RE: [asa] How theistic evolution was explained to kids in 1964

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Tue Jul 29 2008 - 22:54:30 EDT

You have to remember though, Moorad, that many TEs are actually NOT Darwinists (or neo-Darwinists); they just don't like the label! It gets difficult to discern how each person approaches this rather iconic figure in scientific history. On this list people have suggested that 'Darwinism' and 'evolutionary biology' are synonymous!
With such cases in view, it would be helpful for TEs to distinguish what they reject about Darwinian ideas from what they accept. Can their 'science' hold together without his ideologies, which are quite obviously spread throughout his work (reading Descent of Man recently shows this quite clearly - one things about Darwin, no need for translation into English)? Why not do this specifically and openly thus to distance themselves from the ideology of evolutionism and to maintain the legitimacy of biological science, which has over-flown its borders in such forays as sociobiology and now evolutionary psychology? I see a serious tendency to intertwine evolutionary ideology with theology, which of course several people at ASA will find offensive and profusely deny. 'Not them, not theirs' - they act responsibly to both the science and the faith.
Yet what they often miss is that I am looking at their 'marriage' of science and religion from a philosophical perspective, which they have (willingly or not) by-passed in reaching their current 'equilibrium' balance of theism and biological evolution. Hans Jonas' 1966 text "The Phenomenon of LIfe: Towards a Philosophical Biology" is excellent in opening this area up for exposure. A larger realm of discourse awaits TEs once they cross over the borders of their convenient dialogue boxes on this expansive topic. It seems a constant regress here to fall back upon 'evolution in natural science is the only thing TE deals with' when in reality it is the 'evolution in human-social thought' that is immeasurably more important to human existence, self and collective understanding than biology is.
Notice that above I didn't say 'natural history,' but 'scientific history' because 'nature' and 'science' are not quite the siamese twins some seem to claim for them. The Newton Project is a great recent revealer in this conversation. It likewise only takes a fairly quick, reasonable, open-minded survey of Philosophy of Science (an established scholarly discipline that has proven results, some of which scientists themselves reject or neglect), with Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos AND PAUL Feyerabend to realize the (positive) relativity of 'scientific' methods and methodology. Science can actually address more than 'just nature' - it is some natural scientists who are operating under delusions that 'nature-only' is a term they can hold onto like owners of some intellectual and technological capital that is also not 'material-only'. Yes, I know this includes you, a physicist - turning - philosopher, Moorad. :-) It is always surprising to me how much
 easier it is for physicists than for psychologists to accept a world in which divinity plays a REAL part.
I am pleased to read of Rich's acceptance of my two definitions of theistic evolution as: 'theism accepting the limited explanation of biological evolution' and 'evolution in natural sciences that is friendly to theology.' This displays my opposition to universalistic evolutionism and Total (Formative) Evolution, which over-uses evolutionary logic (at the cost of what? - TEs might ask), but not always. He opposes, however, my stronger point that much TE is actually the 'marrying of theology with evolutionistic ideology.' Yet his opposition to and denial of this actually makes my point more expressive, given that most TE are indeed inclined to natural scientific understandings of 'evolutionary theories' and not so inclined to areas like anthropology, economics, sociology or psychology, which are arguably much more relevant for the life of the Church than any natural science on the menu.
Why not investigate the ideology of evolutionary theories, Darwinian theories, Rich and then come back to me with your results? We are, after all, as scholars in the academy (or now retired) searching for truth and reality and relevance to the lives of people and not just to producing the next patent for a business to make a mint out of. Science will wait with its breath held out of curiosity yet again; so will Human Culture.
When Iain calls 'evolution' - "God's [single] method of creation" [word added] - I would be more satisfied if he would leave open the plurality door - no doubt the Creator has many methods of creating, not just ONE. Of course, Iain surely accepts that too, it is just that the concept of 'evolution' is invested with such heavy ideological weight and each much ascertain their place and pressure with respect to it. It is like some of the IDists who insist in the 'd' concept as their preferred metaphor above others; they have elevated 'design' in their vocabulary sensitivities and priorities of expression (to self and to others). I'd ask Iain, as has been welcomed by some here at ASA, to tread more carefully with language in assuming that the concept of 'evolution' applies in all of the places that it is used. Communication is key here; as much or moreso than biology. Why not tame your use of evolution rather than applying it sloppily so that it does not
 proliferate misunderstanding?

A logical connection that this thread could make at some point is to compare how TE was explained in 1964 to how it is explained now. Do you folks think it has 'changed' (or 'evolved' to the gratuitous users of the verb 'to evolve') in almost 45 years? Is TE clearer now than it was there or is it still an obscure concept duo awaiting more exact expression, (e.g. i think it was Keith Miller who called TE a philosophy here not long ago)? Do you think more people accept TE now than before? Or is the reason such vast numbers are attracted to ID rather than TE/EC an indication that TE has not gained as much traction as its adherents would like? 
Because I was in two meetings in the USA across the space of a month, once with mainly TEs and once with mainly IDs. Did anyone hear about the Oxford conference "God, Design and Nature," which was claimed as a victory by IDists? Sometimes simple answers and straight talk is so much more valuable and rewarding than all of this complexity (and informatization). Though it sometimes obscures our efforts to better understand one another, may that it not be deemed an invincible barier to fellowship, unity and wholeness, thus allowing us to invite new views (e.g. neo-ID) to be heard that don't fit into the old boxes.

--- On Wed, 7/30/08, Alexanian, Moorad <> wrote:

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Subject: RE: [asa] How theistic evolution was explained to kids in 1964
To: "Stephen Matheson" <>, "ASA List" <>
Received: Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 5:56 AM

Are we dealing with science when we invoke evolution? If evolution explains the
working of Nature, why invoke God? That is what a Darwinist would say.





From: on behalf of Stephen Matheson
Sent: Tue 7/29/2008 5:03 PM
To: ASA List
Subject: RE: [asa] How theistic evolution was explained to kids in 1964

Try any Christian creed for the answer to this question.

Are you baffled because you assume that Christians "invoke God" only
when things don't "run smoothly"?

>>> "Alexanian, Moorad" <> 07/29/08
4:35 PM >>>
I am baffled. If everything is running smoothly according to your
understanding, then why invoke God?



From: on behalf of Iain Strachan
Sent: Tue 7/29/2008 4:31 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] How theistic evolution was explained to kids in 1964

> Greg
> p.s. not sure why you call this 'theistic evolution' as it really
seems to
> be relevant merely as 'theism accepting the limited explanation of
> biological evolution' or 'evolution in natural sciences that is
friendly to
> theology' rather than a 'marrying of theology with evolutionistic

Because the following sentence:

"If God made the world and runs the world, then evolution _is_ God's

seems to me to say beautifully clearly and in terms that could be
understood by an 8 year-old, precisely what "Theistic Evolution"
to me. God's method of creation.


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Received on Tue Jul 29 22:55:14 2008

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