Re: What does ID mean?

Bill Hamilton (
Thu, 16 Apr 1998 14:43:40 -0400

At 03:22 PM 4/15/98 -0500, Paul A. Nelson wrote:

>...But as I have been taught evolution, and
>as the theory is presented in textbooks and the scientific literature,
>it is *grounded in* methodological naturalism. Thus the theory's
>philosophical implications are not, in fact, "extrapolations," but are
>embedded in its very foundation.

Accepting for the present your claim that the theory of evolution is
grounded in MN, which you equate with Philosophical Naturalism[1], the
question remains: _Must_ it be? The answer is important, because if you
answer "yes" when a (perhaps qualified) "no" will do, the upshot of your
judgment is that Christians should abandon the relevant areas of science.
There are areas of inquiry within and coupled to evolution that ought not
to be considered controversial by Christians of various persuasions.
Almost no one challenges microevolution these days; while we wouldn't agree
with some of the conclusions drawn by some individuals, population genetics
ought to be a field Christians can work in; for the Christian who is
comfortable with an old earth, common descent need not be a problem
(obviously I am assuming here that God, rather than random variation,
drives the descent of living creatures). So what's left? One topic might
be the supposed randomness that drives evolution. But randomness can be
extremely difficult to prove.

As a Calvinist I entertain the old-fashioned notion that Christians are
called to be leaders in every legitimate field of endeavor. If I
understand you properly, Paul, the result of your view could be that
Christians tacitly mark a fairly large field of endeavor nonlegitimate.
That troubles me.
>Further, methodological naturalism as a method of inquiry and
>explanation does not stop politely at the church door. Take a look at
>E.O. Wilson's latest book, for instance. If you cheat on your wife,
>you're not sinning. There is no such thing as "sin." You're obeying a
>genetic imperative, which may or may not be adaptive, depending on the

Again, I believe the appropriate response is not to say the sky is falling,
but to aggressively show how Wilson has attempted to appropriate science in
the name of his own philosophical preferences.
[1] I don't want to pick a fight with Paul over the issue of whether
evolution as currently taught and published is grounded in PN. I pretty
much agree with Paul about the current state of affairs. But we can't do
much about that. I'd like to focus on issues we can do something about.
Bill Hamilton, Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems, GM R&D Center
Warren, MI / (home)