Casey Luskin writes:
> To accomodate this, we've constructed a definition of Darwinism which
> is, "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."
Deferring to other responses (particularly, the discussion on the unorthodox
use of "uniformitarian") here are a few, separate comments:
1) It is not known whether Darwinian processes created life (and Darwinian
processes may not be the only natural mechanisms available). As a collection
of scientific theories, as opposed to a metaphysical presupposition,
Darwinian mechanisms apply equally well to "created" organisms and those
which evolved via natural pathways. For example, Behe appears to largely accept that much of organismal change can be attributed to natural
mechanisms, with perhaps rare or exceptional interventions by an "active agent". Similarly, Hubert Yockey, a staunch "natural evolutionist",
maintains that the origin of life must be taken as a axiom; that its method
of origin is unknowable (Yockey suspects it was a natural series of events that cannot be determined).
2) Darwinian mechanisms are a subset of natural mechanisms by which
evolution may proceed. Although other writers sometimes blur this point,
it is important to understand the distinction. For example, you write:
"A Christian who accepts evolution through natural selection, etc,
etc, wouldn't be listed on our site. This Christian also has made
the metaphysical statement that only natural processes have been at
work in the creation of life, whether God was behind it all or not.
Granted, Michael Denton isn't a Christian but has stated many times that
he thinks the development of life on earth occured by physically natural
processes (he disputes the role of Darwinian mechanisms in some aspects
of evolution). You can't keep Denton's name on the IDEA's list if you
conflate "Darwinism" with "Naturalism".
3) Science itself (which includes your chosen field of study) is a
collection of theories "operating under the philosophies of materialism
and naturalism." Theories of evolution are not unique in this regard.
Note however that the only "intelligent agents" for which we have direct evidence (eg. many animals, including Homo sapiens), also happen
to be "natural agents" as far as we can discern. That is, we are physical
entities embedded in a physical world. Even Hoyle's "Intelligent Cloud"
ideas fit this description. So one can't claim that science or
specifically, evolutionary investigations, rule out "intelligent
intervention" a priori. Certainly the evolution of domesticated organisms,
the changing distribution of many species, and genetically engineered
organisms may be studied with such considerations. If in science,
"intervention", intelligent or otherwise, is not assumed to be a likely
mechanism to account for the development of life on earth, I don't
think it necessarily reflects a bias toward philosophical naturalism
or materialism. It certainly does not ring true for most of the
participants on this reflector. Instead, pace Elliott Sober, we have none
of the direct or auxillary evidence for an "active intelligence" on earth
over the period in question which we would need to support such hypotheses.
Drop the baggage. Just describe the process as "evolution by natural
mechanisms". It could result in dropping a few names from the list, but
it would be clearer and more precisely in line with the positions you've
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Jan 05 2002 - 20:02:22 EST