Reading along in “Deeper than Darwin” has brought me to the main ideas: Haught points out three principles on which evolution has proceeded—contingency, invariance, and deep time. By contingency, he means that, according to the agency of random mutation and local environmental change, exactly which species flourish is chance-dependent rather than preordained. By invariance, he means that the “grammar” of natural selection and the laws of physics and chemistry are never suspended; they govern the processes of life invariably. By deep time, he means the unimaginably long stretch from the Big Bang to the present (roughly 15 billion years); it has taken this long for species to appear (and disappear).
In contrast to evolutionists like Richard Dawkins, however, Haught doesn’t think that’s all there is to life. He suggests that beneath the science level lies another level—one of narrative: that our universe is a story in the making, the ending of which is unknown. This narrative is where the meaning resides—and it is unfolding. Such a narrative level is consistent with a God who has generated a universe distinct from Himself, to which He offers Himself but does not control, and which He loves unfailingly.
I haven’t finished the book yet—but I can see an analogy that could shed some light on Haught’s way of thinking: If you are a writer, you know you love what you create whether it “works out” and becomes something you keep or it doesn’t. You commit yourself to each creation, whether it be characters or ideas or plot, and you hope each one becomes entirely itself. You get a kick out of the way what you make goes in unpredictable directions, surprising you. As you write, you obey the rules: you write grammatically; you observe the formal requirements of your genre, and so on. (This discipline doesn’t limit your ability to generate new sentences, new ideas, new stories, etc. It means that what you create will make sense.) And you discard what doesn’t work out. I don’t want to get allegorical here: I don’t mean to say that a baby who dies hasn’t “worked out” in God’s plan…. This is only an analogy and shouldn’t be overextended.
When you think about things in this way, it does help to keep in mind, about the “waste” of evolution, that every life has value, whether brief or extended. Every life is loved. And every creature is encouraged to become more and more itself in the life it has. Every lost creature is painful to its Creator. And where love and suffering have been, nothing is wasted.