Küng on evolution
Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 4.
3. Chance or necessity?
If the development of life, as Küng insists, is to be understood as a physical and chemical event without any divine ‘breaking of the rules’ at some stage, is everything simply pure chance? Is life, you, me, just an accident? Reiner Zufall?
Küng’s argument in this section is multi-layered. In noting the contribution of the late Jaques Monod (French Molecular Biologist and 1965 Nobel Prise Winner), he asks whether the Frenchman’s dispute with ‘animistic projections’ into the evolutionary process really can be taken as credible polemic against a creator God per se. In his response to Monod, Küng cites the Physiochemiker Manfred Eigen (University of Göttingen) who writes in the foreword of the German translation of Monod’s Chance and Necessity:
‘As much as the individual form thanks its origin to chance, as much as the process of selection and evolution is unavoidable necessity. Not more! Thus, there is no secret inherent ‘life-characteristic’ [Vitaleigenschaft – i.e. animism] in material which should in the end determine the process of history! But also not less!’ (cf. p. 160).Küng, in quoting Eigen, aims to break down the inherent either/or, the either Zufall or theology in the rhetoric of those who affirm, as he does, evolution as explainable within the natural process of evolution.
This is, however, but the first step in his argument. Küng wants to, rather than positing chance or necessity, understand the notions as both/and.
Naturally with such language on the field, as a further movement Küng turns to investigate the contribution of Chaos theory. With this examination, Küng concludes more firmly: ‘Für die Erklärung der Evolution sind Zufall oder Notwendigkeit, Indetermination oder Determination, ja, Materialismus oder Idealismus faslche Alternativen’.
The evolution or life is, therefore, not chance or necessity. It is not an assertion of animistic life force or atheism. Fascinatingly, what this means, if the logic is pursued, is that God indeed appears to throw dice – but within certain rules.
The question then, however, becomes: But is it God who is throwing the dice? Küng's response to this queston shall be explored in the next post in this series.