Evolution – Proof of a Purposeful not Random Universe?

As often happens for me, when I begin reflecting on a topic, my mind will wander down many paths, sometimes offering new vistas and insights to topics that are related only by the neurological synapses in my own brain.

I was reflecting in my previous blog on the idea of perfection which brought me to the following thought:

Going back to the notion that becoming perfect is like ripening fruit, we can ask, what is the goal of a banana?    To ripen?  No, ripening is the process by which the fruit provides for its seeds the opportunity to bring forth new life.   Producing more fruit is the goal/teleios of any fruit.   The purpose of a tree producing fruit is to produce more fruit!  That is a spiritual truth which is supported by the ideas of evolution and natural selection.

 The previous paragraph caused me to veer into a new path, but one which I think about frequently:  Evolution.   Evolution is a naturalistic theory that offers an explanation for how life on our planet unfolded over an incredibly long period of time.  Evolution is a cause and effect theory, and says that all life forms we encounter today can be explained as a result of all that has happened on this planet over hundreds of millions of years – every effect has a natural cause which preceded it.  The changes within a species were minute occurring over these huge eras.   The theory in as much as it is pure naturalistic science (a-theistic) says the changes which occurred were random, but still part of the creative process of natural selection which constantly works for the survival of the species.

That made me think – if a species is somehow always working for its own survival (and it does seem that even the tiniest of microbes, bacteria and viruses all strive to survive), then each species has purpose to it – their purpose is to survive.  Their purpose is realized in the future, and so they do have a teleios – a goal toward which they are working.   The logical corollary is that the universe is not completely random.   All life is trying to survive into the indeterminate future.  Life itself, even life forms that have no mind/brain as such, are trying to do something – survive. 

Perhaps some of the scientists who read this blog from time to time can comment on this.  Is not every species trying to survive?  Every plant is trying to produce seeds to continue the species and for those life forms complicated enough to use genetic recombination to give the species the best chance to survive the ever changing world in which we live.  So doesn’t natural selection have built into every species a purpose which can only be fulfilled in the future and thus a teleios – a goal?   To me this would be a rather persuasive argument against the idea of a totally random universe, and would suggest a purposeful universe, with the purpose being survival.

I don’t know what that might suggest to a naturalistic scientist, but I would like to hear from some. 

It raises for me the question, WHY do species want to survive in the indeterminate future – a future that they cannot, if the universe is indeed random and mindless, even know exists.     It would also suggest to me that any species than is not simply a product of its past, but is also in some strange way a product of its anticipated and yet not existing future.  Perhaps something like is suggested in quantum mechanics where particles/wave behavior is wierdly determined by an anticipated future.   The survival of the species seems to suggest that species understand or believe in the notion of future – something that does not exist in the present, or perhaps more correctly something which is outside of the empirical universe of time and space.    

Perhaps all life really is moving toward this something which exists beyond what we can observe, measure, test and disprove.  For all life then, the universe is purposeful, teleological and not mindlessly random.

3 thoughts on “Evolution – Proof of a Purposeful not Random Universe?

  1. Ronald Cote

    I believe that a salient issue with evolution is, that if God needed evolution, being born of a human mother, He too would have had to be a product of evolution. So somewhere in His lineage, He was once evolved from apes like everything else! Somehow I cannot fathom such a God!

  2. Fr. Ted

    Genesis says God created humans from the dust of the earth. So is having dust as the precursor of being human somehow superior to having apes in ones ancestry? With God the incarnation defies all thinking. God becomes that which is not God (The word BECAME flesh says John in his Gospel). This seems to be a greater miracle, and more defiant of logic than that there might be some relationship between humans and apes. The very wonder of the incarnation is that it tells us something so totally new and unexpected about God that we obviously cannot fathom Him. Divinity and humanity are not dualistically separated but are inextricably united. That is what the incarnation reveals. His love for His creation, and His willingness to embrace humility and become a servant, His willingness to empty Himself and to suffer death (Philippians 2:5-8 ) already give us the sense of how unfathomably inexplicable is God. Having an ape-humna connection, when He made humans out of dust, seems minor on a theological scale to me at least.

  3. johnsayre

    Fr. Ted,
    Enjoyed our conversation after Liturgy today. Was looking for a good place to post this and an evolution thread seemed the best bet. I saw that you are planning on reading the Polkinghorne “Faith…Physicist” book. I liked it and would be curious to read your thoughts about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.