C. S. Lewis on Evolution and Intelligent Design, Part 5

Bookmark and Share

May 10, 2011 Tags: Design

Today's entry was written by Michael L. Peterson. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

C. S. Lewis on Evolution and Intelligent Design, Part 5

This blog series, adapted from this article in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, is a comprehensive study of the views of Christian author and apologist C. S. Lewis on the theory of evolution and the argument from intelligent design. Today Peterson demonstrates that Lewis did accept the scientific evidence for evolution, while adamantly rejecting the philosophical naturalism many wrongly associate with it.

Lewis on Evolution

Since Lewis rejects ID in the narrower sense, what does he think about Evolution? Lewis accepted both cosmic and biological evolution as highly confirmed scientific theories. He understood that when a scientific theory—which is a proposal about how some natural phenomenon is caused by some natural mechanism—is confirmed by many factors, we call it a fact. We should not understand the terms theory and fact as though “theory” means “not a fact” or “lacking adequate support.” Sometimes Lewis uses the term “hypothesis” as synonymous with a scientific theory, as do many scientists.

Regarding cosmic evolution, Lewis comments that his Space Trilogy contains “only enough science” to lift the reader’s imagination away from the ordinary; but the science it does contain is informed by the basic scientific picture of the cosmos and space and the planets. In his more overtly philosophical (and apologetic) books, Lewis sometimes alludes to well-known information about the universe. In The Problem of Pain, he writes,

Look at the universe … By far the greatest part of it consists of empty space, completely dark and unimaginably cold. The bodies which move in this space are … few and so small in comparison with the [vastness] of space... (p. 13)

Elsewhere Lewis speaks of “nebulae” coming into being in the early history of the cosmos; therefore he knew something about cosmology and astronomy.

Lewis then transitions to biological evolution in that same passage in The Problem of Pain:

n our own [galaxy and solar] system it is improbable that any planet except the Earth -sustains life. And Earth herself existed without life for millions of years and may exist for millions more when life has left her. And what is life like while it lasts? … [A]ll the forms … can live only by preying upon one another. (pp. 13-14)

Here he reflects on what science tells us about key elements of organic evolution—the struggle for survival and natural selection. He continues:

[T]hat man is physically descended from animals, I have no objection … For centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself … The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man … n the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism … a new kind of consciousness which could say “I” and “me,” … which knew God … [and] could make judgements of truth, beauty, and goodness... (pp. 72-77)

Clearly, Lewis accepts the Darwinian concept of “common descent with modification.” In other writings, he calls biological evolution a “genuine scientific hypothesis” ("The Funeral of a Great Myth", p. 83) and scientists who study it “real biologists” and “real scientists.” (p. 85) He even refers in various locations to the age of “monsters,” “dragons,” “huge, very heavily armored creatures,” the great reptiles, dinosaurs, which had to pass so that mammalian life could emerge and flourish. (p. 87; Mere Christianity, p. 218)

So, Lewis never voices any objection to the scientific facts of Evolution as though they are somehow incompatible with orthodox Christian doctrines— and, in fact, he was completely comfortable integrating Evolution into a comprehensive worldview. For Lewis, positively engaging the growing body of human knowledge does not mean accommodating the latest fad but responsibly reflecting on how the Christian vision makes best sense of the facts and broad principles we learn from a variety of sources, including the sciences. Since Lewis’s time, of course, the findings of the sciences have converged more strongly on the truths of Evolution, such that it now has as high a degree of confirmation as anything else we know in science.

Why do certain religious groups continue to have problems with Evolution? One factor is the low quality of science education in our schools that makes it difficult to have informed discussion in which all parties adequately understand the methods and aims of science. Also, we noted earlier the perception that Evolution contradicts a literal reading of Genesis, which, for Christian fundamentalism, violates biblical authority. But the factor that requires attention here is that some people—both Christian and non-Christian—see Evolution as implying that there is no God, as being a form of atheism. So, Evolution becomes identified with the view that matter alone is real, chance and randomness eliminate design and purpose, moral absolutes do not exist, and a human being is merely a complex animal with no special dignity. However, these are not scientific claims; they define the philosophical worldview of Naturalism (or Materialism).

Lewis, of course, was a sworn opponent of Naturalism, but not of Evolution. He carefully distinguished Evolution as science from Evolution as co-opted by philosophical naturalism ("The Funeral of a Great Myth", p. 83). Naturalism has been around since the dawn of philosophical thought in Greece 2,500 years ago. Its advocates have always claimed that “Naturalism-plus-the-science-of-the-day” explains all that needs to be explained, and that therefore theological and metaphysical explanations are obsolete. In our day, thinkers who take this approach have been dubbed “the New Atheists.” Lewis shrewdly cautions us not to fall for their spin:

Please do not think that one of these views [i.e., either Naturalism or Supernaturalism] was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men both views turn up … You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense (Mere Christianity, p. 22).

Lewis is making two important points: (1) That it is pure propaganda that Supernaturalism was believed when people were prescientific and intellectually unsophisticated, but that science has now shown that Naturalism is true. In point of fact, classical Christian orthodoxy is always capable of the most sophisticated engagement with any new information. (2) That science—legitimately operating by methodological naturalism—cannot decide between the two philosophical options of Naturalism and Supernaturalism. For naturalists to think that science itself provides evidence for Naturalism is, ironically, to commit the same category mistake earlier attributed to ID: failing to distinguish what sorts of issues are properly addressed in the fields of science and philosophy, respectively. The New Atheists fallaciously claim that their philosophical position is closely linked to a scientific case for atheism which is supported by evolutionary science, whereas ID proponents fallaciously claim that their version of science exposes weaknesses in evolutionary approaches and thus provides grounds for thinking that something like Theism is true.

Lewis’s incisive criticisms of Naturalism masquerading as evolutionary science are still very relevant to the growing cultural discussion. Consider two famous examples of scientists promoting Naturalism in the name of science. In the 1980s, Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan burst on the scene with his book Cosmos (New York: Ballantine, 1980) and the PBS series it inspired. The first sentence of the book declares: “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” (p. 1) The sum total of reality is matter, continually and endlessly changing in space. There is no intelligent and benevolent being behind it all.

More recently, Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins makes the New York Times Best Seller List from time to time with books arguing that Evolution combined with philosophical naturalism provides a complete and compelling explanation of the world. As a leader of the New Atheism, he writes in The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1986),

An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. (p. 6, emphasis added)

So, for Sagan and Dawkins, the philosophical view that physical stuff is ultimate reality can now be coupled with a comprehensive scientific account of how the physical realm developed and operates. You have the complete package: Naturalism co-opts Evolutionary Science. No need for a Creator-God; the physical realm simply explains itself!


Michael L. Peterson is professor of philosophy at Asbury University. He is also managing editor of Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers. His books include Reason and Religious Belief (Oxford); God and Evil (Westview); With All Your Mind: A Christian Philosophy of Education (Notre Dame); and Evil and the Christian God (Baker). He has produced multiple edited volumes and journal articles.

< Previous post in series Next post in series >


View the archived discussion of this post

This article is now closed for new comments. The archived comments are shown below.

Loading...
Page 1 of 1   1
Roger A. Sawtelle - #60944

May 10th 2011

The problem with Dawkins is that he to a serious extent has the science wrong also.  Just because evolution is a fact does not make all explanations of evolution factual.  Scientism is not the only issue, but also bad science that seems to support scientism.  

IMHO God does not call us to accept anything uncritically, be it science or theology. 


Bilbo - #60976

May 10th 2011

Peterson:  “Since Lewis rejects ID….”

A thesis Peterson has never bothered to prove.

”...in the narrower sense, what does he think about
Evolution? Lewis accepted both cosmic and biological evolution as highly
confirmed scientific theories.”

Hardly.  From his letters to Acworth, which can be found here:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1996/PSCF3-96Ferngren.html


September
13, 1951
: I have
read nearly the
whole of Evolution [probably Acworth’s unpublished “The Lie of
Evolution”] and am glad you sent it. I must confess it has shaken me:
<b>not
in my belief in evolution, which was of the vaguest and most
intermittent kind</b> [my emphasis],
but in my belief that the question was wholly unimportant. I wish I were
younger. What inclines me now to think that you may be right in
regarding it as the
central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs
our lives
is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted
attitudes
of its defenders. The section on Anthropology was especially good. ...
The point that the whole economy of nature demands simultaneity
of at least a v. great many species is a v. sticky one. Thanks: and
blessings.

So Lewis’s belief in evolution was of the “vaguest and most intermittent kind.”  Why?  Because it was based on science.  And “it is the glory of science to change.”  Lewis’s belief in any scientific theory is always tentative. 


Darrel F - #60990

May 11th 2011

I would like to encourage readers to go to the link that Bilbo provides.  It leads to a 1996 article by two highly respected historians, Gary Ferngren and Ronald Numbers, published in the Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith, the ASA journal (and the same journal from which this article is drawn.).  (Thank God for the ASA!)


They make the point that Lewis was clearly concerned about evolutionism, in his day just as we are today:

“He always carefully indicated that he opposed evolutionism as a philosophy, not evolution as a biological theory.”

Still, as these historians indicate, Lewis seemed to be changing to some extent in the latter years of his life.   Interestingly for me personally, is that I began as a biology student in university not too long after Lewis died.  Evolution is those years, as I see it, was being taught not just as science—it came coupled with a  philosophy which subtly removed the need for a Creator.  George Gaylord Simpson was the author of the textbook through which I was introduced to biology. In another book written about that same time, Simpson wrote:

Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.  [THE MEANING OF EVOLUTION (NEW HAVEN: YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1967), P. 345.]

I felt that I had to choose—evolution or God.  I tried to synthesize the two in some manner, but as a student my perception was that biologists felt they had removed God from the equation.  Although I had heard that Dobzhansky was a religious man, I felt on my own to try to put the two together in some fashion and, for a short period, I gave up the quest.

It was also out of that climate that modern creationism was born through the publishing of Morris and Whitcomb’s book, The Genesis Flood.



Steve Ruble - #60992

May 11th 2011

[S]cience—legitimately operating by methodological naturalism—cannot decide between the two philosophical options of Naturalism and Supernaturalism. For naturalists to think that science itself provides evidence for Naturalism is, ironically, to commit the same category mistake earlier attributed to ID…

It’s not that “science itself provides evidence for Naturalism”, it’s that the immense success of science (which operates by methodological naturalism) at discovering new things about the world, when compared to the total failure of supernaturalism to discover anything at all, makes it reasonable to provisionally conclude that there either are no supernatural phenomena, or supernatural phenomena have no observable effects.  There’s no practical difference between those positions, so it’s not unreasonable to gloss them into the conclusion that supernaturalism is false. 


Steve Ruble - #60993

May 11th 2011

The New Atheists fallaciously claim that their philosophical position is closely linked to a scientific case for atheism which is supported by evolutionary science…

I’m not sure that any New Atheists (with the possible exception of Vic Stenger) claim that their position is “closely linked to a scientific case for atheism”... certainly that claim is not supported by the quote from Dawkins.  In the case of Vic Stenger, the “scientific case for atheism” which he presents is the argument that of those religious claims which can be tested scientifically (efficacy of prayer, age of the earth, origin of humans, etc.) the overwhelming majority have been falsified; and we would expect that a universe with a god in it would be different from one without a god in it, yet no such differences can be detected. Because Stenger is, in his arguments, reacting to specific theistic claims about how the world is or should be expected to be, his mode of argument can only be as fallacious as those he is arguing against.  In any case, he doesn’t represent the majority of New Atheists.


The point is, I don’t know who you think you’re talking about.

b allen - #60999

May 11th 2011

I’m not sure I’ve followed your line quite well enough, Mr. Ruble.  Forgive me. I think you are saying that due to the “success” of methodological naturalism. This “success” should by default suggest that supernaturalism is irrelevant? Is this what you are saying?


Steve Ruble - #61021

May 11th 2011

You’ve almost got it. It’s the success of methodological naturalism at discovering new things about the world compared to the abject failure of methodological supernaturalism to discover anything at all.  This isn’t a logical proof, it’s argument about probabilities: Given that behaving as if the world does not contain supernatural entities produces bountiful demonstrable results, and behaving as if the world does contain supernatural entities produces no results whatsoever, what is the probability that in fact the world contains no supernatural entities?


If you don’t like the form of the argument, or you don’t understand how it works, you could consult the beginning of Swinburne’s The Existence of God, which has a pretty good introduction to Bayesian inference.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #61001

May 11th 2011

Steve wrote:

It’s not that “science itself provides evidence for Naturalism”, it’s that the immense success of science (which operates by methodological naturalism) at discovering new things about the world, when compared to the total failure of supernaturalism to discover anything at all, makes it reasonable to provisionally conclude that there either are no supernatural phenomena, or supernatural phenomena have no observable effects.

I have two comments here.  The first is what is defined as natural.  If only matter/energy are considered natural, which is what I have been told, then the question arises, from whence comes natural laws or the order of nature that we understand as human beings.  Natural law is not a thing composed of matter and/or energy, but an idea which has a rational intellectual structure.  

If methological natural involves a method, which is not natural, since it is intellectual tool for discovering the non-natural aspect orderly of nature (matter and energy), then methodological naturalism is by definition itself supernatural.

Methodological naturalism itself is commited to finding rational order in nature, because that is what science is all about.  Therefore methodological naturalism expects to find order in nature and does find rational order in nature, even though nature cannot think and therefore cannot order itself. 

If nature is not rational by itself, then it rational order must come from outside itself.  It cannot cannot come from humans, because humans are products of nature or so evolutionary science says.  Thus it would seem that order and rationality must come from the supernatural, the non-physical.

Scientism or physicalism seems to be caught in another contradiction.  It maintains that nature is governed by natural laws (See Penrose’s Road to Reality), but most do not think that that humans, who are at part of nature, are governed by similar moral laws.  If “supernaturalism” has taught us anything about our world, it is about the human world that we live in every day.  The fact that people can claim that religion tells us nothing about our world reveals a strong bias against the human moral world as unreal and for the physical world as “real.”  

This dualistic approach effectively gives up on the human world as understandable and advocates devoting all of human resources on the natural physical world.  War, crime, injustice, intolerance, etc are not addressed as real problems.           


Merv - #61013

May 11th 2011

Steve wrote:  “

It’s not that “science itself provides evidence for Naturalism”, it’s that the immense success
of science (which operates by methodological naturalism) at discovering
new things about the world, when compared to the total failure of
supernaturalism to discover anything at all, makes it reasonable to
provisionally conclude that there either are no supernatural phenomena,
or supernatural phenomena have no observable effects.”

Labeling science as a success is rather more of a tautology.  Of course we will observe things, and then react and develop accordingly.  The parts that aren’t ‘successful’ by whatever current standards we desire are abandoned.  Airplanes fly now because previous attempts at flying machines didn’t work—or work as well.  So now we build the ones that worked better.  ‘Supernaturalism’ (whatever that is) has never tried to build an airplane that I’m aware of.  I’ll switch the term to ‘Theism’ which is probably a more specific manifestation of what you were targeting.  So accusing theism of failure in producing technology may be like accusing a baker of never having built an airplane.  It isn’t his job. 

But the last phrase of your last statement does make more sense and is the most interesting to address:  “...

or supernatural phenomena have no observable effects.”   One could respond that once something becomes observable it is now subsumed into what you call nature—and is now thoroughly natural—which is to reduce even this statement to a mere tautology.  Of course you can’t observe supernatural phenomenon.  Your eyes are built to perceive nature—so “voila”—everything they see is natural.  But your objection is that something (e.g. prayer) should at least make a statistically observable difference in how *natural* things play out.  We’ve been around the block on that question in this forum in the past and know that it won’t go anywhere, since no universally accepted study lays that to rest—and other studies (to which you will gravitate towards) purport to lay it to rest in the negative sense.  Even as a Christian, I’m not too bothered by studies that fail to find efficacy in prayer.  What that shows is that God is not a natural phenomenon  (something Christians already knew anyway—or should know.)  I.e.  there is no vending machine god where you insert your mustard seed of faith into the slot and out pops your merchandise or even just your purchase of better statistical odds for yourself in some matter.  If this did work—it wouldn’t be a god but just another natural phenomenon.  I suspect that most believers have their own anecdotal evidence of personal and familial experience that shapes their convictions—exactly the kinds of things that are useless scientifically, but are nearly everything relationally.  Science helps us build the hammer—helps us understand how it drives in the nail.  Philosophy (and for the Christian, theology) helps us understand why we should swing it, helping our neighbor build a house even if we ourselves won’t benefit or live there.

“Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame.” —that’s been attributed to Einstein, but it’s pretty good no matter who said it.   “Science” is impossible *not* to do if a person lives in this world.  Show me someone who doesn’t know the order of the seasons—you can’t be alive and not do at some simple level what we now call “science”.  And if ‘religion’ is broadly taken to include all philosophy, then the same applies to that side as well.  You can’t go without either one any more than you could choose between foregoing your brain or your heart.

—Merv


Steve Ruble - #61022

May 11th 2011

One could respond that once something becomes observable it is now subsumed into what you call nature—and is now thoroughly natural—which is to reduce even this statement to a mere tautology

I tend to agree, and that’s another reason I don’t believe in the supernatural: it’s extraordinarily difficult to define it in such a way that it isn’t subsumed into what we normally think of as the natural world without also defining it out of existence.

But your objection is that something (e.g. prayer) should at least make a statistically observable difference in how *natural* things play out.
Right. In fact, I take as somewhat tautological that if you make a claim about the way the world is, but you can make no observations which correspond to that claim being true as opposed to false, you can’t reasonably say that you know that claim is true. 
I suspect that most believers have their own anecdotal evidence of personal and familial experience that shapes their convictions—exactly the kinds of things that are useless scientifically, but are nearly everything relationally.
That would be true in some worlds, but not in this one. In this world, the fact that most believers have their own anecdotal evidence for the truth of explicitly contradictory doctrines means that to be intellectually consistent you must either accept that everyone’s anecdotes constitute good evidence for their supernatural beliefs, or that  no one’s anecdotes constitute such evidence - including your own.  If there’s no objective standard for comparing supernatural anecdotes, then all are equally valid or invalid.  


Steve Ruble - #61023

May 11th 2011

And if ‘religion’ is broadly taken to include all philosophy, then the same applies to that side as well.

Sure. But I certainly don’t take it that broadly, and I suspect most philosophers would agree with me. If you take ‘religion’ more narrowly, it’s obvious that science - or rather, scientists - can do just fine with no supernatural religious beliefs whatsoever; they’re no more likely to hobble about than the next person. 


On the other hand, I agree that “religion without science is blind”, but since religion with science is still blind - to the extent that it’s based in a revelation, anyway - I don’t see that the statement is worth much.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #61031

May 11th 2011

Come on Steve,

Do you really think that people can live without meaning and purpose, whether they are scientists or whoever?

Can the society survive without morality?

There is more to life than science.


Mike Gene - #61033

May 11th 2011

It’s not that “science itself provides evidence for Naturalism”, it’s that the immense success of science (which operates by methodological naturalism) at discovering new things about the world, when compared to the total failure of supernaturalism to discover anything at all, 

This makes no sense.  You seem to be arguing that if God existed, our reality would be incoherent and be full of disconnected gaps.  I’ve never understood why people think that if God existed, science would be a failure. 

<!—[if gte mso 9]><xml>

Normal0MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

</xml><![endif]—><!—[if gte mso 10]>


Steve Ruble - #61046

May 12th 2011

Well, you don’t need to understand that, because that’s not what I’m arguing. It is, of course, possible that science could work exactly as it does if there actually were supernatural beings - as long as those supernatural beings didn’t interfere with the experiments. What stretches credulity is the idea that supernaturalism could be correct instead of naturalism given that supernaturalist attempts to discover new things about the world is are totally unsuccessful. 


Think about it this way: how likely is it that the model of the world which continually makes successful predictions is in an incorrect model, while the model of the world which never makes correct predictions about the world is the correct model? Sure, it’s possible, but what would make you think it’s probable?

Mike Gene - #61090

May 13th 2011

Steve: Well, you don’t need to understand that, because that’s not what I’m arguing.

Really?  You argue that the success of science is evidence against the existence of God.  That would entail that the existence of God is supposed to translate as the failure of science.  This, of course, is the God of the Gaps approach that is championed by both creationists and Gnus.  

It is, of course, possible that science could work exactly as it does if there actually were supernatural beings - as long as those supernatural beings didn’t interfere with the experiments.

Why only possible?  As a Christian theist, I would not expect God to interfere with experiments.  I would expect the world to be an orderly and coherent place that can be understood with our minds.  

What stretches credulity is the idea that supernaturalism could be correct instead of naturalism given that supernaturalist attempts to discover new things about the world is are totally unsuccessful.

You are not making any sense.  Just what are these “supernaturalist attempts to discover new things about the world?” 


Steve Ruble - #61203

May 14th 2011

You argue that the success of science is evidence against the existence of God. 

Go back and read it again, Mike. You’re still not getting it. There’s a whole other premise to my argument that you’re completely missing.

Why only possible?  As a Christian theist, I would not expect God to interfere with experiments.
“Possible” because I don’t suppose that you would agree that it’s impossible for a god to interfere with experiments. 
Just what are these “supernaturalist attempts to discover new things about the world?” 
Prayer, prophecy, faith healing, intelligent design, kabbalah, voodoo, theology… there are many things that people do to try to find out about or change the world we live in, but none of them provide results for which there’s anything like a consensus or a demonstrable truth.


Merv - #61037

May 12th 2011

Steve wrote:
”... the
fact that most believers have their own anecdotal evidence for the
truth 
of explicitly contradictory doctrines means that to be intellectually consistent you must either accept that everyone’s anecdotes constitute good evidence for their supernatural beliefs, or that  no one’s anecdotes constitute such evidence - including your own.”

Actually, what it does mean is that not everybody can be right about everything.  What it does not mean is that everybody is wrong.  Not everybody’s evidence is equal—it’s clear we agree on that, though we may draw our lines at different places—you calling it good only when it is more universally measurable, and me allowing for a broader net.   And both approaches will net some bad ideas or outright falsehoods that may be overturned later.  Nobody escapes the human element.


Steve Ruble - #61047

May 12th 2011

Merv, while it’s true that “not everybody can be right about everything”, it’s also true that everybody can be wrong about something - some specific thing, that is. If a Christian takes some anecdote from their experience to be evidence for the existence of their god, and a Muslim takes a very similar anecdote from their experience to be evidence for the existence of their god, they can’t both be right… but they can both be wrong.

we may draw our lines at different places—you calling it good only when it is more universally measurable, and me allowing for a broader net. 
My problem with your position isn’t that you have a “broader net”, it’s that you seem to have a net where the size of the holes varies wildly.  Do you think it’s reasonable to describe all personal anecdotes and experiences as evidence for the god the person in question believes in? It seems to me that such a position must inevitably lead to the conclusion that all gods are about equally well evidenced - especially if you explicitly reject some form of “universal measurement” or objective method for assessing the comparative value of assorted anecdotes. 


Merv - #61067

May 12th 2011

Hi, Steve.

It isn’t that I reject a “universal measurement” that can be applied to personal experience.  It’s that none exists—and I’m sure you fully agree.  But then we go on to different conclusions from there.  You say that a lack of universal measurement is a fatal shortcoming that seriously, if not completely, removes its status as “evidence”.  And I agree—if we’re only speaking of evidence that is compulsory in the universal sense.  But you seem to want to leap from “they can all be wrong” (which is logically correct) to “they all must be wrong” which is unjustified.  I don’t make that leap with you.  Nor do I see such a black & white world where either Christians are right about everything and Muslims wrong about everything or vice versa.  Thank God teachers don’t grade their classes with the kind of logic that fails a student the moment a student has a demonstrably wrong idea, the teacher would immediately fail them with the assumption that they can’t get anything right.  The world (religion or whatever) just doesn’t work like that.  Nobody is wrong about everything—they aren’t brilliant enough to accomplish that with consistency.  The only way atheists can play the “all religions can’t be right” gambit as if this somehow scores a point is to get us all to pretend we are in an imaginary world of intellectual black hats and white hats.  In the real world, though, your logic just doesn’t work.

—Merv


Steve Ruble - #61201

May 14th 2011

Merv, the problem isn’t with people being individually entirely right or wrong, it’s that there’s no consistent standard by which a person can say “My personal experience which I attribute to a god is legitimate evidence, but the personal experiences of people who attribute their experiences to a different god is not legitimate evidence.”  If you’re going to say that personal experiences count as evidence about gods, you can’t arbitrarily exclude all personal experiences of a god other than yours, without giving a reason. Those experiences must count too.  


Roger A. Sawtelle - #61069

May 12th 2011

Steve wrote:

What stretches credulity is the idea that supernaturalism could be correct instead of naturalism given that supernaturalist attempts to discover new things about the world is are totally unsuccessful.
 
What you still don’t seem to comprehend is that naturalism doesn’t make sense without a “supernatural” foundation.  It is not either/or, it is both/and.  That which is natural is by definition not eternal.  If it is not eternal, then it logically requires a Source which is eternal or supernatural.       

Also you define nature and natural so narrowly that anything, which is not natural, that is human or artificial, is by your definition, “supernatural.”   


tragicmishap - #61214

May 14th 2011

Lewis, of course, was a sworn opponent of Naturalism, but not of
Evolution. He carefully distinguished Evolution as science from
Evolution as co-opted by philosophical naturalism (“The Funeral of a
Great Myth”, p. 83).


Mr. Petersen, with all due respect Lewis was not discussing “philosophical naturalism” in The Funeral of a Great Myth.  He was discussing what he called the “Popular Myth of Evolution” which was the idea of inevitable progress in history.  He quoted Haldane as saying the real scientific theory recognizes that for every one positive mutation there are nine negative ones. 

Today we know the ratio of positive mutations to negative ones is much lower than one tenth.  In fact it is so low that doubt about the viability of Darwin’s theory has blossomed in the community of real scientists and real biologists. 


Page 1 of 1   1