Re: Debate with Moorad

George Murphy (
Tue, 03 Nov 1998 19:46:17 -0500

John W Burgeson wrote:
> I wrote:
> > I meant "evolution-in-the-full-sense" to specifically include
> > abiogenesis, of course, and not any particular theory. In particular, I
> > do not include in it the theory of common descent.
> Steve replied:
> "I think you would be better off coming up with a new name for your
> concept then, since it specifically includes abiogenesis, which is not
> normally included by biologists' use of the term (if I understand their
> usage correctly), and need include (as far as I can tell) nothing at all
> that _is_ normally covered by their usage. I think most biologists would
> be rather puzzled if, say, you told them that common descent and
> descent with modification were both falsifiable, but that evolution
> was not."
> I concur with that, Steve. That is why I used "EITFS." I is in this
> sense that the philosophical Darwinists such as Dawkins and Sagan use it.
> Certainly Julian Huxley (see his book RELIGION WITHOUT REVELATION).
> You are quite right that a new term is needed. That, in great part, has
> been what this thread has been about -- at least from my viewpoint (I
> think from Moorad's also). I've used "Darwinism" for the term but I'm not
> real keen on it (Phillip Johnson apparently is) and others here seem also
> to not like it/understand it.
> It's one reason I seldom use the single word "evolution," as it means so
> many different things to so many different people.
> In hindsight, I think EITFS was not a very good choice either, since
> "full sense" carries with it implications of current theory.
> I am influenced, I admit, by the 1894 (1896?) Encyclopaedia Britannica
> article I found recently in which Huxley was said to be arguing that
> abiogenesis was properly subsumed under the term "universal evolution."
> The article mat be over 100 years old; it made sense to me, at least, as
> a useful definition. As you observe, of course, it is not a definition
> that has survived to any extent (I believe the ICR folks use "evolution"
> in this sense from time to time).
> Meanwhile, we must use words with which to communicate! And sometimes
> this is tough!

"Evolution" & related words are often used in this broad sense. As just
one recent example, there is the book by the late Karl Schmitz-Moormann & James F.;
Slamon S.J. _Theology of Creation in an Evolutionary World_ (Pilgrim, 1997). (It's a
decent book in a Teilhardian spirit but clearer & more up to date than Teilhard.) I
believe the term "chemical evolution" can be used for the (so far speculative) process
by which non-living molecules developed into living.
It may turn out that we can't explain abiogenesis scientifically, but there is
certainly no theological reason to require that. Genesis 1 describes precisely God's
creation of _living_ things as mediated.

George L. Murphy