Re: punctuating the equilibrium: a Christian alternative to randomness

From: Iain Strachan (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 13:41:15 EST

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    >To which Ian replied (2/9/03--see Re: Random from Professing evolution column):
    >>One might .
    >> >expect God to make his input felt now and then, as he sees fit.
    >>So in this model, one has to have God intervening over and over again, but
    >subtly covering his tracks so it looks like randomness .
    >Yes, one might expect God to intervene many times. 3.8 billion years or
    >whatever would give him lots of opportunities to do so. But why say it
    >looks like randomness? Randomness is an assumption of the current crop
    >of evolutionists. No one can prove that the mutations that caused major
    >transitions in life forms were random.

    True, you can't prove they were random, any more than you can prove that the number 8 in the Dilbert cartoon is random.

    We would say it looks like randomness if you can't detect an obvious pattern; if God hid his handiwork so well that people could believe in a process for which God is not necessary (i.e. evolution).

    >>.the atheist line is that it all happened by randomness + natural selection
    >and look what an unholy shambles it is. Just what you'd expect if there is
    >no purpose behind it all.
    >At last! Someone who also thinks it looks like an unholy shambles!

    Actually, just to clarify; I did not say there that *I* subscribed to the idea that it was an unholy shambles. I was stating that this is the standard atheist line. I would subscribe more to the view expressed by Paul in Romans 8:20-22:

    "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."

    The present "shambles" is due to the fall (and I don't think it matters whether you take that as a literal historical event, or a metaphorical description of the state we're in). By contrast, the atheist line would be that the present shambles is due to the shambolic nature of the process of evolution (re-iterating Richard Dawkins; "if I were God I wouldn't do it by evolution").

    >What deeply puzzles me is why so many Christians--presumably yourself included--seem to buy readily into the randomness aspect of the mechanism.

    As I said; I do not subscribe to that view; I was playing devil's advocate. Sorry if that caused a misunderstanding.

    I would also say, having researched extensively into machine learning, neural networks and genetic algorithms, that the randomness is not really the key issue. A genetic algorithm is merely an inefficient (who said it had to be efficient) form of "hill-climbing"; ie. a gradient-based search technique. The randomness is just there so that eventually a lucky guess goes in the right direction. The key pre-requisite is that there exist smooth and navigable gradients throughout the configuration space (say of a genome) that allow interesting things to happen. Either there are not; and you have to subscribe to an "intelligent design" paradigm, or there are, in which case you have to answer the question as to why the laws of physics are fine-tuned so that there are (pushing back the "intelligent design" a step further).

    >As I also said in my first post, I have an answer to the haphazardness conundrum that satisfies me and possibly in the future may satisfy also people like my atheist friends (but not my friends themselves, as they're too set in their ways by now), but I'm still not ready to divulge this.

    I look forward to reading this when you are ready.

    In Christ,

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