Re: Fwd: Alvin Plantinga's paper

Moorad Alexanian (
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 10:11:42 -0500 (EST)

At 12:45 PM 1/19/99 -0500, Ed Brayton wrote:
>Moorad Alexanian wrote:
>> I do not believe so, but what may be analogous to evolutionary theory in
>> physics would be the unification of all the forces in nature and not the Big
>> Bang. There the search for a theory of everything (TOE) would show the
>> existing four forces as a manifestation of one underlying theory or force.
>> The best candidate is the theory of strings. However, the analogy of the
>> unification in physics with that of evolutionary theory in biology fails in
>> one main respect. The unification of all forces in physics has nothing to do
>> with how the universe came into being. Such a TOE would be descriptive of
>> nature and not prescriptive. On the other hand, evolutionary theory is
>> ultimately by its nature a theory of origins. Therein the whole discussion
>> of teaching a theory of origins as science comes in in our public school
>> system. After all, the question of origins may not be a scientific question.
>> Therefore, the final answer may lie outside the purview of science.
>> Accordingly, theologians may have just as much to say about the question of
>> origins as scientists do.
>But what is evolution a theory of origins OF? Not ultimate origins, the
origin of
>the universe or the origin of existence, but the origin of new species from
old. If
>you are going to dispute the teaching of evolution because it is a theory of
>origins, then the big bang is a better analogy than the unification theory,
>the big bang is a theory of origins. Do you oppose the teaching of the big bang
>then? Must we either ban the teaching of the big bang, or offer as
alternatives to
>it the Hindu creation myth, the Dogon creation myth, and any others we can

Any scientist who supposes that new species evolve from old--in the sense of
a difference in kind and not only degree--then the leap to assume that
living beings evolved from non-living matter is a trivial one. One cannot
stop the chain of reasoning at an arbitrary point and be consistent in one's
methodology. That is why I am somewhat critical to those who "mix" in
scriptural passages in an attempt to unify evolutionary theory with
Scripture--a sort of theistic evaluation. My point remains that the Big Bang
theory has no bearing on most of the physics that physicists do and I
believe it is the same with evolutionary theory.

>> Evolutionary theory is not a science like physics but it is very much like
>> forensic science. One can know all the science one needs to know to
>> understand all the physical aspects in a crime scene without being concerned
>> on who committed the crime. In fact, the criminologists do the science and
>> the prosecution seeks to find the criminal who committed the crime.
>> Therefore, the prosecutor is the evolutionary scientist; however, the good
>> science is done by the criminologists and not the prosecutors.
>That I would agree with, by and large. All historial sciences operate in this
>manner. But what do you conclude from that?
>> The relevance of evolutionary theory to the teaching of biology can be
>> attested as follows: Suppose we took any biology textbook and would delete
>> any reference to evolutionary theory or evolution from it, I can assure you
>> that the text would make just as much sense if not even more.
>Yes, you already said this and I already agreed with it. It is possible to
>biology without teaching evolution. But is it a good idea? Would it give
students an
>accurate picture of biology without being taught about the central unifying
>Should we teach biology by rote memorization and remove science from its
>goals? This was my argument, which you have not addressed.

I have a qualm with the claim that evolutionary theory is the central
unifying theory of biology. One can classify all living things in terms of
their DNA, etc. yet stop short of placing the whole thing in some sort of
historical context.