Re: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Apr 25 2008 - 13:26:44 EDT

> If one takes an non-scientific line and believes that 'God guides evolution'
> and also concludes that 'God can guide any evolution,' as per the meaning of
> omnipotence, and that 'everything (except God) evolves' then this is a type
> of 'universal evolutionism' that I oppose.

What is evolution? God is certainly capable of guiding biological
evolution. More broadly, the term "evolution" can apply to many types
of change, though not generally those which are cyclical or abrupt in
a single step (e.g., changing position of the earth around the Sun
through the year or Milankovitch variations in features of the orbit
don't seem to be labeled as evolution, though one might argue that the
gradual increase in the moon-Earth distance could be called
"evolution"; likewise ice melting into water seems unlikely to be
called "evolution" but the changes in water chemistry in a body of
water over time might be called "evolution." Neither of these types
of "evolution" have any relevance to biological evolution or social
evolution; rather, they illustrate that the word "evolution" can apply
to many things.). Theologically, there are good reasons to hold that
God is unchanging in character, etc. (though there are certain types
of caveats, e.g., the real difference made by the incarnation).
Created things, in contrast, are generally subject to change and may
potentially undergo a change that could be labeled as evolution.

Similar mathematical principles may apply to disparate examples of
such change over time, so there is some potential for mutual insight
between biological evolution and studies of change in other things.
For example, Dawkins is actually correct in claiming that ideas can
behave in ways rather like genes do. (However, there are some logical
flaws in jumping from that to the premise that ideas that Dawkins
dislikes are all analogous to disease.) In the case of human social
evolution, humans are influenced by our biological heritage, so there
is a closer link between social and biological evolution.
Nevertheless, biological evolution provides only broad boundaries for
social evolution (for example, predicting that a society that imposes
sexual abstinence on all its members won't last too long without
immigration) and is often invoked illegitimately in support of various
social agendas.

This is not universal evolutionism. This is asserting that
"evolution" is a rather vague and broadly applicable word, requiring a
context to be very meaningful.

> My suspicion is that if TE/ECs were to drop the insistence on Darwinian ideas and Darwinism, while nevertheless still embracing those things that are currently valuable in biology, botany, geology, etc. that Darwin indeed greatly contibuted knowledge to, then their case would be easier to make.<

What are Darwinian ideas and Darwinism? In antievolutionary usage,
those tend to be perjoratives, applied to all sorts of things
regardless of Charles Darwin's views.

Darwin contributed important initial ideas and evidence (along with
others such as Wallace), but modern biological evolutionary concepts
involve much additional material, particularly the integration of
genetic data and processes and a greatly expanded knowledge of both
living things and fossils. It is thus not too clear that it is
appropriate to label modern biological practice as Darwinian.

Biological evolution is a key part of an EC perspective not because
EC's have any particular philosophical commitment to evolution but
because the biological and paleontological evidence clearly indicate
that biological evolution is a good model of the processes involved in
the origins of variation in organisms, including generation of new
species and higher taxa and because flagrantly bad antievolutionary
claims are such a prevalent problem.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Apr 25 13:27:43 2008

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