Re: Destiny or Creativity

David Campbell (bivalve@mailserv0.isis.unc.edu)
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 19:01:12 -0400

Adam Crowl wrote
>Based on recent work with bacteria it describes various factors that seemingly
>DETERMINE how life will evolve. New niches becoming available seem to act as
>species generators, allowing an ancestral form to diversify rapidly.
>Neo-Darwinian dogma seems to demand a certain randomness and uncertainty to
>the process of evolution, without any teleological hint of "goal" or
>"purpose".

Actually, such rapid change in response to new opportunity is explainable
by natural selection. In a new niche, competition (and thus selection) is
low. An organism with a mutation that would normally put it at a
disadvantage can survive because it shelters in the new niche. However, if
one of its descendants retains the innovation but fixes other problems,
competition will increase again.
For bacteria, reported directed mutation has proved to be simply an
increase in mutation rates. Bacteria that could not digest lactose were
given only lactose, and some seemed to mutate into lactose-digesting forms
too rapidly for "chance" mutations to explain it. However, it turns out
that a mutation occurred that increased the mutation rate. Normally this
would produce enough harmful mutations to cause the mutant bacteria to be
outcompeted, but in the absence of competition, the high mutation rate
forms survived long enough to hit on a useful mutation.

[Snipping some of the text]
>What's God's role in all this? How many on this list still agree with
>Descartes and consider all animals to be soulless automatons? I would argue
>strongly that such anthropocentric prejudice is non-Biblical, since the Spirit
>of Life gives life to all flesh.

Whatever the processes, God is sovereign and is able to bring His plans to
pass even when we cannot discern a pattern or direction (as is the case for
much of evolution).
Our being made in God's image is a unique distinction relative to
other animals, but exactly what their status is does not seem to be
addressed in Scripture. They merit humane treatment (Ex. 20:10, 23:5,
etc.), and all of creation will be involved in the redemption (Rm. 8:21),
but beyond that I cannot think of anything stated in Scripture.

David C.