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Step 3: What emerges well done is the new creation

How will we handle perhaps the biggest challenge of the Darwinian model, chance? Chance and unpredictability belong to both random genetic mutation and natural selection. As we just said, we affirm both openness and purpose, but the purpose comes from God’s future. It’s not built in. It’s imparted.

How do we mix this together? We have two thoughts we need to hold together. On the one hand, God’s gift of futurity to the physical world makes room for evolution by providing openness to change and self-organization. On the other hand, God’s eschatological future embodies an aim, namely, the harmony and benefit of all God’s creatures. Neither alpha nor omega belong to chance, even if much of what happens in between does.

In the meantime, we share a concern with ID, namely, the emergence of complex wholes. We are holists. According to holistic or emergentist thinking, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Evolutionary history has witnessed the emergence of living creatures, which as organisms constitute wholes that reorganize and give new meaning to the chemical parts that make them up. No organism can be reduced to its chemical components and retain its identity as a living creature.

We observe that new wholes transform past parts. Integration into new, more comprehensive unities preserve while renewing what came before. This holistic complexification process is nonlinear. Adding a new whole changes an entire situation in a significant way. The degree of transformative effect renders redemption possible. Can we learn something theologically here? By analogy, might we apply what we have observed as emergent holism to God’s eschatological promises? Might emergentist thinking cast new light on how we interpret the Bible?

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