Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Evolution as indeterministic

With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead,
And then of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed:
Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, LXXIII

Another ramble a mere 16 hours after the other. Same conditions apply here. Reports of typos or scientific inaccuracies in the comment section are appreciated. Vielen Dank zu alle. Please pardon any mistakes. I did not get the time to read over this ramble just yet...

Being an evolutionists and yet a believer in the Christian God, you can imagine that I get confused looks from time to time. Several wonder what my actual beliefs are. They ask how I can find compatibility without compromise. Of course most of these questions come from my fellow, curious Christians. I have luckily never crossed paths with a person of faith who is worried for me or insist that I recant evolution. Most of my Christian brothers and sisters are simply mislead about the concept of evolution and seem to be thoroughly interested in how I go about accepting both concepts into my lifestyle.

I think the reason that most creationists have a hard time handling the concept of evolutionary change is because it is indeterministic. It's not random however. Random is where something has no specific pattern, purpose, or objective. Yet evolutionary change has a purpose, to provide all living organisms the chance to adapt to their specific environment. Another example of
indeterminism is the location of a single electron in an electron cloud. The precise location cannot be determined exactly. However, it is possible to tell in what specific region of the cloud it is likely in ( hence the common solar system model of an atom used in high school textbooks ).

No one could have ever predicted the endless forms of life that have populated the Earth since the beginning of creation. Gould once commented that if we could somehow "rewind the tape" of evolution and let it play again, chance would favor a different selection of that original multitude, and the world would be a very different place from the one we see around us. And there in lies the "problem" to many Christians.

Christians are taught in Sunday school that their God knows everything. He knows you before you are born, how many hairs are on your head and what will happen to you in your own lifetime. God has planned everything from the beginning. So what would God choose a method to create life that doesn't
one hundred percent guarantee our appearance? Also, why would God choose a method of creation that ( had ) taken nearly 4 billion years before the first humans made their debut? Well, I find answers to all of those questions. Most of my reasoning comes from the Bible itself.

First let us answer the question why God would risk us humans not appearing by using the
indeterministic process of evolution with no direction by natural selection. Cause and effect. Natural chance. Much of the Christian faith assumes that God was and is an active deity. It is understood that Christianity is almost quite the opposite of deism, where it is believed a deity created the Universe and left it to its own accord. The Christian God actively pursues a loving relationship from us humans so much, that he is willing to come down and die for our sake.

So why God use a method of creation that is
indeterministic and not directed by Himself? Well perhaps we should go back to Sunday school and recall one very important fundamental aspect to the enigma. God knows everything before it happens. God could have easily set natural selection and evolution in motion, knowing that some day his ultimate creation would appear. This creation --us-- is special because we can form a relationship with the creator of the Universe. We should also recall that many Christians don't look at human history as guided by or completely worked on by God. We look at the events of history as chance, that it is by the actions of humans that certain events happen. We rarely, if at all, credit God with these events in history. God was not responsible for the Holocaust. Humans were. God was not responsible for the atomic bomb. Humans were. This gets into a point that I will end with on this post.

Now let us look at the next question. Why would God use a process that took so long to get to us, if his ultimate purpose was us. Why couldn't God have just put us there in the first place. Why the wait? Well, there is a simple answer to this question. In fact, it is an answer that should make perfect sense if read scripture carefully. God works in natural ways. In the creation story of Genesis, God mysteriously places life on Earth and tells it to multiply and be fruitful. To me this means to populate and regenerate and grow and evolve and adapt. Of course the "kinds" to me just make sense as the family clades or larger clades.

There are other instances that show how God works naturally. God instructs Noah to build the ark. The God of the Judeo-Christian faith is all powerful. He could have easily created it himself. But he didn't. He has a simple mortal man do it form him. Then we have Jesus. Jesus taught his doctrine using parables, many of them dealing with natural processes like the seeds on the path. The appearance of Jesus and the method of his murder were also naturally. He [ Jesus ] appears in Middle East on the coast of the Mediterranean. When it came time for the likes of the Apostle Paul, word of Jesus's teachings could easily be spread throughout the trade routes of the "Great Sea." Jesus also appears during Roman rule and
conveniently suffers death by Roman crucifixion, considered by many torture experts to be one of the more excruciating deaths known to history. The symbolism to Christianity is significant in this case.

Something else about Jesus makes an interesting point. People question why God would wait billions of years for us to appear through evolution, but then why do they not ask the same question about the arrival of Jesus. God knew we were going to sin and that we were going to separate ourselves from him. Why not just send Jesus down to Earth immediately following the fall in Eden? Why wait thousands of years of mankind going to hell before eventually deciding to send Himself down as the savior? We may never know, but God had his reasons. Why wait? God waits and plans things out naturally and with plan and purpose.

Going back earlier to the topic of chance and the events in human history. Just so we can become famaliar again with the subject, I'll simply repeat the last couple of statements already made.
We should also recall that many Christians don't look at human history as guided by or completely worked on by God. We look at the events of history as chance, that it is by the actions of humans that certain events happen. We rarely, if at all, credit God with these events in history. God was not responsible for the Holocaust. Humans were. God was not responsible for the atomic bomb. Humans were.

God not only works naturally. God does his best to keep out of our personal lives, but still try to win our love. Everyone has probably heard the case. God's love for us is so great, that he allows us to choose that relationship with him. He give us total control of our personal lives and does his absolute best to let us keep that free will. Following this scenario then, it is easily understandable why God choose a
indeterministic process to guide the creation of life, ultimately leading to our chance appearance. Had God wanted our lifestory planned out they way he wished it, then the world would be controlled by a plain and predictable determinism. We would not have free will, and more importantly, a deterministic world cannot allow room for unnatural occurences. Most Christians refer to these events as miracles.

So God used evolution for several reasons. He knew it would eventually produce us even though the process is
indeterministic. He let natural selection take its precious time because that is how he wanted it. It even says so in Genesis: "Be fruitful and multiply." And God choose to use an indeterministic process to create life in a indeterministic universe so that we could have complete freedom and choice in our lives.

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