Randomness and Evolution: Is There Room for God? (Videocast)

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June 15, 2012 Tags: Divine Action & Purpose

Today's video features Joy Walters. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

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?.

Author's Note

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.


Joy Walters is currently a student intern at BioLogos. She is completing her undergraduate education at Point Loma Nazarene University majoring in Biology-Chemistry. She is passionate about engaging the natural world and pursuing a deep relationship with her Creator and Savior. In the future, she desires to attend medical school and use her skills as a physician to establish God’s kingdom by bringing healing, joy and hope to others.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #70463

June 15th 2012

Thank you, Joy & Co., for your agreement mwith the ideas which I laid out in my book, Darwin’s Myth.

My only concern is that the science which she cites is not in agreement with the science of Dawkins and Dennett who are the most widely recognized voices of Darwinism.  Dawkins with his concept of the gene’s eye view of evolution is anti-environment and anti-ecology.

Thank you for making the clear distinction between Variation, how alletes change, (which is random to an extent) and Natural Selection, as to whether alletypes survive and thrive or not, which is not random.  Since Natural Selection is not random, it is by definition rational and purposeful.  This what Darwinists do not accept. 

In fact if Darwin was right, if Natural Selection is not based on the ecological factors, but the struggle to survive, then life does not have a purpose and it is indeed random.  The non-random nature of Natural Selection indicates that Life has a Teleos or Purpose.  Thus the science of ecological evolution, described in the blog, reinforces the Christian worldview and does not support the atheistic or physicalist worldview that denies Teleos or purpose and meaning. 

Thank you again, Joy & Co.           


George Bernard Murphy - #70464

June 15th 2012

That is a good discussion of the difference between a theory and a world view.

But it contributes little to the question of whether there is or isn’t a God.


HornSpiel - #70469

June 15th 2012

I liked the idea of God providing boundries in which random processes operate. So it seems that for random mutations, the ecological environment provides the boundries for species change in accordance with God’s wise provinence. Of course that is a Christian point of view. Like she says neither evolution or science in general can prove or disprove God’s existence.

But that’s the point isn’t it? The Church needs to learn that science is not a threat to belief in God nor the inspiration of the Scriptures.


George Bernard Murphy - #70470

June 15th 2012

Sxience and the Bible do not conflict and that is what you would expect when both are created by the same author.

 But it is the so-called Christians who create the conflict.

 The misinterpretation of “yom"so that it can only indicate 24 hours is one of the worst distortions.

That is eisetegetical DIScordance.

 They put a meaning into the original text that the author never intended ....WHICH CAUSES CONFLICT with science.


George Bernard Murphy - #70471

June 15th 2012

Excuse me! That first word should be ‘science”.

[They put the “c” and the “x” too close together on this keyboard.]


HornSpiel - #70481

June 16th 2012

Science and the Bible do not conflict and that is what you would expect when both are created by the same author.

Absolutely.  “the heavens decalre the glory of God.” Think that is a rock solid foundation for scientific and thological harmony.

What do you think the author intended in Genesis? It seems apparent from the context that the phrase  “there was evening and there was morning” indicates normal 24 hour days, not eons or ages. Of course without the sun and moon it really does not make sense if it is taken literally. So really there is a lot of latitude for interpretation, don’t you agree?

Personally I have come to the conclustion that science is a better way to understand the natural history of creation, whereas Genesis is a better way to get a theological understanding of creation, and ourselves as God’s creations. I find that trying to force some sort of concordance or correspondance between the Genesis account and the picture that has emerged as a result of scientific discoveries, to show the accuracy or reliablitiy of the Bible, distorts the intended message of Genesis.


wesseldawn - #70799

July 2nd 2012

What heavens are these referring to: could just as easily be referring to the divine heaven where God dwells (Paradise)!

And, if it was a 24/hr day then why does Gen. 2:4 say that it was generations?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #70515

June 18th 2012

And a student intern shall lead them.

I how that this a real turning point in how BioLogos understands evolution.

As Joy points out Natural Selection, which is the key to evolution, is NOT random, so evolution is not random and purposeless.  This crushes the Myth that Darwinists have so carefully nurtured for 150+ years, and believing opponents to evolution have steadfastly resisted.

Now we must take this victory and move in the direction that Dr. Falk has proposed, which is the Teleos or teleology of evolution, to bring ID and maybe even Southern Baptist opponents of evolution who support ID on board. 

The choice is not theology or concordance, but how both theology and science help us to understand the world we live in. 


wesseldawn - #70798

July 2nd 2012

“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.”

 

It’s quite obvious from Genesis that the Bible and evolution have a lot in common:

In Gen. 2:7 we see ‘man (ruddy)’ was created of the dust of the ground (dust and ground are synonyms, also mortar, clay, mud). Man was a product of the dust itself - meaning that man was the dust.

How does that differ with evolution that claims that “life evolved from the primordial soup (mud)”?

Genesis is really a very short overview of a very long period of time as Gen. 2:4 shows:

“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”

In Gen. 2:8 we see that this creature of the dust had obviously evolved (microevolution) from a simple organism to a more complex one (mammal) - it entered a garden where it got God’s image.

Obviously it did not have God’s image before that! So God’s image was an addition to it’s already animal state.

It’s at this point that the Bible takes a strange turn from evolution.

Evolution claims that the changes that occured to this animal were caused by biological and environmental stimulus (macroevolution). While the Bible says that the changes that happened to man/ruddy were miraculous, a direct result of this creature entering the garden!

The garden is an immortal place (where God dwells) and it was supernatural forces working upon man/ruddy that caused it to change, Adam!

Ovbiously man’s creation was not miraculous but Adam’s was!

This brings to mind another question: “why would God choose an animal that would often turn out to be hostile to him and others of its own species?”

 


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