Re: views of scientists-help needed

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 14:13:10 EST

  • Next message: John W Burgeson: "Re: views of scientists-help needed"

    > From: John W Burgeson <>
    > Howard wrote: "I'll not try to rewrite the definition now, but I would
    > suggest that the word "materialism" is entirely out of place. Including it
    > makes the common error of defining a scientific concept in a way that
    > entails the rejection of any form of theism."
    > I think you miss the point. If you wish to argue that their definition of
    > "Darwinism" is misplaced, you no doubt have a point. But they are up front
    > in defining "Darwinism" a certain way -- and it is for sure that many folks
    > think of it with their definition. Like it or not, the word "Darwinism"
    > DOES connote the rejection of any form of theism. As such, I would argue,
    > the word "Darwinism" is not a scientific concept at all, but a philosophical

    OK. However, Burgy, your first post on this topic included the site's
    definition of Darwinism that began with the words: [Darwinism is] "the
    scientific theory which..."

    > Site's definition:
    > "the scientific theory which, operating under the philosophies of
    > materialism and naturalism, makes the assertion that life today is the
    > result of purely natural processes, such as the natural chemical origins of
    > the first cell, and a mutatation-selection mechanism causing
    > microevolution, macroevolution, speciation, which account for the origins
    > of all cellular functions, morphologies, and common ancestry through
    > descent with modification for all life forms."

    If they had begun by saying, "We shall define Darwinism as a materialistic
    worldview that incorporates the scientific concept of evolution ... " I
    would agree with you. It would be a straightforward and useful indication of
    how THEY were choosing to use that term.

    But that raises the question of whether or not they are being true to
    Darwin. As I posted a while back (drawing from some essays by Richard

    > One of the more interesting of Aulie's points is that the "doctrine of
    > special creation" -- prominent as a serious and respected biological concept
    > during the late 18th and early 19th centuries -- derives NOT from the Bible,
    > but rather from Plato and Aristotle (the fixity of species that are earthly
    > manifestations of eternal "ideas"; the eternality of matter; the
    > hierarchical ordering of creaturely forms, etc.).
    > What Darwin denounced was not the theological doctrine of creation per se
    > (the world owes its being to a Creator-God), but the inadequacies of the
    > biological doctrine of special creation built on the ancient Greek
    > worldview.

    If that is correct, then Darwinism should not equate the rejection of the
    doctrine of special creation (as an inadequate biological concept) with the
    rejection of the theological doctrine of creation and the substitution of
    materialism (or maximal naturalism) in its place. It looks to me like the
    site's definition of Darwinism goes beyond what Darwin actually said.

    You may be correct about common usage, but sometimes common usage represents
    a pernicious muddling of essential distinctions.

    Howard Van Till

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jan 04 2002 - 14:34:14 EST