Randomness vs. the Lord’s Will

I have heard countless poorly-informed Christians say that they reject evolution because it posits things happening through “randomness.” The objection is bogus. Randomness is less a feature of biological evolution than it is of casting lots and other things which, in the Bible, are said to be indicative of the divine will. If evolution is a problem from the perspective of your worldview because of randomness, then so are lots of things, including some mentioned in the Bible.

Clearly the person who set up the vending machine pictured below grasped the point, so why can’t others?

Image via Christian Memes on Facebook

Stay in touch! Like Religion Prof on Facebook:

"Honesty Above Propriety": Biblical Pictures Worth More Than A Thousand Words
Jacob and the Angel for Piano and Orchestra
What Does "Biblical" Mean?
Fundamentalists aren't "Biblical"
  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    But when they cast lots, weren’t they assuming that God was making sure the right lot was picked? So if randomness happens in evolution, are we saying that God is making sure the right mutations are happening?

    • Lobi

      Problem, Bilbo? *trolldadface*

      Actually, I think it does raise a minor problem, which is this: sure, God could control random mutations, but then they’re not really random. And is God controlling all mutations, or just some?

      In short, why did God make a system in which everything looked random? Not a logical problem with theistic evolution, but it is a curious question.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        I agree, it’s a curious question. I don’t have a good answer. I suspect it falls under the same category of free will and God’s sovereignty.

    • Gary

      There are no right or wrong mutations. They are random, and they are “sorted” by natural selection. So only the ones that are not detrimental to reaching sexual maturity, and then reproduction, are continued on, and passed on to future generations. So the process of evolution is not random. So if you are religious, you can just say God created the rules (equations, if you will) of evolution, not a specific mutation. Forcing function. I don’t see why that is so hard to accept.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        But are all mutations random? Most mutations random? Some mutations random? Or no mutations random?

        • Gary

          All are random, as a mistake in copying DNA. The resulting variation, after being operated on by natural selection, is not random.

          • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

            But do we know that God isn’t intentionally causing any or all of the mutations? And if He is doing so, then are they still random?

          • Gary

            If I had that answer, my life would complete. But lacking that answer, I can only cultivate my garden, and wait till I bite the dust.

          • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

            I would want a few more answers beside that one to make my life complete, but let’s review our choices regarding this question:

            1. All mutations in the history of evolution were random, but just as with free will, somehow natural history accomplished God’s will. We will just call it a Mystery.

            2. God allows some or most mutations to occur randomly, but occasionally intervenes for mutations that He considers important to His plan.

            3. No mutations are random, they just appear to be. Actually God is controlling the outcomes of all of them.

            I can live with any of these alternatives, though I lean toward 2.

          • Guest

            “Random” is a poor descriptor. Try “arbitrary” instead.

          • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

            Well, officially it’s “random with respect to fitness.” In other words, from a mathematical perspective, the mutations don’t appear to be occurring in order to increase the fitness of the organism’s offspring.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X