Randomness and Evolution: Is There Room for God? (Videocast)
Today we present the fourth entry in our on-going BioLogos videocast series. So far we have looked at the fossil record and genetic evidence for evolution, as well as speciation and macroevolution. The latest entry addresses the idea of randomness as a part of natural selection, and whether it raises questions about the possibility of God using the evolutionary process as a means of creation. The script was written by biology student Joy Walters, with help from BioLogos president Darrel Falk.
For more, be sure to read Randall Pruim's recent series Randomness and God’s Governance, Kathryn Applegate's post That's Random: A Look at Viral Self-Assembly, and our FAQ How Do Randomness and Chance Align with Belief in God's Sovereignty and Purpose?.
I am so thankful that I grew up in a Christian environment, which both kindled and nurtured my relationship with Jesus Christ. The Biblical instruction I received from my parents, pastors, and teachers has been invaluable as I walk out my love for the Lord from day to day. However, there was one specific topic growing up which was not fully addressed, namely evolutionary theory.
Coming from a conservative Christian background, evolution was given little or no thought because of its seeming contradiction to the creation story in Genesis. To me, evolution meant a monkey became a human, and as far as I knew, I had never seen that happen! So, of course, it appeared too improbable to hold any truth. When it was discussed, an inadequate picture of its ideas was often painted, which caused immediate suspicion and rejection of the theory. I don’t think this was intentional, but most Christians have never learned an unbiased, in-depth theory of evolution that is completely detached from societal agendas and philosophical conclusions. Therefore, their explanations of the theory are often misinformed.
My senior year of high school, I took AP Biology, and finally learned the scientific reasoning supporting this theory. I was surprised by how logical and obvious the mechanisms of change (such as mutations, natural selection, genetic drift, and so on) were that gave rise to new species. My subsequent response was, “No wonder people believe evolution occurred.” At that point, I was convinced that microevolution (evolution within a species) existed, but I was still questioning macroevolution.
Now, being at Point Loma Nazarene University as an undergrad in the Biology-Chemistry major and a year-round, student intern at BioLogos, my understanding of evolution has expanded enormously. I have enjoyed critically thinking through the evidence for evolution and reading articles that tackle difficult issues at the interface of science and Christian faith. Ultimately, I know that God has created all things, but the processes he used surpass my small understanding.
My personal wrestling with evolution and quest for truth has led to times of prayer and studying God’s Word, which has deepened my love for him in ways I cannot express. The first chapters of Genesis, in particular, have come alive. My whole life, the creation story was a straightforward list of facts about the creation of the world; I never searched further. I didn’t even perceive the truths Genesis declared over my very identity and God’s character. The more I study his Word and handiwork, I glimpse the awesomeness and majesty of the Creator, who loves me much more than I know. There is still so much to learn, but I am confident that he will lead me into all truth as I seek him out.
I desire to give others the opportunity to see evolution accurately and to distinguish it from the traditional, philosophical, and personal conclusions that too often cloud the scientific theory. I believe these conclusions alienate Christians from evolution more than the scientific theory itself. Ultimately, I do not mean to convince someone about evolution, but simply to give them the freedom to understand it.
Therefore, my goal for this podcast is two-fold:
- First, to offer a new perspective on randomness within natural processes that removes its negative connotations (especially as it relates to evolution).
- Second, to expose why evolution is powerless to support conclusions beyond the physical realm.
This will hopefully encourage others to study evolutionary theory and draw their own conclusions about its meaning in the framework of their faith.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.