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

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Wed Jul 30 2008 - 14:26:59 EDT

For the record, Iain, I also cringed at that one sentence of yours. It seems to confuse the meaning of natural history from a theory about how natural history happens/happened. Are you sure you're clear on the difference between them?
For example, you write: "evolution shows that certain things happened. The evidence for it is very strong. Therefore if it is God who is running the show, then the strong evidence is that this is His method of running it."
Though this is common fare for TE/EC perspectives, it is rather flimsy when philosophically analysed. 'Evolution' does not 'show' things - in the way Moorad is referring to it (please correct if I'm wrong A.M.), it is describing and attempting to explain things. So, to choose the now-famous bacterial flagellum example, evolutionary theories talk about HOW the flagellum 'evolved' with mutation, adaptation, variation, differentiation, etc. under the pressure of natural selection, how it excercised 'fitness' to survive via what pathways up to now. The evidence for the flagellum's current existence is, as you say, 'very strong.' But HOW it happened to arrive at now is uncertain, or at least there is still debate about it (e.g. Behe) and the concept of 'irreducibility' is provocative philosophically for biologists to contend with. I asked Behe if he knew about S. Wolfram's 'irreducible computation' and he went quiet.
But to say 'evolution is God's method of creation' is a very strong statement, which I still contend is an example of tying one's theology up too tightly with evolutionary theory. Cringe at my saying that if you like, but TE simply hasn't, in the many pieces I've read, done an adequate job of distinguishing the ideology from the 'science,' from the 'religion' and from the 'philosophy' of evolution - it is indeed 'meshed' together, though sometimes it looks mashed haphazardly, rather than meshed coherently. Yet, perhaps I am mistaken now in writing this because you didn't write 'evolution is God's theory of creation,' but that it is God's METHOD of creation.
So, let me ask you this Iain. Is evolution a METHOD? Or is evolution a theory or a fact of natural history? I can accept two of the three above things, noting that clearly 'evolution' is a misnomer in social-cultural history, which I find rather important alongside of discussions about purely natural history. Human nature is actually not a concept studied in 'natural sciences' as they are now done, so hopefully you'll cut me some slack in taking a different view of 'theistic evolution' than you (i.e. taking into accout theology's close neighbourly disciplines in anthropology, pscyhology and sociology) and asking you to clarify your language for our communicative improvement.

Many thanks,

--- On Wed, 7/30/08, Iain Strachan <> wrote:

From: Iain Strachan <>
Subject: Re: [asa] How theistic evolution was explained to kids in 1964
To: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
Cc: "Stephen Matheson" <>, "ASA List" <>
Received: Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 9:36 PM

Once again, you are plucking a sentence out of the middle of the quote and nit-picking with it instead of considering what it says in the context of the whole of it.  Please READ WHAT IT SAYS.  A couple of sentences back it says "The theory of evolution says certain things happened".

So in the context OF COURSE the sentence is going to presuppose the truth of the theory.  The whole purpose of the paragraph is to answer religious peoples' objections to the theory of evolution.  It is trying to say there is nothing inconsistent in believing God to be creator, and that evolution is true.

Please stop the cherry-picking and use your English comprehension skills on the WHOLE PASSAGE.


On Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 6:08 PM, Alexanian, Moorad <> wrote:


The answer to both questions is certainly no.

However, the statement, "If God made the world and runs the world, then evolution _is_ God's plan," presupposes the truthfulness or correctness of evolution, whatever the word evolution means.

The one-way implication, "if A, then B" presupposes that both A and B are true otherwise the statement is meaningless, which is what I have been saying.

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Received on Wed Jul 30 14:27:07 2008

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