Re: [asa] Theist Evolutionists - Write your own theory and textbooks

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sat Mar 03 2007 - 18:36:47 EST

Valuing the contribution of Yew Hock Tan here in this thread, though I agree with only a small portion of it, at least it is worth taking seriously.
  Care with words seems rather important. ‘Christian scientists’ (as distinct from ‘Christian Scientists’) are different than scientifically-minded Christians. There are many scientifically-minded Christians at ASA, and also Christian scientists, who are ‘practising’ (mainly natural) science in their respectively diverse fields of study and research. Other loosely used terms by Yew Hock Tan are further discussed below.
  To Yew Hock Tan’s ‘ditch-it’ appeal, I (as a non-natural scientist) answer point-by-point thus:
  1. And substitute what instead – ‘seeing, directed, purposeful’? This seems to be word play rather than ultimately of consequence for practising natural scientists. At least, so they seem to say (much of it was resolved in the 19th century).
  2. A. Bob Schneider has safely addressed Yew Hock Tan’s seemingly brazen attack on ‘randomness’ in natural science. B. ‘Intelligence/’intelligent’ is a somewhat commonly used concept in human-social sciences – what’s wrong with making such an appeal there (i.e. not just B. Wiker invoking Hit-ler)? ‘Intelligent biology’ seems rather generously to borrow from social thought or theology rather than making sense as ‘pure science.’
  3. ‘Natural’ selection is not (mere) dogmatic ideology! If it was satisfactory for A.R. Wallace (a Christian scientist), then it should at least deserve contemplation by other naturalistically-minded Christians. Mind you, Wallace made a turn to socialism and debated ‘human selection’ in his post-Darwin years, though the topic doesn’t seem to come up in NS (natural scientific) discussions.
  4. Yew Hock Tan – Please bring your micro- macro- discussion into the real world where economists also operate (i.e. they are annually awarded Nobel prizes for their ‘sciences’ too)! Don’t pretend discussion of micro- macro- is the sole property of biologists or ecologists. Such is the land that discrimination and reductionism are made of!
  5. Not long ago at a scholarly conference I did exactly what Yew Hock Tan suggested by ‘ditching’ Darwin’s tree of life (i.e. the only diagram in his OoS), or rather it was something more nuanced but still going further than George’s ‘deemphasizing’ of Darwin’s role in evolutionary theory. It is actually quite shocking to read the literature of anthropologists (physical, cultural and archaeological) on what would happen as a consequence of ‘ditching’ the single-ancestor tree of life paradigm.
  How would Yew Hock Tan deal with the issue of “non-existence of the family at the early tribal stage of [hu]mankind” (1902)? (Pause for a moment, cuz this is really shocking!) He might perhaps accept the natural science of evolution (as do the vast majority of IDists), but turn rather pasty at the human-social-philosophical assumptions of evolution. It seems he wants to highlight the philosophy of evolution or human-social side of evolution rather than the pure science of evolution by raising these issues. Could it be?
  How about otoh considering a phrase like this one: ‘Ditch the dogmatism of design without a designer?’ If you’re calling on TE’s to revaluate their position, it seems only fair to accept their honest and very relevant criticisms of ID and YEC. Yes, indeed, there are some brilliant criticisms of ID made by TE’s that IDists tend to ignore or to relativize at best in accordance with their post-modern (cf. incomplete hermeneutical) views of science.
  “[A]ll these ditching will satisfy the Intelligent Design proponents and Old Earth Creationists, but not the Young Earth Creationists.” – Yew Hock Tan
  And just who exactly wants to ‘satisfy’ ID ‘proponents’ and OEC’s?? I wouldn’t necessarily call Yew Hock Tan’s posts ‘emotive,’ but they sure do seem to be politically motivated, as if getting people on one’s side were the most important item on the agenda. Such politicking seems as a sad state of affairs for natural scientists to become legalistic propagandists for a ‘renewal of science and culture’ or some such post-secularistic cause.
  Reason, emotion and fantasy are all inevitably involved in scientific work. Scientific work is done by human persons, who all have names and histories. I would ask Yew Hock Tan what aspects of ID are fantasy and what aspects of ID are rational and/or emotional?
  ‘Evolution’ is most certainly an idea. The logic of ideas (simply stated) is what ‘ideology’ is about. It is unhelpful to cut away (i.e. completely remove from discussion) the ideology of evolution in an attempt to practise ‘pure (objective) science.’
  “In terms of Darwinism being a philosophy/ideology, TE's never accepted that aspect of Darwinism.” – Jack
  It is just plain impossible to accept that Darwinism is not an ideology – call it ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’ instead of Darwinism. At best, TE’s are helping to defend the place of theology among diverse disciplines in the academy (though in the country where I live there are almost no departments of theology in the universities!). At worst, TE’s are helping to fragment the academy by dismissing the human-social sciences and their relevance. It could actually be that the atheism proposed by Dawkins, Dennett and co. is more pervasive in the human-social sciences and influences the theories, methods, research, experiments, observations, statistics, etc. in those fields much more than it does in the natural sciences. This is mentioned for the sake of those natural scientists who hold to the misunderstood ‘hard-soft’ philosophy of scholarly condescension.
  In Yew Hock Tan’s (apparently-ID) view a type of positivistic-scientism seems to be lurking under the surface – “more scientific and evidence-based!” At the same time I do sympathize with what seems to be Yew Hock Tan’s central question: what are TE’s willing to abandon or to distance themselves from about Darwin’s view of natural-physical evolution? What aspects of Darwin’s theory of evolution do TE’s accept and what aspects do they reject?
  “[D]rop those aspects of Darwinism that seem like ‘ideology’ (actually I mean philosophy).” – Yew Hock Tan
  It actually seems like neither he nor perhaps even many TE’s know what they really mean! Is evolution ideology or (merely) a philosophy? Or do Christians use both kinds of evolution in cooperation with their respective approaches to natural science(s)?
  “If evolution really happened…” – Yew Hock Tan
  Hint: This is the wrong way to start a sentence when writing to TE’s! :-) Result: Instant questioning of motives and allegiances (i.e. school’s of thought, paradigms) forthcoming.
  ‘Evolution’ has moved theoretically beyond Darwin and ‘relativity’ has moved theoretically beyond Einstein. But this does not erase the fact that those persons were the two who at one time actually ‘turned the tide.’
  “Is it not high time Theist Evolutionists write your own textbooks and theory of evolution?” – Yew Hock Tan
  And how about this question for folks at ASA – is it legitimate? Or is Perspectives of an Evolving Creation the current ‘textbook’ for (i.e. best revealing) ‘the’ TE perspective? If it wasn’t all about textbook battles and school board sticker disputes, I’d second Yew Hock Tan’s idea that a TE text could be rather important for raising the profile of what a good chunk of convinced TE’s at ASA would seemingly like to accomplish.
  In your respectful service,
  p.s. these views do not represent those of the highly appreciated administration at ASA
"(Matthew) Yew Hock Tan" <> wrote:

Thanks for your response.

I understood what you mean, and I also knew from your website that you are a physicist.

I suppose the use of the words "ditch" and "ideology" makes it sound "quite emotive". But I am simply using the same words the Chronicle uses, which I thought might stimulate brilliant minds here. And the bacteria "not stupid" is from the title of a cool-headed scientific article which is certainly not emotive.

I was just thinking how far Theist Evolutionists here are prepared to go to drop these aspects of Darwinism (the ideology/philosophy) - not Darwin himself. This was prompted by the Chronicle's report that "scholars from both sides of the Atlantic agreed that scientists should change the way they present their views" and "Terms like Darwinism can make evolutionary biology seem like an ideology".

Don't you agree that to change the way to present the evolution theory so that it does not seem like an ideology and to "win the argument" on evolution might require revamping or reformulate the theory -- make it more scientific and evidence-based and drop those aspects of Darwinism that seem like "ideology" (actually I mean philosophy).

If the Theist Evolutionists would think out-of-the-box, many of the philosophical assumptions I mentioned are not really necessary for the theory. If evolution really happened, it might not happen in the way the textbooks presented it; there might not be a single-ancestor tree of life, evolution of novel structures and organs might not have come about through "random" mutations. Why put in all these unscientific stuffs which are really philosophical worldviews - making the theory seems like a dogmatic (and in extreme cases even anti-God) ideology?

No wonder Theist Evolutionists here have admitted (in another thread) that the creationists see you as "lapdogs" of the atheists to serve as "one night stand" for their apologetic purposes. I am not being emotive here. These were actually written by the Theist Evolutionists here.

Is it not high time Theist Evolutionists write your own textbooks and theory of evolution?
-- Given the recent articles by evolutionist biologists Doolittle and James Shapiro, the URL I repeat here:

(1) "Uprooting the Tree of Life" by Doolittle Bacteria are small but not stupid:
Cognition, natural genetic engineering, and sociobacteriology
by James A. Shapiro

George Murphy <> wrote: I should make it clear that when I approved of "ditching Darwin" I was speaking about de-emphasizing (not eliminating) Darwin as an individual in arguing for evolution.
  (When I speak about relativity I of course may refer to Einstein but don't spend time eulogizing him or refer to "Einsteinism.")
  I am not a biologist & so won't comment on the proposals below except to say that they're stated in quite emotive ways that are not really appropriate for scientific proposals.
    ----- Original Message -----
  From: (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan
  Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2007 3:02 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Ditch Darwin To Advance Theory of Evolution, says Professor of Evolutionary Biology

To what extent are Christian scientists willing to ditch Darwin - supposing that there is a general agreement that the theory of biological evolution as presented today (Darwinism) is "dogmatic ideology"?

1. Ditch the principle of blind, undirected/direction-less, purposeless operating forces?
2. Ditch "random" mutations as a mechanism? Maybe intelligent nonrandom correlated mutations? Or simply, unknown mutations? Or, better still, just say "changes in the genome".
James Shapiro suggests that bacteria are sentient intelligent ("not stupid") beings capable of re-engineering themselves intelligently (with computational and information processing capabilities). (Read the Abstract)

3. Ditch "natural" selection? That will mean ditching "dogmatic ideology" of materialistic naturalism to allow for unknown forces operating the selection.

(With respect to macro-evolution)

4. Ditch the assumption that micro-evolution can be extrapolated to macro-evolution?
5. Ditch the dogmatism of single-ancestor tree of life?
After all, there is already an article by Doolittle titled "Uprooting the Tree of Life" If we go far enough, that will allow for creationist notion of "limited evolution" within "kinds" of creatures.

6. Redefine evolution to mean simply the change over time in the morphology and/or genome of living organism? (without the assumption of the tree of life)

I believe all these ditching will satisfy the Intelligent Design proponents and Old Earth Creationists, but not the Young Earth Creationists.

George Murphy <> wrote: He's right. Emphasis on Darwin as an individual, the use of the term "Darwinism" and (what was discussed at one AAAS session) the coupling of "Evolution Sunday" with Darwin's birthday serve to antagonize conservative Christians and keep them from giving evolution a fair hearing. Of course Darwin's name needn't be avoided studiously, but there's no need to inflate his role either. Evolution can be discussed without talking about the histopry of the subject, just as classical mechanics can be presented without talking about Newton. & to the extent that the history is discussed, giving Wallace partial credit can help.
    ----- Original Message -----
  From: (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan
  Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 12:16 PM
  Subject: [asa] Ditch Darwin To Advance Theory of Evolution, says Professor of Evolutionary Biology

  The theory of biological evolution as it is presented today is dogmatic ideology? This professor has called for scientists to de-emphasize Darwin. It is significant that he made this call at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in San Francisco. This news article is for subscriber. But you can read it from the "cache" of Google search result.The Chronicle of Higher EducationMonday, February 19, 2007

  De-emphasizing Darwin Might Advance the Argument for Evolution, Biologist Says at Scientists' MeetingIn his controversial book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins insisted that scientists should work to dispel the idea that God exists. Without religion, Mr. Dawkins has said, the conflict between scientists' beliefs about evolution and the fundamentalist religious belief that a supernatural intelligence created all life would vanish. Now an evolutionary biologist has proposed a different tack. In a meeting last weekend in San Francisco, he suggested scientists might win the argument by ditching Darwin.

  Mr. Kutschera, a professor of plant physiology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kassel in Germany, said scientists should emphasize that evolution is a fully formed field of biological study "built up by generations of non-dogmatic scientists." Terms like Darwinism can make evolutionary biology seem like an ideology, rather than a focus of empirical work, he said.
  Few think that Darwin himself is such a divisive figure. But at a session on growing anti-evolutionary sentiment in Europe, scholars from both sides of the Atlantic agreed that scientists should change the way they present their views.
  Pressure from religious groups to teach alternatives to evolution, such as intelligent design, in science classes once seemed mostly an American problem, but that is no longer true.

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Received on Sat Mar 3 18:37:17 2007

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