RE: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

From: Denyse O'Leary <oleary@sympatico.ca>
Date: Tue Apr 26 2005 - 11:47:22 EDT

" I suppose, we might say, that they ought instead to put Descartes before
the force of reductionism."

Ted, if you are ever bored with professorism, be a hack! You wouldn't starve
to death, just starve like we all do. - Denyse

--
Read brief excerpts from my book, By Design or by Chance?: The Growing
Controversy On the Origins of Life in the Universe (Augsburg Fortress, 2004)
at
http://www.designorchance.com/press.html
Study Guide:
http://www.arn.org/arnproducts/books/b088sk.htm
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0806651776/qid=1109790930/sr=8
-1/ref=pd_csp_1/104-8617533-8799957?v=glance&s=books&n=507846
My blogs: http://www.christianity.ca/faith/features/weblog.html
http://cruxmag.typepad.com/sci_phi/
Denyse O'Leary
14 Latimer Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5N 2L8
Tel: 416 485-2392
Fax: (phone or e-mail first)
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www.designorchance.com
-----Original Message-----
From: Ted Davis [mailto:TDavis@messiah.edu] 
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 11:34 AM
To: drsyme@cablespeed.com; asa@calvin.edu; oleary@sympatico.ca
Subject: Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!
As I see it, Denyse, the key issue in the new pope's comments is whether or
not evolution--and the rest of cosmic history--is *inherently* meaningless. 
I agree that lots of scientists say that it is--Dawkins, Weinberg, Gould for
much of his life, we could all multiply names here.  And lots of
creationists and IDs agree--Morris, Gish, Ham, Johnson, etc.  But as many
other Christian thinkers have rightly argued, metaphysics is something that
is *added on* to theories, not inherent to them.  And that goes both
ways--although Newton's concept of universal gravitation is rooted in his
non-Trinitarian theism, this does not mean that one needs to be either a
theist or a non-Tinitarian to accept the validity of his theory.  Or that we
must accept atheistic materialism if we accept the atomic theory of matter
(thus Benjamin Wiker believes that we must reject atoms for this reason).
Thus for Roman Catholic TEs, as well as other TEs, the question becomes:
where/at what point do we refuse to reduce minds & meanings to matter &
motion.  In other words, what kinds of metaphysics do we need to preserve
purpose, whether or not evolution is an accurate description of how we came
to be?  Indeed, in my opinion as an historian of science as well as my
opinion as a Christian scholar, THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION in the
entire origins issue.  And it has never been solved thus far.  Another way
to say it: philosophy of mind, not theology or biblical studies or biology
per se, is the discipline that will in the future bear most on the origins
issue.  The philosophers used to tell us that dualism is dead and that
everything really was biochemistry, down deep, and Gould and many other
scientists agreed with this reductionism.  But the renaissance of Christian
philosophy, as well as some honest admissions from secular philosophers, are
starting to make it possible for people once again to think about "top-down"
causality as an objectively real thing that places limits on the scope of
"bottom-up" causality.  This is not to say, simply and uncritically, that
simple Cartesian substance dualism is on the verge of being revived--there
are very serious problems with it, IMO, that won't just go away because
people wave hands at them.  But it does mean that people can get published
when they talk seriously about the actual reality of something more than
brains.  If we can demonstrate (and we will never do this to everyone's
satisfaction, given the strength of bias towards matter & motion alone) that
minds actually exist as causal entities that transcend brain cells (and the
obviousness of this fact, as I do not hesitate to call it, is not alas a
formal demonstration), then we can make real progress toward showing that
there might be other minds, and that it makes real honest good sense to
speak about purpose in the universe.  
Thus, if/when IDs and other critics of evolution start to go down this road
as their primary avenue and leave criticisms about the details of mechanisms
off to one side, then perhaps I can call myself an advocate of "intelligent"
design.  After all, if we don't really know (in the formal philosophical
sense) what "intelligence" is, and how it arises from/relates to the
brainwaves that are involved in producing it and that control the rest of
our bodies, then how can we really understand what "intelligent design" is
all about?  IMO, IDs are putting their dubiously scientific cart before the
theological and philosophical horse.  I suppose, we might say, that they
ought instead to put Descartes before the force of reductionism.
Or something like that.
Ted
Received on Tue Apr 26 11:47:41 2005

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