Friday, May 16, 2014

Balancing in the center

Try if we might, believers are caught up in the problems of this world, as we live in it. The growing ever intolerant Liberalism in western society with its moral squalor and decadence has affected us in many ways. The promotion of marriage degeneration and perversity complete with the twisting of language places biblical Christianity in the position of constantly having to justify itself, instead of the other way around. Previous generations for example would have been astonished that one has to defend the notion that marriage is between one man and one woman.

In this light, it is very tempting to veer in the opposite direction, to veer strongly to the right. In reaction to moral anarchy, it is tempting to veer towards a police state. Growing irreligion makes the concept of Christendom nostalgic. This does not happen only among Christians. The resurgence in Islam might be a reaction against the irreligion promoted by the loony left in the Western world.

Tempting as the siren call of Christendom, a return to Rome or Constantinople, might be, that is not the way forward. Neither is Putin's "Third Rome" the answer. The problem with this panting after Christendom of any kind is that they have rose-tinted glasses — an underestimation of sin, and an over-realized eschatology. It is the perennial dream of the golden age, that somehow if we can just "go back to the good old days," everything would be back to normal. What they are seeking for is a mirage, something that can only be realized in heaven never on earth.

The collective memories of peoples and cultures seem to quite short. Veering towards the right might seem great when one sees the anarchy and squalor in the left, but one ignores the real danger in the right. The polar opposite of Liberalism is traditional Fascism. Think Mussolini. Think Hitler. Is that something Christians should be desiring, assuming that instead of persecuting the Church, the Führer decided to persecute the immoral. Oh wait, they did just that, while of course being immoral themselves. Ernst Röhm, the notorious homosexual Nazi, persecuted other homosexuals and threw them into concentration camps.

The problem for all humanity is that we feel deficient, because of our sin we are now east of Eden. The history of humanity is the struggle to attain paradise, either personally or collectively. Platonists and the mystics see it as an individual ascent towards God. In secular society, this struggle to attain paradise is clothed in the language of "progress" and "rights." Religious activists, as opposed to mystics, see the struggle as the attempt to re-create the perfect society on earth, whether it is medieval Christendom or the Islamic Caliphate. One can strive for paradise by the left-wing approach of communism or communitarianism, or radical individual and sexual autonomy, or one can strive for paradise through strict enforcement of religious laws and regulations. Missing in all this is the approach of Scripture.

Scripture calls believers pilgrims, just like Abraham (Heb. 11, 1 Peter). We were cut off east of Eden, but now God has promised us an inheritance, the eternal City of God. What all humanity desires, we have it promised to us. Man has been trying to recreate paradise in his own terms, often violently and running roughshod over the bodies and blood or all who oppose their vision. The hubris on the left is matched by the hubris on the right. For believers however, we should not be captivated by any of these efforts to regain paradise, for why should we want to create heaven when heaven is already promised to us?

As pilgrims, we struggle because we have not yet received our inheritance. We have not yet arrived. Yet, it is precisely because of this that this life is to be lived by faith alone. It is a daily struggle, but that is what faith is, the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). We are to reject the narratives of both the left and the right, while striving to do good to all.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Morals, and moralism

On a Singapore blog, an article was written in Chinese by the author with the title 不敬虔的世代, translated roughly as "A time of impiety/ disrespect." The problems that the author addresses are serious. The article begins with a lament about the current spate of corruption cases hitting Singapore, even with an allusion (without naming) to a megachurch pastor (i.e. Kong Hee) being charged with mishandling of church funds ("大型教会的牧师和领袖也因挪用公款而被控上法庭"). The author laments the decline of righteousness and integrity in Singapore society and the church.

In response, the author draws us to Psalms 90, and writes about the power and justice of God, calling people to repent of their sins, and (presumably for Singaporeans) to pray for ourselves, our churches and our country ("为我们的国家祷告,为我们的教会祷告,为我们自己祷告"). Here is where however I do have a bone or two to pick.

Graft in society, and even within the visible church, is certainly sin. However, the author seems to have the idea that righteousness should be the default setting in Singapore. Of course, in Singapore, by God's grace corruption has been rare. But the issue is this: Sin is sin, and sinners sin. While corruption is certainly wrong and sinful, the impression I have is a tone of astonishment that corruption actually has been found in Singapore. Allow me to interject and just say: Excuse me! Sinners sin, so why are you astonished that sinners sin? Of all people, why are Singaporean Christians astonished when corruption has been found out even in high places? Are Singaporeans humans?

This brings to mind the responses of Singaporeans to the 2013 Little India riot. By and large, Singaporeans were shocked to see an actual riot happening IN Singapore, with the blame being put on foreigners who bring their unruly ways to the orderly Garden City. Let me call this attitude what it actually is: Self-righteousness. I, We, Singaporeans are better, more civilized, than the Indian and Bangladeshi construction workers. We are better than other countries, we obey the law and so on. We took the providential care of God for our nation, and think that WE the people did it all. Honestly, the self-righteousness stinks!

What's even worse here is the remedy promoted in this article. Here is what the author wrote:

圣洁的主天天想起我们的罪!这是一件多么可怕的事。圣经说:若主究察罪孽,谁能站得住 呢?(诗130:3)我们每一个人最终都要照我们所行的受审判。行善的复活得生,作恶的复活定罪。圣经非常清楚的教导我们那些不肯悔改的人将被丢入那为魔鬼和他的使者所预备的永火里去(太25:41)。那里虫是不死的,火是不灭的(可9:48)。神是审判我们生命的主,所以我们要敬畏神祂,远离恶事。

当我们认识到自己的罪,最好是马上悔改祷告。这正是诗人的所做的。所以,诗90:12-17就记录了诗人的祷告。诗人求主指教我们怎样数算自己的日子,这不是求主让我们知道我们还可以活多少天, 而是因为知道我们的罪使主的发怒,知道我们的日子短少是因为我们的罪。所以,求主给我们智慧,使我们可以悔改,离开罪恶归向神。箴言1:7说:敬畏耶和华是知识的开端。

Here is my translation:

The holy Lord daily remembers our sin! This is a fearful thing indeed. The Scripture says, "If the Lord investigates sins, who can stand?" (Prov. 130:3). In the end, all of us will be judged by what we do. The one who does good will be raised unto life; the one who does evil will be raised unto condemnation. Scripture very clearly teaches us that those who do not repent will be thrown into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his followers. (Mt. 25:41). In that place the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mk. 9:48). God is the Lord who judges our lives, therefore we should fear Him and flee from doing evil.

When we recognize our sins, it is best that we immediately repent of them in prayer. This is what the psalmist did. Thus, Psalm 90:12-17 records his prayer. The psalmist asks the Lord to teach him how to number his own days. This does not teach us to ask the Lord how many days we have left to live, but rather that it is because we know that our sins provoke the Lord's wrath, therefore we realize the brevity of our days is a result of our sins. Thus, we request for the Lord to give us wisdom, so that we may repent, flee from all evil-doing and turn to God. Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom."

Repentance is certainly important in dealing with sin. However, if one thinks that repentance saves, then one has substituted the true Gospel for one of works-righteousness. But before we even go there, look at how this section begins. It says that the Lord remembers our sins, daily! Really? Here is what the Scriptures actually say:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom. 4:7-8)

[On the New Covenant]
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Heb. 8:8b-12)

The blessing of the New Covenant is that God will forget the sins of His people. They are gone, not brought to mind. God does not stand over us as judge anymore, keeping a record of all we do wrong. God says, "I will remember their sins no more." How much clearer can it get?

I shudder when I read sentences that basically lifts Romans 2:6-10 out of context as if the text is meant to tell us how we are to be right with God. That sentiment is the sentiment of works-righteousness. It is, to put it nicely, not much different from the teaching of the Judaizers. To say that God is keeping track of our deeds, and then when we do wrong, we have to repent and turn away from sin in order to be right again with God, is well on the path towards salvation by congruent merit, by works (striving and repentance) not perfect but deemed acceptable by God.

This is not the Gospel message. This is moralism. This is legalism. It is fitted for self-righteous Singaporeans, who arrogantly think they have reached the standard of obedience and law-keeping. It is fitted for those who think themselves superior to the unwashed masses who toil in the hot sun all day for a pittance. The Gospel message is for the wretched, not for those who think themselves righteous. Singaporeans are no better than the people of the world, and it's about time we realize that. The Gospel is salvation by faith, not by works, not by faith and repentance, but faith alone. Repentance follows from faith but it itself does not save. There is no inherent virtue in repentance, for there is a worldly repentance that is damning (2 Cor. 7:10). Apart from true faith, you can repent all you want and you will still go to hell! You can repent till the point of self-flagellation and it will do you absolutely no good. Penance, which is merely the exaggeration of acts of repentance, was done away at the Reformation, because the Gospel does not have us to be saved by repentance.

Regrettably, this article is standard fare in Singapore "Evangelicalism." It is the type of drivel that I had to put up with in my growing-up years. It is a "gospel" that will make Pelagius proud. Regardless of what soteriology one holds to, if one's soteriology does not affect how one presents the Gospel, then it is merely abstract and good for nothing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Covenant and conditionality

In his book The Call of Grace, Norman Shepherd promotes the idea that all covenants have conditions which Man has to fulfill in order to partake of the promises of the covenant. Shepherd's monocovenantalism entails the total confusion of grace and works. In the name of navigating a third way between legalism and antinomianism (pp. 8-9), Shepherd creates a monstrosity where one is saved by grace, but then one has to persevere in order to remain in grace. One wonders whether Shepherd realizes that this is the Roman Catholic position. Rome has never once taught that one is saved by works, but she has always taught that one is saved by grace AND faith "formed by love," the performing of works in accordance with one's faith.

I would like to look at this issue of "conditionality" as to how Shepherd has totally muddled the issue. The PRCA (Protestant Reformed Churches of America) of course think that this issue of "conditionality" is basically the problem with the Federal Vision: the "heresy of conditional covenant," while totally ignoring the fact that in some sense, faith must be a condition. The PRCA are irrational in their idiosyncratic doctrines, and ideas that one can have an absolutely "unconditional" covenant and faith are contradictory to basic reason.

The concept of conditions merely signifies that they are necessary and/or sufficient for the consequent(s) to occur. For a sufficient condition, if "condition x," then "result y." For a necessary condition, no "condition x," no "result y." It does not say in what sense it is necessary or sufficient. Faith for example we have said is the instrumental condition for salvation. It is not the grounds for salvation, but the manner of how salvation comes about. This drawing of distinctions is necessary, because as we shall see with Shepherd, the failure to draw distinctions result in heresy.

Shepherd treats "conditions" as something that Man must do, as basically "human responsibility" (p. 9). Immediately here we see that that is the wrong definition. Just because something is a condition does not mean that Man is responsible for it. If I say that it is a necessary condition that the Holy Spirit regenerates the elect, in order that they may be saved, is there anything humans have to do in the entire process? Of course not! Shepherd starts off with the wrong idea of "condition," and things just go south from there.

In his discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant, Shepherd claims that there are 5 requirements which had to be met in order for God to fulfill His promises to Abraham. The first requirement is that circumcision is necessary. Furthermore, since circumcision is not meant to be "merely outward and physical" (p. 15), the requirement of circumcision means God was "requiring the full scope of covenant loyalty and obedience all along the line" (p. 15). Right off, the extension of circumcision to the full scope of covenant obedience is just a total confusion of sign and the thing signified. Even worse than that is Shepherd doesn't even seem to realize that the inward circumcision is not obedience but regeneration, as the correspondence between circumcision and baptism in Col. 2: 13 show. What else does "God made us alive" mean except the act of regeneration? Circumcision and baptism both are supposed to function as the sign of regeneration or inward circumcision, and thus Shepherd is in error even if we admit that circumcision is a "Shepherdite-condition."

Circumcision however is not a Shepherdite-condition. Rather, it is a requirement in the sense that it is a sign of something required, i.e. regeneration. Just as baptism does not save, but rather what it signifies, regeneration, saves, so likewise this requirement of circumcision is not a requirement for salvation, but a requirement that logically (not necessarily temporally) follows regeneration. It is an a posteriori condition, not an a priori condition, just like good works. An a posteriori condition merely means it is the necessary consequent of faith. A person breathes if he is alive, thus he does not "fulfill the condition" of breathing in order to be alive, but that he is alive so he therefore breathes. The failure to breathe evidences that the person is dead, not alive. Likewise, in this sense refusal to circumcise does not mean that a person is not regenerated, but rather that it evidences an unregenerate heart.

The other Shepherdite-conditions are that Abraham needs to have faith, he needs to have a "living and obedience faith," and he needs "to walk before the Lord and be blameless" (pp. 15-6), and the fulfillment of the promises of the land promise for example depended upon the obedience of the Israelites. Regarding faith, Shepherd refuses to distinguish between instrument and ground. The next two "requirements" Abraham has to do are a posteriori conditions. The last requirement shows the conflation of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. The Abrahamic promise of land refers to the promised land of Canaan as a type of heaven, while the physical land itself is a typological fulfillment in the Mosaic Covenant, and thus not the same.

This is just a sample of the problems with this book. Shepherd routinely refuses to make distinctions and he conflates issues together, and in so doing creates heresy. All covenants have conditions, that's true. But not all conditions are conditions. And most certainly conditions are not always indications of human responsibility. Conditionality is merely a logical function, and says nothing about who and how the conditions are supposed to be met.

Analysis of one scientific journal article

Very recently in April this year, a group of scientists have published a paper entitled Non-enzymatic glycolysis and pentose-phosphate pathway-like reactions in a plausible Archean ocean in the journal Molecular Systems Biology. The paper depicts the interconversion of metabolic intermediates found in the glyocolytic and pentose phosphate pathways, when some of the intermediates are placed in an environment that seeks to mimic the primordial ocean, which it seems is called the Archean ocean. The paper is interesting on many levels, but I would like to analyze it on one aspect only. Does it prove anything with regard to abiogenesis or make it more plausible? I would suggest not.

For the sake of argument and charity, I assume that all observations reported in the paper are true. That said, note here that what essentially happened is that interconversion of intermediates in those pathways occur when those chemicals are placed in the reaction environment. The whole experiment is fascinating in terms of biochemistry, but how exactly does it prove abiogenesis? It could conceivably show that the pathways are not too difficult to evolve, although it must be noted that the entire experiment happened in a controlled environment. The entire experiment occur with fixed concentrations of various compounds, and it is effectively closed. Out in nature however, do such conditions actually occur?

So firstly, the problem here is that, in order for the experiment to approximate the supposed primordial conditions, either of two possibilities must happen. One, the concentration especially of metabolites must be found in the entire Archean ocean around the world. That is unlikely since the ocean is big and thus to have a concentration at even that low level of 100µM would require a lot of those organic chemicals to be present. Alternatively, two, the metabolites must be localized in a part of the ocean, i.e. a warm pond or sorts, which must somehow act as a closed system effectively towards the outside. But can such a closed system be formed naturally outside the lab?

Secondly, we are not told whether other chemicals were found besides the ones they were looking for. While this is a minor issue, it is significant only because in nature, all of this feeds into the supposed chemical soup of newly formed amino acids and other organic compounds. This brings us to the issue here of how the understandably narrow focus of the project makes it not possible to actually stimulate a real environment of the Archean ocean. If abiogenesis were true, then not only should we include the salts and metals thought to be in that ocean, but also amino acids of all kinds including the wrong D- isomers, free nucleotides and nucleosides and everything else in between. That would certainly be more realistic, and probably we would not have the results of this paper then.

Thirdly, we note that the intermediates were purchased from companies like Sigma-Aldrich in pure form to be used for the experiment. The question is: how does that correspond to the supposed natural conditions in the Archean ocean? There is not a Sigma-Aldrich chemical plant in the primordial earth producing those chemicals they have purchased, and dumping it into the ocean in order to start the development of both metabolic pathways! In the primordial oceans, these intermediates themselves have to be produced from something simpler, like for example ammonia, hydrogen and water. Stating that interconversion is possible does not address the issue of how any one of the intermediates was formed naturally in the first place!

As I have said, this paper is fascinating, but only in terms of biochemistry. The whole paper is no help at all for answering the question whether abiogenesis has or has not actually occurred. According to the abstract, "these results therefore favour a hypothesis that abundant ions of the Archean ocean could have served as catalysts for the first forms of metabolism." In actual fact, it proves nothing of that sort. Rather, it only proves that ions thought to be in the Archean ocean could serve as independent catalysts for metabolic reactions. But then it would be less sensational.

Abiogenesis and the Miley-Urey experiment

Abiogenesis is the purported development of life from non-life in the early earth. Also called chemical evolution, the conditions of the early earth supposedly facilitated the formation of organic chemicals in ponds across the earth. Within the primordial soup, the first buildings blocks of life (either RNA or DNA) form. Chemicals then coalesce around the developing RNA strand (in the more plausible RNA-first world), and then the first life emerges. Once life has emerged on the primordial earth, the normal process of biological evolution can happen. Abiogenesis is the only option available for those who deny creation of any kind. Rather, scientific processes must be responsible for the emergence of life on earth.

In 1953, scientists Stanly Miller and Harold Urey conducted an experiment to test the hypothesis of abiogenesis. To this end, they created an experimental setup that seeks to mimic the likely conditions of the primordial earth. The gases ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4) were placed in the reaction chamber, and water vapor was introduced throughout the experiment. Electrical current was passed through the chamber attempting to mimic lightning. At the bottom of the setup, the products of the experiment were collected. After conducting this experiment, behold in the solution at the bottom of the reactor chamber was found organic compounds including crucially amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The Miley-Urey experiment served to trumpet the growing confidence in the viability of abiogenesis, for it seems to suggest the easy production of key organic compounds like amino acids in the biosphere of the primordial earth.

Once the euphoria died down, the problems with the Miley-Urey experiment emerge. The first main issue is that the production of amino acids is different from production of nucleotide bases, which are much more complex molecules. In contrast, the simplest amino acid, Glycine (G) has a simple molecular formula of H2N-HCH-COOH. Amino acids cannot function as the basis for life, for peptide strands (assuming a linear strand can be produced naturally) cannot encode genetic information or self replicate. Secondly and importantly, the experiment produced a racemic mixture, or a 50:50 mixture of both right (D-) and left (L-) handed amino acids. On earth, amino acids in living creatures are almost all L-amino acids. The two optical isomers, or enantiomers, are not the same molecule, just as your left hand is not the same as your right hand but mirror images of each other. In order for life to emerge naturally, there must exist a mechanism for the sequestering of only L-amino acids from the chemical soup. Since we are on the topic of enantiomers, nucleotides in life are right-handed since the sugar is right-handed (D-ribose). What viable natural mechanism can sequester only one of the enantiomers while not utilizing the other one? Thirdly, as hinted at in the second problem, the molecules need to be sequestered and utilized almost immediately, otherwise they can undergo further reactions like unguided polymerization to create a goey mess, or even reverse the process through hydrolysis. What viable natural mechanism could do that?

Even if such processes were to be found, could they actually proceed? This is where probability comes into the picture. What is the probability that, for example, enough amino acids and nucleotides of the correct optical isomer are formed? What is the probability that a certain surface or substance or catalyst is present which might sequester and utilize the required finished products, and not the unwanted ones. Even after a RNA molecule might form, what is the probability that it would not be destroyed immediately by hydrolysis, or combine with an amino acid that has just been sequestered? The probability that all these things might happen seem infinitesimal, so small that even the 13GYr of the universe is insufficient time for the first RNA life to emerge.

Scientifically, the theory of abiogenesis does not seem viable. The Miley-Urey experiment only proves that simple organic chemical compounds can be produced easily. As an experiment to prove abiogenesis however, it fails.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Commenting rule change

With the 2nd person being banned from this blog, I have decided to change the commenting system here. Now, all comments will be moderated before they are being published. Rest assured that, unless your comments violate any of the rules here, they will be published as long as Blogger shows them to me.

This blog, while publicly assessable, is considered as my blog. It is my small web space to comment and write about things that concern me. Just like a private building, I have the right to decide what rules apply and what don't. Commenting here is always a privilege. If you don't like what you read, you can either (1) Stop reading it, (2) Interact via comments, or (3) Write your own blog post criticizing me, to which I may or may not respond (Note: I don't have to respond to every critique). You can do anything you wish elsewhere, but here at my blog, you follow the rules set here, just as you would (hopefully) follow the rules of a private facility of which you are a guest.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Science, evolution and the Marvel universes

Yesterday, I went to watch the Amazing Spiderman 2, which had one too many "conclusions." The success of such comics turned movies is an indication that the generation of the 80s and 90s have grown up, and no doubt some people might decry the growing phenomenon of the "extended childhood" of the younger generations. For me, I don't see what's the difference between seeing one set of myths (Alien, Predator, Star Wars, ET etc), and another set of myths (Marvel, DC comics). Or for that matter, I have yet to see anyone decrying the older generation for believing in myths such as the Piltdown Man, Haeckel's embryonic recapitulation and so on.

Pop culture as a whole is not intellectual. However, it does indicate a certain direction the culture is moving towards. People subconsciously follow the prevailing culture around them, and cultural values tend to be the default setting for those who don't reflect on the issues under consideration. In effect, if you don't think for yourself, someone else or something else will do the thinking for you.

I would like to look and contrast the two different origin stories of Spiderman between the first trilogy just a few years backs, and the current Amazing Spiderman storyline. The main origin story for Spiderman's powers come from being bitten by a radioactive spider, which mutated Peter Parker's DNA and grant him spider-like powers, except on a human scale. In this reboot of the Spiderman franchise, Peter Parker was instead bitten by a genetically-altered spider in Oscorp. The spiders had their DNA spliced and recombined with human DNA from Richard Parker, Peter's father. The venom from the genetically engineered spiders, which presumably contained DNA, spliced fragments of DNA into Peter Parker's DNA, thus granting him Spiderman's powers. It is noted that the major villains in this storyline universe were all created through contact or infusion with genetically engineered material (Lizard, Electro, Green Goblin).

This change in the origins of super-powers seems interesting in light of the changing ideological landscape. Besides the New Atheists, hard core materialism is just about dead. The limitations of mere radiation to induce beneficial mutation seems to be acknowledged, thus a trend towards genetic engineering to introduce new genetic material. Notice that evolution is not questioned here. Rather, the change is from the extreme materialistic evolutionary metanarrative towards a metanarrative that is less materialistic and more spiritual, from an idea of pure random mutations towards directed or programmed genetic modifications.

In the larger Marvel universe, the origin of mutants with their powers is not due to the blind random mutations of time and chance, thus articles like this don't really do justice to the issue. Rather, according to the wiki entry, it was a group of sentient beings called the Celestials who modified the genome of Homo Erectus to form Homo sapiens, which presumably either introduced or created the X-gene. In other words, "evolution" is merely a genetically-directed mutation of the X gene under the application of external stimuli resulting in the activation of the "superpower" phenotypes. Now of course, it is incredible that one stretch of DNA can code for such powers, but besides the almost unbelievability of DNA coding for electromagnetic dominance (i.e. Magneto) among other supernatural powers, the scenario at least has a façade of scientific plausibility.

The Marvel universe is most decidedly not materialistic. If anything, it tends towards pantheism, with energy gaining consciousness, as seen in the Beyonder of Universe/Earth-92131, energy from a pocket universe gaining sentience. Its ontology of sentient beings is therefore one of emergent dualism rather than the pure monism of hard core materialism. Sentience emerges from energy or matter, and then transcends it. The universe is "pro-life" and evolution is decidedly directional not random.

Now of course, the whole idea of evolution being directional, having an inherent telos from the bottom up (not top down), does not cohere with the current Neo-Darwinian evolutionary synthesis. However, it would not be surprising that it would be considered a plausible scientific thesis in the future, similar to the way the Anthropic Principle is used. The "argument" could be made that the universe must favor evolution towards greater complexity, because otherwise we wouldn't be here.

If the changes in the origins of Spiderman is any indication, the next thing after the materialist Neo-Darwinian synthesis is the acceptance of design in biology, but the "designer" is not God but rather the inherent telos of nature. It is an evolution from the bottom up, therefore there is no need of a Creator (top-down), as everything just emerges and the telos flows from its very being. This it seems might be the contender to deal with soon, as materialistic Neo-Darwinianism slowly winds down.