Beginning with the End in Mind with Ard Louis


The video is courtesy of filmmaker Ryan Pettey, director/editor of Satellite Pictures and features physicist Ard Louis.

In this video, Oxford physicist Ard Louis discusses the famous debate between renowned evolutionary biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Simon Conway Morris. Gould believed (and wrote in his book Wonderful Life) that if the "tape" of evolution were rerun, the chance that anything like human intelligence would emerge is essentially zero. In other words, humanity is here through random accident. Gould pointed to the work of Morris and fellow scientists in their research of the Burgess Shale as evidence for this view.

However, Morris himself disagrees, pointing to what is called evolutionary convergence. As Morris notes, there are numerous examples of identical features evolving multiple times throughout the history of life independently. Morris believes that if the tape of life were replayed, we would see something like humans emerge. A Christian might say, it looks like we were planned.

Some Christians might find Simon Conway Morris' viewpoint, with its implicit teleology, more attractive. Others, perhaps motivated by a high view of providence, may find Gould's emphasis on contingency equally congenial to their faith. What do you think?

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.

Stephen Freeland, Astrobiologist and the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at UMBC - See more at:

As a Christian and an evolutionary biologist, I support with enthusiasm the work of BioLogos as part of my personal commitment to nurture dialog (dia-Logos!) between science and the Christian faith. I identify most strongly with the organization’s eleventh article of belief (“What we believe”): We believe that conversations among Christians about controversial issues of science and faith can and must be conducted with humility, grace, honesty, and compassion as a visible sign of the Spirit’s presence in Christ’s body, the Church.

- Stephen Freeland, Astrobiologist and the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at UMBC - See more at:
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