The Non-Randomness of Evolution

Here’s another BioLogos video, addressing the notion that evolution is “random,” and featuring a range of scholars from Sean Carroll, the biologist working in evolutionary developmental biology (Evo-Devo), to John Walton, known for his work on Genesis 1. HT David Opderbeck.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    Interestingly, those who are familiar with the history evolutionary thought will note that Darwin himself apparently chose the word "random" to rule out the notion that evolution was guided by a deity. He found a hankering after miracles to be disdainful, and so formulated his theory in such a way that God could have no part. Thus, his was as much if not more a religious conviction of sorts than a scientific theory. ~Kaz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Christopher Columbus was motivated by some unusual religious views. But it doesn't detract from the fact that he discovered America.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06137890891223067672 Morrison

    Natural Selection acts on mutations.But the mutations are random, in the sense that they occur without apparent design, purpose, or goal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04335917715944481443 Gary

    Maybe this doesn't make sense, but y is a function of x.y=f(x), where x=x1, x2, x3, …x is an independent variable, and can be random, if you will.f being the function (forcing function) that operates on x to create y. f provides the order creating y, even though x is random. In this example, x is genetic mutation, f is natural selection, and y is surviving species. Maybe I'm over analyzing. But same for chemistry. You put two moles of H and one mole of O, you get H2O. Result is to a specific formula, as in "order reigns" in the universe. Na and Cl are reactive and unstable, but for our benefit, NaCl is stable, and is needed for life, and there is a lot of it around our neighborhood. Who would guess? Doesn't sound random to me. Laws of nature are more reliable than the laws of man.

  • ralph

    I expected a discussion of randomness, but then it got very confused. When random events meet some constraint, you can get some interesting results. The constraint of natural selection is simply that of survival. Trying to talk about natural selection as being an order imposed from outside, seems very (and probably pointedly) confused. Suddenly the film clip started on about "God", whoever or whatever that is supposed to be. I guess this sort of theistic evolution is better than silly 6-day creationism, but it is needlessly adding complications, where none are needed. It comes across as the sort of mental gymnastics people do when desperately trying to adapt some new evidence to fit their core beliefs.But at least we appear to be starting to get a glimpse of your personal beliefs here, Dr. McGrath, which I must say interests me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09826280552590911315 Alethinon61

    "Christopher Columbus was motivated by some unusual religious views. But it doesn't detract from the fact that he discovered America."If you think that that's comparable then you are apparently having trouble with more than just the data that pertains to the evolution/ID question;-) The point — which is actually rather important, I think — is that religious convictions have influenced _both sides_ of the debate, since and including Darwin himself. ~Kaz

  • Anonymous

    I don't really see why theistic evolution is mental gynastics or like it. If the author of Genesis 1-3 were alive now, his depictions of Creation would no doubt incorporate modern science. Besides Genesis 1-3 isn't even a science textbook by ancient standards. It's more or less a refutation of Babylonian religion and a mix-mash of Israel's folklore. The main problem I see with Theist unwilling the accept the reality of evolution is because evolution leaves little room for the Western notion of the Fall. Now, I don't know much about that but there are other views of the "Fall" that we can turn to. The Orthodox Church has a very interesting view of the Fall in which it isn't necesarrily a depiction of what was but of what could have been. This could easily be reconciled with evolution [although it is still rather mythical]. Man choose power to be his god rather than…well God. We shouldn't be afraid to take truth where ever we can find it.Brian

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04335917715944481443 Gary

    Ralph said, "The constraint of natural selection is simply that of survival. Trying to talk about natural selection as being an order imposed from outside, seems very (and probably pointedly) confused"…OK, I agree…maybe I was forcing the comparison. However, from the math comparison the "constaint" you mentioned is in math more like a boundary condition, whereas the "function" I talked about is more like an operator. So I think "function" could apply to natural selection in a wacky comparison, more than constraint, maybe. Anyway, the main reason I replied is I hope you mean "an order imposed from outside" as an orderliness imposed by natural selection. And without "theistic", I don't see where the obvious orderliness observed in the universe comes from in a rather chaoic universe. Even Hawking's only explanation is if you have enough (almost infinite) universes continually forming with variable physical constants, you're bound to have one like ours with orderliness for life. That's as weak an argument as my belief in God – from my impartial observations -). Infinite universes to me imply infinite mass, energy etc. By some physicists implying that the processes of infinite universe creation, with changing constants, is OK, but they wipe away the mass and energy requirements by saying that the sum total of energy and mass (because there is an "almost" equal amount of negative energy and negative mass in the soup of universes is a reach – since they use the rationale of quantum events on the microscale (which does happen, and is measurable) and extrapolating it to the macroscale of universe generation – without real justification. That is their religion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04335917715944481443 Gary

    I must correct my run-on sentence…I meant "but they wipe away the mass and energy requirements by saying that the sum total of energy and mass IS ALMOST ZERO (because there is an "almost" equal amount of negative energy and negative mass in the soup of universes) is a reach" …a reach – meaning pure conjecture.


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