Re: Question

From: Tim Ikeda (
Date: Fri Mar 30 2001 - 21:13:04 EST

  • Next message: "Re: Question"

    Condensed letter: 3 responses

    Part 1)
    Bill Payne writes:
    >The most explicit conclusions that I have heard drawn from the statement
    >you are looking for are in the statement made by Will Provine during one
    >of his debates with Phil Johnson:
    >"The philosophical conclusions of Darwinism have been strongly supported
    >by modern evolutionary biology: no gods, no purposes in nature, no life
    >after death, no ultimate foundations for ethics, no ultimate meaning for
    >life, no free will for humans."
    >Will said that since we have no free will, then criminals should not be
    >punished. His idea is that of a totally mechanistic universe. The quote
    >above can be found at:

    I've seen that web page. What you quote as a "statement made by
    Will Provine" appears to be a summary of notes from the debate.
    At least that's all I can infer from the information provided
    by the web page. If you have access to the actual recording or
    direct transcript, perhaps you could tell us if this is an
    actual quote. It's certainly possible that Will said something
    like this, but I think it's important to be clear about

    Part 2)
    In response to Bill's letter, Moorad Alexanian suggests:

    From: Moorad Alexanian (
    Date: Fri Mar 30 2001 - 08:39:37 EST
    > Provine should be committed. Moorad

    There's nothing quite like confinement and coercion to
    convince people that their will is free.

    Part 3)
    There seems to be a strong consensus that the use of science
    and scientific discoveries to determine the presence or absence
    of "purpose" in the universe is highly suspect, independent of
    whether the speaker is a theist or atheist. Yet some apparently
    feel that the comments of atheist scientists about evolution
    and purpose have some "extra" impact. So far, I've only seen
    notes from: a) atheist scientists who feel that evolution (and
    modern science) demonstrate a lack of purpose in the world,
    b) theists who agree that evolution implies a lack of purpose,
    and c) theists who disagree about the linkage between evolution
    and purposeless.

    Yet we haven't heard about: d) non-theist scientists who feel that
    evolution (& science) indicates nothing about the presence or
    absence of purpose in the universe. And why do type-a and type-b
    commentators disdain type-c respondents and ignore type-d
    opinions entirely? I suggest it's because the latter two groups
    refuse to play the game of the two former groups and thus
    tend to get branded as "heretics to the cause."

    Well, for the record, and you can quote me *word-for-word*
    in this paragraph (prediction: not that anyone will bother),
    I am non-theist scientist who definitely believes that Provine's
    and Dawkin's beliefs about evolution and purposelessness are
    rubbish. By symmetry, I also think that P. Johnson et al's
    positions are intellectually deficient too. The validity of
    evolution does not imply anything about purpose. It cannot.
    It also implies nothing about the existence of God. Well,
    don't we all feel honored now, a card-carrying member of the
    scientific priesthood has deigned to speak on a trivial matter.
    Now bugger off and send me more grants. And next time, don't forget
    to wipe your shoes before coming in: Do you have any idea how
    much it costs to keep an ivory tower looking clean?

    Tim Ikeda

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Mar 30 2001 - 21:15:39 EST