Re: Washington Post Magazine article on ID

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Feb 24 2006 - 04:42:08 EST

  Dr. Allan Harvey’s restatement of Ted’s contention stands uncontested, either by biologists, engineers, cosmologists, psychologists, or any other scientists at ASA: “[B]elief in evolution was used to promote racism and Nazism.” Was it not?
  In the defence of evolutionary theories across the board, natural scientists who are both evolutionists and theists are guilty of/prone to stretching their confidence in evolutionary theory beyond the confines of purely ‘natural science.’ Perhaps as a philosopher of science Ted has put his finger on a delicate problem. Otherwise, it seems that certain figures who have studied both science and philosophy or science and theology should have an important role in building bridges, instead of entrenching dogmatic positions. They might help the competing parties to know where they stand contextually.
  Natural scientists who wish to protect the legitimacy of their academic territory (apparently) do not choose to indulge Ted’s views. Likewise, the social scientist who questions evolutionary dominance in his or her field, being in the vast, vast minority, is not given even a breath of consideration, let alone criticism or encouragement to continue to discern between what evolution can and cannot explain (if there is anything inexplicable by evolution). They are just told they don’t belong in the game. ‘Science’ wins by not taking part in the discussion.
  “By its salvation is meant its desirable natural evolution.” – ASA (source misplaced)
  And this is why Christian scholars should listen to natural scientists about who controls the evolution discourse?
  “[P]erhaps arguing that certain races were clearly ‘designed’ to rule over others?” – Allan Harvey
  Those words won’t endear a person to the IDM! And yet, it is a reality that the IDM must confront if it really is to have “implications for all humane studies” as Michael Behe states in the foreword to “Intelligent Design: THE Bridge between Science and Theology” (1999). Are social inequalities ‘intelligently designed’?
  “[T]he anthropologists did seem to be encouraged to make racism ‘scientific’ by their commitment to evolution. Who are the most ‘primitive’ people, the ones most removed from homo Britannicus or homo Americanus on the scale of beings?” – Ted
  Though there seems to be a considerable difference in approach between philosophy of science and sociology of science, I find many of Ted’s comments well connected to the paradigm that social scientific theories are currently confronting. When Bruno Latour followed scientists around to reveal “Science in Action” he discovered that no ‘science’ is entirely objective, but that the subjectivities of scientists were themselves observable in the making of every scientific theory and practice. Even by invoking anthropology (cultural, linguistic, physical or archaeological, etc.) Ted risks being isolated by the scientific community, which often considers anthropology merely a ‘soft science.’ This is at the same time that I heard an Orthodox Priest recently acknowledge that there wasn’t enough attention given to anthropology in the early Christian Church. Perhaps there’s not enough attention given to anthropology today if evolution = bad!
  “There is a tendency, Glenn, to assume that older civilizations were composed largely of stupid individuals compared to us, the intelligent, well-educated, scientifically astute.” – Dick Fisher
  This comment ties together exactly with claims of evolutionary and sometimes neo-evolutionary anthropology!
  It’s hard to see why natural scientists continue to want to go it alone, without the perspectives of social scientists and philosophers of science, who are actually not telling scientists what to think anyway. Contextualization is a *huge* issue here.
  G. Arago wrote: Ted Davis wrote:
  The fact that creationists today blame evolution for everything evil and
rotten has more to do with their definition of evolution as sin itself
(Morris believes that evolution was the lie delivered by Satan to Nimrod at the tower of Babel, for example), than with historical reality.
Nevertheless, there is historical reality to their claim that belief in
evolution promoted racism and Nazism.
  Would that last sentence be better stated as "belief in evolution was used to promote racism and Nazism."? Was it really cause-and-effect as Ted's wording would suggest? Or was it more a case of people with already racist tendencies grabbing onto whatever science was around in order to arrive at the conclusions they were seeking? Or perhaps it was some of both.
    This distinction seems important to me. To choose a somewhat parallel example, there is a significant difference between saying "belief in Christianity promoted the Crusades" and "belief in Christianity was used to promote the Crusades".

  Had Paley been the prevailing scientific paradigm at the time, would we have seen similar movements with different justification, perhaps arguing that certain races were clearly "designed" to rule over others? Certainly some who rejected Darwin promoted forms of racism supposedly supported by science -- I am thinking particularly of Agassiz.

Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado |
"Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cat"

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Received on Fri Feb 24 04:42:50 2006

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