Re: ASA and the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS)

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Mon Nov 07 2005 - 16:53:27 EST

Given the clarification (?), I would classify your position as God of the
there could be gaps or God of the I hope there are gaps. But I'm not sure
that there are any Christians who hold to God only if (or if and only if)
there are gaps.

As to divine control, I suggest Proverbs 16:33 and Colossians 1:17.
Dave

On Mon, 7 Nov 2005 06:23:02 -0800 "Don Winterstein"
<dfwinterstein@msn.com> writes:
Dave "Siemens wrote:

"I would call specific attention to Don's "my inability to detect
anything in the physical world that seems remotely able to give rise to
such systems without external input." This is, like it or not, God of the
gaps. As a theist, I hold this to be bunk, for God is in total charge of
EVERYTHING, what I understand and what I do not understand equally. I
cannot differentiate between God's activity and "natural" events (Luther
spoke of natural laws as the masks of God), except as things are so out
of the ordinary that they testify to direct alteration."

Unlike certain participants on this list, I differentiate God of the gaps
theology from a belief in the likelihood that there may be gaps in nature
that required God's special input (i.e., some temporary abrogation of
natural laws). God of the gaps theology to me means that one believes
either (1) God acts only when it is necessary for him to fill gaps, or
(2) we know God exists only because we can identify gaps that he must
have had to fill. Thus, although I really do believe there are gaps in
nature that God had to fill (e.g., non-life to life), I do not espouse
God of the gaps theology, as I do not hold to either (1) or (2).
Furthermore, if someone were to eliminate all gaps via good scientific
explanations, it would have little effect on my theology. (But it would
change my perception of how God acts.)

Actually I've never known any Christian to espouse (1) and would be
surprised if any did. Possibility (2) is more interesting, because in
our time it would be fairly easy to be an atheist if one were unable to
accept such obvious divine interventions as Jesus' and Lazarus'
resurrections. Anthony Flew presumably would never have "converted" had
it not been for recently discovered "gaps" related to fine tuning and
possibly biological ID that he felt could not be bridged without positing
a deity. Then there's the personal experience thing, which dominates my
personal theology. If I were to consider personal intrusion of God into
my life as a filled gap, then I'd probably consider myself to espouse God
of gaps theology, because such intrusion is the number one reason I
believe. That is, I cannot account for my experience unless God. But I
don't think anyone includes that kind of experience under "gap." A
filled gap is always some physical transition or property that's
perceived to be very unlikely or impossible without divine intervention.

"...God is in total charge of EVERYTHING...."

What basis might you have for believing this, and on what grounds would
you try to persuade anyone else to believe it?

Don

----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
To: dfwinterstein@msn.com
Cc: asa@calvin.edu ; gregoryarago@yahoo.ca
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 10:56 AM
Subject: Re: ASA and the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS)

I would call specific attention to Don's "my inability to detect anything
in the physical world that seems remotely able to give rise to such
systems without external input." This is, like it or not, God of the
gaps. As a theist, I hold this to be bunk, for God is in total charge of
EVERYTHING, what I understand and what I do not understand equally. I
cannot differentiate between God's activity and "natural" events (Luther
spoke of natural laws as the masks of God), except as things are so out
of the ordinary that they testify to direct alteration. I think of such
things as the wine at Cana and the resurrection of the dead (especially
4-days dead and stinking). Such events normally testify to the divine
authority of the messenger and message. There is no such connection in
flagella and clotting. But I note that Pim van Meurs has run down the
genes involved in the working of the flagellum.

To hark back to Greg's original question, there is an appalling amount of
claptrap (not to use earthier terms) around that can be demolished by
proper historical studies. I think of Livingstone's /Darwin's Forgotten
Defenders/, Moore's /The Post-Darwinian Controversies/, Number's /The
Creationists/, etc. Another reason for history of science is that, to do
proper philosophy of science, we need to know how scientists work. Kuhn,
for example, got the history wrong and came up with a mistaken philosophy
of science.

What I have noted are only part of the interactions. Theism, for example,
has ramifications in both philosophy and theology. As a strict Christian,
I want my philosophical analyses to be consistent with biblical theology.
But, as Paul notes, we now see dimly as in a bronze mirror. So I do my
best while recognizing my fallibility and my limitations. But I am sure
that some approaches misunderstand science and demean the deity.
Dave

On Sat, 5 Nov 2005 07:23:39 -0800 "Don Winterstein"
<dfwinterstein@msn.com> writes:
History tells how we got to where we are, but the ID/Evo issue has much
more to do with intrinsic human concerns than with history.

Most people who believe in God want to believe that God is close and not
far off. That's certainly one reason so many Catholics get elated at
seeing "images of the Virgin" in every which odd place: for them it
brings the miraculous (i.e., God) close. TE says God is close, but it
only asserts that; it brings no evidence to bear. ID makes God closer
for believers by claiming to detect the designer's fingerprints. Hence
ID satisfies a human need that TE does not. (My view: Those who look for
God in his fingerprints are looking in the wrong place; but those who
already know God do well to behold and marvel at the ways he expresses
himself in his world.)

The fundamental problem with ID as science is that it attempts to draw
lines that separate purely natural events from designed events. Science
makes progress ordinarily only by assuming the existence of natural
explanations and then working to find them. Even if there are designed
events, it's hard to see how science would benefit from considering them
so unless they were readily and by common consent identifiable as
designed events. Obviously they are not. So science may err on the side
of assuming there are no such things, but science as science can only
benefit from such assumption. It's the scientific method, not history,
that's at issue here. History has a role in that it attests to the value
of that scientific method.

My view: There are likely designed events. I believe so because of the
extreme complexity of biological systems and my inability to detect
anything in the physical world that seems remotely able to give rise to
such systems without external input. Furthermore, my recognition of
God's closeness to and interaction with his world leads me to believe he
has always been similarly close and interacting. At the same time I also
firmly believe that God intended for his world to develop as
independently of him as possible. Those (superficially conflicting)
beliefs lead me to expect God to have participated regularly in explicit
shaping of his creatures at points when they ran into special
difficulties--that is, when they were unable on their own to take the
creation in the desired direction. Thus, ID as an aspect of God's mode of
creation is, along with natural selection, believable to me and, while I
don't think ID should be taught as science--at least not unless or until
ID investigators can make a real scientific case for themselves, I'm one
of those ID sympathizers that Ted Davis referred to.

Don

----- Original Message -----
From: Gregory Arago
To: Ted Davis ; asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 2:22 AM
Subject: Re: ASA and the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS)

Perhaps I used too many words to ask a basic question that I am rather
curious about. Even if only a few people here are formally trained in
HPS, still it is possible to discuss the place of it when considering
issues related to evolution and intelligent design. Since only Ted has
given an answer and he is now away from his home computer port, I’ll try
to recast the issue so that others might feel more welcome to respond.
 
Is HPS somehow a ‘crucial discipline’ for helping us to understand the
differences between evolution (Evo) and intelligent design (ID) as they
are used by scientists, philosophers and theologians? How can HPS help us
to contextualize the supposed challenge that ID is putting forward to
evolutionary theory, specifically to Darwinian or neo-Darwinian
evolutionary theory when it contributes to secularization of (scientific
and academic) culture and over-influence of naturalism in society? Or is
HPS rather maligned by pure scientists and philosophers as a
sub-discipline and not a main course itself. Does HPS have anything to
contribute here about evolution and ID?
 
Glenn Morton ‘believes in design.’ And, according to Ted Davis, so do a
significant percentage of those at ASA, at least in a theological sense.
So what’s the difficulty with accepting it as a ‘science’ or 'philosophy
of science' especially given that evolutionary theory has been
controversial in its original and subsequent formulations? Is the problem
rather with W. Dembski’s claims to a ‘design revolution,’ if not in his
specificationalism and probability theory? Is the suggestion from M. Behe
that ID has “implications for virtually all humane studies” somehow
problematic, given that Behe does not explicitly study humanity, but
biological structures? These are unique claims being made by a
philosopher and a scientist, supported by a philosopher of biology and a
professor of HPS. Perhaps ASA would have some helpful thoughts about it
to help a curious social scientist.
 
 
G. Arago

Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu> wrote:
>>> Gregory Arago 11/03/05 4:13 AM >>>writes a lot;
I cite just this:
So I wonder then whether folks at ASA are (or would be) willing to accept
the contribution ID can make to science and philosophy, especially as it
is often predominantly anti-evolutionary in the conceptualization of IC
=unevolvable? Or is there an alternative approach that can be embraced by
spiritual scientists at the ASA that does not rely on a repatriation of
Paleyan theory allied together with information theory, probability
studies and the specificationalism of one W. Dembski, the
interdisciplinarian? These are questions that make me curious about the
scientific, philosophical and theological climate in the particularly
American debate about evolution, creation and ID, which is being
highlighted in this show trial.

***

I'm about to leave to a ttend the HSS meeting in Minneapolis and I will
not respond further for at least several days. My strong impression is
this:

A significant percentage (I do not have a good sense of how large
"significant" actually is, but my sense is that it must be at least
35-50%) of ASA members are sympathetic to ID. This particular list does
not reflect that. Several prominent IDs are members of the ASA --Dembski,
Meyer, Thaxton, Bradley, Snoke would be some of them. In addition, at the
grass roots level I think a lot of ASAers agree at least partly with some
ID claims. I am one of them myself, if we include the claim that the
universe itself has abundant evidence of having been designed to provide
a home for complex, carbon-based living things; I also think that
Dembski's efforts to spell out how design can be inferred empirically are
very interesting and legitimate, if not necessary fully convincing at
this point in time.

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Received on Mon Nov 7 16:59:16 2005

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