Re: [asa] Altruism and ID

From: PvM <>
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 22:36:55 EDT

On 6/13/07, Gregory Arago <> wrote:
> The likelihood of my having continued interest to 'discuss' altruism and ID
> with Pim much after this is very small.

So far you have failed to discuss much of anything related to altruism.

> My apparent confusion is Pim's intrusion. Is he really so stubborn and

Intrusion? What a particularly weird word to use.

> full-of on-line debate and insult throwing against ID and ID advocates that
> he won't pause for a moment and simply admit: concepts are not biological
> entities?

The two are totally unrelated. And I am not throwing insults against
ID advocates or making up arguments of what they believe, I am
arguing, based on solid evidence and logic that ID is scientifically

> "the concept of altruism evolved, refers to how scientists and philosophers
> have learned more and more about altruism and the meaning of altruism has
> gained various meanings." - Pim
> Let's apply a linguistic analysis to this paragraph: the word 'evolved' is
> linked with 'more and more' - this has been called the 'progressivist'
> legacy of evolutionary philosophy. 'Scientists and philosophers learn'
> suggests that science and philosophy is 'evolving,' i.e. getting better,

Nope, a common confusion amongst some seem to be evolution and better.
Evolution is not about getting better perse.

> i.e. progressing - new knowledge is added to our understandings. The passive
> voice is twice used: 'have learned' and 'has gained' - such language is

Our understanding is evolving yes

> consistent with evolutionary philosophy that underpriviledges human agency.


> 'Various meanings' - this acknowledges that many fields of study can attach
> meaning to the concept of 'altruism.' O.k.

> Now that the linguistics is addressed, let's start conceptualizing! The

Not much linguistics here really.

> concept of evolution may CHANGE, but it does not EVOLVE. A concept is not a
> bio-physical entity! Ideas are not physical things; don't listen to the
> philosophy of Marx as an authority here. Let those who are conversant in
> ideas, as a profession, take priority over naturalists (Wilson, Trivers,
> Dawkins, et al.) who have ideological bones to pick with an altruism rooted
> in religious understandings of the place of human beings in the universe.
> Pim's definition of altruism seems devoid of any reference to spiritual
> wisdom; the evolution of humanity is an entirely physical process and the
> ethics of human life are reducible to genes! Where is God in Pim's version
> of 'science says' altruism?

You're a bit unfocused in your arguments so I do not really know what
to say other than to reject your claims, if any.

> Meanings are indeed constructed, filtered through human knowledge, feeling
> and experience. Reason, emotion and fantasy are involved together. Let's not
> package off our knowledges and understandings so quickly. It is not so
> cut-and-dry as a physicist/physical oceanographer might imagine it.

Or as you may imagine it? So far most of your claims seem to be
fancyful and fancyless imaginations.

> There is much more to this than simply 'science has discovered...' - it gets
> at the fundamental meanings, values and purpose of science in contemporary
> societies, and the importance of philosophical and theological knowledge and
> even wisdom in forming our collective and individual identities.

Yawn... Not really of much interest to me really. Once science has
establish the 'truth' to the best extent we know it, philosophers and
theologians may argue over the meaning of it all, I have no problem
with such a venture.

> Why natural scientists should be given priority in Pim's personal study of
> altruism is a mystery. It seems to me that, caught within a paradigmatic box

Because, if altruism is indeed a scientific concept, as the evidence
suggests, then why should we leave it in the hands of laymen?

> of evolutionism, he merely reinforces the Enlightenment view that reason and
> science will lead to progress.

Sorry to again disprove you. But you are wrong. Perhaps rather than
making up what I do and do not believe, you should attempt to
formulate an argument based on logic and reason and less based on an
ad hominem approach.

> Now Pim, of course, has the opportunity to explain how he doesn't actually
> adhere to my caricature of him, rather than simply lashing out at what he
> thinks is apparent confusion on my behalf. That is, he could act

It's not just apparent but obvious confusion on your behalf and I see
no reason to be bound to proving my position just because someone hold
fanciful beliefs about what he believes my thoughts and beliefs

> Christianly, with charity and grace, which fits with his study of altruism.

I am acting with charity by responding to your email rather than
ignore it, as I have done with your uninvited email 'conversation'.

> Yes, of course I have incomplete knowledge (please excuse economics
> language, thanks to Hayek) about Pim's motivations. But I still don't see
> why he doesn't search for meanings, values and purposes attached to the
> concept and/or ideology of 'altruism' that are more consistent with
> Christian thought rather than allying himself (by this I mean quoting others
> as if they are 'real' authorities) with Wilson, Trivers, Smith, Dawkins and
> others who would deny the influence of religious thought on altruistic
> behaviour. Such a position seems to me ultimately untenable and contra la
> mission de ASA.

Is it? Or are we as Christians responsible for, as St Augustine puts
it so well, avoiding scientific ignorance? Even if you are right about
their motivations, this does not necessarily undermine their findings.
Surely such a simplistic ad hominem view of the world should be
rejected in favor of an attempt at understanding?

And as usual Gregory seems to be confusing quoting with allying.

And yet despite all these words, Gregory has yet to address the meat
of the issue about altruism.

Somehow I do understand and gracefully accept his response as a
sincere though failed attempt to communicate.

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Received on Wed Jun 13 22:37:25 2007

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