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Evolution Basics: At the Frontiers of Evolution, Part 4: Contingency vs. Convergence

Given that both contingency and convergence seem to be significant factors in evolutionary history, it is only natural for scientists to wonder which force has the upper hand. Is evolution primarily contingent, with convergence playing only a minor role? Or is evolution largely a convergent phenomenon, where contingent factors have little overall influence?

 

Origins News Roundup for August 20, 2014

From science and religion blogs: quantum uncertainty and God, the remarkable fact that we have come to understand our place in the created order, and the role of theology in making wise choices about the use of technology.

 

Stochastic Grace

I was raised in a household of atheists. My parents were card-carrying members of the American Communist Party, and therefore the atheism in my household was quite close to the militant anti-theism of the so-called “new atheists”.

 

Series: Understanding Randomness (5 entries)

In this series, Kathryn Applegate addresses the concern that randomness implies the absence of God's activity and involvement in the natural world. She begins by clearing up some common misconceptions about the concept of "randomness", and later focuses on the mechanisms of the immune system to demonstrate that God works through random processes to preserve life. Far from being an indication of a "godless" universe, one might conclude that randomness is one of God’s favorite mechanisms for creating and sustaining life!

 

The Randomness Project

It is not uncommon to hear voices proclaiming that biology and physics have shown us that—at fundamental levels—nature is random, hence meaningless, purposeless, and without a creator. But how might God work providentially through indeterminate processes? The John Templeton Foundation has provided a generous grant of $1.69 million to support a new research initiative on the theme of Randomness and Divine providence.

 

David Lack: Evolutionary Biologist and Devout Christian

Charles Darwin’s personal struggles and ultimate rejection of Christianity are well documented, and people are eager to link his loss of faith to his evolutionary theory. David Lack, on the other hand, began his scientific career as an agnostic, but shortly after publishing his famous book on the evolution of "Darwin's finches", he converted to Christianity.

 

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

This BioLogos videocast addresses the idea of randomness as a part of natural selection, and whether it challenges the possibility of God using the evolutionary process as a means of creation.

 

Series: Randomness and God’s Governance (5 entries)

In this three-part series from Pruim’s chapter in the book Delight in Creation: Scientists Share Their Work with the Church, mathematician Randall Pruim explains what scientists and mathematicians mean when they speak of something being “random”. He also addresses God's use of apparent randomness in creation as a part of his sovereign rule.

 

Chance Creation

It should not be surprising that John Cage asked the stuff he used to make paintings to take part in the process—to contribute its own identity to the intentional, purposeful, and determined work of creating “based on chance.”

 

Fearful Symmetries

Perusing the writings of atheistic scientists and philosophers like Daniel Dennett, one could easily get the impression that arriving at a simpler explanation for something equates to a revelation that things are “lower, cruder, and more trivial.”

 

Series: He Who Has Ears (4 entries)

Scholar and musician Jeff Warren addresses the questions of how music is meaningful, and where that meaning resides, by looking at the popular ideas that musical meaning is entirely subjective to the listener and that the meaning of music can be universal. He also explores the recent trend of attempting to explain music via neuroscience. Finally, he looks into the reasons why music continues to play such a critical role in the worshiping life of the Church.

 

Beginning with the End in Mind

In today's video, Oxford physicist Ard Louis discusses the famous debate between renowned evolutionary biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Simon Conway Morris over the idea of evolutionary convergence.

 

Evolution: Is God Just Playing Dice?

With his standard panache, the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould argued strenuously that evolution had no inherent directionality. We are mere accidents; a "tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree".

 

From Chaos to Order: The Random Process as the "Precision Tool"of God

For many, the importance of apparent randomness in evolution can be a major stumbling block when considering whether God could have created through an evolutionary process.

 

Ask an Evolutionary Creationist: A Q&A with Dennis Venema

Even if Darwin had never lived and no one else had come up with the idea of common ancestry, modern genomics would have forced us to that conclusion even if there was no other evidence available.

 

Thomas Aquinas: Saint of Evolutionary Psychologists?

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was the foremost Christian scholar of the High Middle Ages and is today regarded as a "doctor" of the Catholic Church. No, Aquinas was not a materialist neuroscientist, but he understood the intimate interdependence of mind and body.

 

Evolution, Myths and Reconciliation: A Review of "Why Evolution is True", Part 1

I want to lay out some of the key myths and indicate how Coyne’s discussion can help Christians get a more accurate understanding of evolution.

 

Distinctions. Part 1: Randomness

In our first Distinctions video -- featuring biologists Sean Carroll and Kerry Fulcher, Smithsonian Human Origins Program director Rick Potts, and Old Testament scholar John Walton -- we look at the concept of randomness.

 

Beware Evolutionary 'Just-so' Stories About Religious Belief

As an evolutionary biologist I am fascinated by the emergence of cognitive abilities that make us so distinctive from other living species. There are, however, risks in making up evolutionary "just-so" stories to explain the origins of complex human beliefs.

 

Uncertainty is Uncomfortable

Scientists become fairly comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty within scientific data, notes Kathryn Applegate, but that is not the case for most people, especially where faith is concerned

20 resources found