Re: [asa] Re: chance (formerrly BioLogos - Bad Theology?)

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Fri May 29 2009 - 02:26:28 EDT

Is it not a simple contrast with "directed mutation and artificial


On May 28, 2009, at 8:15 PM, Schwarzwald wrote:

> Let me hone in on this my question a little more.
> Evolutionary theory is often oversimplified to this: Random mutation
> and natural selection.
> So my question would be: What does the modifier of 'random' add to
> the theory that 'mutation' alone does not cover? What does the
> modifier of 'natural' add that 'selection' alone does not convey?
> Particularly, what do these words add to the science in question?
> Mind you, I've heard of various explanations of these things in the
> past - perhaps some will come up here, and I can respond to them.
> But this is a pretty fundamental question for me on this topic, and
> one I (again, as a layman) haven't been satisfied with the answers
> I've received.
> On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 8:10 PM, Schwarzwald <>
> wrote:
> Heya Don,
> Thank you. But let me be more specific: I have no problem imagining
> a Designer who allows some chance to be at work in the universe,
> either apparent (as in, we the created cannot figure out the
> reasons/'pattern') or real (Open theism and the like, where God has
> tremendous yet still limited knowledge). That I can get my head
> around, but my question isn't directly related to theology.
> But I mean, scientifically speaking, how does one determine an event
> - any given event - was well and truly chance in the sense it was
> unforeseen, unplanned, and unguided by anyone, God included? To me
> it seems like the only kind of "chance" science can legitimately
> refer to is the sort that reflects imperfect knowledge on our part.
> On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 7:34 PM, Don Nield <>
> wrote:
> Yes, it is a potentially foggy area. For some clarification I
> recommend the book "God, Chance and Purpose: Can God Have It Both
> Ways?) by David J. Bartholomew (Cambridge U.P., 2008). The product
> description reads:
> "Scientific accounts of existence give chance a central role. At the
> smallest level, quantum theory involves uncertainty and evolution is
> driven by chance and necessity. These ideas do not fit easily with
> theology in which chance has been seen as the enemy of purpose. One
> option is to argue, as proponents of Intelligent Design do, that
> chance is not real and can be replaced by the work of a Designer.
> Others adhere to a deterministic theology in which God is in total
> control. Neither of these views, it is argued, does justice to the
> complexity of nature or the greatness of God. The thesis of this
> book is that chance is neither unreal nor non-existent but an
> integral part of God's creation. This view is expounded, illustrated
> and defended by drawing on the resources of probability theory and
> numerous examples from the natural and social worlds. "
> Don N.
> Schwarzwald wrote:
> One question I have about this entire debate...
> Is ascribing something to "chance" really a scientific statement, no
> matter how thoroughly we know the conditions? I would understand if
> "chance" were just a statement about the limitations of our
> knowledge. But are "biological item X was created by chance" or
> "chance events resulted in biological item X" scientific statements
> at all, at least in the opinion of most here?
> From my layman vantage point, this seems like a foggy area to say
> the least. I could say more, but I'd like to keep this simple, if
> anyone is willing to respond.

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

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Received on Fri May 29 02:26:57 2009

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