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The Biologos Foundation and “Darwin’s Pious Idea”, Part 3

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January 28, 2011 Tags: Christianity & Science - Then and Now
The Biologos Foundation and “Darwin’s Pious Idea”, Part 3

Today's entry was written by John Wesley Wright. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of BioLogos. You can read more about what we believe here.

This is the third part in a series reviewing Conor Cunningham's new book Darwin's Pious Idea. The first part can be found here and the second part here.

The mesa characterizes the landscape of the southwestern United States. A level plain rapidly ascends to meet a broad table top where various activities can take place. If chapters 1-3 rapidly ascend from the neo-Darwinian synthesis with a review of evidence for form, constraints, and convergence within evolution, Darwin’s Pious Idea reaches the top of the mesa in chapter 4. Cunningham enters the chapter with the difficult question, “Does Darwinism involve a notion of progress?” The underlying question of the chapter, however, is, “What is humanity that You are mindful of them?”

Cunningham argues that we need the “biology of being” within which to place the “biology of becoming” of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Cunningham importantly does not reject the neo-Darwinian synthesis. He does, however, demand a larger theoretical framework that can account for deeper levels of the stability and cooperation and remote causes that we observe when we look at biological phenomena synchronically: “Such a gestalt switch in perspective – from the atomistic to the systemic, the discrete to the emergent –involves new levels of life and new modes of causality as we move from a wholly linear approach to a nonlinear one. Emergent systems (from cells to organisms) exhibit modes of behavior that demand new ways of thinking” (p. 157). Unless neo-Darwinism can account for such data (and in its ultra-Darwinian form, it cannot, Cunningham argues), in the words of Imre Lakatos, it will become a degenerating research program in light of the need for a wider synthesis, just as Newton’s research program became degenerating to Einstein’s.1

Cunningham does not have to invent this “biology of being”; it is already present in developmental evolution and systems biology (p. 152). Cunningham writes, “Evolution, or at least biology, is not all about the flux of phylogeny, for nature manifests structure and form. There is a form of progress and inevitability in evolution, one that is lawful and thus demonstrably antireductionist. . . . Consequently, not only will the great chain of being be reinstated (as if it was ever removed, except in the vanity of man’s mind) but also mankind, more importantly, will be shown to be both ‘cross and crown’ of creation. This claim precludes, rather than accommodates, anthropocentrism, for it is a matter of participation (methexis) rather than exclusivity. Indeed, accompanying man’s ascendancy or uniqueness is a growing sense of vulnerability, even danger” (pp. 149-50).

Cunningham helpfully uses the analogy of the production of a play within a theatre to describe the interaction between synchronic and diachronic events within evolution: “The play of evolution (that which becomes, namely, phylogeny) takes place within a theater; in terms of that theater’s structure, the play is constrained and therefore informed” (p. 159). Within this theater humans play a significant role in the drama because of what we are – the “cross and crown of creation”; the mode of transportation through which we have arrived at the “theatre” is irrelevant.

Cunningham reminds Christians that the “what” of humanity is special (their form on the stage of the theatre); pressing theologically the “how” question actually takes us towards a paganism where we conceive of god as a big, more powerful being like us. As Cunningham writes, “If we conceive God in terms of power, we have actually managed to reduce God to our own level, because divinity becomes a matter of something we cannot do – namely, suspend the natural order – rather than it being about someone we are not” (p. 172). As Cunningham notes, Thomas Aquinas would heartily agree (p. 151).

Cunningham’s retrieval of “form” becomes the basis for his theological reflections. Properly construed, evolution signs that life’s origin and end lies beyond itself in the Invisible “seen” in the visible. The “forms” of evolution, its “being” within which random “becoming” occurs, signs Transcendence beyond itself. Humanity results from the material process of evolutionary becoming; nonetheless we have a distinct form which allows us to participate in the symbolic science that biology is: “biology is a semiotic science, a science where significance and representation are essential elements. Thus evolutionary biology stands at the border between physical and semiotic science, just as man does” (pp. 165-66).

Combining concepts from Augustine and Kierkegaard, Cunningham describes how humanity results both from “recollection” and “non-identical repetition”: “Yes, humans are different. Yes, they forge whole new levels of existence. In so doing they are only recollecting evolution’s history, yet at the same time they are nonidentically repeating it” (p. 159). He finds a parallel between this evolutionary understanding of humanity and that proposed by the early church fathers: “cooperation is the truth of nature and . . . competition is secondary; . . . more basic forms of nature are themselves not devoid of intelligence, or rationality; and . . . there is definite progress in evolution, with man at the pinnacle, because man is a microcosm of the universe, both recollecting and nonidentically repeating the lives of his ancestors, right back to basic chemical, as the Church Fathers correctly saw. But such ascendancy is not simple, for with increasing complexity comes increasing danger, to the point that what theologians term sin becomes possible” (p. 163). Evolution does provide progress, but progress itself has an inherent ambiguity. Again, welcome to humanity--the “crown and cross of creation.”

This is no “creation science” or “intelligent design” argument. While matter has an inherent rationality, Cunningham, with the historic Christian tradition, refuses to reduce God to an agent of design. Cunningham concludes the chapter with a wonderfully provocative shift in our language in order to not make God a “creative force” that guides an evolutionary process: “if we are going to employ such terms as ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural,’ then it is better (at least for theology) if we think of God as the only truly natural phenomenon, while the world around can be thought of as ‘supernatural.’ For what else is creation meant to signify? Indeed, is creation’s status as signifier not reflected in the very fact that when we try to return what exists, here in our universe, to itself, we fail to save the phenomena. Rather, the phenomena are shown to exhibit the one thing that is intrinsically their own, namely, the nothing from which they came” (p. 177).

If the book stopped with Cunningham’s provocation at this point, it would represent a tremendous accomplishment. Cunningham teaches us how to order the language of post neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory in light of the classical Christian understanding of the world in which essences are “seen” in, but never abstracted from, the materiality of God’s good creation. Creation itself becomes a sign of a radically transcendent God from whom and through whom and to whom are all things because God created all things from nothing. Cunningham, however, extends his argument farther.

Chapter 5 critically examines attempts to generalize the neo-Darwinian synthesis beyond biology. As Cunningham has already found “ultra-Darwinism” limited in explaining evolution itself, it is no wonder that he finds its extension in evolutionary psychology (and its earlier vehicles, social Darwinism and Sociobiology) severely lacking. Cunningham uses this opportunity, however, to show the underlying logic of ultra-Darwinism. Ironically, by stressing adaptivity, such generalized ultra-Darwinism evaporates truth, the good, even science itself into what Nietzsche called “the true lie”. Beliefs themselves become “intrinsically fictitious” (p. 214), repeated only because of their adaptive function – including the belief in evolution. Our lives are really about sex and sex is really about the survival of genes and thus evolution.

Attempts to generalize ultra-Darwinism require a concept of evolution that itself stands outside of time. To save evolution, therefore, we must de-mythologize it and return it to a biological theory. We must save it from the antievolutionary reductionism of the ultra-Darwinism whereby evolutionary thought functions as “a security blanket, one loved by willful secularists who demonstrate no reluctance at destroying the natural world” (p. 262). Such a cultural bias is thoroughly “unnatural.”

Through the evolutionary emergence of humanity, the human mind, and human language, the symbolic activity of thinking about “God” became profoundly natural. Cunningham cites the research of Justin Barrett: “With the arrival of our minds in the story of evolution, religion became inevitable. It was, quite simply, not an option” (p. 252). At the same time, the symbolic, the “cultural,” directly shapes the “natural”: “Symbols have true causal powers over the physical, though the language here is potentially misleading, for we must resist the temptation of setting symbols over and against the purely physical, at least in any naïve sense” (p. 256). As culture is thoroughly natural, nature becomes thoroughly cultural. Therefore, “there is no mere animality, and thus we can have neither a pure culture nor a pure animality” (p. 239). In the emergence of the uniqueness of the human being, Cunningham argues, “the elements gifted to us at the beginning of time are, quite literally, transubstantiated, and new, real relations are forthcoming, relations that then recapitulate the entire process” (p. 242). Evolutionary psychology, as set of ultra-Darwinism, cannot account for such an evolutionary process. They seek the security for their secularity in the ahistoricism of the endless repetition of the same neo-Darwinian natural selection.

Cunningham will continue his attempt to save evolutionary theory from its ultra-Darwinian supporters in chapter 6. But he will also increasingly have to save Christian orthodoxy from its ultra anti-Darwinian supporters as well. If Darwin’s theory signed the death of Protestant fundamentalist readings of the Scriptures (even as it created them), Darwin’s Pious Idea itself signs the death of the “true lie” that God is dead within a secularist, scientific culture. Such secularists will have to go perhaps to Huxley for their security blanket; the blanket that was theory of evolution of the ultra-Darwinists has dissolved. Perhaps they can meet their fundamentalist Christian allies there.


1. Commentators in the previous discussion of the blog have noted Cunningham’s dependence on the work of Simon Conway Morris, a dependence that Cunningham notes in the acknowledgements. In a recent article, Conway Morris reviews research that “point to a biology that will move far beyond the Darwinian formulation. . . . Today our understanding of evolution is immensely widened, but naturally it remains thoroughly Darwinian. The aim of this review is not to dispute this synthesis, but simply to enquire if it is complete” (p. 1337). See Simon Conway Morris, “The Predictability of Evolution: Glimpses into a post-Darwinian World,” Naturwissenschaften (2009) 96: 1313-1337 (http://www.springerlink.com/content/b46l378pju61h6k2/).

John Wesley Wright, Ph.D. is Professor of Theology and Christian Scriptures at Point Loma Nazarene University. Dr. Wright has published numerous articles and edited a number of books, including Priests, Prophets, and Scribes: Essays on the Formation and Heritage of Second Temple Judaism in Honor of Joseph Blenkinsopp, which he co-edited with Eugene Ulrich, Robert Carroll, and Philip R. Davies. (JSOT Press, 1992) and Conflicting Allegiances: The Church-based University In A Liberal Democratic Society, co-edited with Michael Budde (Brazos Press, 2004).

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Rich - #49583

January 30th 2011


One more thing:  you are using the word “reduce” in an unclear and non-standard way.  To focus on one aspect of something is not to “reduce” that thing to only that one aspect.  If I write an essay on the economic problems of present-day America, and fail to deal with the history of American popular song or the philosophy of the Founders, I am not thereby “reducing” America to a merely economic phenomenon, as if America has no musical or political dimension.  It would only be “reductionist” if I claimed that one could understand *everything* about modern America by studying its economic problems.  Similarly, it’s not “reductionist” to limit one’s discussion of God to God’s function as designer—when the topic of one’s book or essay is *design in nature*, not God generally, or Christianity generally.  It *would* be reductionist if any ID theorist ever said:  “I’ve proved that a designer exists; therefore I’ve proved the existence of the Biblical God”—that would be the reduction of the Christian God to something crude and simplistic.  But no ID theorist does this.  If you think otherwise, please produce the texts or interviews where you think they have done so.

Gregory - #49584

January 30th 2011

‘Design and nature’ & ‘design in nature’ are 2 different things.

Please don’t lump me with ‘some others,’ Rich. I am unlike anyone else, as are you. I’d appreciate the respect in our communications with that & reserve that as a friend for you also.

You have the importance of a ‘single’ person in your definition of ‘intelligent design’. You speak for no one else than your-self. I know as much & probably much more than you do about what it *does* in peoples’ minds/hearts pretend to be.

Have you met Dembski? Have you met Meyer? Did you ask them personal questions into their eyes?

You didn’t answer if you considered Dembski your ‘ally’ or not. You just told me to read his books. Did I ever tell you @ the time I was standing in DI & there was J. Wells talking with 2 friends. I overheard, standing nearby: “I don’t read Dembski’s books anymore.”

Are you saying Dembski has “ID theology”?!

ID is ‘science’ by disillusioned Christians. It *does* pretend to be *part* of Christian theology. The IDM wouldn’t ‘plant’ so many ‘scientific presentations’ in churches if what you say is true.

“might alter the way one does science” - Rich

Come into my web, sociology & psychology of science. WELCOME.

Rich - #49588

January 30th 2011


I did not intend any of my remarks to show the slightest disrespect for you.  I was trying to clarify what I meant by reductionism, and to distinguish between what the ID people do when they talk about design in nature and what they do when they talk about Christian theology.  My point was that these are two very different activities.  Further, the ID people have said a million times that these are two very different activities.  That’s why, when you ask if Dembski has “ID theology,” I feel like tearing my hair out in frustration.  Why do you find it hard to accept that the ID people mean exactly what they say—that their endorsement of Christian faith springs from their private religious convictions, not from ID arguments?  That they are Christians because of Christ, not because of Paley?

Please don’t take this as disrespectful, but I don’t at all see the relevance of your anecdote.  I don’t care who reads Dembski’s books.  I mentioned Dembski’s latest book (without implying endorsement, by the way) only because you expressed the view that ID people don’t talk nearly directly enough about theology.  Well, Dembski talks lots about theology.  He just doesn’t do it in his specifically ID studies.

Gregory - #49590

January 30th 2011

“these are two very different activities.” - Rich

So now you are advocating NOMA? Non-overlapping ~= ‘very different’?

“Why do you find it hard to accept that the ID people mean exactly what they say” - Rich

Because I have heard them in their own voices, with their own eyes saying otherwise. & I’ll bet I’ve spoken seriously with at least 5+ times as many self-proclaimed ‘IDists’ as you, Rich.

“their endorsement of Christian faith springs from their private religious convictions, not from ID arguments” - Rich

Yes, and their ID arguments are made *as Christians*, not *as neuters*. What you say sounds devoid of personality. You speak as if faith plays no role in ‘doing science.’ How typical!

Rich, if you think Christianity has *nothing* to do with the INVENTION of ‘intelligent design theory’ *as theory* please say so right now. If you think ID is *just science,* please say it now.

As you speak, Rich, you are obviously a Dembskianist! Good luck to you both on ‘ID mathematics’. It sounds like nonsense!

You call it ‘ID studies’ & would probably advocate such courses. Most people call it ‘fantasy’ & highlight Dembski’s related love of Science Fiction, which you don’t seem ever to address.

gingoro - #49596

January 30th 2011


Your comment comes across to me as very hostile, trying to portray someone as something they are not.  Maybe that is not how you meant it but that is how I read it.

“So now you are advocating NOMA? Non-overlapping ~= ‘very different’?”  -Gregory

I really do not see RIch as someone who buys into NOMA.  To my mind Non-overlapping implies totally different NOT very different.  As I read ID my view is that many of the authors of the ID books are into ID because of religious motivations and because they find or hope to prove RM+NS inadequate to explain what we see.  Others like Behe seem much less driven by their Christian faith and more driven by the inadequacies they perceive in the science.  IMO the designer for Behe is compatible with his faith but not a direct result of that faith. 

When you are writing a paper for the professional journals in your field I doubt that you attempt to justify your thesis by your Christian beliefs although of course your beliefs impact what you choose to study and to greater or lessor amount your findings and theory. 

gingoro - #49598

January 30th 2011

Much of the subject matter of the physical sciences is or should be independent of whether one is a theist or an atheist.  Of course someone who believes that evil spirits or magic controls what occurs would likely report very different results.  On the other hand how we apply that science is very much driven by our values.  Thus for example I avoided work on development of computer aided betting terminals. 

My expectation is that in the social sciences the boundary between world view and one’s thinking is much more porous with influence going back and forth both ways. 

Part of the reason I discount some of what Dawkins and Coyne etc write is my realization that they need the modern evolutionary synthesis to be correct in order to support their atheistic world view.  So yes I do acknowledge that beliefs impact science and vice versa.  Double blind tests are run in an effort to prevent the researcher’s expectations from influencing the results. 
Dave W

Rich - #49599

January 30th 2011


I think this is dragging out too long, and I think you are now in the mood to attack anything I say, rather than to try to understand the point I made to Dr. Wright.  But let me try one more time:

Take these two hypothetical statements:

1.  I believe that there there is empirical evidence that the first cell was planned by an intelligent designer.
2.  I believe that this intelligent designer was the Triune God of Christianity.

Do you understand that a person could affirm #1 without affirming #2? 

Do you understand that most ID proponents affirm #2 as well as #1?

Do you understand that most ID proponents affirm #2 on the basis of revelation, not science?

Do you agree that if anyone said, “God is *nothing but* a sheer designing intellect,” most ID proponents, speaking as Christians, would vehemently deny it, as vehemently as Dr. Wright would, or as any TE would? 

If you understand all this, and agree on the last point, then you should have no objection to my original comment to Dr. Wright, which was that ID proponents do not reduce God to a mere designer.

I have nothing more to say on this subject.

Gregory - #49600

January 30th 2011

Rich, you make the smallest points sometimes & want people to act as if you’ve named a new element for the periodic table. I already addressed your #49599 point above in 1 sentence, which perhaps you didn’t read b/c it cancels your frivolous appeal.

This is what one most often hears from ID advocates: design, design, design, design, creation, design, design, purpose, design, design. ‘It looks like a design therefore it *is* a design.’ Etc.

Let us smile & use reason, not be hostile or ‘attack’ for its own sake. I will only challenge those things Rich says which are obviously lacking in rationale or intuition. He wants to have his cake & eat it too. Enough!

My task is not to simply respond point


point with Rich, but to show a new side, which reveals the incoherency of his appeal to Dembski-ID.

Why does ID not investigate the process of ‘designing’? Doesn’t this weaken its explanatory power?

“It would only be “reductionist” if I claimed that one could understand *everything* about modern America by studying its economic problems.” - Rich

Untrue. One can reduce from higher to lower, lower to higher, inside to outside or outside to inside, without necessarily making a claim about *everything*.

Gregory - #49602

January 30th 2011


thanks for your clear post.

“trying to portray someone as something they are not.” - gingoro

That is a serious charge, as if I am *intentionally* misleading people @ Rich. It is not fair to suggest this. After all, Rich wrote: “what the ID people do when they talk about design in nature and what they do when they talk about Christian theology”

These are mentioned as 2 *different* things. You can distinguish very-totally if you like, it doesn’t change the reality of what Rich said.

To me, the two people mentioned are the *same person*.

“many of the authors of the ID books are into ID because of religious motivations” - gingoro


“IMO the designer for Behe is compatible with his faith but not a direct result of that faith.” - gingoro

Yes, that ‘faith’ *includes* a Designer/Creator/Maker. How then does theorizing a ‘designer’ have *nothing* to do with his religious faith? How could it *not* be a ‘direct result’ of his faith? Or is our discussion mainly about ‘indirect results’? Tha sounds absurd!

“how we apply that science is very much driven by our values.” - gingoro

agreed. but *doing science* daily is value-laden. not even maths are 100% objective-safe.

Rich - #49610

January 30th 2011


Thanks for your remarks.  I agree with pretty well everything you say.  And you have interpreted me correctly, and you and I have the same understanding of Behe.  What Gregory doesn’t understand is that even though Behe as a Catholic believes in the existence of a Designer on the grounds of revelation, Behe is capable of envisioning an argument for the existence of a designer which does not depend on revelation.  Whether or not Behe’s arguments hold up is not the issue I’m discussing here; the point is that there’s a 2500-year-old tradition of making such arguments, and the enterprise is in principle legitimate.  Inevitably the “God” that such arguments come up with is rather bland and colorless; but they aren’t meant to produce the God of revealed religion; they are meant to refute hypotheses based on chance.

gingoro - #49611

January 30th 2011

“How could it *not* be a ‘direct result’ of his faith?”

What I meant was that Behe’s ID ideas do not seem to be narrowly constrained by or derived from his Christian faith in the way that say many YEC groups interpret Genesis as a newspaper like account of creation.  IMO Behe’s Christian faith was not his motivation for his ID ideas.  His primary motivation appears to be that in his opinion the science is inadequate not that it contradicts with Christianity.  Of course the way that people like Dawkins present evolution, especially with regards to randomness, is IMO incompatible with Christianity, but I don’t see that as a fundamental part of the theory.

If what you are saying is that we are whole people and that our world view influences all our thinking then I agree with you.

In Todd Wood’s case his bio science is almost completely at odds with his theological stance.

“not even maths are 100% objective-safe.” Gregory

Of course nothing we do is absolutely objective as well as never 100% proven.  I fail to get your point.
Dave W

Steve Ruble - #49625

January 30th 2011

Rich is correct; it’s possible for a person to claim that they have evidence that life as we know it was designed without saying that god did it.  Gregory, the fact that you don’t believe people when they claim not to be theologically motivated has no bearing on the theoretical possibility that someone could take that position.

Anyway, back to the book.  Does anyone know how to parse this sentence so that it makes sense?

There is a form of progress and inevitability in evolution, one that is lawful and thus demonstrably antireductionist. (149)

Supposing that CC is correct in the first part of his claim, what do you make of “lawful… thus… antireductionist”? Identifying lawfulness is precisely the reductionist project - the goal is to explain complex phenomena in terms of laws which generate and constrain them.  What could CC mean by his statement?

Rich - #49629

January 31st 2011

Steve Ruble (49625):

Thanks for your support regarding the objections of Gregory.

Regarding the question you ask, I haven’t read the book in question, and so have limited my comments to Dr. Wright’s summary.  But I agree with you that the sentence you quote is, at least taken by itself, far from clear in meaning.  The connection between “lawful” and “antireductionist” needs to be made explicit.

I note also that if there is “progress” and “inevitability” in evolution, then classic neo-Darwinism is wrong.  Not just “ultra-Darwinism,” but neo-Darwinism period.  At the very least, the classic “random mutations” of Gaylord Simpson, Mayr, etc. would have to be heavily supplemented by deeper control mechanisms which those thinkers never advocated or as far as I know even contemplated.  The clearest defender of progress and inevitability in evolution that I know of is Michael Denton, who explicitly opposes his understanding of evolution to the Darwinian one.

Perhaps Cunningham is influenced by Conway Morris.  I gather that Conway Morris somehow tries to split the difference and have it both ways, affirming both classical neo-Darwinian random mutations and Denton-like directionality.  Nice trick if you can do it.

Gregory - #49687

January 31st 2011

“Behe is capable of envisioning an argument for the existence of a designer which does not depend on revelation” - Rich

The *fact* is that Behe believed in God *before* he used ‘intelligent design.’ One cannot erase this belief *in* the scientist while doing science, unless one is being *unreflexive.* Behe could/would not have come up with a theory that contradicted his existing belief in a ‘Designer.’

Does my believing in God have anything to do with *any* aspects of how I construct ‘irreducible complexity’ & ‘unevolvability’? Yes, that is unavoidable. It is those who pretend scientists can be *entirely neutral* who have poinsoned the well here by disallowing personalities & human stories of science into conversation.

Do you *really* think that the ‘invention’ of ID had *nothing* to do with ‘their’ religion?!

“Behe’s Christian faith was not his motivation for his ID ideas.” - gingoro

Not at all, or a little bit?

“Would you expect a biochemist like Behe to explain the nature of angels?” - Rich

Not using biochemistry. But I certainly would expect to be able to speak with Behe @ ‘the character of’ angels if we met b/c he believes in them. You won’t find that with S. Ruble, Rich.

Gregory - #49691

January 31st 2011

“What I meant was that Behe’s ID ideas do not seem to be narrowly constrained by or derived from his Christian faith in the way that say many YEC groups interpret Genesis as a newspaper like account of creation.  IMO Behe’s Christian faith was not his motivation for his ID ideas.  His primary motivation appears to be that in his opinion the science is inadequate not that it contradicts with Christianity.” - gingoro

Yes, I would agree with the part @ Behe not being ‘narrowly constrained’. Yet, don’t you mean, Dave, that Behe’s Christian faith indeed somehow *was involved* in the making of ‘intelligent design’ b/c Behe held a prior belief in a Designer? Iow, he did ‘fit’ ID theory to his worldview. How could he not have & still be claiming to achieve coherence in his worldview + science?

“If what you are saying is that we are whole people and that our world view influences all our thinking then I agree with you.” - gingoro

Yes, that is what I’m saying.

“don’t believe people when they claim not to be theologically motivated” - Steve R.

People *are* (a)theologically motivated. Their claims otherwise are futile. Just ‘get reflexive’ & the situation will improve.

Rich - #49695

January 31st 2011

Gregory (49687):

Who here has denied that scientists’ personal beliefs can influence how they do science?  I for one certainly agree that both religious believers and atheists tend to construe the results of science so as to support their position.  But your words imply something stronger.  You are intimating that no argument for design in nature could possibly be trustworthy, because the person making it will illegitimately slant the facts to support his religious faith.  But (a) it’s not true that all religious believers do this; and (b) if an argument is valid, the motive of the person making it is irrelevant.

*Of course* Behe will interpret the results of his design arguments in terms of the faith he already has.  It doesn’t follow that the arguments themselves are based on his faith rather than on the facts of nature.  Behe has never disguised his belief that the designer is the Christian God.  But none of his arguments for design are based on the Bible, the Creeds, etc.

Does ID, in its aspect as an organized crusade against atheism and materialism, owe something to Christianity?  Yes, obviously.  Does it follow that Behe’s argument from irreducible complexity to design is a religious one?  No, not at all.

Gregory - #49707

January 31st 2011

¨You are intimating that no argument for design in nature could possibly be trustworthy, because the person making it will illegitimately slant the facts to support his religious faith.¨ - Rich

Actually, no I´m not intimating that. You mentioned ´trustworthy,´ not I.

The *fact* of a precommittment to a Designer-Creator, yes, did inevitably influence the ´creation´ of ID theory. That´s why Behe is stuck at Poof. He doesn´t know how something unevolvable supposedly evolved by Darwinian mechanisms. He too doesn´t want to try to study the design process, which, I´m sure you´ll admit, makes ´intelligent design´ a very weak explanatory theory.

Defending ID people from bullies or misrepresentations, fine. Trying to say ID is a great theory, sorry: truth overturns your rhetoric.

Behe´s argument from-to IC is not *pure science,* but rather NPS that overlaps with [Roman Catholic Christian] theology & philosophy. You know this, Rich, which is why you do not insist that ID *is* science, like many in the IDM do.

Just curious, do you know much about ´reflexive science,´ Rich? As a historian of ideas - intellectual history, you well should be aware of what this means. Are you? It seems not.

Alan Fox - #49726

January 31st 2011

Just curious, do you know much about ´reflexive science,´ Rich?

Come on, Gregory! You already must be aware that nobody (except you) uses the phrase. I am still interested in an elaboration. Am I getting warm?

Rich - #49728

January 31st 2011


I didn’t say you *mentioned* the word “trustworthy”.  I was speaking of what you *intimated*.  One does not mention directly what one is intimating.  You intimated that all ID people were so driven by a desire to prove the existence of the Christian God that they would resort to invalid arguments which tacitly presupposed the existence of that which they were trying to prove.  At least, that’s what it sounded like.  But if I’m wrong you can now clarify.  Are the following statements of mine true or false?

“none of his [Behe’s] arguments for design are based on the Bible, the Creeds, etc.”

“[Is] Behe’s argument from irreducible complexity to design a religious one?  No, not at all.”

If you agree that these statements are true, then we do not disagree, and your only intellectual sin is unclear writing.

I don’t believe I ever said “ID is a great theory.”  You’re trying to turn the discussion to the evaluation of ID.  That’s not what my comments on this thread were about.  I was challenging a religious mischaracterization of ID; i.e., that it entails an un-Christian notion of God.

Never heard of “reflexive science.”  Please give me some page references where scholars use that precise phrase.

Gregory - #49743

January 31st 2011

Thanks for the link, Allan. From a quick skim, yes, I’d say you’re getting warmer. The focus on inter-subjectivity & anti-reductionism, even in psychology (though the ‘public/private’ section sounds strange to my ears), is certainly in the room.

Quite a quote from the linked paper:
“[S]cience is only my private science.” - W. Bridgman

In sociology, reflexivity is manifest in Burawoy’s call for more ‘public sociology,’ which means going out & meeting ‘the public,’ i.e. interacting with them/you/us. Goodness let us hope that Marxism does not rise again from this! As I said, he is more an ethnographer than sociologist, but his ‘symbolic capital’ over the next 3.5 years will be interesting to watch.

Would I be correct to note, Alan, that you are attracted to the topic/suggestion of ‘reflexive science’ & ‘reflexive knowledge,’ which is why you are following-up on it? It is ironically still difficult for sociologists to gauge how terminology will be (predict) accepted, confronted or rejected by most people.

On the other thread, I finally made a response, however inadequate & brief it may be given current pressures, to the topic(s) of ‘reflexive science’ & ‘reflexive knowledge’.

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