DESIGN VS. CHANCE: ALTERNATIVE FRAMEWORKS
FOR SCIENTIFIC DATA
Robert C. Newman
[prepared for Christian Legal Society meeting, but never given]
Chance/Randomness ‑ several levels
anything can happen
anything w/in certain law‑boundaries
no mind, but some ordering mechanism
Design ‑ also several levels
working w/o limitations
various limitations: time, materials
A Thought Experiment
Monkeys typing "ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA"
"Give enough monkeys enough time..."
Purely random case
Imagine electric typewriters: all caps, 33 keys, typing at 3 keys/sec
24 characters, so 33 to 24th power = 3 x 1036 combinations
The job will take 3 x 1028 monkey‑years
Dawkin's guided randomness
use computer network instead of typewriters
monkeys make variations on chosen "best case"
job completed in only a few minutes w/ a few monkeys
(Dawkins uses this for illustration of how natural selection works, but it is really a sample of design w/ limitations)
Design Versus Chance
The Origin of the Universe
Recent move toward absolute origin at big bang
chance: fluctuation in vacuum produces universe
design: God created it
design in inanimate universe?
Copenhagen interpretation dominant, featuring chance as basic
various other interpretations
The Origin of Life
Dawkins: evolution of life from non‑life reasonable if 1 chance in 10 to 20th per planet per billion years
Calculation for protein of 100 linked amino acids
Langton's self‑reproducing automaton
The History of Life
Non‑theistic evolution: problem of designing a computer simulation of natural selection to show it will work
Various forms of creation (th‑evol, old‑earth & young‑earth creation): minds can produce order, so creation model works in this sense
Design in history?
Suggest Christian model supported by prophecy, transformed lives, changed societies
Barrow, John D. and Frank J. Tipler. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. New York: Oxford Univ Press, 1986.
Davies, Paul. Accidental Universe. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press, 1982.
Davies, Paul and J. Brown, eds. The Ghost in the Atom: A Discussion of the Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics. New York: Cambridge Univ Press, 1986.
Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: Norton, 1986.
Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Bethesda, MD: Adler and Adler, 1985.
Kellog, S. H. The Jews, or Prediction and Fulfilment. New ed. New York: Anson Randolph, 1887.
Pollard, William. Chance and Providence. New York: Scribners, 1958.
Thaxton, Charles B., Walter L. Bradley and Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin. New York: Philosophical Library, 1984.
Urquhart, John. The Wonders of Prophecy. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, n.d.