Re: [asa] Ditch Darwin To Advance Theory of Evolution

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Sun Mar 11 2007 - 19:11:18 EDT


I missed this response for some reason.

Comments interspersed:

On Mar 7, 2007, at 3:32 PM, Gregory Arago wrote:

> “I see about as much need for a Theistic Evolutionist textbook as I
> see for a Theistic Chemist textbook or a Theistic Physicist
> textbook or ... name your discipline.” – Terry Gray
> But ‘evolution’ is not a scientific ‘discipline’ like chemistry,
> physics or biology (or economics)!! It is a scientific theory,
> paradigm, etc. Are you really meaning to elevate it as such into a
> ‘discipline?’ Why not someone write a book that clearly defines
> ‘theistic evolution’ and its contribution to knowledge? Or, let me
> repeat, is Perspectives of an Evolving Creation the best (or only)
> current reference work, i.e. a TE-oriented book?

Yes, this is exactly what I'm saying. Evolutionary biology is a
scientific sub-discipline of biology. I don't really know what you're
getting out with the "theistic" part. Theistic evolutionary biology
is in exactly the same category as theistic quantum mechanics. The
"theistic" part is a purely theological perspective that contributes
very little, if not nothing, to the scientific content of the
disciple. It's part of worldview/paradigm surrounding the discipline--
it can "Theistic" or it can be "Naturalistic". The "biological
evolution" looks exactly the same in terms of the science. In this
case, either God is controlling the process (Theistic) or He's not
(Naturalistic). Science can't distinguish between those two.

> If TE’s are those who are trying to re-legitimize our Creator
> alongside the scientific language of the day (i.e. the theistic
> part of TE), then let us ask which comes first priority-wise:
> scientific language or theological language? In this sense, let us
> ask if D. Lamoureux’s ‘evolutionary creation’ (with which several
> persons at ASA apparently agree) is not more suitable than
> ‘theistic [e.g. sold out to naturalistic] evolution.’ This is
> written with intentional bluntness-of-tongue, though at the same
> time hopefully perceived with, at bottom, utmost Christian respect.

No need for theological language in the scientific literature. That
doesn't mean that the theological framework isn't there.
Perspectives... is not an evolutionary biology textbook, it's a
collection of perspectives on evolutionary biology.

> “It seems that the only folks who treat Darwinism as an ideology
> are the Creationists and ID folks.” – Terry Gray
> I’m neither a creationist nor an IDist. But Darwinism simply IS an
> ideology – why try to avoid this or play with words? Rather just
> say ‘Darwin’s theory of natural selection’ or ‘Darwin’s theory of
> evolution’ or even ‘Darwinian theory’ if you want to avoid the
> charge of IDEOLOGY (-ism, -ism).

Darwinism can be an ideology, but it can also be a synonym for
evolutionary biology. Yes, Darwin's theory of natural selection is
what I'm talking about here. And that's the way most biologists use
it. It's a matter of definition, I guess (semantics?). For me, "-ism"
doesn't necessarily imply ideology. I don't believe that most
biologists use it that way. (Any more than they use Lamarckianism to
be an ideology--it's shorthand for the theory best associated with
that particular name.)

> TE’s seem to try avoiding the ideology inherent-in-Darwinism simply
> because they are for the most part not trained in fields which deal
> with the actual meaning of ideology; because they are natural or
> physical scientists! Some of the ID writers happen to have a strong
> point to make about the ideologies inherent-in-Darwinism and in-
> evolutionism. Please don’t try to tell a social scientist that
> Darwinism is not an ideology – this would be ridiculous!! It thus
> appears that I am here to challenge you, Terry, and others at ASA
> (which officially at least welcomes psychologists, sociologists,
> anthropologists and engineers, along with traditional ‘scientists’)
> on the inherent-ideology of specialized natural science views, in
> this case Darwinism and theistic evolutionism.

I guess I'm claiming the ridiculous! Again, I readily recognize that
Darwinism can be an ideology, e.g. social Darwinism. But, it doesn't
have to be and I would claim that most biologists and the
professional scientific literature doesn't use Darwinism in that way.

> Come to think of it, that’s the first time I recall reading
> anywhere that contentious ideology: ‘theistic evolutionism.’ How
> can a person be a TE, without accepting TEism? Perhaps it is worth
> noting that Lamoureux is not an ‘evolutionary creationist,’ but a
> scientist/scholar who accepts ‘evolutionary creation.’

Lamoureux is an "evolutionary creationist" if he is a scientist/
scholar who accepts "evolutionary creation"!

> “semantics and not science.” – Terry Gray
> Are you saying that those who study semantics at a scholarly level
> simply cannot be considered (as if on holy ground) ‘scientific,’
> even if they apply scientific methods to semantics? Or does it
> rather appear that you have taken a perspective that privileges
> ‘SCIENCE’ (cf. ‘scientism’) at the cost of acknowledging other
> important contributions to what counts as socially-humanly
> important knowledge? Such a view would seem to contradict a
> ‘democratic’ approach to the meaning of ‘university,’ which
> supposedly accords respect, value and tolerance to diverse fields
> of study according to their claims on knowledge, wisdom and truth.

Give me a break. There is a science of semantics. That's not how I'm
using the word. If you don't know what I mean here then this
conversation is going to be difficult. The point I'm making is that
the choice of words (what I meant in using the word semantics)
doesn't change the science behind "random mutations" and "changes in
the genome" if you understand "random mutations" and "changes in the
genome" to be the same thing.

> Or perhaps TE is rather just about ‘information!?’
> Gregory A.
> Share your photos with the people who matter at Yahoo! Canada Photos

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

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Received on Mon Mar 12 00:41:49 2007

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