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The Biologos Foundation and “Darwin’s Pious Idea”, Part 4

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February 23, 2011 Tags: Christianity & Science - Then and Now

Today's entry was written by John Wesley Wright. 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.

The Biologos Foundation and “Darwin’s Pious Idea”, Part 4

If chapter five of Darwin’s Pious Idea functions as a plateau after a steep ascent, chapter six slowly ascends in the wide circling pattern of a hawk caught in an upbreeze, rising higher and higher until the human observer loses sight of it in the blaze of the sun – or in the darkness of retinas reduced to nothing. Conor Cunningham has recollected and repeated the thoughts of biological scientists, particularly as these thoughts merge with the philosophy of biology. Now he ascends the heady heights of ontology (the philosophical discourse of what is), swirling through the philosophy of mind and into a phenomenology of consciousness and everyday life.

Chapter six is complex, even difficult; it is the longest of the book, well over 100 pages. Cunningham covers an immense range of contemporary, often contested, discourses (the chapter approaches 600 footnotes!!). Amid the complexity, however, is a simple argument with a paradoxical conclusion. Cunningham argues that to remain science, science must remain empirical, not metaphysical. Science will not bear the weight of explaining all existence without collapsing in on itself in irrationality. Science must remain open to other, more basic realms of rationality; it cannot offer an account of all existence. If science attempts to become a theory of everything, it ironically loses the very matter that it seeks to investigate – and the reason for doing science and even the scientist herself! Here is where the paradox enters: such a reductive naturalism ultimately shows that in itself, matter is literally nothing. Therefore reductive naturalism points past itself to the Christian understanding of creation ex nihilo. Ironically, the new atheists point to God, the Creator of all that is from nothing.

Cunningham’s argument unfolds in several steps. First, he refutes the false, worn out mantra that “religion” stands in opposition to science (pp. 269-300). Cunningham shows that Intelligent Design rightfully argues that neo-Darwinianism is “not sufficient to explain the natural world” (p. 277). Yet it is not a science. It must appeal to a non-empirical cause for creation – and thus, like the Neo-Darwinianist, seeks to extract a metaphysical position from science. The resultant god of Intelligent Design more pagan than Christian, or as Cunningham writes, “more Homeric than Abrahamic” (p. 279). Both ultra-Darwinians and Intelligent Design misunderstand what Christians confess when they confess that God creates from nothing. Cunningham allows Ernan McMullin to remind us what Christians historically have confessed when they confess creatio ex nihilo: ‘The appeal is not to a ‘gap’ in scientific explanation but to a different order of explanation that leaves scientific explanation intact, that explores the conditions of possibility of there being any kind of scientific explanation’ (p. 280). Rather than the “science versus religion” motif, Cunningham shows that such Abrahamic faiths have provided the very conditions for the emergence of science (pp. 291-300). Cunningham concludes that “science versus religion” motif is “a conveniently contrived invention, not at all based in historical fact” (p. 300).

Cunningham then turns to science. If Intelligent Design loses the orthodox Christianity they hope to defend in their move from science to metaphysics, Cunningham argues that scientism loses the science that it hopes to defend by making a similar move (pp. 300-319). Cunningham here introduces an argument that he will pursue through various means throughout the chapter in his argument to keep science a method, not a theory of everything: “Science must forever return to the source of its possibility and not deny its origins, or its future. For all science has arrived from an enabling past and will develop and evolve into an unknown future; only the tension between these two poles allows science to be true to itself. . . . The primal validity of the life world (Lebenswelt), of the subjective givenness of experience, both grounds and makes possible the objective world of science, without which science is quite simply impossible. When such impossibility is ignored, destructive ideology is all that is forthcoming” (p. 311).

Cunningham proceeds patiently to disembowel ontological naturalism: the argument that matter is all that there is. Verificationist arguments to support naturalism dissolve in the light of contemporary philosophy of science; Hempel’s Dilemma shows that one requires that one cannot confine reality to what is “natural” without first a definition of “nature.” Belief itself evaporates – survival, not truth, becomes determinative for all thought: “There is no universal reason by which our thoughts should be judged. Instead reason becomes a wholly local affair, at best, and is itself subordinate to the utilitarian principle of mere survival. This creates a disconnect between survival and truth, for they only ever coincide contingently” (p. 336). Cunningham argues that ontological naturalism is self-refuting.

Cunningham’s argument is not merely negative, however. He turns to the results of science to show that science provides positive, even pious signs of that which transcends matter. Quantum physics has dissolved the “matter” required by reductionism: “Gone are the inert particles or, more crudely, dead bits. Instead the world arises out of, or is ‘built’ from, what we might usefully term tendencies or potentialities. . . . As a result, the divorce between mind and matter (coming after Descartes and Newton) was itself annulled. . . Mind once again takes center stage and is no longer exiled to the land of impotence (where it existed but was epiphenomenal) or to that of illusion (where it existed but was epiphenomenal) or to that of illusion (that is, eliminated)” (p. 327). Such quantum theorizing takes Cunningham directly into the complex contemporary discussions of the philosophy of mind – a discourse anchored in contemporary Anglo-American analytic philosophy. And as usual, he brilliantly flips the terms of the presupposed relationship between “mind” and “matter”: “If the mental reduces to the physical, then maybe ‘reduce’ is the wrong word, for maybe, in being able to accommodate the mental, the physical is itself related to the mental” (p. 331).

Such theorizing allows Cunningham to move from analytic philosophy’s discourse in the philosophy of mind to phenomenology. Cunningham delves into the implications of the mystery of consciousness and its relationship to scientific explanations. Science itself requires the irreducibility of the person for Cunningham: ”All sciences are created and carried out by humans; it is humans that give rise to experience and then abstract away from this experience to gain a better understanding of it. . . . their sciences are theory-laden – not in a bad way but in a human way, for that is part of their glory. In this way the lab is an immature theater, just as the science textbook is very awkward literature” (p. 352). Science as a method provides discourses only of causality; human beings, however, require a sense of normativity and teleology, even human beings who provide the third-person discourses that we call “scientific results.” This first-person discourse is logically required lest science itself falls inward upon itself, a first-person discourse anchored in consciousness that is irreducible to brain activity (which itself requires a first-person perspective to describe its third person activity). As Cunningham memorably states, “the notion of a strictly third-person science is simply a fantasy. Like some corpse that just won’t lie down, the first-person keeps interrupting every process of reduction” (p. 353). Building on the natural selections evolution from earlier chapters with his philosophical analysis in chapter six, Cunningham concludes: “Evolutionary explanations are causal, while commonsense psychology, for instance, is irreducibly teleological. Indeed, how can consciousness ever be understood in terms of survival when all its functions can easily be accounted for in physiological terms, with no actual reference to consciousness? Instead of viewing consciousness through functions, and in terms of survival . . . we should and must understand that consciousness is not some secondary tack-on but is existentially, transcendentally, and methodologically primary. It is primary because it is a condition of the very possibility of any experience at all” (p. 370) – including the experience of evolutionary biologists in conducting their scientific research. Scientific reason needs a wider non-scientific reason in order to sustain its own activity as a method; when science attempts to eliminate all other discourses, it, as Cunningham states several times, “Cuts off its face to save its nose.”

Science moved to a metaphysical system, a theory of everything, cannibalizes itself, Cunningham argues. The argument of atheistic naturalism, therefore, provides a paradoxical, pious function for theology, the very discourse it seeks to eliminate: “It is here that our preceding analyses of both materialism and naturalism reveal their worth, for if we search the ‘purely’ natural world for an actual birth of a person, we will not find one. Alas, we cannot even find a person, no matter his or her birth. Thus these ostensibly atheistic philosophical positions are in the end servants of the truth, that is, of theology. They are servants of theology insofar as what they take to be negative findings can be read, instead, as iconic revelations of creation ex nihilo, which is to say, the nothingness they strive to find. This is the case only because what is presented in nature declares the dependence of all on their very source. Like Darwinism – which came in the guise of a foe but did the work of a friend – the bid to capture nature has returned us to the font of subjectivity, to the sacramentality of each and every day. Therefore, such philosophies, despite their apparent hatred of religion, are indeed handmaidens to theology: Scientia est ancilla vitae” (p. 376). It shows that nature itself rationally requires that we accept creation as a sign of the glory of God, the Triune God who created everything through the eternal Word, the very Word of God who literally became flesh in Jesus Christ. All six chapters thus find their end in chapter seven, the theological discourse which is required if the truth of evolution, indeed of science itself, is to be retained.


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 - #52862

March 1st 2011

Gregory (52830):

You’re becoming tedious.  Do you realize that you never engage in dialogue?  You harangue, nag, natter, badger—but never truly converse.
 
The rules of logic haven’t changed in 30+ years, Gregory.  They haven’t changed since Aristotle.  But I understand why sociologists would wish the rules to change, to justify the torrent of illogic that they pour out in their writing and teaching.

ID is not an efficient-cause theory at all, so grading it as “weak” or “strong” with respect to efficient-cause explanation is pointless.  However it is a causal theory on another level, in that it gives an explanation why matter is arranged in the way that it is.  And on that level, it’s quite strong.

If you have issues with the Discovery Institute, Gregory, take it up with them, not me.  I’m just someone who is interested in teleology in nature, and if ID people can help me to understand that, I will learn from them.  TEs are completely useless on the question.  There’s no teleology in evolution, they say, because Darwinism is true, but we rightly project teleology onto it through the eyes of faith, because Darwinism is false.  Schizophrenia at its best.  And you prefer this to ID?  To each his own.


penman - #52872

March 1st 2011

Rich,

Thanks for the comprehensive response! Mine will have to be shorter (time constraints - I’m teaching today, a course on the Reformation). In no particular order:

1. I agree that “the God of ID” doesn’t seem a useful term, any more than “the God of TE”. Michael Behe seems to straddle the camps in some ways. These catch-all terms don’t do justice to the complexity of these ways of thinking. They’re more spectrum than point. So if you’ll grant that my TE/ECism doesn’t involve disbelief in biblical miracles or a liberal stance on creedal orthodoxy, I’ll grant that your views shouldn’t be summarily dismissed by merely slapping on them a lazy “ID - bad” label.

2. I still hold it IS a good working assumption that God works via natural processes normally - & that the burden of proof is on the claim to the miraculous. I don’t see how we could even recognise a miracle unless we believed that the regularity of natural processes was the norm. If people were popping up out of their coffins in every other funeral, we’d stop seeing resurrection as a miracle. “Jesus rose from the dead? Oh, another one. Dogs bark, water’s wet, the dead rise. Next topic!”

[Continued…]


penman - #52873

March 1st 2011

[Continued & concluded…]

3. I see no contradiction between God as creator & ruler of the world, & natural processes. Natural processes are His way of creating & ruling. Only creation ex nihilo would be non-natural: but that rarely happens. Almost all creation is making one thing from another: an oak from an acorn, a child from its parents. So God can still be the mighty personal Author whose glory shines in His world, while He works normally through “second causes” (natural processes) that lie fully open to scientific analysis.

Now - off to the Reformation…


Jon Garvey - #52882

March 1st 2011

@Rich - #52820

Further to penman’s comments, I was struck in this post by the reference to “life” and the “beginning of human life” as areas where, maybe, naturalistic processes (as opposed to special intervention by God) should be doubted.

Once a proper doctrine of providence is established (certainly no mean feat in these post-Deist and post-Pietist days), then the question of “natural” v “supernatural” is merely about God’s means, rather than his involvement.

Before modern science, it was understandable to interpret Genesis as an account of progressive miraculous creative acts. But since some evolutionary changes at both biological and cosmological level are accepted by both TEs and IDs, we need to be more circumspect in determining for what Scripture claims direct intervention.

Those aspects of humanity involved with our relationship to God necessarily imply supernatural action - the flesh/spirit divide is clearly beyond nature in Christian theology. But other than that, there seems no more reason to regard the start of life as supernatural than the origin of species (other than the current lack of evidence or adequate theory).
(...)


Jon Garvey - #52884

March 1st 2011

(...)
I don’t see Scripture claiming that life, per se, is a supernatural attribute, which makes it inadvisable for Christians to teat is as such.

Surely therefore the origin of life is a fit question for science to address, and if it does so it must necessarily employ methodological naturalism as a tool, for as critiques of ID point out, it is actually notoriously difficult to disprove natural causality.

I agree with you that excluding direct, as opposed to providential, involvement by God in any natural process on principle may betray departure from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus. But I would argue that the Bible gives no imperative for adopting such intervention in the purely biological realm, and further that scientists need to assume, methodologically, that there is no such intervention or have their tools blunted beyond use.

I exclude from these last comments, as I said at the start, such metaphysical issues as the image of God, sin, eternal life and so on, where science - even TE - has no business meddling.


John - #52905

March 1st 2011

Rich:
“ID is not an efficient-cause theory at all, so grading it as “weak” or “strong” with respect to efficient-cause explanation is pointless.”

In fact, ID isn’t any sort of theory, as it has zero track record of successful empirical predictions. All the people pushing it on a scientifically-illiterate public, including you, lack sufficient faith to put any form of ID to the test.

“However it is a causal theory on another level, in that it gives an explanation why matter is arranged in the way that it is.  And on that level, it’s quite strong.”

It’s not a theory, it’s not even a coherent hypothesis because it is inconsistent with the extant data. Its promoters, even you, run in fear from testing it in any way. A perfect example is the prediction of Behe’s silly notion that there would be many of his silly CCCs differing between artiodactyls and whales. You falsely presented that prediction as fact, then ran away from testing it against easily-accessible data.

“There’s no teleology in evolution, they say, because Darwinism is true,…”

Who says this, Rich? Are you hearing voices? This looks like a simple fabrication to me.


John - #52906

March 1st 2011

Rich in one comment:
“If you look at my original comment, it was a side-comment, and a bit of a rhetorical jab.”

Rich to Gregory:
“Do you realize that you never engage in dialogue?  You harangue, nag, natter, badger—but never truly converse.”

Pot, meet kettle.


Rich - #52948

March 2nd 2011

penman:

“So if you’ll grant that my TE/ECism doesn’t involve disbelief in biblical miracles or a liberal stance on creedal orthodoxy, I’ll grant that your views shouldn’t be summarily dismissed by merely slapping on them a lazy “ID - bad” label.”

You’ve got a deal!

“I see no contradiction between God as creator & ruler of the world, & natural processes.”

Nor do I.  Nor, to my knowledge, does any ID proponent.  ID proponents are quite comfortable with the idea that God rules over the motion of the planets through the laws of gravity rather than by manually pulling them around in their orbits.  But they tend to resist the idea that God always acts through natural processes, or ought to act (in order to maintain his dignity) only through natural processes, or is only allowed to act outside of natural processes in Biblical lands between the time of Abraham and Pentecost.  And this is a major divide between IDers and many TE/EC people, a divide that’s not about ID at all, but about Christian theology.  ID per se has nothing to say about what God might do, but most IDers are traditional Christians, as as such find dictating what a sovereign and inscrutable God would or would not do to be just plain presumptuous.


Rich - #52951

March 2nd 2011

penman (continued):

“I still hold it IS a good working assumption that God works via natural processes normally - & that the burden of proof is on the claim to the miraculous. I don’t see how we could even recognise a miracle unless we believed that the regularity of natural processes was the norm.”

Again, I agree, and I don’t know any ID proponent who would disagree.  Yes, it seems that there are very regular natural processes that operate on the overwhelming majority of occasions, and obviously scientists will try to explain things in terms of regularities wherever possible.  But it doesn’t follow that if God occasionally intervenes in such processes, that all scientific knowledge would be unreliable.  You don’t hold that physics must be thrown out because Jesus once walked on the water.  TEs don’t hold that genetics must be thrown out because Jesus, by being a parthenogenetic male, undermined the normal rules of inheritance.  It’s therefore histrionic to insinuate, as Eugenie Scott does (not without some TE support!) that even allowing the possibility that God intervened (on rare occasions in the prehistoric past), would undermine science itself and put America’s science education behind Mongolia’s.


Rich - #52955

March 2nd 2011

Jon G.:

I agree with you that *if* science chooses to investigate the origin of life, then it must employ its normal methods and tools.  This means that it will try to find a way that life could have arisen without recourse to supernatural intervention.  I have no objection to scientists making such an attempt.

My point is that there is no *a priori* reason for *assuming* that such an attempt will yield success, such that it’s only a matter of time until scientists find the answer.  What if life just plain didn’t get started that way?  What if life *couldn’t* have got started that way?  In that case, scientists may research for years, beating their heads against a stone wall.

Am I recommending that scientists abandon research into naturalistic origins for life?  No.  I’m saying they should be conscious that the tools they have may not be adequate—in principle—to discover the origin of life.  And I’m saying textbooks should not mislead, e.g.:  “Scientists have not yet solved the mystery of the origin of life.”  The word “yet” implies that the origin was *in fact* wholly natural, and that we just need to fill in the details.  That’s a metaphysical overclaim.  Just do the science, and drop the overclaim.


Jon Garvey - #52966

March 2nd 2011

@Rich - #52955

“That’s a metaphysical overclaim.  Just do the science, and drop the overclaim.”

Absolutely true, but unlikely to happen whilst the tower of Babel is progressing so nicely.


penman - #52967

March 2nd 2011

Rich - #52948

“they [IDers] tend to resist the idea that God always acts through natural processes, or ought to act (in order to maintain his dignity) only through natural processes, or is only allowed to act outside of natural processes in Biblical lands between the time of Abraham and Pentecost.”

We can agree on that. Within the boundaries of creedal Christianity, there should be no dispute about whether God has performed miracles, or indeed can still do them at His discretion.

And I agree, that’s not a science-stopper. Scientists should investigate everything on a basis of “methodological naturalism”. That’s done within the church when a miracle is alleged: we look for every possible natural explanation, in order to sift out false from true claims. A real miracle should be able to stand up to the most rigorous investigation.

Even there, the final word of science might merely be, “I cannot see how this could have possibly happened by any natural process.” The miracle has to be taken in conjunction with other factors to substantiate its miraculous status. If one has an atheist-materialist worldview, the most stupendous miracle might only seem an anomaly for which a godless explanation is still hoped.


Gregory - #52972

March 2nd 2011

Do you read much poetry, Rich? You were tedious before you started. Does that make us even?

‘intelligent design’ has “implications for all human studies” – Behe

Does Rich agree in his praise of ‘everything Behe’? What does ‘ID politics’ mean then? How *FAR* will Rich go in defending a bio-chemist’s unusual views in a field in which he is not sufficiently trained to be a judge?

Does Rich actually look *in nature* on his hands & knees for teleology, or just theorize @ it, i.e. with ideas?

ID = THE BRIDGE between science & theology? – said the same guy who trumpeted ‘Waterloo!’

I have never claimed ‘superiority’ over ‘intellectual history,’ your supposed ‘home field,’ Rich. But you sought to ridicule mine. The poverty of positivism sits on your mantle as well.

Sure, human society doesn’t ‘digest’ well when ‘Darwinism’ is the governing ideology. But that –ism governs nothing. You have one of those Darwin fetishes, Rich. Some call it envy. It is found in both goats & sheep.

I’ve already let Darwin go. Bravo, Downe, England. Now let’s grow up with complex systems, cog studies & neuroscience, nano-modeling, etc.

Holding on to Darwin is so yesteryear. & ID sadly still poofs.


Gregory - #52973

March 2nd 2011

Gregory asked Rich:
“ID is a “pathetically weak causal theory.” Yes or no, Rich?”

Rich replied: “ID is not an efficient-cause theory at all, so grading it as “weak” or “strong” with respect to efficient-cause explanation is pointless.”

Where did the word ‘efficient’ come from? I spoke of *all* causes, not just efficient ones.

Let formal, final & informational causal ‘mechanisms’ or ‘propositions’ be welcome. What is a ‘formal cause’ of ‘design’ & how does one recognize it? What is a final cause of ‘intelligence’ & how does one communicate it?

Unpack it as you wish, Rich. But don’t use the small shield of ‘efficient-cause’ merely to divert us from the larger disaster of ‘ID-philosophy.’ The simple question remains:

ID is a “pathetically weak causal theory.” Yes or no, Rich?

No who, no what, no when, no where! Are you saying that having a(n ontologically lazy/fuzzy explanation of) ‘why’ (cuz/cause/b-cous it *is* designed, duck quack, duh, that’s specificationastic!) simply trumps for you on a pseudo-mathematical level the causally explanatory value/power of those 4 “other” questions? What a strange scholarly suggestion if so, Rich.

What does Rich’s ‘strong why’ really amount to?


Rich - #52974

March 2nd 2011

Gregory:

I’ll ignore all the flak in your last post (which means ignoring most of the post), and just respond to your main question:

‘ID is a “pathetically weak causal theory.” Yes or no, Rich?’

I already answered that.  For the kind of causality that it is positing, no, it’s not pathetically weak.  It’s quite strong.  Not a “proof” in the Euclidean sense, but certainly “the best explanation” if the only alternative is neo-Darwinism, which cannot explain the same phenomena without attributing ludicrously improbable creative powers to the blind operation of random mutations and mindless “natural selection.”

But of course, the whole “ID vs. evolution” misconception would vanish if the evolutionists themselves would be willing to explore *teleological* evolution.  Michael Denton has already explored this from the “non-aligned” camp, and from what I’ve heard, Simon Conway Morris is more gingerly exploring it from the TE camp, and Mike Gene as well.  But the old guard—the diehard Darwinists who still think that the geriatric Modern Synthesis ranks up there with Newtonian physics and special relativity—will do everything in their power to bar teleological thinking from getting a foot in the door.


Steve Ruble - #52976

March 2nd 2011

if the only alternative is neo-Darwinism, which cannot explain the same phenomena without attributing ludicrously improbable creative powers…

Really? Ludicrously improbable? More ludicrously improbable than, say, a being who existed before life began, who has the intention and ability to manipulate organisms and ecosystems, and who has the foresight to correctly predict the outcomes of its manipulations millions or billions of years into the future?  How would you begin to calculate the probability of the existence of such a being? Why would such a being exist? Where would it have come from, and where would it be now?

I’m sorry, Rich, but when your alternative explanation is to introduce a completely incomprehensible unobserved entity, you give up the right to describe other people’s explanations as “ludicrously improbable”.


Jon Garvey - #52983

March 2nd 2011

@Steve Ruble - #52976

“Ludicrous” is in the eye of the beholder.

Try “an explosion that occured in an infinitesimally small point 14bn years ago, and fortuitously created physical laws that led by simple cause and effect to ecosystems and organisms including those capable of looking back in time, understanding and even admiring that explosion in detail.”

I’d hate to have to sell that one to a Pythagoras or a William of Ockham.


Gregory - #52996

March 2nd 2011

“the kind of causality that it is positing” - Rich

What do *you*, Rich, *call* the ‘kind of causality’ you mean when you (not IDM or DI) speak @ ‘intelligent design’ (note: I didn’t capitalise ‘I’ or ‘D’)? Please give it a name & avoid self-fuzzyness this time.

Is this ‘formal’ or ‘final cause’ territory? As if you were stuck on Aristotle too! What *kind* of ‘causality’ does Rich-born and Rich-made intelligent design theory study?

Granted, it does not study who, what, when or where ‘actual design’ (the ontological argument) takes place. Rich still says his ‘design theory’ is powerful because it/he studies ‘why?’ But what does that actually mean for regular folks? Why all his ‘intellectual history’ posturing? Should people start calling their cereal ‘intelligently designed’ in the morning before going to school, work, practise, etc.? As soon as Rich takes off his Robin Hood costume protecting IDists from ‘misunderstanding’, there are no answers to how ‘positive’ ID can be because it is actually positive only in a ‘reflexive’ sense.

Rich’s civilian pleas for *more studies* in so-called ‘teleological evolution’ are noted. But like Shania Twain sings, ‘that don’t impress me much.’


Rich - #53009

March 2nd 2011

Gregory:

The problem I have in discussing these questions with you is that you do not see the connection between certain claims made by biologists about the mechanism of evolution and the misapplications of evolution to social science that you deplore.

You seem to think that the biologists should be left free and uncriticized as long as they stay within the realm of “natural science,” and should only have their fingers rapped if they stray into using “evolution” to say something about the human world.  What you do not perceive is that in the Darwinian model, it is inevitable that this extension will be made.  Read the debates between Larry Arnhart (an atheist political theorist who accepts neo-Darwinism) and John West (a Christian political theorist who does not) over Darwin’s *Descent of Man*, and you will see the connection.  The division you wish to make between natural and human/social sciences cannot stand, if Darwin was right.  That is why it is necessary to criticize not only Darwinian metaphysics but even parts of Darwinian biology.  By constantly ridiculing my critique of neo-Darwinism and telling me not to meddle in biology, you give aid and comfort to the very intellectual imperialism you denounce.


John - #53010

March 2nd 2011

Gregory:
“Rich still says his ‘design theory’ is powerful because it/he studies ‘why?’ But what does that actually mean for regular folks? Why all his ‘intellectual history’ posturing?”

Because it’s neither theory nor science. Science is about testing the empirical predictions of hypotheses.

“Rich’s civilian pleas for *more studies* in so-called ‘teleological evolution’ are noted. But like Shania Twain sings, ‘that don’t impress me much.’”

Especially since Rich’s idea of “studies” never involves any production of new data, just hearsay, cherry-picking, and outright fabrication.

He simply has no faith.


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