Re: Evolution and Salvation

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Tue Sep 16 2003 - 16:15:51 EDT

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    Howard can undoubtedly respond to this better, but here's my take.

    I think what is missing here is an appreciation that very complex and
    structured outcomes can result a system that is based on a VERY modest
    number of starting conditions.
    Again, this is one of the big lessons from chaos theory. The concept is
    that suitable starting conditions (specific rules, resources, processes)
    can in effect create a distant "attractor" for the system, as if that
    "attractor" were pulling the development of the system toward a specific
    outcome. The attractor does not exist, yet the starting conditions and
    processes of the system move the developing system toward an that
    outcome as if the attractor was a magnet. The system is not constrained
    to move in a particular way toward that attractor, but it does move
    generally inevitably toward the attractor to eventually reach (achieve)
    the state that corresponds to the attractor. Many alternative paths are
    possible, but the end is predetermined.

    I've mentioned a couple of examples that relate to chaos theory before.
    But here are some illustrations of things which are not specifically
    related to chaos theory, but exemplify starting conditions which broadly
    define the intended outcome, but do not define the exact way to get
    there nor the exact outcome.
    An oak tree that spings from an acorn - generally specified outcome as
    an oak tree, but not specifying exactly how to get there and the exact
    shape of the result.
    A ball rolling down a waterslide.
    The signing of an agreement between a landowner and developer to create
    a retirement home community.
    Any war of choice.
    Development of a therapeutic response to a particular health threat.

    There is intent at the beginning. There are finite resources and
    processes available to achieve the desired result. The exact path is
    unpedictable except in the most general terms and decidedly not
    predetermined. Yet, in at least some of these examples, the objective is
    realized most of the time...eventually.

    In my view (and more related to chaos and complexity) Creation itself is
    like this. There are only a few kinds of quarks, a few ways they combine
    in accordance with a few forces and a small (apparently) set of
    energy/matter properties. With this arguably small toolbox, we see
    developing and moving exceeding complex, structured, and interesting
    results (consolidation of suns into fusion reactors that make helium and
    a little lithium out of hydrogen; bigger consolidations of supergiant
    stars that go supernova and provide us with the universe's small
    percentage of the higher elements, the ones that are necessary for life
    and its planetary support system; crystals; fossil fuel material, and so

    Although evolution is a matter that's come to be emotionally loaded
    (mostly in this country), at its fundamentals, it just describes another
    way of "getting there" in much the same manner as just described. It
    differs from another kind of miracle only in its specifics (the earliest
    moments of the Big Bang might even have been coercive!). Evolution has
    processes and rules (some of which we are aware of). That puts it in the
    category of being a possible means for achieving a complex and fairly
    specific result, even though the specific path is not spelled out.
    Perhaps of greatest importance, It also allows for and can accommodate
    intent, ...intelligent design if you will.

    It doesn't take fine tuning to a new level - it just exemplifies what
    fine tuning means. A more defined outcome just means another rule or two
    in the starting starting conditions. I would think it might be hard to
    make a case that our configuration is the only possible realization of
    the exact creature God wanted, particularly since his being appears to
    transcend our physical domain.

    And if God did that fine tuning, it seems to me that he is every bit as
    responsible for the outcome as if he produced us spontaneously. [Did
    that take a femtosecond, or a millisecond, or a year, or ??? ....Does it
    seem like that would really matter to God as we understand her? - JimA wrote:

    >>Re: "Evolution is nothing like this. There is no specific "end result."
    >>That's an interesting assertion (and a pretty commonly held notion). But
    >>just for argument's sake, how do you know that?
    >>Another perspective suggests that creation is toodling along just finem
    >>guided generally or specifically (your choice of flavor) by a plan and
    >>processes put in place from the outset.
    >> From inside that plan, we would likely have no way of "divining" the
    >>outcome or even a reasonably full picture of the objective(s). JimA
    >I can't say that I "know" it, but neither can I imagine an alternative. The
    >theory of evolution is based on non-directed processes like random mutation
    >and natural selection (rm+ns). If your suggestion is correct, then it seems
    >like it would take fine tuning to an entirely new level where the intial
    >conditions would need to be specified to such an extent that the whole
    >mechanistic/deterministic cascade of causes and effects that led to the
    >apparently *random* result of the appearance of man in the evolutionary
    >chain would in fact be inevitable.
    >This seems like a bit of a stretch to me. And that's why I asked Howard to
    >fill in the gaps in his RFEP which seems very vague when it attempts to
    >accomodate the Christian understanding of God and Creation. The Bible
    >declares that God formed man. The RFEP seems to be saying that God formed
    >the universe in such a way that things *like* man would be an inevitable
    >consequence. But if I am reading him correctly, it seems like he denies that
    >God *specifically* formed us since the RFEP seems only to assert that some
    >sort of creatures would evolve, while not specifying exactly which
    >Is this correct Howard? Or do you believe that God specified exactly which
    >creatures would evolve when he created the world?
    >Richard Amiel McGough
    >Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

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