Does Randomness Really Exist?

I appreciate a lot in this comment, Eddie.

I particularly see value in the careful distinction you draw in saying that what you see in the EC movement reflects sea changes in the wider Evangelical community. I also agree that while there has always been a diversity of views about providence and free will within Protestantism, at least in the circles I ran in growing up a couple of decades ago (which were reasonably diverse), Open Theism as a position was always considered outside the bounds of historical orthodoxy. That does seem to be changing in some quarters.

I continue to disagree with you that it is reasonable to line up all BioLogos writers and demand they clarify their views on theology. Sure, you don’t comment this way on Dennis’s blog posts — but in response to this blog post, you state that (emphasis mine)

and this includes Dennis, even if that’s not maybe what you intended. You repeat it again when in this last comment you reference

I still don’t see this as reasonable. It still feels like a witch hunt to me.

Nevertheless I see your point about conversations being dropped. I wasn’t there for most of those conversations, but I don’t doubt your account. Brad may be able to correct you as he corrected MATT (his caps) in the other thread, but your account doesn’t seem unlikely.

In response, my tentative gut-level synthesis (as one very much on the periphery of things and not at all qualified to give an informed opinion) is that I ought to pray that BioLogos might find some vocal scholars on the philosophy / theology / history side of things that are as careful about minding traditional boundaries of orthodoxy as (for instance) you are, yet who are equally adamant that we embrace at least most of the scientific consensus view (and I’m not getting into Neo-Darwinian vs. other evolutionary views, etc. here). It seems that many of the big-name public academics that seem drawn to their programme — I’m thinking here of the likes of Enns, Polkinghorne, Wright, Giberson, and others, though obviously these are all in very different places along the Scale of American Evangelical Acceptability — are more comfortable with outside-the-box thinking in other areas as well. This unfortunately lends weight to the slippery-slope fears of conservative anti-evolutionists, in what then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we had more folks like, say, Tim Keller, who are careful to hew to their Evangelical bona fides, but who could (perhaps unlike Tim Keller) take the conversation still deeper into the gritty academic particulars of the historical / theological / philosophical questions you touch on in your comment here, perhaps BioLogos could gain more traction.

I suspect that pestering the existing columnists about their personal views ad nauseam (my unflattering perspective on your comments, if you’ll forgive me the frankness) may not be particularly productive, but I do see how the lack of which you speak is probably real, and for the success of BioLogos itself, I pray they are able to fill it.

I see your point, though I wasn’t there for your earlier conversations to see the particulars first-hand. See my further reflections in my response to Eddie, which may be germane.

In 2014, a landmark paper proved that the two features of QM, previously considered distinct, are different manifestations of the same thing. See below.
http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2014/12/puzzle-solved-two-quantum-mysteries-merge-one

Thanks for the reference, Patrick. It’s a popular science interpretation of a physics paper, and I don’t trust journalists to get the science right, so I’ll read the original paper, before commenting further. (Not every published paper is correct, I should add. ) I note that considerations of entropy enter in to the work. That in itself is nothing new. In 1953 Lande put an equivalence in terms of the Gibbs Paradox. See Continuity, A Key to Quantum Mechanics

I read the original paper. It is really good. I was able to understand the paper because it was all information theory equations which I am familiar with. Here it is: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141219/ncomms6814/full/ncomms6814.html

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I never thought the day would come…

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Thanks Patrick for the reference. I’m not comfortable with the notion of information theory as a foundation for QM–I can think of problems in my own area of expertise, magnetic resonance, where I can’t see how it would apply. However, that may be due to my ignorance of information theory. I’ve found a thesis which explores this and will read that so that I can speak from non-ignorance–so it may be a while until I finally reply to your comment. (The thesis is "Quantum Information Theory and the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics" by Gordon Timson.)
Thanks again for steering me onto an interesting subject.

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Well as a long-time student of information theory, I am very comfortable in information theory as a foundation of QM. The Hawkins’ Information Paradox of a Black Hole is fundamentally a QM as information problem.

Have you ever considered being completely open about exactly who you are (your name!), so we can see your work and your reputation among biblical scholars?

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@Eddie.

Thank you for your statement, which can provide a good basis for discussion. I hope that we can not allow the rancor that was a part of some of our previous discussion to interfere with our coming to an understanding now.

But before I address the issues that you have raised, we need to carefully look at the excellent statement by James Bradley, which is the basis of our discussion of randomness.

> Randomness is [nothing strange or fearful—it’s] a necessary part of living in a complex world in which there are many independent entities. Furthermore, [as other writers here have pointed out,] biological processes use randomness. Also mathematically, the most important theorem in statistics, the Central Limit Theorem, proves that even the most disorderly sets of numbers necessarily follow a highly ordered pattern when aggregated appropriately. Putting all this together, it seems that randomness originates in God and that God has built the world both to incorporate and to manage randomness. Brackets added for some additional clarity.

Randomness is a necessary, integral aspect of life and nature in that we live in a God created complex world. Evolution uses randomness to create changing life forms through Variation, while it uses Natural Selection to create continuity through adaptation to a changing environment. The basic theorem in statistics demonstrates that the most disorderly sets of numbers are not really disorderly when looked at with the proper perspective!

All of this leads me to the conclusion which I had already expected, but this essay clarifies and reinforces, which is Randomness and Order, Change and Continuity, the Many and the One, all of these pairs of seeming contradictions is at the heart of Who God is. God is the Trinity, the Many and the One.

Humans see the Many and the One as opposites and try to do away with one or the other. We religious folks cherish the One and avoid the other. Scientific folk like @Patrick cherish the Many and would like to do away with the One. Both have some good points, but both are wrong in that we all need to embrace both the Many and the One, Who is God the Trinity.

One problem with fully embracing the One and the Many is that we Westerners are still stuck with Western dualism, which leaves out the “and” of the spiritual in the One and the Many. Reality is not dualistic. It is trinitarian, physical, rational, and spiritual.

Eddie, you take a traditionally Western dualistic view of God against Nature. You appear to be looking for the God of the gaps. I am looking for the God of the facts, the God Who rules and works through Nature. God is not Nature, but God created nature to make a home for humanity.

I have shown you and @gbrooks9 how God guides evolution through ecology. You have not denied that it is true. Here you say that ecological Natural Selection can select evolutionary changes, but does not produce them.

There is some truth to this statement, however when one looks at genetic variation, you see how this is not really necessary. God has structured sexual reproduction in such a way to procure a maximum of diversity and change among flora and fauna on earth. In other words God has made life complex through random sexual reproduction Thus God in God’s wisdom has given Natural Selection a huge variety of genetic material available from which to select in order to create positive evolutionary change.

God of the facts. Not God of the gaps.

@Eddie, try to remember that part of the equation is the perception of danger. And if I had someone like you chasing down my every last word . . . I would be very uncomfortable about saying something that might lead to a theoretical Biblical meltdown.

If you recall the Scopes trial, the teacher was found GUILTY; he was FINED. And only later was the verdict overturned on a technicality.

I’m not suggesting that BioLogos writers are anxious about getting fined; only that there doesn’t seem to be any pressing reason to cater to your examinations.

Personally speaking, I’ve never seen any pressing need to answer all your questions fully when it seemed so obvious that you were both ‘hostile’ witness and interrogator! :horse_racing:

George

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Roger, you are making up rules about what God can or can’t do. And in fact, you are creating a straightjacket that makes it pretty difficult to even discuss Evolution with Evangelicals.

If I went “to meeting” and said God couldn’t possibly have made Adam from dust … because that would have involved designing and making chromosomes . . . I think my relevancy to the Evangelical conversation would be over instantly.

It suddenly occurs to me that the only people who might be interested in your “hands off” view of God would be agnostic supporters of Evolution.

The response of Atheists would be “what God?”

The response from “Intelligent Design” folks would be hard to predict . . . I think there’s a good chance that none of them have developed this scenario at all.

Do you know any Intelligent Design folks who claim that God doesn’t manipulate genes directly?

George

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@gbrooks9

George,

One of the basic tenets of theology is that God can do whatever God chooses to do, God is Sovereign, including ending this world right now. However God does not do all that God can do.

To understand God we must observe what God does, particularly in nature. God could have created the universe in six days, but God did not. God could have created Adam de nova out of dirt, but God did not. Genesis is great for telling us that God created the universe and humanity. Science is great for explaining how God did this. This is what most Christians believe.

You and maybe @Eddie seem to have kept the false understanding the Bible that YEC have, which is the details are important, which the basic points are no. In other words we cannot believe the Bible when it says that God created the universe regardless of how true that may be unless every detail of the facts that are in the Bible are scientifically true. That is a ridiculous claim.

The primary problem when discussing evolution with conservative Christians is not the science of evolution, it is the their rigid understanding of the Bible. It is they who try to tell God how and when God created the universe based on a very narrow reading of one or two chapters of the whole Bible.

You cannot win an argument fought on their battleground. If they want to claim that the Bible is against evolution, you must demonstrate that it is not based on the whole Bible esp. the New Testament. God the Father sent Jesus the Son to correct the misunderstandings and limits of the Old Testament.

There are serious objections raised by Christianity to Darwinism, but not the one primarily raised by YEC. They need to be resolved by good science as I have tried to do, rather than reject the scientific method altogether as you are trying to do.

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@Eddie

I will gladly discuss evolution is whatever blog is available. I would just point out that you criticized my position in this blog without using my name, which is the primary reason I responded here.

If you would please respond to the other and larger statement that I made. God created a universe which is necessarily limited, that is, not God. To carry out God’s plan for this limited universe requires both change and continuity. Randomness and random Variation are part of the change aspect of God’s plan. Natural Selection is part of the continuity aspect of God’s Plan. The Many and the One both come from God and are a part of Who God is, the Trinity.

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You make a very nicely worded post, Roger!

But I do not think I enter their battleground by proposing that God could have manipulated some chromosomes here or there (via Cosmic Rays from WAYYYY OUTTTTT THERE (<== imagine an echo chamber with the voice! ).

If you can imagine God shaping genetics by manipulating ecological factors like climate, gas concentrations and even a big asteroid . . . I just can’t imagine leaving Cosmic Rays out of the equation.

Your version of God’s policy statement, while certainly novel, seems utterly arbitrary. But at least now I understand why you are sooooo very interested in ecological influences on Evolution.

George

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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