Re: Social problems and evolution

George Murphy (
Wed, 11 Mar 1998 06:42:28 -0500

Russell Maatman wrote:
> George Murphy wrote on Tuesday, March 10, 1998 1:22 PM ..............................
> > No, because:
> > a. I think there are good _theological_ reasons ("functional
> > integrity of creation", "theology of the cross") for believing that
> > scientific explanation which makes no explicit reason to God is, in
> > principle, possible. If you think there's something wrong with those
> > reasons, that's what we need to debate. ......................
> > I agree - if by "proof" is meant something which logically
> > compels the conclusion. What you are pointing out is a special case of
> > the problem of induction. All the observations of wavelengths, cross
> > sections &c don't _prove_ the Schroedinger equation, but most physicists
> > feel that the number of phenomena it does explain, together with a
> > difficult-to-define-but-quite-real sense of the beauty of the theory,
> > convince most physicists to think it's true.
> Exactly--induction. Of course the principle of induction is great in all
> sorts of scientific contexts. But it can be a fallacy to proceed from the
> general to the specific. It is not enough to say "functional integrity" and
> then conclude that the origin of the human race resembles the origins of
> other living things.

We agree - as virtually all scientists would, I think - that an
inductive argument can't be 100% certain. Thus common descent isn't
scientifically 100% certain. But the argument from functional integrity
isn't an inductive scientific argument but a non-inductive theological
argument. I don't say the latter is 100% certain either but it seeems
to me that's what needs to be discussed in more detail.

I don't agree that "evolution has been proved in
> general"--a statement often made. But _even if_ that statement were
> correct, such a conclusion could not be used to show that human beings
> descended from animals. After all, another respectable claim for the origin
> of the human race is on offer: God created Adam and Eve, the parents of all
> humanity, de novo.
> In that context, my original claim (lo! these many e-mail messages ago) is
> relevant, namely, the claim that similarity of structure in the supposed
> human line is not proof of descent.

Agreed, & if the uncertainty associated with induction is the
basic issue with human evolution, we're in accord. But the fundamental
problem is theological.
> Russ
> Russell Maatman
> e-mail:
> Home: 401 5th Avenue
> Sioux Center, IA 51250

George L. Murphy