Ready for it to come around

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Wed Oct 12 2005 - 11:08:00 EDT

“What about Yogi Berra?” - Cornelius


Surely one of the great American philosophers of his era! :-)


“I didn't really say everything I said.” – Yogi


If you’ll please excuse the humour involved, that one kinda reminds me of some of the truisms that are being spread around these days in the name of ID theory!



To the content of thread:

“[L]abelling evolutionists as 'rationalists' and thus concluding that IDists or anti-evolutionists are something else is fallacious or at best misleading.” - me


“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.” – me


Please forgive the repeat, but you didn’t answer the soft charge that your approach (or IDs approach specifically in its millennium form) promotes agnosticism and could actually stunt science instead of looking to improve scientific pursuits.


“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?” - Cornelius


Well, other than that ‘evolution allows us to continue’ is basically tautological your identification of evolution’s circular logic is probably sometimes just. Such a task of labeling all who accept evolution(ary theory), since I consider it one of the most diverse concepts in the contemporary academy, in addition to its general usage in public and private life, is extremely difficult. The only one partly appropriate label that comes to mind would be ‘universalistic,’ and I would prefer the qualifier ‘tending to be’ universalistic if it were to be used at all. Not all persons who accept evolution use it universalistically.


The label ‘universalistic’ would require that anyone who accepts evolution then immediately put limitations on that concept, for the main reason that otherwise it can be expanded and used metaphorically out of control, argued as the greatest concept in the history of science (e.g. Dennett), as explanatorily all-powerful (Chardin), and then elevated into a worldview. The latter possibility is what many religious persons argue strongly against because it leads to (or incorporates features of) materialism, naturalism (ideological-style) and ultimately secularism or anti-theism. But it doesn’t have to do; this is the point of such self-limiting the scope of evolution. Requiring an immediate limitation be put on what evolution can or cannot describe, what it does or does not explain I would consider necessary and appropriate.


If this ‘universalistic’ label were to be applied, the flip side would be to require all anti-evolutionists (I gather from others’ comments that Cornelius is such a person) to say which forms of evolution they accept as scientific, logical, rational, applicable, etc. so that they are not viewed as simply anti-science or anti-establishment thinkers. There are many ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ arguments made both for and against evolution, so I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to label evolutionist = rationalist.


“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.” - me


“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 evolution.” - Cornelius


It’s mainly a ‘debate’ in America (c.f. Pannenburg and Peacocke). Your position ‘must’ entail a level of certainly because of the way the statement is uttered (i.e. worded): It is ‘designed,’ verb usage in past tense, leaves no room for doubt. Can this be agreed upon Cornelius? Yes, iDists are making an ontological claim here, not merely epistemological ones.


When you turn it around and (wish to) argue with those who accept (certain forms of) evolutionary theory, I would consider this mere avoidance of ID’s responsibilities or even suggest those other stronger words I used last time would aptly apply. “Couldn’t have evolved, therefore (intelligent) ‘design’” is a negative (or non-positive) argument. If you want simply to avoid certainty, then your theological position must also be something uncertain, ambiguous, mysterious and paradoxical, which isn’t an entirely uncommon thing in our epoch. But it is rather uncommon for those who like rational, step-by-step, positive proofs for why they should believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ or that “In the beginning was the Word.”


It really seems that you, C. Hunter, must say which varieties of evolution you think you’ve falsified; most of them appear to be philosophical. Certainly, we’re familiar with the micro-/macro- dichotomy which is often invoked, if not only by biologists. But ‘evolution’ can mean simply ‘change-over-time’ and surely you don’t disagree that change sometimes happens ‘over time?’ The burden is on you to show which varieties of evolution are falsifiable (if Popper is your guide) and which varieties are legitimate for religious and non-religious or irreligious persons to accept.


“The positions and details may evolve, but the common thread is those who are sure vs those who are not and are suspending judgement.” - Cornelius


“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.'” - me


This is what I’m getting at in asking anti-evolutionists and evolutionists alike to more clearly define the boundaries of the concept/percept of ‘evolution.’ Evolution is used here, but not there, when it suits one approach to a topic, but not another. So what defines Cornelius’ linguistic usage (word choice) of evolution in the above example and elsewhere?


Narrative aside: I had a friend visiting from NY the other day. He is not a scientist, not especially involved in discussions about science and religion, but he came up with a rather astonishing statement: “I don’t think evolution has anything to do with Darwin.” In my experience, if the IDists I’ve come across had to drop Darwin from their lines of fire (i.e. as agnostic, even atheist, destroyer of social values, ethics and beliefs, viaduct of secularization, etc.), they’d have much less to talk about. Fixation with Darwin is apparently an appropriate phrase for many people. Let’s move on.


Otoh, ‘it IS designed,’ ‘there IS intelligence in the world’ (reference to A. Moorad’s reply), ‘the world IS complex’ (and yet at the same time still simple); these are ‘no brainers’ that one might use when preaching to an evangelical, previously or currently-YEC choir. But they aren’t particularly helpful or efficacious for constructing a genuine ‘scientific revolution’ or workable paradigm in the communities of scientists and scholars who have been using the more or less general framework of evolutionary theory for several generations. ID (Pajaro-style) was lost before it was ever found in those places.


“Do you not find his [G. Murphy’s] 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?” - me


“George's approach has problems if evolution is not true in pretty much the generally proposed form. But there are significant scientific problems with evolution.” … “I don't believe George is calling for a particular form of evolution, as opposed to that which is generally proposed.” - Cornelius


Problems if WHICH varieties of evolution are not TRUE?


“Since my name has been invoked I should note that "that which is generally proposed" is ambiguous. The theological approach I suggest leads one to think that something like evolution via natural selection is correct. It is not consistent with belief in some form of metaphysical naturalism or "evolutionism," which is "generally proposed" by non-Christians.” – George Murphy


Thank you for clarifying your position Dr. Murphy. Hopefully it is not improper or impolite to invoke the name of other participants on the board. It helps that you are able to respond to clear up ambiguities.


This particular latter statement shows that metaphysical naturalism and evolutionism (when evolution is used not scientifically but ideologically, I presume) are not consistent with George’s theological approach. At the same time, it acknowledges that ‘something like evolution via natural selection is correct.’ I take it that this means evolution ‘in a physical sense,’ or ‘in a natural scientific sense,’ is basically acceptable in its general form(s) of expression. But physicalism, or the belief that the physical is all there is to our existence, is against the spirit of what evolutionary theory is meant to portray. Dispiriting notions of evolution are or should be disallowed in science labs and classes and they should be uncovered for what they are philosophically and theologically.


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


Ohhh, those uncertain IDists! Please note that Cornelius is apparently not advocating ‘a particular form of evolution’ here either. In part, this means situating oneself as a specialist scientist who makes claims to knowledge in a particular field of study.


O.k. then, WHICH evolutions?




G. Arago

George Murphy <> wrote:
>>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.

Since my name has been invoked I should note that "that which is generally proposed" is ambiguous. The theological approach I suggest leads one to think that something like evolution via natural selection is correct. It is not consistent with belief in some form of metaphysical naturalism or "evolutionism," which is "generally proposed" by non-Christians.

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Received on Wed Oct 12 11:10:12 2005

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