RE: [asa] A Message from the RTB Scholar Team (fwd)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Sun Apr 20 2008 - 12:43:42 EDT

Perhaps I am simplifying too much, but is this not merely the old Nature versus nurture issue? Surely, we may have "evolution" in both Nature and the social, cultural, ethical, spiritual, etc. arenas.





From: on behalf of Rich Blinne
Sent: Sun 4/20/2008 10:29 AM
To: Gregory Arago
Cc: Dave Wallace;
Subject: Re: [asa] A Message from the RTB Scholar Team (fwd)

On Apr 20, 2008, at 4:54 AM, Gregory Arago wrote:

        Though it will convince no one who has not stepped outside of their 'normal science' paradigm, let me reiterate the problem and a solution. George says 'human evolution.' I ask for greater nuance because humans are not ONLY biological entities, but also social, cultural, ethical, spiritual, etc. Thus, when one says something like 'humans evolve,' they are of course correct, but ONLY on the biological level. The other levels, however, cannot be 'reduced' to mere biology; they must be given their own respective position, which simply calling it 'human evolution' obscures. So really, what I am claiming is that George is (in one sense, and probably lovably so) an obscurantist who is stubborn to protect his particular (imo outdated) philosophy of science (PoS). I am glad and ready to pit my PoS against his and to challenge him to investigate the sociology of science, which he knows little to nothing about. This in no way lowers my respect for his contribution to theological know!
 ledge, to his pastoral role or to his particular command of theoretical physics.

George is not the obscurantist. You are. As many people has said before, start your own thread and don 't hijack an existing one. The same goes for the use of terms. The study of the sociology of science is an important one. But since we are the object of your study, we will also know when your study does not reflect reality. If you showed more care you would notice that there is not a singular PoS on this list. This is true also outside the list. Later you complain about excess reductionism but I contend that is what you (and ID) does. As I said in the post you quoted there are those who appropriate the word evolution beyond biology do so in error. So, DON'T USE THE WORD!

        Two comments display the difficulty in expressing my argument quite clearly. Rich writes: "Evolution = biological descent with modification unless marked otherwise. If you put an adjective in front of evolution then it may be something completely different." And Bernie writes: "Note: any time I use the term "evolution" by itself it means biological evolutionary theory. Arggh." Please excuse that I am challenging the position of an electrical engineer and a tele-evangelist, as it says on (Bernie's blog - please forgive if my google search points to a person who is not you!) about the 'meaning of evolution'. These two statements are so strongly opposed to criticism, so dependent upon a particular view of what science is and what it isn't, so unflexible to the new knowledge that has been added by history, philosophy and sociology of science (not to mention hermeneutic philosophy and linguistics), that to change their minds would be exceedingly difficult!! Yet, I persist on my!
  course with the view that in the long run it will win out, even with natural scientists.

And when the natural scientists spoke up who did they side with, huh? What this shows is that our particular subfield is not an obstacle to discussion. All that is required is that we get our facts straight. The ASA allows membership of those of us who while having a background in the sciences work in technology. It also allows people in the so-called soft science to join. So, cut the crap about how the ASA or this list will not accept new knowledge from other fields. David O. brings in his legal background. Ted Davis is quite a capable historian.

Both of my quotes (don't blame Bernie here) were how *I* was using the term and I didn't want to expand my post with needless qualifications that everybody but you doesn't need. They are not dependent on any particular view of science, BTW. It is because you are so strongly opposed to criticism that you don't realize that. I may not be an expert on many of the things on this list -- although I try to research areas outside my expertise carefully and given the response of the real experts I believe I have been successful -- I am an expert on *me*. What I and others such as David O. show is what your job specialization is not an impediment of being heard and even respected. You have proven you simply don't have a clue of what or how I think. It is that and not that you want to bring in sociology and philosophy and history -- all of which I believe would be quite valuable -- that makes your ideas not well received here.

Your approach of "I really know what you think" is one of the reasons ID is proving to be a very weak apologetic. When it says that it *knows* what I think it misses the mark. When Expelled claims that secular scientists are oppressing Christians and those of us who rub shoulders with secular scientists don't see it they accuse us falsely. Note what the NY Times said:

        Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" (Simon & Schuster, 2006), explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because "he is toeing the party line," Mr. Ruloff said.

        That's "just ludicrous," Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are "a bit puzzled" by his faith, he said, "they are generally very respectful." He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it.

        Dr. Collins was not asked to participate in the film.

If ID gets us wrong, maybe, just maybe, they are getting our secular colleagues wrong, too. As I stated many times in the past false accusations is a very poor apologetic strategy.

        'Evolution,' speaking etymologically, is considerably older (17th century) than the 'field of biology' (19th century - Lamarck, 1802). Modern biology has appropriated it as 'it's own' and this part of the problem I am highlighting. Others seems to take it for granted that the field of biology 'owns the rights' to the term 'evolution.' I beg to differ.
        For example, Jaroslav Pelikan traces the roots of 'evolution' in the English language to the Cambridge Platonists. Of course, the Latin word 'evolvere' is older than the English 'evolution.' If one attempts or assumes that 'evolution' by itself MEANS 'biological evolutionary theory' then they are impressing their view on others who disagree. I disagree and am not impressed because in the last five years I have done considerable research, both academic and personal, on the diverse meanings of evolution. Thus, to conflate evolutionary psychology, evolutionary economics and evolutionary sociology (just to provide three examples), with evolutionary biology, and to assume (without asking the bigger questions) a priority for biology in one's 'hierarchy of knowledge,' is to do a disservice to those 'other' fields and the serious multi-logues they have had (and sometimes still having) regarding this contentious term 'evolution'.

So, why don't YOU qualify your terms when you use evolution in a non-standard sense? That's all it would take. In fact, we are doing everything in our power NOT to conflate evolution with faux evolution. If you had carefully read what you just quoted you would have seen that. (And you would get a lot more allies against so-called -- and I mean so-called -- evolutionary psychology, sociology etc.) Again, ID is not helpful here because they are conflating like mad, particularly the latest example of Expelled.

        Particularly to Rich, let it be noted I am quite prepared to admit my failure to convince people at ASA about certain things. The 'miserable' part at least does not accurately apply to my disposition in the face of this failure. This has been frustrating because to me it seems quite logical that natural scientists could openly accept and respect the perspective of a human-social scientist on his (or her) own terms. Quite obviously I am a multi-logue partner at ASA completely unfamiliar to most of the participants there.

We would if you would return the courtesy and let us discuss things on our own terms. Again, start your own thread and don't hijack others. I would happily accept the a social scientist if he/she presents good evidence but so far you have not. Note when the topic is the sociology of scientists we are also experts not because we are scientists but because we are the society being studied. So, as a person who lives in the scientific world -- and yes engineers do live in this world, cf. any IEEE journal -- you have completely missed the mark. Unlike what ID often does we don't overgeneralize this to your social science colleagues and go "Woe is us we are being oppressed by social scientists" just because a single person doesn't "get it".

        You have not embraced my vision of expanding your understandings of evolution outside of the natural sciences and you have, with all due respect, not understood the importance for Christian ministry, apologetics, '(natural) science and religion' discourse or self-knowledge of distinguishing between origins and processes, between society, culture and nature (cf. socialism, culturalism and naturalism), which inevitably includes reflexive methods that positivistic science generally excludes categorically (e.g. Moorad's position that psychology is not 'scientific' in the same sense as 'physics').

Moorad is not at all representative of us and none of us practice positivistic science. We are Christians and because of this we don't believe the material world is all that is. There are many things we say are not science. But, that doesn't mean that it is not true. You will note that our critique of RTB is that it so focus on science in its apologetic. As far as I can understand RTB and ID like the cachet of science and do not understand its self-imposed limitations. Science is not well suited to apologetics. So, I generally keep my science and apologetics separate. It doesn't make me positivistic it just makes me wise in that I use the right tools for the right job.

        I am sad for this, but hopeful that someday ASA will come to seek a cooperative relationship between natural sciences, human-social sciences and humanities that mirrors or somehow echoes its insistence on minimizing the conflict between science and religion, the woefully misguided 'warfare model' that was foisted on it by those without holistic knowledge, who protested what was then in America the status quo.

Most of the ASA is dedicated against the warfare model and when we or RTB seek to be consistent to this we get trashed by ID. Again, it is ID and not us who are hostile to the social sciences. When I tried to discuss theology and philosophy on Uncommon Descent, I (and others like me) got banned. You see, I tried to present a holistic view of things and such was completely intolerable. What this proved is that Uncommon Descent is not pro-ID (I was promoting intelligent design but not using science to do it) but anti-evolution. When we are sloppy with terms like you and ID have been you see the word evolution and you just go nuts. That's why we are being sticklers here on you not changing the meaning of the word evolution on us. Know your friends. Know your enemies. Learn to tell the difference.

I'm finished here and have probably exhausted the patience of other people on the list. It's off to Coventry for you.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Sun Apr 20 12:46:40 2008

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