Chance Again; and the Origin of Life >>back home

Neo–Darwinian thinking is in crippling bondage to a mythology of chance. Writers repeat uncritically that mutations are 'random', exploited by the 'blind processes' of natural selection, unaware that all this may still be due to fully purposive, directed activity. It is a logical fallacy to think that an origin of life by simple physico‑chemical processes, followed by evolutionary change by natural selection up to and including man, with even a cosmology purely–physical before all this, is inconsistent with the claim that the God Whom the Bible proclaims is sovereignly in control at every stage. (An author and his story later illustrates this;  see chap. XV).

In a previous chapter we discussed the biblical attitude to 'chance', and saw that the Bible recognizes and indeed uses the concept 1, but this is always in the context of human ignorance where thoughtful deliberation cannot explain things. It implies no limitation on the unseen providence of God which is beyond man's ken. God does not 'play' dice, the Bible says, He 'decides' them; The lot is cast intothe lap; but the whole disposingthererof is of the Lord (Prov.16.33; see also Jonah 1.7f; Acts 1.24ff). Yet the fall may quite legitimately be regarded as 'random', the result of chance; it may satisfy all our statistical tests for this. Lest this seem an impossible position to maintain let me justify it by a simple illustration due to Prof Donald MacKay 2. The final digits in a column of telephone numbers from the directory constitute a sequence which would probably 3 stand up to any statistical test for randomness which we cared to apply; yet we may be sure that the numbers were allocated by a Telephone Authority on principles of its own choosing based on knowledge of its customers. We have here a system in which statistical randomness results directly from deliberate, intelligent, purposeful activity on the part of a superintending Authority. If it be asked whether a powerful computer given the same customer‑information as the Authority could not probably extract the principles on which it worked (and so could overcome the unpredictability of the numbers and their claim to be random), the answer is. "Yes, quite possibly"; but this does nothing to negate the point made by the analogy. This is because the objection is based essentially on the peer status of the human Authority; all it knows others too can know. But the God of the Bible has knowledge inaccessible to us and wisdom beyond ours; we could never get hold of it for our computer. The biblical position is therefore quite sound. There seems no valid reason why a similar conclusion should not hold for a chain of events, however random they may appear.

In order to make this important point clearer let me give a second example. Consider the sequence of digits 2,8,0,7,3,1,8,9,1,5: is it part of a random sequence or not? Did it result from spinning a roulette wheel or is it the result of a purposeful calculation? I think most people would opt for the former ‑ unless they smelt a rat! And they might well be correct; certainly no one could prove them wrong, or for that matter right. Actually in the present instance, they were taken from far right of the decimal point of the infinite sequence for pi; each successive digit therefore brings the whole nearer to perfection. But taken by themselves they could have been either 4.

Now chance, or randomness, plays a decisive role in the Darwinian theory of evolution as currently understood. It is especially prominent in the origin and behaviour of the inherited variations which are regarded as the exclusive raw material for natural selection 5. I shall later give some examples of the emphasis that leading evolutionary writers place on the 'randomness' of these; but at the moment I wish to make two comments. First, secularists and 'creationists' 6 commonly regard randomness or chance (if confirmed as such by thorough statistical tests) as ruling God out. He is unnecessary; everything can be explained without Him. But this can now be seen to be a false conclusion. The telephone directory analogy illustrates this. Even if gene mutation, gene recombination, and other chromosome changes pass any available test for randomness 7, divine providence is not thereby excluded. Second, 'creationists' also need to be reminded that the Bible supports this conclusion. Prov.16.33 is a case in point; and it was a 'random' arrow that slew king Ahab, fulfilling God's judgement pronounced through Micaiah 8.

All this has great significance in the present controversy. The secularist claim is that inherited variations are random and have in general no relationship to any special end‑point for evolution 9. An enormous superstructure of evolutionary philosophy has been erected on this claim, and it is of extreme importance to the whole secularist position, which maintains that all betterment is due solely to natural selection 10. It should be apparent that if the claim could be shown to be false, i.e. that the direction of variation is related to a grand purpose 11, then the whole outlook of theoretical biology would change dramatically. It is not too much to say that a revolution would be involved of magnitude even greater than that which dethroned classical physics 12. In these circumstances it is time that those who insist on the essential randomness of variations (as Monod and Dawkins do) gave some thought to providing solid reasons for their view.

Science as a practical programme

Consider a party of men deposited in unknown country with no familiar landmarks. How do they find 'a city to dwell in'? They look around and choose what appears to be the most promising direction; and they set out. Wisdom dictates that having decided on this direction they should stick to it lest they wander in circles; but it equally dictates that they should be alert for unexpected clues, like traces of previous wanderers or even the persistent hunches of a more experienced member. But of course, they should not be easily diverted from their decision, especially if it seems to hold its promise. It constitutes for them a sort of methodological principle, not to be lightly set aside. However, they must recognize that it may prove in the end to have been only for a limited period the best; some better direction may appear later (Newton's idea of absolute space and time is a case in point). Such is the time‑honoured pattern, I believe, of scientific progress. The view that genetic variability is quite random has been useful. But it has now led some to the dispiriting idea that the whole of our troubled existence is merely a meaningless "dance to the music of DNA", and will end in absolute nothingness 13. This is surely a conclusion that most thinking men and women would regard as unacceptable (however much they fail to resist it). That human life comes to us like an empty weightless thing that we may fill with what we like and as we like till we flicker out, does not fit the 'hunches' the vast majority of people feel14. Such hunches need more than a casual say‑so to dismiss them.

Nobel Prizewinner, Jacques Monod: CHANCE AND NECESSITY

To illustrate the ill‑chosen lead I am drawing attention to, let me begin with a startling paragraph of Jacques Monod's (italics his);

" . . accidental alterations a DNA sequence may suffer . . . We say that these events are accidental, due to chance. And since they constitute the only possible source of modifications in the genetic text, itself the sole repository of the organism's hereditary structures, it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution. This central concept of biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one compatible with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition (or the hope) that conceptions about this should, or ever could, be revised." 15

      I am still amazed that a man of Monod's standing could have published in such emphatic language anything so unwarranted; but others of almost equal standing continue to repeat it. He is here erecting a mythology! 'Chance' for the ordinary reader (if not for Monod himself) is half-way to becoming a blind goddess, living unfettered in a basement from where she issues her directives. She is, he goes on to imply, the "creator of absolute newness" 16. She has a "realm", from the "products" of which she supplies "nourishment" for natural selection. She appears to run a "vast lottery, in which natural selection has blindly picked the rare winners from among numbers drawn at utter random" 17. It all sounds rather like a Babylonian creation myth, up‑dated with scientific embellishments. But what could Monod have meant by "Pure chance, absolutely free"?

      Suppose we have a die, with faces numbered one to six but in the form of a hollow cube with uniform heavy walls. Thrown repeatedly by a suitable mechanical device, we may suppose all its six numbers eventually come up with frequencies approaching 1/6. "Pure chance, absolutely free"? Presumably. These frequencies however would change if the weights of the walls were all made markedly unequal.18 Still "Pure chance, absolutely free"? My own reply would be "Yes, certainly", and I guess it would have been Monod's too. But if an occultist present claimed that she had influenced matters by psychic will‑power, there would be only one satisfactory way to counter her, and that would be to show that her influences were "superfluous"; the results fitted in well with established physical theory. To do this might take considerable time, measurement and mathematics, but compared with it the corresponding problem involving nucleotides in long spiral chains subject to thermal agitation and surrounded with viscous fluid (hardly uniform on their scale) would be a nightmare. To assert ex cathedra that chance alone is involved in such cases (as Monod and others in fact do) is simply unacceptable. If secular Darwinists wish to prove their point they must first do their difficult sums, taking into account the physics of the whole molecularly complex system, mutagens and all; and this is a task almost beyond human skills 19. So far as I know they have made no attempt at all to meet this requirement for assuming "chance alone". Its casual brushing‑aside by some specialist's confident 'say‑so' 20 is hardly satisfying. Yet even a clear result in their favour from a detailed investigation wouldn't finally settle the issue. This latter conclusion must be firmly stated21; its justification will appear in a later chapter.

Dr Brown meets a hammer

To illustrate my opponents' superficial attitude let me refer again to Monod. He gives an illustration which relies on what he calls "absolute coincidences" arising from the "complete independence" of two chains of events whose convergence produces an accident:

 "Dr Brown sets out on an emergency call to a new patient. In the meantime Jones the carpenter has started work on repairs to the roof of a nearby building. As Dr Brown walks past the building, Jones inadvertently drops his hammer, whose (deterministic) trajectory happens to intercept that of the physician, who dies of a fractured skull. We say he was a victim of chance. What other term fits such an event, by its very nature unforeseeable? Chance is obviously the essential factor here" 22.

If this anecdote is presented as fiction, I have no serious argument with it; the novelist has the right to say that the whole thing was "pure chance". But if it is recounted as a real happening, that is a different matter. If Mrs Brown had sued the carpenter, what judge or jury would have accepted that "such an event" was "by its very nature unforeseeable"? Personal relationships hide strange secrets sometimes; there might have been a long‑standing grudge between the two. I am surprised Monod has made such an elementary mistake, for his concern is with real history, where, it can be argued, 'chance' (like randomness) cannot be finally proved. We are back to square one.

A mathematical analogy

We have been discussing the claim that the evolution of life forms has proceeded by a process of natural selection acting on populations in which "chance alone" (Monod boldly asserted), has produced variation; and a majority of secular Darwinists would probably accept this. In a mathematical sequence however, randomness, "chance alone", is something that can never, in general, be proved, because an 'algorithm' (here a mathematical recipe) may yet be found to generate what we see. Thus the eminent mathematical physicist Paul Davies writes;

"The decimal expansion of pi shows no obvious patterns at all over thousands of digits. The distribution of digits passes all the standard statistical tests for randomness" . . [so on both counts it must surely be genuinely random?] . . . "Yet in spite of this pi is not algorithmically random ".23 (my italics and [ ])

It is clearly not, for it has been calculated to all those thousands of digits! The question of randomness, Davies continues, is "all the more curious since, almost all digit strings are random" 24. Noteworthily, it is only when they are non‑random (like the expressions for pi, base e, or root2 for instance), that the 'strings' have any built‑in significance. This consideration may not prove anything, but it suggests a lot; if "pure chance, absolutely free", stands at the source of all things, nothing of such built‑in significance is expected to appear, least of all life and mind; but if God stands there, what appears is often expected to have great, even vast significance. To embrace a philosophy for life therefore, on the "blind faith"25 that men and women are the products of "pure, blind chance", one day to vanish into nothingness, seems an act of indiscreet folly, especially when the 'reasoning' to which it appeals is so lacking in solid logic (in spite of Monod's claim 26). Even Dawkins agrees that the opinion he opposes has always been held by "the vast majority" of mankind, and is still "nearly universal" 27. Atheistic fundamentalism is two‑faced; it strongly rejects the witness of conscience to a future accounting, and it weakly accepts that of secular science to a future hopelessness. In both directions the issues are tremendous; I refer them to John 3.36.

How did life originate?

"The earth is a little less than 5,000 million years old. Life probably originated 4,000 million years ago; the first sedimentary rocks are only a little younger than this, and they contain simple bacterium‑like cells. Modern nucleated cells, so‑called 'eucaryotic' cells, similar to those of protozoa, green algae and all higher plants and animals, appear very much later, first being found in rocks approximately 1,000 million years old" 28.

I have taken this statement from the well‑known book by John Maynard Smith, an acknowledged authority on the theory of evolution. He defines at the start what it is that we mean by calling something 'alive'; it is the possession of three special properties, "multiplication, heredity and variation". In his chapter The origin and early evolution of life he goes on to discuss how these three properties could have arisen in the reducing atmosphere of the early earth through the influence of electrical discharges in the atmosphere, ultraviolet light or the escape of volcanic heat. There is experimental evidence supporting many of his suggestions, but tremendous problems remain, such as the origin of the 'genetic code'. I am not expert enough to criticise the answers which have been given, so I shall not try. I shall follow here another line of argument altogether.

As a believer in the Bible, I have no difficulty with any of Maynard Smith's suggestions. The Bible speaks of origins in very basic terms. Of plant life it says: God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit tree bearing fruit after its kind. . . and it was so (Gen. l.11 RV). It speaks of animal life similarly: God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the. moving creature that hath life . . after their kinds . . And God blessed them saying, Be fruitful and multiply (Gen.1.20f,22 RV). Bearing in mind that in the time of Moses the terms translated 'grass' and 'moving creature' were quite broad in meaning, and that the qualifying phrase 'after their kinds' often clearly means 'in all their varieties' 29, there is no reasonable ground here for finding disharmony between the biblical record and the fossil evidence. Maynard Smith's criteria for living things, 'multiplication' and 'heredity' are implicit in these biblical verses, and in the light of Gen.4, 'variation' is as well. Again, God always speaks in a way to be clear to those directly addressed, and His language is chosen to be 'user‑friendly' in the circumstances of the time (Deut.30.11‑14; Isa.45.18f). As I have earlier suggested, this requires that the 'days' of Gen.1 were so named because there were urgent needs to be met 30; for generations coming much later (and acquainted with more of natural phenomena, cf. Job 12.7f; Luke 12.54ff), they have a 'user‑friendliness' for more sophisticated minds (cf. Ps.90.4; 2Pet.2.8). As I argued in an earlier chapter this helps us to decide the 'literalness' or otherwise of the 'six days'. But granted all this, there still remains the most fundamental of all the problems connected with the origin of life: did it happen by chance, or was it by God's "let there be'? I shall use a whimsical approach to deal with this.

Let us suppose that the whole drama of life's appearance on earth had been video‑recorded by visitors from space, so technologically advanced that they had been able to record events not only on the macroscopic and microscopic levels, but by means of sophisticated electron microscopy on the molecular level as well. The recordings have somehow fallen into human hands, and they can be played back at a very rapid speed (or a very slow one if necessary) so that the whole story of life's appearance can be seen at a sitting. We imagine a believer in God and a secular evolutionist sitting down to view them together.

As the viewing proceeds it appears that nucleotides and aminoacids had been produced by electrical discharges in the atmosphere, and that later the former had assembled in molecular chains. Then first polypeptides and a little later proteins had appeared. Other key organic molecules, such as the sugars and ATP could be seen, all resulting from what looked like ordinary physicochemical processes. Heteropolar molecules had become organized into films and membranes; myelin figures and coacervates had formed; and, with a suddenness that depended more on the observers' powers of recognition than on the recorded sequences, the viewers see what is clearly a primitive cell. The recording ends.

The secularist turns to his companion with unaffected sympathy; he can see he is a disappointed man. "Well, friend." he says, "if anything proves my case that does. Like Laplace, we have no need of God to explain things; He's nowhere to be seen". The believer does not reply. He is profoundly shaken, but he prefers to think things over before he makes up his mind. It's a good thing he does so, because this sort of debate has been bedevilled from the start by hasty judgements,, such as the one of which I have made the secularist guilty. Let me explain.

My secular evolutionist sat down to the viewing with some sort of idea in the back of his mind of what things would look like if God was really at work, as the Bible said. He had ruled out the instantaneous appearance of complete plants and animals, because his friend could reasonably maintain that 'processes' were involved, the earth 'putting forth' grass, and 'bringing forth' the living creature (Gen.1.11,24). He wanted to be fair to him, and also not to give him arguing points. But the Bible had used the phrase 'God formed man' and the land animals too, from earthy material (2.7,19), and this does suggest something that should have been 'seeable'; how would the recording show it? Perhaps a Figure, full of numinous quality, would appear and be seen to manipulate earthy matter? What about earlier stages, like chromosome formation? Perhaps (in sections employing electron microscopy) certain nucleotide molecules would be seen to break into sudden regular motion, clearly not random, and arrange themselves into conspicuous double helices, like members of a performing troupe pushing purposefully through a Bank‑holiday crowd to assemble on stage? If these suggestions are unacceptable, the secularist must be prepared to say what would have convinced him had he seen it, that God had indeed been at work. For unless he is able to say what he would have feared seeing, he hardly has much cause to congratulate himself if he doesn't see it. If both he and the creationist persist in their attempts, as of right, to say what things must have looked like if God had really been at work, it will become apparent that both are working with a non‑biblical conception of God. It is certainly not the God of the Bible of Whom they are thinking; it is rather of a God Who plays no part in ordinary everyday physical happenings. There is no need for Him to do so! Nature has clearly been well‑designed (by God or by Chance) and proceeds satisfactorily on fixed built‑in principles. Only when He desires to introduce some novelty, they suppose, need God (if it's Him) 'intervene'; and when He does so, it would be at once apparent as a physical discontinuity 31. But the God of Whom Scripture speaks is quite other than this. He is the Author, and the continuing Author, of our everyday on‑going universe and everything in it. The Bible everywhere speaks in these terms; Gen.9.14‑17, Ps.104, Ps136, Matt.5.45, Luke 12.20 are the merest sample of possible references. Scientific laws' represent only our efforts to systematize the pattern of God's ways; they are themselves essentially descriptive, not prescriptive, as Prof Donald MacKay put it. God does indeed, and for good purpose, sometimes break out of His usual pattern and act in the mode we speak of as 'miracle'; but He is just as much responsible for the ordinary and the usual as for the extraordinary and the unusual. The only difference, as we noted before, is that He isn't so obviously and significantly so 32. Once he has really grasped this it becomes a positive pleasure for the believer to view my hypothesized video‑recording time and again. It only drives him to more heartfelt worship 33. As for the secularist, exultant at the conclusion of the show that he hadn't seen what he had hoped he wouldn't, but then coming to realize that the biblical record had never suggested he would, the experience might drive him to a more adequate view of the totality of things. He might come to see that the observer attitude beloved of the scientist is concerned with a part only of the total experience of being human. Man is subject before he can ever be scientist, and perhaps the principal element of subjectivity has to do with the ethical, with what is for ever right or wrong; it is not with what is 'outside' him, but with what is 'inside' (1Sam.16.7; Mark 7.20ff). It is this that points to a moral Lawgiver even more urgently, and clearly, than his observational science does to a "pure Mathematician" 34.

I cannot forbear in closing this chapter from raising again a matter already discussed (and one I shall probably raise again). All well‑known neo‑Darwinian fundamentalists with whom I am acquainted make the positive assertion that mutations are 'random', that is, unrelated to "anything . . that would make life better far the animal", having "no general bias towards bodily improvement"10. How do they know? What genuinely scientific evidence 11 can they produce in support of this claim, quite fundamental to their whole position? Can they even outline an operational procedure which might, in principle, establish it? If not, they are surely blind leaders of the blind. To treat mutations as random is, I concede, a methodological principle which is natural and ordinarily quite appropriate strictly within the scientific realm. I would not quarrel with its use there. But it must be clearly recognized that as the basis for a total philosophy of life it is clearly possible (I would say absolutely certain) that it is invalid, and if put forward, fobs us off with a mean and paltry explanation of the wonder of human existence ‑ and not as some of them would maintain, an enriched one. I cannot emphasize this too strongly, especially in the teaching of the subject, whether to schoolchildren, students or serious adults.

Let me be more specific: even if mutations should prove, by any statistical test open to us, to be 'random' (not just taken as such on an expert's say‑so), this would not invalidate the claim that they were providentially ordered. The analogy of the telephone numbers establishes this (see my paragraph following 2). It remains therefore that if Creation and Providence are matters of faith, this secular evolutionism with its reliance on Chance and Necessity is no less so – or rather, of what we might call 'un‑faith'. We must make our choice on grounds beyond the bounds of science.

Postscipt: Daniel Dennett and his DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA

This book appeared in 1995 and at once created a considerable stir. It is a brilliant tour de force and according to the dust jacket attracted widespread acclaim. Richard Dawkins wrote for instance that having read it he is 

"even more positively inspired. DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA is a surpassingly brilliant book. Where creative, it lifts the reader to new intellectual heights. Where critical it is devastating. Dennett shows that intellectuals have been powerfully misled on evolutionary matters, and his book will undo much damage."

That is high praise from one who has been similarly praised by others. Douglas Adams added another tribute:

"A stunning book which demonstrates that Darwinism, far from being on the defensive, is now able to account for what I can only describe as Life, the Universe and Everything at ever more profound levels".

So there it is. Darwin's dangerous idea (chance and natural selection) explains everything: not just living things, but everything, from the cosmos and its laws, galaxies and stars, down to man, molecules and electrons. My own estimate is a little different. Dennett's admitted brilliance is dazzling, too dazzling in fact. In the end it fails to enlighten. Let me give just one reason for this judgement. Dennett has a chapter headed Controversies Contained (p.313). After dealing with harmless 'heresies' he turns to three, the first (at least) of which he says "would be truly fatal to Darwinism" (p.320). This is "the attempt by      the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin to reconcile his religion with his belief in evolution". The second is "that other notorious heresy, Lamarckism". These two he deals with in a reasonably thoughtful manner in about three pages. The third he labels ' "directed" mutation', a term by which I take it he intends 'theistic evolution'. How does he deal with this? In order to do him no injustice I will quote his entire section verbatim:

"Finally, what about the possibility of 'directed' mutation? Ever since Darwin, orthodoxy [NB] has presupposed [NB] that all mutation is random; blind chance makes the candidates. Mark Ridley provides the standard declaration:

'Various theories of evolution by 'directed variation' have been proposed, but we must rule them out. There is no evidence for directed variation in mutation, in recombination, or in the process of Mendelian inheritance. Whatever the internal plausibility of these theories, they are in fact wrong' 35.

"But that is a mite too strong. The orthodox [NB] theory mustn't presuppose [NB] any process of directed mutation ‑ that would be a skyhook for sure ‑ but it can leave open the possibility of somebody's discovering non‑miraculous mechanisms that can bias the distribution of mutations in speed‑up directions. Eigen's ideas about quasi-species in chapter 8 are a case in point" (words in italics his, [NB] mine) 36.

It surprises me that a writer of Prof Dennett's standing can be content to treat this absolutely fundamental matter in such a brisk and off‑hand way. The presupposition about 'blind chance' is quite acceptable, he thinks: why isn't the presupposition about 'directed mutation'? " 'Directed mutation' would be miraculous", I imagine him replying – quite unconvincingly. He loves the King James Version of the Bible, he says, and must be familiar with Matthew 5.45, 6.26 and 6.28ff. These passages describe God's present everyday activity 37, the last, His 'directing' of plant morphogenesis. The biblical witness here is that God is as much the Doer of the ordinary as of the extraordinary (Prov.16.33; Psalm 104; Isaiah 40.26); its doctrine is theistic, not deistic. Surely he realizes this? Does he feel happy at dismissing it all by a simple dogmatic quote from Mark Ridley? To keep telling the unsuspecting layman that genetic mutations are "definitely random, without purpose", is inexcusably irresponsible in the circumstances; and the frequent use of such droll metaphors as 'skyhook' strongly suggests that someone has run out of intellectual steam. Of course the Bible itself insists that some acts of God are quite out of the ordinary, 'miraculous' in his sense. They occur when God has something of outstanding significance to say, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ being the supreme case. But this happened with plenty of public evidence which has never been challenged with anything like success. But it also insists that the common events of everyday are God's doing too; John 4.48 and Matt.6.26‑30 are emphatic confirmations of this.

      I shall try to justify my conclusion about ultimate 'randomness' (against which I am arguing) later (see chaps. XV and XVI).

NOTES

1     1Sam.6.9; Luke 10.31 RV

2    See Prof D.M. MacKay's lucid Riddell Memorial Lectures SCIENCE, CHANCE AND PROVIDENCE (Oxford Univ. Press, 1978).

3    'Probably' is not really a significant word here (since 'peer status' doesn't apply). Final digits (i.e. those in the 'units' place) are specified to ensure that the apriori probabilities are equal.

4    This point is important.

5    See J Monod, CHANCE AND NECESSITY, Collins, London, 1972 p.110; "Natural selection operates upon the products of chance and knows no other nourishment".

6     'Creationist' (in quotes) stands for those denying macro‑evolution (between 'kinds') while accepting micro‑evolution (within 'kinds').

7    This point is re‑emphasised later.

8     1Kings 22.1‑28,34 (NIV, REB, JB; see above, Chap. V).

9    See G Rattray Taylor on orthogenesis, op.cit.: S J Gould, op.cit.; D C Dennett, op.cit.; but this does not affect the argument.

10  Richard Dawkins, THE BLIND WATCHMAKER pp.306,307,308; also Monod 5, Ridley36 and many others. All 'improvement' comes later, through natural selection, they maintain.

11   I am not suggesting that 'a grand purpose' could be demonstrated (or ruled out) by science. It lies outside the ken of science altogether.

12   In physics the great upheaval came about because of the acceptance of the Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Field Theory in one direction and of General Relativity and the entanglement of space, time and gravity in the other. In biology what awaits acceptance is a basic understanding of self‑consciousness and language‑assisted thought on the one hand, and of religious experience and moral consciousness on the other. Secular Darwinists have yet to come to terms with this.

13   RIVER OUT OF EDEN op.cit., p.133

14   op. cit. pp. 96, 98

15   Monod, CHANCE AND NECESSITY, p.110 (his italics); see also final sentences, p.167

16   op.cit., p.113

17   op.cit., p.131 cf.p.114

18   Wall thicknesses remain the same.

19  Deriving Maxwell's equations for molecular velocities in gases would be child's play by comparison.

20   Mark Ridley in Dennett, see 36.

21   See note 4.

22   Monod, op.cit. p.111.

23   Paul Davies THE MIND OF GOD pp.130f Simon & Schuster, London 1992

24   op. cit. p .132

25   THE SELFISH GENE 3rd edn p.330

26   op.cit. p.167

27   RIVER OUT OF EDEN pp.96,98

28   THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION J Maynard Smith 3rd edn. 1975 p.96 Penguin

29   See chap.VI.

30   See Mark 2.27f and chap.  III.

31   The Bible does not necessarily require this. The plagues on Egypt (except that on the firstborn), can be accounted for 'naturalistically' quite well (see THE ILLUSTRATED BIBLE DICTIONARY Vo1.3 pp.1234f, I.V. Press, 1980); similarly the passage through the Red Sea (Exod.14.21b).

32   John 4.48; Matt.6.26,30

33   Job 26.14 (RSV, NIV); Ps.29

34   The eminent physicist Sir James Jeans wrote "the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician" and it "begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine"; see p.202 of THE MIND OF GOD by Paul Davies (op.cit.), no biblicist, but his books are strongly recommended; see also Deut.29.29; Isa.66.1,2

35   Mark Ridley, THE PROBLEMS OF EVOLUTION Oxford, O.U. Press, 1985, p25.

36   DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA, p.323

37   The Greek 'present' tense (e.g. 'does') is nearer to

       our 'present continuous ('is doing').