Philosophical statements in Biology textbooks

I noticed a lot of times that in some biology textbooks, when talking about Darwin theory there are statements such as “Darwin has disproved finalism with its theory” “Mutations are due to chance”. “Man is not fundamentally different from other organisms”.
I argue that it isn’t correct to introduce teleological statements in a description that must only consider what is observed regardless of hypothetic external forces.
What is “chance” ? I define it like Ravi Zacharias that said that after reading much philosophy on it “it is a fancy word to describe what we cannot understand”.
I think that true science and biology must not be biased and that the debate “chance vs finality” is limited to philosophical and teological statements.
What do you think about it ?

Do you have references?

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The statements reported above refer to H. Curtis, N.S. Barnes “Invite to biology” book, 2003 edition(I have the italian one, I just translate and maybe in the original one something changes, I don’t exclude it a priori) except for the first one that may be found in other books such as “L’ universo e l’ origine della vita”,that in Italian means “The universe and the origins of life” that is written by lots of important italian scientists and that to be true it is contradictory in its authors visions i.e. one writer is a Catholic evolutionist priest(Fiorenzo Facchini) that says that “chance vs finality debate in evolution is always open”.
His works are really interesting in reconciliating faith and science.

EDIT: that one is not properly a book but a collection of studies, you can find the pdf online but it is in Italian.
Curtis and Barnes said that “man, for what science can show is not fundamentally different from other organisms neither for its origins or its role in the world history”. But this is not a scientific observation. What do they mean by “not fundamentally different”?

i generally agree with the principle of leaving philosophy out, but i can’t see where claiming that something happened “by chance” is importing philosophy.

I’m a Calvinist, and I personally believe that every single event that happens down to the smallest subatomic particle is controlled, orchestrated, and ordained by God… but given the basic laws and principles in which he has set up our universe, randomness is a real thing.

When I roll a die, and it comes up “4”, i have no problem saying that that particular occurrence happened “by chance,” or that getting a 4 on the die was a “random” occurrence. i’m not somehow claiming that there was no greater theology, or ruling our God’s overarching control, but the reality still exists in our practical world that that die roll was random… the 4 came up “by chance.”

that is simply an observation or description of the occurrence, I’m afraid i don’t see any deeper philosophical claim, unless you mean something further?


I think that saying that “Darwin showed that variability in living things happens thanks to natural selection and mutations” is different than saying “Darwin showed that variability in living things happens thanks to natural selection and mutations that are caused by chance”.
Too much people from that infer that also life is caused by chance than the Universe appeared by chance from nothing, without purpose without sense… They then choose atheism or a morbid agnosticism because they think that scientists have “overwhelming evidence for God’s non-existence”. I will never know how believing that everything is senseless makes them happy.I often see faces of atheism apologetic experts, they seem angry, they never smile except for irony to mock the “stupid folk that believes in fairytales” .
This one is only my vision seeing them in debates, I don’ t want to generalize and say that the above statement is valid for all.

Natural selection is not chance. Universes don’t appear from nothing.

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So quantum indeterminacy isn’t real?

The laws are prevenient. God has no choice one way and another.

What is quantum indeterminacy ? I don’t know anything about quantum physics and I am curious. I cannot do powerful statement on it but being God omnipotent and supernatural, I think he can also determine what our rationally limited brains cannot understand…

It’s how reality is at the lowest level Andrea. Fuzzy. Paradoxical. And/or/both/neither. Unknowable even to itself. It’s not that we don’t have the techniques to establish phenomena with precision, that our metrology, our measuring devices aren’t good enough yet or that as they improve our ignorance of the state of ultimate, quantum reality does, the information does not exist to ever be obtained under any circumstances, including by God. That is the greatest logical, mathematical and scientific fact we will ever know. That there is no such thing as absolute reality. We’ve known this for a century.

Ok, I have understood our human difficulty in understanding low level physics. What I don’t understand is why can’t God obtain informations that we cannot understand and that maybe will be never…
I mean, he is the Creator of all, he created matter at every level and order of magnitude, why can’t he orchestrate what he wants from the astronomical to subatomic level ?

Darwin never demonstrated that mutations are caused by chance, but scientists a century later did demonstrate chance mutations.

Of course, “chance” has a very specific definition in this scientific context. All it means is that there is no statistical correlation between the needs of the organism and the mutations that happen. In other words, the processes that create mutations don’t appear to be biased towards beneficial, neutral, or detrimental mutations in any meaningful sense. Nowhere in these scientific conclusions does it say that God isn’t involved, or any such philosophical or theological conclusion.

I acknowledge that the universe doesn’t appear to have any inherent meaning or purpose, but what makes me happy is learning new things, interacting with loved ones, and experiencing life. I also don’t feel any need to mock anyone’s beliefs . . . well, unless they are flat earthers or some such. I do have my limits. :wink:


As I said, but it’s hard to sink in, took seven years for me, it cannot be orchestrated. It can only be instantiated, grounded indeterminately by and to God. He cannot know, determine beyond that. Except by overruling the indeterminacy. Which He obviously never does, apart from with regard to incarnation, from the quantum on up through all scales to the fully autonomous cosmic, which He’s willed from eternity.

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Do you have more examples of this? I don’t remember anything like this in my Biology public schooling in America.

As an organization, we tend to recommend biology textbooks that would have less of a chance of inserting assumptions such as these.

The answer Klax gave was too complicated. Quantum Mechanics (in its most common and tested form) says, to give one example of indeterminacy, that you can never, even in principle, even with advanced technology not yet imagined, predict when a given unstable nucleus will decay. You can only give the probability it will decay in a certain time interval.

Everything Klax states about God and indeterminacy is pure speculation, even though he states it in the language of absolute certainty.

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