The latest Christianity Today (June, 2011) features a cover story on the controversy over Adam. From the point of view of evolutionary genetics, the beginning point of the human race appears to be a population of at least several thousand. How to square that with the biblical record of Adam and Eve as the first parents? This raises many familiar issues of faith and science in a slightly new garb.
One line in the sand is mentioned in the CT editorial. “In Darwinian thought, pure randomness was the engine of evolution. But randomness denies the divine Reason (the Logos in the language of John’s Gospel) behind the creative process. Christians must root for intelligence over chance.”
I want to point out that this “bright line” is actually rather fuzzy, because nothing is purely random. First, randomness is always constrained by the physical universe. The structure of the atom is clearly not random, nor are the physical constants of time, space, gravity and energy that earth labors under. If genetic mutations are randomly generated, it is only within a very narrow range of possibilities. And how those random mutations are culled for survival and for usefulness, and incorporated into the organism, is anything but random. If God made the physical cosmos, and holds it together still, how can these constraints be said to be anything but his intelligence?
Secondly, randomness is often a tool of intelligence. If I am a pollster, I generate a random sample of possible voters in order to understand the sentiments of the average voter. If I am a scientist, I may use random sampling in order to compute the results of my experiment. If I am developing a new breed of wheat, I may randomly cross every variety in my seed bank in order to select for the hardiest. If I am an inventor, I may generate a random spectrum of design possibilities in order to select the best one. If I seek adventure, I may spin the globe and put my finger down at random. In all these examples, and many more, randomness is used in service of purpose. Clearly, intelligence is the governing agent, and randomness is an integral and essential part of the process used by that intelligence.
Where did that bright line go?