Re: [asa] comments on evolution and traditional Christian faith

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri Sep 01 2006 - 10:50:45 EDT

OK, Janice, thank you for clarifying the specific issue you want me to
comment on. Here is how you identify it:

@ But Gillespie writes that Gray - like Darwin - held to a
"Positivist philosophy of science" and according to Comte - the
father of that that philosophy - the scientific method _replaced_

"Positivism is a philosophy developed by Auguste Comte (widely
regarded as the first true sociologist) at the beginning of the 19th
century that stated that the only authentic knowledge is scientific
knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive
affirmation of theories through strict scientific method. This view
is sometimes referred to as a scientist ideology, and is often shared
by technocrats who believe in the necessary progress through
scientific progress. As an approach to the philosophy of science
deriving from Enlightenment thinkers like Pierre-Simon Laplace (and
many others), positivism was first systematically theorized by
Comte, who saw the scientific method as replacing metaphysics in the
history of thought, ..."


And here is my comment:
Gray never came anywhere near Comte's view of the "progress" from religion
to metaphysics to science. Period.

In his view, you needed both traditional religion *and* science for a
complete picture of reality, not Comte's religion *of* science.

Where Gray was positivisitc, was in his acceptance of the identify of
scientific explanations with natural ones. Again, go have a look at the
selection from Gray on my webpage--it's one of the primary texts that are
linked down toward the bottom of my page (I won't give the link itself here
b/c I think you'll find lots of other things that interest you if you go to
my homepage to find it). Gray's view was that special creation of living
things explained nothing, so it wasn't scientific. That can be called a
kind of positivism. "Positivism" is a really tricky word--it meant
different things to different people, and does mean now different things to
different people. Einstein's relativity is said to be "positivistic" in a
Machian sense, but Einstein did not believe in the traditional Jewish God;
Pierre Duhem was likewise "positivistic" in his approach to theories and
their relationship to physical reality, yet he was a very traditional Roman
Catholic. Whereas the logical positivists of the early to mid-20th century
thought that metaphysics itself was a dirty word--one of them used to say
"M", whenever someone sounded remotely metaphysical. They were strongly


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Received on Fri Sep 1 10:51:05 2006

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