Re: [asa] Conversation with Timaeus, part one

From: Jack Syme <>
Date: Tue Sep 23 2008 - 05:40:34 EDT

Timaeus said:

"So what is ID opposed to? It is opposed only to the notion that the
evolutionary process is unguided by any designing intelligence. In other
words, it is opposed only to orthodox neo-Darwinism, as advocated by people
like Dawkins and Coyne and Sagan and Gould. This means that ID’s battle is
not against “theistic evolutionism”, where theistic evolutionism is properly
defined (as belief in an evolutionary process planned and guided, or at
least set up, by God), but only against “theistic Darwinism”, which appears
to be the position of many EC/TEs. This means that, to the extent that ID
could wean many TEs away from “theistic Darwinism”, while leaving them free
to retain non-Darwinian forms of theistic evolution, a rapprochement between
ID and TE is possible. It is in from within this hope for rapprochement
that I am writing now.

I am among those ID supporters who, with Michael Behe and Michael Denton,
suppose that evolution (meaning common descent of all species from one or a
few simpler forms) is true, or probably true. Behe and Denton might well
drop the qualifier “probably”. I am not quite as certain as they are, but I
think that the fossil evidence and other things make it intrinsically
probable, and I’m willing to treat common descent as an indisputable given,
at least for the purposes of our discussions here. But even if we treat
common descent as a given, there are still two huge and very troubling
questions about Darwinian evolution, one scientific and one theological.
The scientific question is: Is the neo-Darwinian mechanism any longer a
plausible explanation for evolution, in the light of the discoveries, over
the past 25 years, of staggering levels of complexity and integration in
biological systems? And the theological question is: Is the neo-Darwinian
mechanism compatible with the ultimate presuppositions of various religious
teachings, in particular Christian religious teachings? I think that the
answer to both of these questions is “No”, and I will try to explain why. I
will not be able to do this fully in this introductory post, but if this
post proves constructive, perhaps I can do so in future posts."

I dont want to speak for all "EC/TE's", but I think this is the heart of the
disagreement. It is in exactly this area that the efforts of science end,
and those of philosophy/religion begin. Take the following only as my
personal view of this matter. But, I would answer both of those questions
with a "yes". I have, over the years, come to understand the limits of
scientific knowledge. To the scientist the mechanism of evolution appears
to be "Darwinian", as you put it, ( I will not bother to define what that
term means although that could be a point for further discussion.) Once you
go beyond what is considered "Darwinian" and begin looking for design, you
are thereafter implying a supernatural intervention of some kind. And while
this may be philosophically and theologically correct, once the supernatural
is invoked you are not in the realm of science anymore. So, even though I
am a Christian and obviously believe that God is the creator and designer
behind all of creation, I dont see how there can ever be any scientific
explanation for the diversity of life that would involve a designer.

Many of the difficult issues regarding Christian religious teachings,
specifically bible and science issues, are related to common descent,
specifically the descent of mankind. Since common descent is accepted by
some of those that are looking for a designer, they are having to deal with
the same difficult issues regarding the origin of man, original sin, the
historical Adam, etc. that we TE's are. So the difficulties with the second
question are not unique to TE. But, if one accepts Darwinian evolution as
it is, a scientifically correct, but incomplete view of origins, then I see
no problem with traditional Christian doctrines otherwise.

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Received on Tue Sep 23 05:40:58 2008

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