scientific to state that Adam was created without Eve. The design of Adam shows that Eve was already created to complement Adam’s design. They are conceived as male gender and female gender. And, according to a biological principle that I especially think is apt here, they were created in union as a “Lock and Key Complex.” Similar to when an enzyme unites with its substrate unit, only one enzyme can fit one substrate unit. Thus, it is a perfect fit, or “lock and key” design. Think of it, Adam and Eve, male and female, are also a “Lock and Key Complex design,” as our designation of the term wedlock implies.

      Dr. Young Oon Kim shared with her theology class in 1982 that she had asked Father to explain the Creation event more fully for several years. For these years, he remained silent, until one day he shared this revelatory content her. I was present during Dr. Kim’s testimony at UTS in 1982 and present at East Garden in Sept. 2007 when Father spoke about it again.

      1. I do think the notion that God created everything else by evolution and then created humans as a special creation is a bit silly. That seems to be what Rev. Moon was getting at, although his words were rather ambiguous. It is obvious that everything else evolved and there are numerous early hominid remains that testify that humans did too. Thus there is no real mystery about a first man and woman. Humankind developed gradually and naturally like a baby does in the womb. There is no specific moment where we can say that a cluster of cells has become a baby. It is a subjective evaluation. Similarly, there is no particular moment when we can say that “these are humans.”

        1. Graham,

          The view that Eve came from Adam’s rib after he was created is silliest of all. And few refuted it — even as some HSA people continued to espouse it in their writings.

          However, isn’t it true — that scientific positivists have always accused supernatural phenomena as silly? What scientific positivist would allow God to intervene and break a pattern?

          Yes, God created this world and there are scientific evidences for the laws of development and evolutionary patterns. At the same time, God does have the power to transcend those patterns in the seen or observable world. Hence, we have supernatural occurrences that are sometimes unexplainable or at least seem so.

          Here is one of our Founder’s passages that refutes Darwin on the evolutionary force of love:

          “Only love can harmonize everything. Every element and particle follows the way of Love. They look for the cells that can make oneness with God and contact with love directly. That is the human being. That is why we have to sacrifice for the sake of love. Do you understand? Because there is the tradition of God investing his life and possessions, things of a lower class try to invest all that they have to gain a place in a higher class….That is why Darwin’s evolution theory is wrong. Everything wants to be absorbed centering on love. When something functions as an element for the production of greater value, the value of that element will be lifted up to so high a value. (204-129) [The Completed Testament Age and The Ideal Kingdom, p.81]

  7. Thank you, David.

    I am surprised you didn’t draw upon these passages in DP which IMO support the idea of the natural world having an inherent directive nature towards greater and greater levels of complexity. This is driven by Universal Prime Force which is manifested in the forces of nature. So it is all bottom up and not top down. In other words, not special creation and not ID (which is merely an updated version of God-of-the-gaps). I cannot find any basis for either in the Principle.

    I would suggest that the Principle supports the fact of evolution and provides a philosophical basis for saying there is a purposeful response of living things to a changing environment such that they adapt so as to flourish. This is because of the inherent directive nature or proto-consciousness that pervades everything. Darwin could only say such changes happened randomly because he was operating out of a materialistic framework in which matter is inanimate. The Principle view of ontology is that matter is not inanimate but has an invisible inner aspect which is subject and of which the visible is an expression. So God created a universe in which there is self-generated or spontaneous order as opposed to one in which He would be micro-managing everything, designing mosquitos and the ziddu virus. There are now so many examples of self-generated order in all the sciences such as the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction.

    * “The human mind imparts to every person a natural inclination to join with others in harmony. Likewise, positive ions and negative ions come together to form particular molecules, because within every one of them exists a rudimentary internal nature that guides them toward that end. Electrons assemble around nuclei to form atoms because they possess an attribute of internal nature which directs them toward that purpose. According to modern science, all particles that constitute atoms are made up of energy. For energy to form particles, it, too, must possess an internal nature which directs it to assume specific forms.” (EDP, p. 32)

    * “Sub-atomic particles, the basic building blocks of all matter, possess either a positive charge, a negative charge or a neutral charge formed by the neutralization of positive and negative constituents. When particles join with each other through the reciprocal relationships of their dual characteristics, they form an atom. Atoms, in turn, display either a positive or a negative valence. When the dual characteristics within one atom enter into reciprocal relationships with those in another atom, they form a molecule. Molecules formed in this manner engage in further reciprocal relationships between their dual characteristics to eventually become nourishment fit for consumption by plants and animals.” (EDP, p. 38)

    * “The Creation is harmonious in its myriad forms, regardless of the countless types of Give and Take Action initi­ated by the Universal Prime Force. In other words, through Universal Prime Force, give and take action is directed by a unifying purpose, and through its organic relationships, generates the forces necessary for existence, reproduction, and action of all things, from the smallest to the largest.”

    * “The direction and goal of all give and take actions are controlled by Universal Prime Force. Give and take action exists not only so that a subject and object can fulfil their individual purposes, but also for the greater purpose of unifying all things. The ultimate purpose of give and take action is to have subject and object unite and develop to a greater and higher dimension.”

    1. William, thanks for your response.

      I hadn’t yet considered inherent directive nature. I am still pondering over what I think is a deeper issue that is represented in this quote from EDP, p 38. Until earlier this year, I had completely overlooked this passage because it seems so obvious from our contemporary perspective …but it is incompatible with traditional Christian doctrine and thought. Spirit and matter are Christian philosophical concepts that derive from the form, matter, and substance philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. When you move to an ontology of particles as described in this passage in DP there is no spirit or matter. This is what makes DP potentially compatible with science and distinguishes it from Unification Thought. It also means what we need is a complete overhaul of how we understand DP. This passage is critical.

      With respect to energy: mass is equivalent to energy but with particles mass and energy are properties of particles — the Higgs particle imparts mass — so the particle is ontologically prior to energy and we cannot say matter [as a traditional substance] is made from energy. There is no matter.

      1. Yes, we need to step outside our Christian worldview based on Greek categories and think through the implications of a Principle ontology. Creationism and ID are still operating based on the former. I wrote my thesis at UTS on the topic of “Spontaneous Order and Unificationism” when we were contemporaries there.

  8. [Editor’s note: This brief article on evolution appeared today on the UTS Alumni Association site written by a UK member identified only by his/her initials. We run it in full to accompany the comments to Dr. Burton’s article.]

    “Evolution can be a problem for religious people, but it shouldn’t be; it is a completely sound scientific theory and thus should help us understand who we are, and how we came to be here. In terms of working for unity between science and religion, it is essential to accept evolution, not just pay lip service to it.

    Current understanding of the process of creation of the physical universe is: it started from a single point 13.7 billion years ago. Via the process of nuclear fusion, the 92 elements of which we are made came into existence, going from simple to more complex.

    I propose, given our current understanding, that organic life has followed a similar model. Starting from a single point and developing in complexity via the process of evolution over a period of 3.5 billion years.

    What are the implications?

    1. We are not designer babies.

    2. We all share the same origin.

    3. The start of creation is a one-time only event. Why? Because creation obeys the logic of love as well as science, and love requires a single origin.

    4. Social, as well as scientific development, must understand evolution and respect it because it is a principle of creation which cannot be broken. Hence Dolly the clone sheep will always die.

    5. It is unlikely we can ever really understand who we are; life will always evolve to confound us the moment we think we know it all.

    6. Any social movement that sets up rigid rules will have problems.

    7. The motivation for creation was love because only a being of love could endure the vast time periods in the creative process.

    8. There are no aliens; this small blue dot, i.e., Earth, is the origin of all life in the universe.

    9. This is an evolutionary paper and you are very welcome to add your own implications.”

  9. Since my work has been mentioned in this thread, AU Blog editor Dr. Mark Barry has invited me to weigh in on this discussion. Unfortunately, I am facing a book deadline, so my involvement will be very limited.

    It is misleading to say, when dealing with issues of science and religion, that there are “two camps, ‘Creationist’ and ‘Evolutionist’.” “Creationist” can refer to anyone who believes that the world owes its existence to a creator. Among people who believe in a creator there are old-Earth creationists and young-Earth creationists, and the two are sharply at odds with each other. Both object strongly to being put in the same “camp.” Furthermore, there are those who believe God acted only once at the beginning; or that God performed progressive acts of creation; or that God guided a continuous process of transformation. In other words, creationism is a broad and diverse spectrum, though Darwinists (see below) and their allies in the news media routinely misrepresent it as an entrenched camp consisting only of young-Earth creationists.

    “Evolutionist” can also refer to people with very diverse viewpoints. Evolution can mean simply change over time; or the fact that the cosmos has a history; or the fact that many plants and animals now alive are different from those that lived in the past. Evolution can also mean minor changes within existing species (which Theodosius Dobzhansky called “microevolution” in the 1930s). Evolution in all these senses is uncontroversial. No sane person denies change over time; even young-Earth creationists acknowledge that plants and animals now alive are different from those that lived in the past; and we all witness microevolution within our own families. People who accept evolution in these senses are evolutionists, and there can obviously be a lot of overlap between them and creationists.

    What Charles Darwin proposed was quite different. Although he didn’t use Dobzhansky’s word, Darwin argued that microevolution leads to new species, organs, and body plans (what Dobzhansky called “macroevolution”) through natural selection acting on small variations. And Darwin emphasized that this process was unguided. He called The Origin of Species “one long argument,” and it was an argument against creation by design. [1] By the fourth edition of The Origin, Darwin was arguing that design must be ruled out because it “is not a scientific explanation.” (OS, 4th ed., p. 513)

    Unguided macroevolution is not empirical science, but applied materialistic philosophy. Empirical science (which is what most people think of when they hear the word “science”) is the enterprise of formulating hypotheses and testing them against the evidence. A very different form of “science” (which became increasingly common after Darwin) is the enterprise of searching for natural explanations for everything—including human rationality, morality, and religious belief—even when the evidence doesn’t support those explanations. There is lots of evidence for microevolution, but not for unguided macroevolution. (For example, there is no good evidence that unguided variations and natural selection can produce new species, organs and body plans.) For want of a better term, let’s call people who believe in unguided macroevolution “Darwinists,” to distinguish them from “Evolutionists” in general. Through a combination of politics, monopolization of funding, and censorship, Darwinism has become the current Scientific Consensus. Just as that Consensus routinely portrays all creationists as young-Earth creationists, so it also attempts to portray all evolutionists as believers in unguided macroevolution. The result, of course, is a polarization that obscures the real issues.

    Used properly, “Unificationist” refers to people who believe in Unification Thought (UT). Unificationists are necessarily creationists, because according to UT God created the world. They are also evolutionists, because according to UT God implemented His plan for creation progressively, over time. UT rightly maintains that religion and science are compatible—but only if “science” is defined empirically rather than materialistically. UT is totally incompatible with materialistic philosophy, even when it masquerades as “science.”

    In UT, the human species began with two people, and the fall was a historical event. Darwinists claim that this doctrine is false, but they do so without evidence. Despite the title of his 1859 book, Darwin never solved the problem of the origin of species, and neither have his followers. According to materialistic “science,” species evolve as populations, so there could never have been an Adam and Eve. But this conclusion is based on speculations about how populations evolve, not on evidence. [2]

    Intelligent design (ID) has been mentioned here. Karl Giberson claims that ID is an evolved form of young-Earth creationism, but Giberson is very much a partisan in this controversy. [3] Consulting his work for insights into ID is like consulting Pravda for insights into American society during the Cold War, or consulting the Cult Awareness Network for insights into Unificationism. As someone who has been involved with ID for over twenty years, I know for a fact that Giberson is wrong on this point.

    ID simply claims that it is possible to infer from evidence in nature that some features of the world are better explained by an intelligent cause than by unguided natural processes. The inference is based on determining whether such features have characteristics that we know from our universal experience are always produced by intelligent design. [4] This is not a “God of the gaps” argument (“We don’t know what caused X, so it must have been caused by God”), though a “gaps” argument is often used by critics of ID: “We don’t know what caused X, so it must have been caused by unguided evolution.” [5]

    The controversy over creation and evolution is important, and UT (with elements of both) can go a long way to resolving it. It’s important to realize, however, that this is not a dispute between religion and science, but between religion and materialism.

  10. “ID simply claims that it is possible to infer from evidence in nature that some features of the world are better explained by an intelligent cause than by unguided natural processes.”

    This in itself is an unjustified polarisation. There is another possibility, namely “guided natural processes,” which is pretty much what the Catholic Church and many Christians would subscribe to. This would also fit with the passages in DP I quoted above where it is a “rudimentary internal nature” that guides the development of greater and greater levels of complexity. Universal Prime Force also guiding “give and take action is to have subject and object unite and develop to a greater and higher dimension.” But one would hardly call this inherent directive nature “an intelligent cause” let alone “intelligent design.”

    So based upon a non-materialistic ontology in which all entities have a subjective invisible inner aspect as well as an objective visible aspect, one can postulate the existence of guided macro-evolution without the need to appeal to intelligent design or an intelligent cause (God or a demi-urge). There is plenty of evidence in the natural world of self-generated order and complexity for which one doesn’t need to postulate the existence of an outside intelligent cause. I think given time, science, which doesn’t have to be based on a materialistic ontology, will find natural explanations for macro-evolution. Epigenetics is one of these nascent recent developments.

    1. William,

      Intelligent design has no problem with “guided natural processes.” ID doesn’t require an external God or demi-urge to intervene in nature, like a human fabricating a machine. But if “guided” is to have any meaning, it requires a mind that envisions a goal and a way to implement it. Mind implies intelligence, and goal implies design. So I don’t see any conflict between “guided natural processes” and “intelligent design.”

      Materialists critical of ID often portray it as requiring external intervention, because materialists deny that things have an internal directive nature. But this portrayal of ID is false. See William Dembski’s The Design Revolution (2004, ch. 23). See also my 2014 essay “Revolutionary Biology.”

      You express optimism that science (by which you presumably mean empirical science) will eventually find natural explanations (by which you presumably mean guided natural processes) for macroevolution. Maybe so. But I wouldn’t bet on epigenetics, which has been around since Conrad Waddington proposed it over 70 years ago and which (despite recent developments) has contributed nothing to an understanding of macroevolution.

  11. Jonathan,

    Intelligent design implies a designer — a conscious being — with the intelligence to design a plan and implement it. Now that works with Paley’s or Plato’s God. Both are based on the assumption that matter is inert and unable to spontaneously develop to higher levels of complexity. Therefore an outside agency has to be involved. Paley’s basic position was that design is proof of a designer. Darwin argued that it is possible for biological beings that appear to be the product of design to come about through natural processes. Of course, he was writing 150 years ago and was very much aware of the gaps in his theory and the lack of evidence.

    At the 1986 ICUS, Walter B. Weimer talked about “…biological, social and (only recently studied) physical phenomena that evolve without conscious or explicit planning (or externally imposed controls) according to internal regulative principles. They are characterized by decentralised or “coalitional” control, unpredictability of particulars, and immense complexity compared to simple systems. They are understandable only in terms of what Hayek has called explanation of principle rather than the particular. Their principles of regulation are rules of interactive constraint rather than deterministic laws. Constrained orders are determinate—regulated by abstract principles —- but not deterministic and/or predictable. They are…cloud-like systems that have the power to look like clockwork mechanisms.”

    So one can easily be imputing design into something such as the face of Jesus in the clouds that is actually the result of natural processes — much as conspiracy theorists draw all sorts of conclusions from what they cannot accept to be a mixture of coincidence and incompetence. I remember having a long conversation with an ID scientist in Cambridge once and the strong impression I got was that because he couldn’t explain what he called the irreducible complexity of a bacterial flagellum that it must have been designed. I thought philosophically he was imputing design onto it much as some people think the social and economic system we live in has been designed and so can be redesigned. In fact according to Adam Ferguson,

    “Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.”

    As Hayek said, “We have never designed our economic system. We were not intelligent enough for that.”

    I know I am drawing here on the social sciences for analogies to explain the world of nature, but so too does the Principle:

    “The human mind imparts to every person a natural inclination to join with others in harmony. Likewise, positive ions and negative ions come together to form particular molecules…”

    One of my main objections to ID is the name. It suggests there is a designer when in fact the “guidance” can be without a designer but the result of the inherent directive nature adjusting to the environment and through give and take sometimes forming more complex entities of a “greater and higher level”. So the outcome is not a result of conscious design anymore than are an incredibly complex market (as opposed to planned) economy or the rules of grammar. This also often happens in the natural world. A significant proportion of a healthy human being is made up of friendly bacteria in a symbiotic relationship with the host. In fact, without them, a human being could not survive. Is this the result of the activity of an intelligent designer or the result of the bacteria, which can hardly be accused of being intelligent let alone of designing such a state of affairs or of comprehending their significance in the relationship. My biology is very rusty but I seem to remember cell biologists saying that the cell is made up of a variety of components that found life was easier if they cooperated with each other within an enclosed space.

    So I think something can be “guided” without there being a mind to implement it. This, for example, is how the market functions in which every actor is making decisions, pursuing their own goals, without knowing what other actors in the system are doing or planning to do. And yet there is an incredibly complex system which is not designed and is not the product of an overarching mind.

    I would suggest that the sort of thing one would expect from a Principled ontology is the evolution that Darwin attempted to describe and formulate, as opposed to special creation, but which he was philosophically and scientifically unable to explain. It was not his fault that the philosophical options available in Europe were either materialism, dualism or idealism. Christian philosophy at that time was wedded to Paley and he couldn’t accept that on moral grounds:

    “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”

    If one goes down the intelligent design route one is left having to justify why the intelligent designer created zidda viruses, Plasmodium that cause malaria, etc. Back into the realms of insoluble theodicy. If one recognises that all these nasty things are just the result of natural processes, one can side-step the whole issue of natural evil. Once plate tectonics was figured out people no longer needed to dream up supernatural explanations for innocent children beings killed by earthquakes.

    I am quite confident that in the future science will discover the mechanisms that allow or enable macro-evolution and it won’t be by appealing to an intelligent designer. If we can reconfigure our understanding of the Principle, as David Burton suggested, we might be able to provide a philosophical basis for evolution. We can take up the challenge thrown down by Pope Benedict XVI:

    “The theory of evolution does not invalidate the faith, nor does it corroborate it. But it does challenge the faith to understand itself more profoundly and thus to help man to understand himself and to become increasingly what he is: the being who is supposed to say Thou to God in eternity.”

    The Roman Catholic church seems to be handling this in what I regard as a sensible way:

    “New findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies -— which was neither planned nor sought -— constitutes in itself a significant argument in favour of the theory.” John Paul II

    “Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution.” Pope Benedict XVI

    With the proviso that:

    “Theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man.” John Paul II

    The Principle fits beautifully with this vision of a theory of evolution based on an ontology of dual characteristics.

    1. Darwin was not simply a failed scientist he was also a troubled individual. He struggled with massive guilt and repression for one thing, and it was made visible in his psychosomatic episodes and in the recorded blackouts he suffered from. This cannot be separated from his work because it affects perception and his conclusions. The self is an interactive agency, not separated bits and pieces, nor is it about cognitive dissonance.


Creation is usually ascribed to Logos, and has been for thousands of years. Whether one uses a term like design or not is a moot point but Logos was the founders last “additions” to the Principle which comes up in OSDP and is discussed in UT. So Logos nature and Logos creativity come up on the slides and the term does imply both a conscious and heart-felt designer. Likewise Logos is not layers but is also an interactive agency throughout whereby energy makes itself present in various expressions and links to others synchronously. These are not simply empirical events. Nor are they disconnected events. Systems are networked just as cell to cell is networked.

      Any artist worth his salt will tell you a work of art is tied to the original mind and the original self (Logos again) if it is to be clear, authentic and of the Principle, or as Logos Creativity. Artwork is by intention yet not rigidly controlled as elements of chance and variables always come into play in a meaningful way, yet at the end these seemingly chance elements become part of the whole. They are integrated. Any seemingly random event in the evolution of an artwork holds to the same principle of evolution in a wider way thus allowing an advance into novelty, with creativity yet without breaking any principle.

      These ideas can be taken to the notion of participation with a universe rich in mental-like properties from the outset rising to full consciousness in the human. We talk of deep ecology and we talk of the cell being in participation with field-consciousness so participation in a system like this is more akin to a conversation of sorts with everything all the way down. Indeed creation throughout, as a systems theory must be autopoietic by nature, i.e., interactive, relational, and sustainable. What this means is, like Logos, it is not fixed or deterministic rather as the preconscious layers in the human psyche, Pre-Logos (in the Korean version) is given to consideration, reconsideration and adaption, i.e., change, yet not beyond first principles. Therein lies the paradox of a living system: it is both by design as Principles determine, and by change and adaption which is another built in factor. Its the old Heraclitean Logos and Phanta Rhei model where principles don’t change but the flow of nature does.

      As with Darwin’s issues, we see a flawed system of a dystopian nature tied to his dystopian nature. Not all in any case are of an original mind nor original nature. Yet within an interactive system, problematic agencies have an affect on the whole, just as healthy energy adds and creates in its own way, by the same token. Empiricism takes no account of Principles or Logos in this sense. Indeed in some cases the empirical method is flawed by its own description and by concerns tied to a dystopian self and dystopian world. So this is trying to build a picture of a living system using empirical science yet ignoring the interior aspects of religion which needs to be properly synthesized. Likewise some of the free elements of creation are not free; they are products of dysfunctional agencies within the system and that needs to be sorted out too. Like diseases they have no original function, as the founder stated in Gloucester in 1987; all are a product of failures and dystopian agencies functioning like a rogue virus within what should be a healthy body by nature.

  12. Derek,

    I like your brilliantly expressive writing that you bring in UT terms such as Logos. Relational Biology and Unification Thought are all areas to delve into, joyously! These topics would make a significant New Era Conference for scientists, educators, theological and interdisciplinary folks to engage in.

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