I am working on a manuscript with others at RTB on answering questions Christians raise about evolution. I am going to start this thread with the sincere desire to help me use precise language to try to avoid unnecessary problems in communicating different interpretive views of scientific data.
I don’t want to wrangle about which interpretations are correct here. Please. Only engage if you can help me with the language (diction) to use to try to facilitate fair representations of the different perspectives and avoid creating “straw men” type situations by failing to use language carefully in discussing interpretive arguments.
I hope I have clearly stated my goal and request.
The first set of language I need help with is the use of words such as: random, chance, unguided, unplanned. These will be the words I’m trying to use well and clearly, and they the topic of the next post in this thread as well as what follows here.
In a neo-Darwinian explanation, and for the sake of this thread I am equating this with the terminology ‘modern synthesis’ and referring to this view as ND/MS. (And, yes, I am aware that this is NO LONGER the prevailing evolutionary position.) In ND/MS, I think all of these are basically interchangeable… mutations occur in a random fashion or by chance (and I think random could be ‘defined’ as ‘no observable correlation’). Mutations are therefore unguided or unplanned. (This is not to say that evolution is not constrained by natural selection, it is.) But from the mutational perspective (almost all) mutations would be chance or random and certainly all would be random in respect to which mutations might provide an adaptive advantage (under natural selection).
I will add one more item here and then in the next post move to the different position of EES (extended evolutionary synthesis) and if need be, I’ll make additional posts to move away from this language to the position of a more basic category free of implied baggage - to one of current evolutionary theory (based in neutral theory, gene flow and common descent).
Now, back to ND/MS, if I want to make a distinction between two worldview commitments, both (for whatever reason) committed to the outdated understanding of ND/MS where one view is committed to a material-only view of reality (call or don’t call it atheistic) and the other a theistic worldview, then I think I cannot use unguided or unplanned for the theistic ND/MS position, but could still use random and chance. For the materialistic ND/MS position I think all are basically conveying the same thing and interchangeable. Yes? No?
What think you all?