Random Designer VI

Chapter 16 of Random Designer turns a bit of a corner, though it is a logical progression. I get the impression that some of the non-Christian readers will turn aside at this point, as Dr. Colling progresses into the theological. The chapter titles are “Created for Connection,” “Cosmic Loneliness,” “Where is God, Really?,” and “Embedded Files.”

I don’t mean that this negatively, but we need to be clear that this book looks at the science of origins from a Christian perspective. There’s nothing wrong with making extrapolations that go beyond what can be scientifically tested, so long as they don’t involve putting a stop sign in the road. It is important, however, to remember just where we crossed the border.

Dr. Colling starts his answer to the question of purpose in these chapters. I am again afraid to summarize, because it is very easy to misunderstand these things, and is even more so when someone tries to summarize. I’m going to have to make some generalizations, however.

These chapters address the question of whether God, as random designer, has created human beings for the purpose of connection. Since Dr. Colling has already told us that humanity is biologically fully related to other animals, just how does this work? He suggests that the answer to the question of where God is, is right inside our minds. I may be doing the explanation a disservice, but it seems very similar to saying that we have a spiritual nature that coexists with our biological nature, somethings known as the presence of a soul, combined with God within us. This is not as a natural part of us, but rather something from outside.

While some philosophers such as Daniel Dennet explain human conscience and spiritual inclinations entirely on evolutionary grounds, and others would try to deny biology its role, Dr. Colling suggests a dual role for these functions. Yes, they can be selected for biologically. Altruism, for example, plays a role in the survival of population. But for him they also provide part of a connection between us and God.

I may modify my own response here as I read, but I sense that my own theology on this leaves God a little bit more distant. I would not suggest that humanity is the specifically intended product of evolution, but rather that just as you will likely get life if you have enough planets with the right conditions you will also get intelligence in a certain number of cases. My theology then suggests that God would reach out to any such creatures. We are special in that we have those characteristics, but I stick with the concept of randomness in terms of where and when such a thing would happen.

I’m glad Dr. Colling is reading this series of blogs, because he can correct me if I’ve misunderstood him, or simply misrepresented him inadvertently. I find his approach to this intriguing.

In my next post we’ll be continuing with chapter 20. “A Choice or a Chance.”

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  1. thanks for the reviews. I am disappointed if mind is all he comes up with. In Scripture it is all flesh that the Spirit is poured on – and God can raise children from these stones. That intimation of God is far more tangible and non-dualistic. The death of Jesus and all creation with him is a new beginning. (If one died – all died). This of course has nothing to do with science so-called but it is testable. Try it and see – psalm 34. The bitterness of the scroll testifies also to the confusion among the religious and the respect for reality among the non religious.

  2. Bob,

    I would make two points. 1) There is a risk in blogging as I read. I may have only grasped part of Dr. Colling’s attempt at this point. I confess to not feeling as fulfilled with the second half as with the first so far, but I am blogging as soon as I read, so there is no reflection of future chapters. That’s how I conceive of blogging my way through a book. I will correct those impressions as I go forward.

    Second, and probably more important, is that Dr. Colling is attempting to communicate a great deal in a small amount of space, and then I come along and try to cruch that even further into a couple of paragraphs. I could very easily do his work an injustice in that fashion.

    I’m very glad he has been participating in this thread, and I hope he will comment here in particular. If he will provide me with a subsantive correction or expansion, I’ll promote it to a full post to make sure people read it.

    The boundary, or I would prefer gray area between science and religion is very difficult to define.

  3. Larry B says:

    I would second Bob’s concern here too. Hopefully some clarity comes from your reading or Dr. Collings comments. The concepts as you have summarized here sound much like the principles of eastern religions like buddhism (I’m no expert here). It’s a long way from Christianity which rests on the physical personhood of Jesus. An understanding such as Colling’s here really leaves a lot of questions to be answered as to how it is that his personal ministry on earh means anything.

  4. I would have to note here that my impressions from reading this book is that Dr. Colling is a man of strong Christian faith, so I’m going to guess that both additional reading and his comments will help.

    You are both getting a feeling from my comments on him that I did not intend to convey, but I’m not sure how to correct it at this point.

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