Random or Intentional?

Hello, I am new to BioLogos. I pretty much had my faith deconstructed over the last 10-15 years which ended up leading me to severe depression…maybe I am just weird and this is uncommon. I have been in the process of faith reconstruction since Atheism is simply not an option and I never really got to the point anyway.

I really love the story of Francis Collins and others like him that are deep thinkers and have a strong scientific background. Especially those that were atheists and now are Christians. These stories really help my faith.

My question is what BioLogos believes about evolution. Does Biologos believe that God directed evolution to a desired end or that it was truly random?

I am sure the answer is already on the forum somewhere but I am being lazy this evening…please forgive me.

Thanks

Darrell in West Virginia

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Welcome to the forum, Darrell.

The organization doesn’t have a position on that other than to say that God providentially achieves his creative purposes through evolution. People have different ways of dealing with randomness and whether or not God divinely “intervenes” in natural processes. Here are some of the resources from the website.

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Welcome Darrell! I think we have all been and are still somewhat where you are in our faith walk. At least many of us. I think the answer to your question is going to be somewhat ambiguous. BioLogos as an organization has a statement of faith, and has published articles by various authors regarding God’s direction of evolution. In the forum, Biologos participants are a diverse body, and those questions vary far and wide, but are not official positions. We have people post who have strong Calvinistist leanings, some with Arminian leanings like me, and some open theists and their theology is going to direct how they answer that question.
My personal position is that God does direct evolution to a desired end, but I also feel that his direction is more that of a gardener and there is some freedom in what that desired end is.
Christy has given you some good articles to look over. I think it is a very Biblical position to hold that God has control within random processes, as the Proverbs 16:33 states: " We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall."

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Thanks for the replies, this gets me headed in the right direction for my question(s)…thanks!

@DBASRA99, Welcome Darrell,

Thank you for your question, It is an important one and a difficult one, because science resists the idea that God interferes with science,. Certainly most of us believe that God created humans in God’s own Image through evolution.

The problem is Darwin believed that evolution was not innately random, but directed by Natural Selection, but he did not believe that God directed evolution. He believed it was directed by a process based on an relentless struggle for survival.

I am not against science, but I am not a scientist by profession. I am an active participant in the BioLogos dialogue between faith and science, but I am not a part of the BioLogos organization. I speak for no one but myself.

Now let me tell you what I see. I see that God created the Heavens and the earth and God created humans in God’s own Image. That of course is a faith statement, but that does not mean that it does not have a rational foundation. If God, meaning the God of the Bible, did not create the universe, then Who or even What could have done this?

If we know God as the Creator of the universe, and we can see that we are created in God’s Image with the ability to think, create, and love, the Who could have created us by God? If God created us as we are through evolution then that must be so. However God does not act through selfishness, like the Selfish Gene of Dawkins, nor does God create through unrelenting struggle as with the Survival of the Fittest.

Therefore it seems to me that we can say that God did create humans using e3volution which God guided through Natural Selection, bit not in the way Darwin or Dawkins say. Our task is to discover for ourselves how God did it, which of course is the task of science in general. I hope this is helpful.

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My story has some similarities and differences. A lot of that can be found here where I do a commentary on Collins’ book. But as quick-and-dirty summary… I was not raised Christian but started out completely in the scientific worldview and remain dedicated to science (with a masters degree in physics). I have simply found value in the Christian worldview as well.

That btw is a significant difference to me. I have always considered atheism a viable and rational option. So my choice for Christianity is not at all a matter of desperation. And to be frank, it is pretty intellectual because my character is one-sided in that regards most ways.

We are a collection of individuals who believe a great many different things about how to bring the Bible and evolution together into a coherent picture. Explore the ideas different people have and it is most natural that you will put together a picture of your own on how to do this which best satisfies your own way of thinking.

I believe that design and life are at opposite ends of a spectrum. We are rapidly approaching the point where we will master the biological machinery of how our bodies work to the point where we will design our own things using this machinery for medical purposes. It is my position that this will not create living organisms because self-organization and evolution is what makes us/things alive in the first place and so anything we design will by definition be a machine.

As a theist I certainly believe in God’s active involvement in everything and evolution is no different than our own lives. But there is a difference between a watchmaker designer of machines and a shepherd or teacher who involve themselves in the life of a living organism to contribute to their development. It think that all the recent evidence is pointing to the realization that design isn’t really such a divine attribute but something which machines can actually do better than human beings. Thus looking for God in an intelligent designer is looking for God in the wrong place.

Evolution which can be modeled on a computer in learning AI and evolutionary algorithms definitely uses randomness as part of the process. The same process in the real world with quantum physics is therefore not deterministic (not within the premises of the scientific worldview anyway). However, at the same time is it far from purely random either, but so highly filtered that it can home in on sophisticated and highly tuned solutions to complex problems. If you like, you can credit God with the genius that uses such a methodology which we are only now beginning to explore the power of.

So God’s involvement? The exact course of events in our lives is not determined by pre-existing conditions and logically there is plenty of room for something outside the scientific worldview to be involved. But when we insist on the premises of the scientific worldview, which includes time-ordered causality, such involvement is going look like events which are random or without cause. So while I don’t believe that God is interfering directly with the self-organizing process of life, there are events like the one which wiped out the dinosaurs which I certainly believe God had a hand in bringing about.

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Thanks so much for the well thought out reply. Thanks for taking the time to help me out. This is very much appreciated.

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