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Evolution Basics: Evolution and the Christian, Part 1: Is Evolution a Purposeless Mechanism?

One of the primary concerns about evolution that I encounter is the question of “randomness” – by which most folks mean something to the effect that evolution is an unpredictable, uncontrolled process – that as such could not be used by God as a purposeful mechanism to bring about his aims.

 

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.

 

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.”

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

How do randomness and chance align with belief in God's sovereignty and purpose?

Evolution includes random factors in both genetic mutation and natural selection. In popular usage, “random” often means “without purpose.” Some atheists have described evolution as proceeding by “blind, purposeless chance.” But to scientists, “chance” simply means unpredictability. God could choose to use random, unpredictable processes to accomplish his purposes in creation.

 

How does the evil and suffering in the world align with the idea of a loving God?

The most ancient and persistent objection to God’s existence is the problem of evil. How can a loving, powerful God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? The problem of evil has no simple answer, but many philosophers, theologians and others have developed helpful insights.

12 resources found