Re: [asa] Timaeus’ challenge to TE

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Sep 29 2008 - 13:36:08 EDT

> his question about 'a unified 'TE' theology' can be supplemented by asking if there is a "unified 'TE' philosophy" or a "unified 'TE' science" as well. That's what I'm asking in addition to Timaeus' question.<

Not sure exactly where you would draw the line between a TE theology
and a TE philosophy, since as theists TE's will have a theological
philosophy. At any rate, their philosophy varies rather like their
theology. Likewise, the theology and philosophy of ID varies greatly.

There would be different areas of science and thus differences in
precise approach, but I would imagine that there would be general
agreement that science involves physical investigation of the physical
world. ID advocates believe that, too (except if they practice or
condone misrepresentation in claims about the physical world). It's
open for debate as to exactly how much evolution one must accept to
qualify as a TE-after all, Behe accepts quite a lot and Denton now
accepts all of it.

> Thus, it is questionable whether TE is even 'scientific' in one sense
> or how much it draws on legitimate science (which Darwinism apparently
> according to Timaeus, via Denton and others, isn't or is no longer) to
> 'explain itself.' So Timaeus' charge of whether or not TE is 'simple
> accommodation to neo-Darwinism,' using the helpful field of philosophy (e.g.
> specifically understanding ideology and the -ism in Darwinism) can be
> addressed.

What exactly are Darwinism and neo-Darwinism? The evidence of biology
and paleontology clearly support a very extensive role for mutation,
natural selection, genetic drift, sexual selection, catastrophic
selection, etc. in producing the current diversity of organisms.
There are no good examples of something in biology that cannot be
explained on a physical level by the actions of natural laws-certainly
we're far from having complete explanations of everything, but we're
still in an early stage of discovery. One could honestly claim that a
particular feature seems inexplicable, but not safely claim that it
never will be explained.

There are two major objections to the designation of "theistic
evolutionist." First, the choice of evolution in the noun suggests
that it is the more fundamental feature, whereas in fact theist is
more important, and more specifically Christian versus non-Christian
is the one fundamental divide. To the extent that ID claims that
belief in a particular method of creation is more important than
whether you're a Christian or Raelian or Moonie or whatever, it is
gravely astray. (ID, of course, includes all sorts of views, and not
all ID makes that claim; however, the popular versions tend that way.)

Secondly, evolution is properly understood as merely a very successful
and very credible biological theory. Evolution has no more special
significance than gravity, quantum mechanics, atomic theory, genetics,
or other major scientific theories that unite a lot of observations
into a coherent whole. Evolution does directly impact us as living
organisms, so there is some theological relevance with regard to our
natural tendencies and our connections to other organisms, but it's
not really all that theologically relevant. (I'll hopefully be able
to comment on Ruse's arguments to the contrary before too long.)
There's no good reason to single it out, only the bad reason that
atheist and antievolutionist alike have improperly singled it out with
false claims of theological significance.

-- 
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 Mon Sep 29 13:36:33 2008

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