Copy of: NTSE #6

John W. Burgeson (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 09:43:10 -0500

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From: John W. Burgeson, 73531,1501
TO: EVOLUTION Reflector,
DATE: 2/26/97 8:46 AM

RE: Copy of: NTSE #6

NTSE Note #6

Continuing the series .. thanks to several for notes of encouragement on
this. Appreciated; I may not have responded to all of you.

Don deGraaf wanted me to provide a reference to the notes over on the ASA
reflector; I don't know how to do this -- perhaps someone can help out.

On a couple points I have privately e-mailed Phil Johnson for a

On Thursday night, Al Plantigna lectured at the UT Veritas forum; this was
not part of NTSE, but quite a number of us went to it. About 600 (my
estimate) in attendence -- mostly UT students & faculty.

I assume everyone knows who Plantigna is; if you do not, you are the poorer
for it.

Al's lecture was "An evolutionary argument against naturalism." His thesis
was that if one believes in both naturalism & evolution, then one is
irrational in believing in the capability of his cognitive facilities. As a
consequence, of course, one is also irrational in believing in naturalism &

Note that it is the COMBINATION naturalism/evolution AL treats, not one or
the other by itself.

In philosophical language, AL is talking about P(R/(N+E) where N is
metaphysical naturalism, R is the claim that our cognitive facilities are
reliable and E is the claim that human cognitive facilities have arisn by
way of evolution (as conceived by modern evolutionary science), and P is a

Posed this way, Darwin (!) and Churchland propose that P is relatively low;
Quine & Popper think it fairly high. The paper / talk is a development of
an argument that it is very low. His conclusion continues that it is more
rational to be a theist than a metaphysical naturalist.

The lecture was about (I think) an hour in length; the paper, which is in
summary form, is 4 pages. Unfortunately, all I have is the printed paper
passed out at the Veritas forum. I asked Al for an electronic copy; he did
not say either "yes" or "no." But he does not use e-mail directly, leaving
that up to his secretary, so I am not very hopeful.

A collection of Plantigna's works edited by James Sennett is coming out
shortly from William B. Eerdmans Publishing; it will have 13 essays in it.

Al has one chapter in a delightful book called PHILOSOPHERS WHO BELIEVE. It
is recent; don't have a citation as I gave my copy away to our church
library recently.

More on Plantigna later when I get to his speech to the full NTSE assembly.