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.”