So let us look more closely at the idea of a "depth dimension" of being, and move on from there to the possibility of an evolutionary science that would take account of a distinction between levels of reality. Christians already have a robust understanding of how this works in everyday life in the concept of divine Providence. No matter how accidental a series of events may appear to be, Christians often believe them to be foreseen and permitted, if not positively intended, by Providence, and to be unfolding according to an eternal plan. (The problem of whether divine foreknowledge of human action deprives us of free will need not detain us, since it was adequately answered long ago. God exists above time, and so he does not see our decisions before we make them, but sees them eternally as we make them. Since he plans the world in eternity, he can take into account every free act that will ever be made.)
References to Providence are, however, normally found in discussions of spirituality rather than science. According to J.-P. de Caussade in his classic Sacrament of the Present Moment (sometimes called Abandonment to Divine Providence), God speaks to us not in human words but through whatever happens to us, moment by moment. We are talking here of another kind of causality, at right angles to the kind investigated by science but not in contradiction to it. The events of my everyday life have their normal (efficient, material) causes, the kind studied by science, but they also have a higher explanation in terms of some kind of "divine speech". The Christian therefore has faith in a higher level of order or meaning, supervening upon and assuming the lower-level order of material cause and effect. I know there is a perfectly rational reason for my friend to have phoned at five o'clock. But my friend may also have phoned at five in answer to a prayer, or because God knew that I needed to hear what that friend would say precisely then, rather than two hours earlier.
To apply the same idea on the material level and in the realm of biology, a given genetic mutation might well appear random or accidental, and be adequately explained as far as science is concerned by a set of physical causes, whilst still possessing another cause entirely, a cause that we might describe as descending "vertically" rather than affecting events in the temporal sequence "horizontally". It owes its existence to the God who brings it (along with all its physical and temporal causes) out of nothing, and it belongs to an order that only becomes evident when the ultimate purpose of God is revealed. Thus faith in Providence need not change the way the Christian does science, in the way that the faith of the creationist in the literal truth of Genesis is supposed to do. Nevertheless it allows for a sense of purpose, of teleology (goal-directedness), within the physical world observed by science.
In the 19th century, St George Jackson Mivart, a Catholic opponent of Charles Darwin, argued along these lines, and was praised by Cardinal Newman for exposing the logical insufficiency of Darwin's theory. In the 20th century, the scientist-philosopher Michael Polanyi analysed the phenomenon of emergence and concluded that evolution, and life itself, must have been originated by the action of an "orderly innovating principle" of a higher order, the action of which is "released" by random fluctuations and "sustained" by fortunate environmental conditions.
More recently, the Faith Movement in Britain has been aiming for some years to reconcile the theory of evolution with Catholicism in its own "new synthesis". The movement, inspired by the late Father Edward Holloway, posits that God works through evolution to bring about an ordered cosmos. Christ is the embodiment and master of a Law of Unity and Direction, the center of human and universal history. In the words of Fr David Barrett to a Faith Theological Symposium in 2003, the Mind of God is "actively and dynamically knowing and willing the creation as a unity in development, an evolving whole. So the Unity-Law is identified with and through every aspect of the material universe, and is at the same time the relationship of all these parts as a unity to the Mind of God. What is essential to grasp is that the Unity-Law denotes the fundamental relationship of the Universe to the Mind of God. Control and direction, space and time, meaning and purpose are descriptions of how evolving matter is constituted by Mind in one perpetual act of knowing and willing."
This is an elegant attempt to harmonize faith and science. It means that the "laws of nature" should be considered not as somehow detached from God but as intentional acts of the Divine Mind. They are ways of describing the effects in time and space of the eternal wisdom of God, ordering all things to an end. That end or goal is found in the Person of Christ, human and divine. The divine Idea in which the creation itself is comprised and towards which it converges is both the supreme Universal, and a particular, concrete individual who is born, dies and is resurrected within the creation. The paradox of the Incarnation signifies nothing less than the appearing within the world of its true centre, orienting the cosmos towards its beginning and its end, its alpha and its omega. (In mechanics this would be known as an "attractor". It is as though the flat surface of the world had been given a shape by the insertion upon it of a weight so heavy that all the lines of space and time now converged upon it.)
The Faith Movement points out in its publications and lectures that the world is such a finely-balanced and inter-related whole that it could not have evolved by pure chance. "The universe of matter is like one vast cloth, woven without seam. There is total mutual interdependence of each part upon every other part, of each being upon every other being... The Universe is an ordered harmony, ruled by law." Science itself depends on finding invisible laws that underlie the cosmic harmony, and many hard-bitten materialists concede that the physical constants of our universe appear "as if" designed precisely in order to provide a possible setting for human life (the "anthropic principle").
The entire article is a great read.