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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!

 

A Scientific Commentary on Genesis 7:11

Although committed to the principle of sola Scriptura, Calvin recognized that the Bible would have been written in terms its original recipients would have understood. Calvin inherited the medieval cosmology of his time, a way of viewing the world heavily influenced by Greek thought and one which was about to receive shocks from astronomers such as Copernicus and Galileo. But not just yet.

 

Series: It's an Old World After All (2 entries)

In our sixth BioLogos videocast, we take a look at the age of the Earth. We explain four methods scientists have used to determine that age: tree ring, lake varve, radiometric, and seafloor spread dating, and also offer some theological insight on how an old earth can fit with the first chapters of Genesis.

 

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.

 

How Do We Know the Earth is Old? (Infographic)

The BioLogos Forum is pleased to present this infographic about the tools scientists use to determine the age of the Earth. The graphic, titled "How Do We Know the Earth is Old?", uses data compiled and summarized by geology professor Dr. Gregg Davidson.

 

The Questions Update: The Age of the Earth

We've recently been looking at the evidence for an old earth and the long history and vibrancy of this view among evangelical Christians. Today’s post features a preview of the updated Question, “How are the ages of the Earth and universe calculated?" revised by Senior Web Consultant and Writer Deborah Haarsma.

 

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.

 

"Centered": The Language of Science and Faith

In a recent interview with the Sirius XM radio show Centered, Karl Giberson sat down with host Don Belanus to discuss the book The Language of Science and Faith.

 

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".

 

Navigating the Crises

In this video, Brian McLaren discusses the idea of surrogate arguments, in which a debate over one thing is really a means for arguing something completely different. According to McClaren, the argument over the age of the earth is one such argument.

 

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.

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