Two kinds of evolution

It is not well known that there are two kinds of evolutionary theories, characterized by whether law or chance are the dominant means. For Darwinism chance is the dominant means, that is, stochastic elements are more significant than the processes of physical law. A different kind of evolution asserts that physical law is the dominant means so that the chance elements are necessarily channeled into certain results. We might call these stochastic evolution and nomothetic evolution.

Michael Denton’s book Nature’s Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe presents a nomothetic version of evolution. This is directed evolution, that is, evolution directed by physical law. It is consistent with evolution as described by Herbert Spencer in the 19th century. Darwinism in contrast is undirected evolution.

These two kinds of evolution have been confused since the 19th century. Many who supported Darwin in the 19th century thought he was promoting nomothetic evolution. To this day theistic evolutionists say that evolution is somehow directed, even as they affirm Darwinism. The ID researchers are right to call out this contradiction.

The second-order question is, How do law and chance work together? All evolutionists can say is that it’s “chance all the way down” or “law all the way down.” This is a way of kicking the can down the road rather than answering it head-on.

But there is a third possibility: a combination of law and chance superintended by intelligence. This is a form of design which is anathema to evolutionists. Yet design does answer the second-order question.