Re: What goes around comes around

From: Cornelius Hunter <>
Date: Sat Oct 08 2005 - 20:29:51 EDT


> Please excuse me for taking issue with some aspects of your argument.
> Still I believe in your genuine concerns with the state of science today
> in America, and that your faith is faithful, which is more important than
> how I view your ideas about ID or how your views about ID affect your
> perspectives. So please accept my friendly criticism, on 'what goes around
> comes around.'
> As far as I can gather, you are defending the 'intelligent design' (ID)
> position here. I've been quite intrigued by some of the conversations at
> ASA in which you've participated with some clever people, scientists,
> scholars and people of faith regarding ID, evolution, creation and other
> associated topics. But this recent foray you've made into philosophy and
> in labelling some ('other') persons as 'rationalists' is beyond the scope
> of what is acceptable for friendly conversation.
> Everyone uses philosophy, even if few are trained in it or know the
> history of philosophy in any great detail. Europeans often comprehend the
> history of philosophy somewhat better than North Americans (the mainstay
> of the audience here) if only because they remember historical figures in
> their cultural-national histories who were influential philosophers.
> Generally speaking there are no significant philosophers in America,
> unless one counts William James or John Dewey or R.W. Emerson, etc.

What about Yogi Berra?

> as important for the current discussion you are carrying on about ID.
> Nevertheless, labelling evolutionists as 'rationalists' and thus
> concluding that IDists or anti-evolutionists are something else is
> fallacious or at best misleading.
> Labelling a person a 'rationalist' is unacceptable because we are all
> rational, and therefore we all practise rationalism to one degree or
> another. Reason, capitalized if you wish, was one of the pillars of the
> Enlightenment, which Americans subscribed to very deeply, if not in some
> cases almost completely. Instead, it appears from your message that you
> would rather support agnosticism, the 'we don't really know' or 'we aren't
> really sure' approach to science instead of further exercising our reason
> in scientific pursuits. Thus, it could seem that you're trying to stunt
> science this way.

This "intellectual necessity" argument has been a popular one for evolution:
"Evolution is the theory that allows us to continue with our research." You
take exception to the label "rationalist." Can you suggest a better label
for the evolution position that uses arguments like these?

> "Many IDs have no problem with 'gee, I'm not sure about that.' and dealing
> in probabilities." - C. Hunter
> O.k. then, fair enough, we don't know it all, even those who accept the
> explanatory power of evolution should agree. But then in the next breath,
> when making your argument on another topic related to ID, you obviously
> MUST (by reason of ID logic) take the opposite approach. We 'know' it was
> designed because we feel it, or because it couldn't have evolved (or at
> least that is our guess) or because the probabilities for it to have
> evolved are incredibly low.

Why "MUST" my position entail this level of certainty? One of the
characteristics of this debate is that not only do evolutionists make
ultimate truth claims in science (eg, "evolution is a fact--if you disagree
you are wrong") but they project this sort of thinking onto others. If you
disagree, then you must have an equal and opposite certainty. And if you
present a counter evidence, that evidence must absolutely falsify evolution.
The typical response is: "No, your counter evidence has failed to falsify

> This is what IC is supposed to contribute to this discussion. In a way I
> think your argument is clever because it adapts to the situation and
> speaks (in a post-modern tone) to the situated knowledge of the individual
> or group with which you are conversing. In another sense, however, it
> appears to be disingenuous and hypocritical since it commits the same
> error it accuses others of making.

I don't follow. How is it that I am being disingenuous and hypocritical? An
example would help.

> "The positions and details may evolve, but the common thread is those who
> are sure vs those who are not and are suspending judgement." - C. Hunter
> So, to be on the safe side, science should accept its limitations? Suspend
> our judgments - fine. Disconnection, fragmentation, gaps in knowledge -
> o.k. However, we should remember that 'epistemology' is merely one
> 'branch' of philosophy. It is not the whole thing and should be considered
> alongside with ontology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy,
> aesthetics, etc. Notice please, that you are using evolution as a
> philosophical, not as a natural scientific concept in this example about
> positions and details supposedly 'evolving.'
> One of Plantinga's problems, if we can all agree he is, as are we all,
> fallible, is that he has spoken steadfastly in several places for a
> contemporary version of 'theistic science.' For many religious persons and
> theologians, this is unacceptable because it tries to rationalize or
> positivize what cannot be contained or explained by mere science or
> reason. It conflates what should not be conflated and runs a risk of
> idolizing things that should not be idolized. There are mysteries that
> will not be reached using such claims as the ID Movement (and apparently
> Plantinga sometimes) makes continually to their own brand of 'theistic
> science.'
> Plantinga's philosophy, allied with Demsbki's scientific rhetoric (is it
> really true that they're allies?), do not inevitably win the day with all
> open-minded theists. Dembski jumps around between statistical,
> philosophical, psychological and theological, sometimes throwing in
> mathematical logic, as it suits his chants for 'revolution.' But many
> scholars haven't bought into Dembski's (or Plantinga's) call for a
> 'revolution' in knowledge, simply because whatever case they are
> presenting is inevitably partial, incomplete and situated to the
> particular context in which it was invented. All concepts and perspectives
> have a history and a home. The 'likelihood' that a Professor in Northern
> Indiana or a Texus-turned-Kentucky scholar could create such a gigantic
> theory that would eclipsing Newton, Descartes, Einstein, Darwin and even
> Aristotle is extremely small. But IDists seem not to worry or to care
> deeply about the numbers in such a case. Their ideology seems too sound to
> them, something they think they know they can know confidently.
> Statements like: 'It was designed' and 'there must be a designer' are
> undoubtedly (potentially) great when used as an apologetic tool. But they
> have the same downside as Pascal's wager did for Christian apologetics
> when used pretentiously as being scientific. It may be helpful for some
> people, but is in the end all-too-rational and tends to place belief in
> God into some kind of a gambler's form; it puts God-in-a-box. This is one
> reason why G. Murphy's theological position, working in collaboration with
> his scientific knowledge, is much more realistic and progressive than ID's
> contribution to science, philosophy and theology. He doesn't try to proove
> God's existence using science

Neither does ID.

and demonstrates how one can accept certain
> forms of evolution and still believe in the trinitarian Creator.

I don't believe George is calling for a particular form of evolution, as
opposed to that which is generally proposed.

> Do you not find his approach more appropriate than the pretensions to
> 'revolution' presented by leading IDists? Or maybe this wasn't what you
> meant at all by referring to epistemology and I've missed your meaning?

George's approach has problems if evolution is not true in pretty much the
generally proposed form. But there are significant scientific problems with

> "ID has already made its peace with natural selection and the irrefutable
> aspects of Darwinism." - Douglas Kern
> If you please, I would like to hear anyone's opinion on how ID has done
> this. In particular, what aspects of Darwin's theory are irrefutable
> according to mainstream IDists?

IDs I know do not typically hold to that level of certainty. Some hold to
certain portions of evolution, but not too dogmatically.

Received on Sat Oct 8 20:35:56 2005

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