Re: [asa] RE: Public questions for Denyse O'Leary

From: PvM <>
Date: Fri Dec 22 2006 - 21:10:27 EST

On 12/22/06, Gregory Arago <> wrote:
> My issue here is not about Denyse, but with PvM's knowledge of Darwinism.
> Does he really think that Darwinism is not 'opposed' to Christian faith *in
> any way*? This is debatable simply given that many Darwinists are themselves
> opposed to Christian faith. But the fact that not all Darwinists are opposed
> to Christian faith gives PvM a platform to argue.

Darwinism, as a science is in no way opposed to Christian faith. In
fact, as a science it remains truly neutral. Darwinism, is a
scientific theory which has been abused by both sides to argue their
case, both using similar fallacies that Darwinism can prove/disprove
faith. Darwinism observes the facts of evolution and provides an
explanation for the data, while not addressing the absence or presence
of one or more supernatural entities.

> My question is simple: why defend Darwinism rather than evolutionism or
> natural selectionism? The first option presents a single person's views,
> which were indeed based on an agnostic and even sometimes atheist
> perspective. This is not in question - I've got his autobiography beside me

There are only a few problems with this statement. Darwinism may have
originally been the idea of a single person but like Einsteinism or
Newtonism, it has found support in countless data and scientists.
The idea that Darwin's ideas were based on an agnostic or even atheist
perspective is at the same time irrelevant and I believe poorly
stated, as for instance Lamoureux points out

<quote>ABSTRACT: Popular belief has led many to assume that Charles
Darwin rejected outright the notion of intelligent design. As a
consequence, the term 'Darwinism' has evolved to mean an atheistic
interpretation of evolution. A review of the historical literature
reveals that Darwin's conceptualization of design was cast within the
categories of William Paley's natural theology, featuring static and
perfect adaptability. Once Darwin discovered the mechanism of natural
selection and the dynamic process of biological evolution, he rejected
the "old argument from design in Nature" proposed by Paley. However,
he was never able to ignore the powerful experience of the creation's
revelatory activity. Darwin's encounter with the beauty and complexity
of the world affirms a Biblical understanding of intelligent design
(Ps 19 and Rom 1) and argues for the reality of a non-verbal
revelation through nature. </quote>

> if someone wants to discuss his 'science' with his beliefs. Charles Robert
> Darwin is not an archetypal theologian for Christians to follow; he did not
> become a theologian indeed! Why Christians feel obligated to defend the
> non-scientific parts of his contribution to knowlege is difficult to fathom.

It indeed is. Who would these Christians be who Arago believes hold
such a belief?

> The foundational viewpoint worth arguing about is evolutionism, which seems
> to have won the lot (i.e. is predominantly uncontested) at ASA, even William
> Dembski! (Check out the 'technological evolution' contest offered by Dembski
> at UD.)

I am not sure what you mean by evolutionism. Does it refer to the
scientific theory of evolution? Evolution may have won the scientific
debate but I find it hard to believe that evolutionism, in the sense
of a world view, has won, or that it remains predominantly uncontested
at ASA.

> PvM's defense of Darwinism seems to echo ignorant defenses of IDism. 'If
> only you first understood our views *then* you could criticize them.' Yet

Perhaps you could point out where I made such arguments. In a sense
though, they are correct in that one should at least understand the
viewpoints before one attacks them, lest one intends to create,
perhaps inadvertently, strawmen arguments.

> the fact remains there is much of Darwin's theology that has been
> criticized, and much of Malthus' too for that matter. Darwin is not immune
> to theological criticism and thus there are aspects of Darwinism that should
> not be celebrated but put in their place.

So why do we switch from darwinism to Darwin's theology? These are
mostly very different issues.

> Denyse writes: "Darwinism is the creation story." Yet we know here from Ted
> Davis, following Mary Midgley, that it is not Darwinism but 'evolution(ism)'
> that is actually considered as 'the modern day creation story.' Getting
> stuck on Darwin seems to be both a tendency of IDists and also those who
> would defend evolutionism to the depths, even when it runs against their
> Christian faith.

Yes, Denyse and many Christians do have a flawed understanding of
darwinism, and suggest that it is a theory of chance, that it denies
'purpose' or 'design'. As such, as a Christian, I feel compelled to
remind them of Augustine's wise words about Christians and science. I
indeed see ID's ignorance as a significant danger to science and even
more to religious faith

<quote>Augustine warned against a danger among Christians of his day
and ours. If the Christian insists on a certain scientific theory as
if it were the teaching of th e Bi ble, and it turned out to be wrong,
then the unbeliever will reject the Bible wholesale and miss the
saving purpose God has in composing it. This danger is so real that
Augustine emphasized it a number of times in his writings. Unreliable
knowledge of nature is not damning but it can be a stumbling block "if
he thinks his view of nature belongs to the very form of orthodox
doctrine, and dares obstinately to affirm something he does not
understand." In this case, the Christian's lack of true knowledge
becomes an obstacle to the unbeliever's embracing the truth of the
gospel. The great harm, says the bishop of Hippo, is not that "an
ignorant individual is derided" but that "people outside the household
of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions and . . . the
writers of Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned

So what were Augustine's wise words?

<quote>Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning
of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) provided excellent
advice for all Christians who are faced with the task of interpreting
Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge. This translation is by
J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume

<quote> Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the
earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the
motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative
positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the
cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals,
shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being
certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and
dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving
the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and
we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in
which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to
scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is
derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our
sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for
whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized
and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a
field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his
foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those
books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of
eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages
are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt
from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent
expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their
wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false
opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the
authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly
foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon
Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages
which they think support their position, although they understand
neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.
[1 Timothy 1.7]

I have seen much 'foolish opinions' from ID proponents when it comes
to the Darwinian theory.


> PvM <> wrote:
> Denyse O'Leary, has written a poorly reasoned posting on UcD. While it is
> mostly based on her flawed understanding of Darwinism, it does have
> something of interest to ASA.
> Let's just correct Denyse's obvious misconception that there is a
> conflict between Darwinism and traditional religions.
> Denyse, science and religion are traditionally not in conflict with
> eachother, unless one goes beyond the concept of science.
> Until Denyse familiarize herself with Darwinism, I can see why she may
> perceive that there is a conflict between science and her faith. An
> intellectual lightweight indeed.... Blame others but fail to take
> responsibility for her own ignorance about Darwinism.
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Received on Fri Dec 22 21:11:09 2006

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