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

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Fri May 29 2009 - 10:33:26 EDT

It could well be. But if someone gave what they argued was a scientific
description of biological development, I'd ask what 'directed' and
'artificial' added to the description as well as far as the science goes.

So here I am, stuck trying to figure out what particular utility these
descriptions add to the science. Imagine I were an evolutionary biologist.
Imagine further that I viewed evolution (again, oversimplifying here) as
mutation and selection - not random mutation and natural selection, or
directed mutation and artificial selection. My justification for this is A)
I can't tell, nor do I need to tell, the difference between artificial
selection and natural selection in an ultimate (big-d Designer(s)) sense,
and B) I can't tell, and don't need to tell, the difference between natural
and artificial selection in same sense (big-d Designer(s)).

What part of evolutionary science do I sacrifice by doing this? Keep in
mind, I don't care about sacrificing any philosophical or metaphysical
perspective. I care about the actual scientific ramifications here - what
scientific research is cut off to me, what scientific speculation do I
sacrifice, etc.

On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 2:26 AM, Terry M. Gray <>wrote:

> Is it not a simple contrast with "directed mutation and artificial
> selection"?
> TG
> 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.
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Received on Fri, 29 May 2009 10:33:26 -0400

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