Re: Tit for Tat?

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Thu Sep 11 2003 - 12:16:31 EDT

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    >From: "Steve Petermann" <>

    > I think the same question could be asked about scientific materialism or
    > methodological naturalism. If those approaches are taught as dogma, there
    > is, in my opinion, a spiritual risk of fatalism, extreme relativism, or
    > nihilism.

    I agree, of course, in regard to maximal naturalism (which is what you are
    calling "scientific materialism") because it entails a categorical rejection
    of God. But "methodological naturalism" does not entail any anti-theistic
    metaphysical propositions about the ultimate nature of reality. Rather, it
    is a statement about the way that science is normally done today. Its
    success may eventually be taken as an indicator of the fruitfulness of some
    form of naturalism (including naturalistic theism), but by itself it
    methodological naturalism does not commit one to a naturalistic worldview.

    > On the other hand religious positions that stand in stark
    > contrast to our scientific take on reality, can create a spiritual crisis
    > for individuals who later in life find those positions unreasonable. That
    > can lead to a disillusionment and rejection of religion, per se.

    Agreed again.

    > Seems to me what should be emphasized about origins in public education is
    > that *no* theory of origins is without its problems, discuss the problems
    > then let the kids and their parents decide for themselves.

    I suspect that most students and parents are ill prepared to make a sound
    evidence-based decision here. I would suggest that the best that a good
    teacher could do is to help students and their parents to learn what the
    relevant scientific and religious questions are, and to distinguish
    scientific questions from religious ones. Perhaps, then, people would resist
    giving religious answers to scientific questions, and giving scientific
    answers to religious questions.

    > If anything the
    > ID discussions have raised important questions about the completeness of
    > Darwinian theory.

    Scientific completeness or religious completeness? I think John Haught's new
    book, Deeper than Darwin, offers a useful discussion of this distinction.

    > For those who would just dismiss ID assertions as
    > ridiculous, they would find themselves in the same camp as those who have
    > poo-pooed radical new scientific theories in the past.

    Haught suggests that the way to understand ID is to see it as a movement
    that prematurely offers a religious answer to a scientific question.

    Howard Van Till

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