NTSE Note #3

John W. Burgeson (burgy@CompuServe.COM)
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 12:03:57 -0500

NTSE Note #3.

This is the LAST post I will make to the ASA reflector in this series;
subsequent posts will go only to the evolution reflector. If you are
subscribed to ASA and want to see more NTSE notes (from me), you'll have to
subscribe to Evolution.

BTW -- I find that subscribing to "ASA-digest" and "Evolution-digest"
rather than "ASA" and "Evolution" a great help in coping with message
traffic. Three reasons:

1. Posts arrive only once/day (usuall) rather than at random times
2. Posts arrive in the order received at the reflector -- which means they
are almost always in chronological order. When I get them one-at-a-time it
is not uncommon for a short reply to a long question to arrive out of
3. Compuserve gives me a mailbox capacity of 100 e-mails waiting at a time.
Sometimes I'm out of pocket for several days at a time; it is easy in this
case to exceed that limit & never get some e-mail (I think it gets
"returned to sender."

Added comments on the closing session follow. Anything in quotation marks
is my loose paraphrase of what Phil said; it may be not entirely correct,
because I am not trained as a reporter::

Phil Johnson related how he was received at the UT Veritas lecture on
Friday night. His introduction was by the dean of the UT law school, who
endorsed bringing the debates over the proper place of Theistic Science
into the academic arena. Phil lectured that night to about 1000 students &
faculty. I gather that Phil and the dean are close friends.

"1997 will be the last year of the debate whether Theistic Science has a
proper place in science. The demarcationists (those who see science being
defined by a rule definition) will have a final say at the ASA convention
in California in August. The objections of the theistic evolutionists will
fade away."

"The answers we will get from intelligent design research will be
'theistic-friendly' rather than 'theistic-hostile.'"

A general discussion (Phil not involved) ensued as to whether philosophers
were, in general, theistic or materialistic. Agreement that they were, in
general, the latter. More important though (this is my comment) is that
those who were theistic were more tolerant on the subject; those who were
materialistic often took the position that materialism was a presupposition
and you started from there. This was a 10 minute (or so) discussion among a
number of people. One guy made the point that the above might be true but
that it was a "point in time" measurment; that the trend was towards more
openness -- more theist. The Society of Christian Philosophers, for examle,
founded in 1982, and its academic respectability to other organizations.

Back to Phil -- he commented on Gould's essay in the recent Natural History
as a "last gasp" of those who wanted to define "science" by a definition.
Part of the culture war. In Phil's talk earlier in the conference he had
referenced Lewontin's essay in the New York Review (recent) and the replies
to it as further evidences along this line.

Steve Schafersman (see his excellently written chapter in Godfrey's
SCIENTISTS CONFRONT CREATIONISM) rose to object to Phil -- he said that
"evolution has never been stronger." (my comment -- Phil had not asserted
otherwise, at least not in this session). He asserted that Phil's question
#1 (should Theistic Science be admitted as part of science) was still the
key one; would always be the key one, and that we would never (in science)
move to Phil's question #2 (see previous note on these).

Pennock agreed. So did some others; some agreed with Phil. No consensus of

Comment by me. NO ONE at the conference (that I heard) defended Dawkins.
There were a number of instances when his writings were disparaged; no one
rose in opposition. Again, that I heard. Because there were parallel
sessions, one could attend, at best, only 1/2 of the sessions without being
clone-enabled. So it is quite possible some people defended him in sessions
I did not attend.

Most of the attacks I heard on Dawkin's writings came from people who were
self-described as metaphysical naturalists.

Paul Chien rose to talk about recent fossil discoveries in China, 530 MY
old, 50 phyla, which would have the effect of "crumbling neo-darwinism."
"The Cambrian explosion is real," sezze.

My comment to Phil, "the human adult life span is still about a half
century. The proponents of methodological naturalism as a critical
scientific presuppposition are not going to go away that fast. Question #1
is not going to fade in the next year or so." Phil's response -- "perhaps
not entirely, but enough that the intelligent design people will find their
work has been legitimized."

There was a short discussion on Behe's book. It was chosen by Christianity
Today as key. Some criticism; some defense. Too short a discussion, IMO.

There was a discussion as to whether (or not) philosophers "made progress."
General agreement that they did. Of course, about 50% of the attendees
there were philosophers of one sort or another.

Enough for this note! Again, following notes ONLY to the evolution forum.
(sigh of relief from some!) < G >