>Thanks for the update, Keith. You speak of the "range of environments" as if it were an established fact. What are they? Wetlands? What else is there? I would appreciate any references you have on these points. Moreover, so what? If there were in fact a range of environments, would the animal not stay in the one it was best adapted to and ignore the rest? Or are you suggesting that these environments appeared sequentially and that the animal was forced by necessity to adapt to the current one?<
In the case of various wetland habitats, they usually do appear sequentially. As sea level rises and falls and sediments accumulate or erode, marshes may become either shallow ocean or dry land. In many but not all cases, an organism could track a particular environment as its position shifts over the years. However, a patchy or specialized habitat may disappear, and superimposed (and linked) climatic shifts may also force latitudinal migration, which may hit barriers. However, in the specific case of whales, the presence of an adjacent vacant niche would have made adaptation to it quite easy. Even relatively unmodifed forms, such as the sea otter, can do well in open water. Any advantageous mutation could easily find use, as most wetlands are transitional between shallow and deeper water.
>I have read before that you believe God is involved even in random events, such as random mutations. I agree with that. But does that mean that (1) God actually directs random events, i.e., chooses and brings about which ones he/she wants to have effected, or (2) that God merely knows what the outcome will be? If (1) then you have _directed_ evolution, and that's a far cry from what the mainstream evolutionary biological community believes, if my understanding of it is correct.<
This raises the issues of predestination, etc. Coming from a Reformed background, I would assert not merely foreknowledge but foreordination by God of the course of evolution. I do not see a particular scientific or theological need for God's direction of random events to differ qualitatively from His ordinary providence.
Evolution, as a natural process, has no inherent direction any more than gravity has inherent purpose. This is a basic part of the message of Genesis 1-all of creation is just that, creation, and not independent agents like the pagan gods. Furthermore, God's inclination to confound the wisdom of the wise and choose the weak and despised for honor makes predicting His plan in history quite difficult. However, Genesis 1 also shows that God had His purposes in creating everything. Thus, on the one hand Christians should emphatically affirm that evolution is an undirected, purposeless process in the sense that natural patterns do not have plans. This is in contrast to new age or pagan deificaiton of nature. On the other hand, Christians should affirm that nothing is purposeless or undirected in the sense that all things are subject to God and work according to His purposes. Evolution is purposeless, but God has purposes for evolution.
Dr. David Campbell
Saint Mary's College of Maryland
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"Mollusks murmured 'Morning!'. And salmon chanted 'Evening!'."-Frank Muir, Oh My Word!
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