Randomness & Divine Providence

Announcement from Jim Bradley via the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences:

It’s my great pleasure to announce a research initiative titled Randomness and Divine Providence supported by the John Templeton Foundation; I’ve attached a copy of the Request for Proposals.

The program will award grants of up to $200K to scholars or teams of scholars who will work on questions related to randomness and divine providence during the next three years.  I’d like to invite you to consider submitting a proposal. Also I’d be very grateful if you would forward this RFP to other scholars you think would be interested.

For more details, see the program website, http://www.calvin.edu/academic/math/randomnessproject/. And please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Jim Bradley

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49546

Recommended reading: Is There a Place for God in a World Governed by Chance?

Randomness and Design

Thanks to the Discovery Institute for passing along this information. Here is a link to the original post on EvolutionNews.org.

The National Research Council, a division of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), has a new book out titled Thinking Evolutionarily. The purpose of the book is to help teachers understand what it means to not only teach evolution as a single unit but to redefine their entire curriculum and teaching methods by “thinking evolutionarily.” Essentially it is what I (and others) are trying to accomplish through this website in regards to mathematics and thinking Christianly, but with an emphasis on evolution as the driving force behind education.

Here is a quote:

Getting one’s head, heart, and soul around the scientific theory of evolution and its implications is daunting … While our awe and wonder about the world may deepen in light of evolutionary theory — indeed, evolution does seem miraculous — our minds may also boggle and buckle when coming to terms with a certain fundamental randomness and unpredictability, a lack of a grand design, a perception that the theory portends a loss of meaning and purpose in our lives.

This quote does an excellent job of illustrating what has been said here before: the debate on evolution and intelligent design, when you honestly examine the arguments and pare them down to the fundamentals, is really a question of how you understand randomness.

There are several issues I take with this quote but here is the most important: when understood properly, fundamental randomness and unpredictability do not imply a lack of grand design. Mathematically speaking there are many scenarios in which randomness is actually required to produce order.

Instead of detailing this out, I’ll again point you to what has been said here before, namely James Bradley’s talk “Is There a Place for God in a World Governed by Chance?”, because I would only be repeating what he has already said.

My hope is that people would begin to realize the importance of “thinking Christianly” about mathematics in contributing to the discussion of “thinking evolutionarily” in the classroom.

Is There a Place for God in a World Governed by Chance?

Here is a great talk by James Bradley on the relationship between a sovereign God and the mathematical concept of randomness and chance.

“Is There a Place for God in a World Governed by Chance?”
James Bradley, emeritus professor of mathematics, Calvin College
Comments by Kelly James Clark, professor of philosophy, Calvin College – (Includes Q & A session – with Q’s from Alvin Plantinga and others)
To view accompanying visuals from this presentation:  God and Chance – slides (click to download, then open file)

Here are some links to some of the references mentioned in the talk: