Re: [asa] Fw: Message to Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of Michigan

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sun Apr 06 2008 - 09:32:19 EDT

This is unfair, George. I am not 'demanding detailed definitions of every word' to improve communicative clarity (though detailed definitions would plainly help, there is not always or even often time or energy for this). However, if you mean 'biological evolution' then say 'biological evolution'. Don't just say 'evolution'! Is this so hard to do?!? If so, then why?

  Rather than narrowly focussing on specialized precision (e,g, pedantic grammar from one scientific community that does not transfer into or make sense to that of another), I am making an appeal to admit the generality of the term 'evolution,' which George, among others at ASA seems not to want to do. Just the biology!? HPSS frankly asks: which evolution, whose evolution? These questions should be kept in mind due to the diversity of views about evolution (e.g. is it merely 'change-over-time'?), across a wide range of disciplines in the contemporary academy and outside it.
  In point of fact, for the record, in Dave Siemens Jr.'s letter to Gov. Michigan, which he posted to the ASA list, the word 'evolution' is not even used! He writes about Darwinism and once again thrashes at ID. I was responding to George's blanket statements about 'evolution' in which he claimed the mantle of 'everybody knows.' The 'whose evolution?' question, if acknowledged (which George has yet to do, choosing instead to monopolize), adequately exposes this fallacious mantle. Dave's equating of 'Darwinism' with 'biological sciences' nevertheless also reduces an ideology that has passed the boundaries of biology to influence other academic fields, thus holding too narrow a definition of evolution.
  Neither you, nor I, George, has any right to speak about 'what everybody knows.' Which 'everybody' are you referring to? You and I are both limited/constrained by our fields of education, study and discourse in which we participate.
  This is said not to denigrate your qualifications - far from it. I am saying this to help you both to realize it (which of course you already do, thus, I don't know why you exaggerate sociologically) and to encourage you to integrate it into your linguistic expression, i.e. how you communicate. I have careful business in discussing evolution, and for the most part I don't mean biological evolution. Call me a ghost hunter if you like! At least try to learn what the chase is about...
  G. Arago
  p.s. thinking about George today during a sermon involving D. Bonhoeffer
George Murphy <> wrote:
      Gregory can find in the archives my post of 18 February in which I explained why demanding detailed definitions of every word one uses even though they are common currency in the community of discourse in question is just a pedantic waste of time.
  In the present case, anyone who doesn't know that "evolution" in something like the letter to Gov. Granholm means "biological evolution" simply doesn't have any business discussing the subject.
    ----- Original Message -----
  From: Gregory Arago
  To: George Murphy ; gordon brown ;
  Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2008 6:28 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Fw: Message to Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of Michigan

  If biological evolution is equivalent with just 'evolution,' then why bother adding the term 'biological'? The phrase 'everybody knows' (bolded below) is just window-dressing - it has no meaning when spoken in that way. A person can easily be opposed to evolution in one sphere, while supporting it in another. Do you accept this?
  In what spheres do you oppose evolution, George??? In none, is my guess! (Or, if you actually do, then you won't say it out loud.)
  If so, then a logical conclusion is to blame some of the misunderstanding on those who are not willing to add the term 'biological' to 'evolution' when they are really speaking only about biologically 'evolving' things, and not about social, cultural or economic things. Some at ASA have expressed recognition of the importance of being clear linguistically and not pretending that evolution = biological evolution, that is, to the exclusion of all other types of evolution. If one means specifically 'biological evolution,' then he or she should say 'biological evolution' and not ASSUME that is what is meant (with one's insulated, predisposed dialogue partners) by simply saying 'evolution'!
  What's wrong, George with forgetting about (better: rejecting) 'evolutionary philosophy'? If you are not able or willing to answer this, then your strong TE/EC view has little or no ground to stand on, there may be actually no balance at all in your perspective on how science, philosophy and religion are inter-related. It may be that your philosophy has become eventually tainted by accepting the 'power' of biological thought on other areas of the contemporary academy.

George Murphy <> wrote:
          The agenda of those opposed to evolution in public education is precisely that, opposition to evolution. (& by that I mean & they mean - N.B. Gregory - opposition to biological evolution. Everybody knows what is meant by the word "evolution" in such a statement and there is no need to be hyper-pedantic by spelling it out every time the word is used.) I.e., their primary concern in dealing with education in public schools concern is not what to put in place of evolution - ID, 6-day creation, &c. They'll debate that among themselves. What they would like to do first of all is get rid of evolution. Failing that, they at least want to keep students from taking it seriously. That's the whole point of the "teach the controversy" slogan. By "expressing skepticism" about evolution they can convey to students who already may be biased against it from their home & church environments that while they may have to learn some stuff about evolution on tests, they can
 forget it as soon as the class is done.

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Received on Sun Apr 6 09:33:48 2008

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