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

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Fri Sep 01 2006 - 11:29:50 EDT

At 10:50 AM 9/1/2006, Ted Davis wrote:

OK, Janice, thank you for clarifying the specific issue you want me
to comment on. ...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 anti-religious. ~ ted

@ Thanks for the explanation. I agree that the word is tricky (like
the word evolution).

Gillespie said that Darwin held to a "Positivist philosophy of
science". If he eventually came to believe that the scientific
method _replaced_ metaphysics, it would have had to have been after
he wrote this:

"Origin of man now proved. -- Metaphysics must flourish. - he who
understands baboon would do more toward Metaphysics than Locke." -
Darwin, Notebook M, August 16, 1838

Then there's this: "With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether
the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind
of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would
any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any
convictions in such a mind?" ~ Charles Darwin

If you will, please send me the link to your home page OFF LIST (so
as to save one of your 4 posts for the day), and I'll take a look at
it as time permits.

~ Janice

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Received on Fri Sep 1 11:30:06 2006

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