RE: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (Cheek turning)

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Wed Oct 29 2008 - 05:52:28 EDT

Then the questions are immediately relevant: Which science? Whose science?
Can 'evolution' mean 'guided' in a scientific sense? This is at the crux of whether or not 'theistic evolution' should be considered as a 'science' or a 'philosophy' or a mix of 'science, philosophy and theology,' etc. Those who would argue that TE and/or EC simply ARE 'scientific' or that they are supported by / in support of 'science' (and thus, as John suggests: "the only intellectually honest conclusion is TE") have a strong burden of power-claiming to contend with; that is, which science and whose science is 'important' for people and not just which is true.
As Andrew Pickering noted, a "danger of insensitivity to the nature of phenomena at disciplinary boundaries is evident." What then, are the boundaries between science, philosophy and theology on the topics of evolution and creation? This is, of course, not an easy discussion.
One of the issues remaining alive for me in the TE and/or EC scenarios is how an 'origin' turns into a 'process,' according to their perspective, paradigm, framework, model, etc. And because it seems that many TE and/or EC proponents are professionally 'natural scientists' and not 'philosophers of science' (well, one can be an amateur, indeed, as are many), thus there is less integrative coherency in the approach than could be expected. Words like 'guided' and 'intervention' display sensitive points that neither 'side' seems ready to concede and the term 'accommodationist' is thrown around pejoratively and sometimes defended as a legitimate position to hold (e.g. what John writes as 'conclusion' below, I read as 'accommodation'). What it seems to me is called for then is a synthesis or synthesizing perspective (which of course TE, OEC, EC, and ID all claim to offer!!).
Surely, one thing ASA's list can agree on (though perhaps it won't be publically admitted) is that most evolutionary biologists don't consider evolutionary processes as 'guided' even if TE and/or EC models propose this. The term 'fitness' and the ideology of 'immanentism' (if you'll follow what I mean in suggesting it) are not equivalent to proving 'guidance' in the way that Steve asks: what are the tests?
G. Arago

A larger look at the context of Pickering's quote:
“My suspicion is that scientific practice has its own unity and integrity that cuts very deeply across present disciplinary boundaries…And thus the deployment of existing disciplinary concepts and categories is liable to a serious misunderstanding of what science is like. These concepts and categories have typically been formulated and refined with an eye to the delineation of autonomous disciplinary subject matters, and the danger of insensitivity to the nature of phenomena at disciplinary boundaries is evident. I do not know whether it is inevitable, but the upshot of disciplinary analyses of science has typically been the construction of disciplinary master-narratives in which a schema drawn from a single discipline constitutes an explanatory backbone around which all else revolves.” ("Knowledge, Practice and Mere Construction," in Deconstructing Quarks, Special Issue of Social Studies of Science, 20(4), 1990: 710) (Quoted in Yves Gingras,
 “Following Scientists Through Society? Yes, but at arm's length!" In Scientific Practice: theories and stories of doing physics. Ed. Jed Buckwald, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995, p. 123-148)

--- On Wed, 10/29/08, skrogh. <> wrote:

From: skrogh. <>
Subject: RE: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (Cheek turning)
Received: Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 6:43 AM

 Would science, being what it is, even be able to pick up on this guided verses unguided evolution. How would you know? There are no tests.
 -----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of Schwarzwald
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 6:56 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (Cheek turning)

Hey John,

I'm probably best classified as a TE myself. One thing I'm curious of, though - I accept CD in a biological sense. But I've seen criticisms by scientists (This was directed at Behe in particular, in this case) where it's said that if any particular species was directed/guided, CD would be 'broken' because the concept is based on an uninterrupted, unguided view of evolution. Ergo, guidance would constitute a break.

Keep in mind, I'm not a scientist, and I can tell right off that any scientific view of evolution as 'unguided' in such a sense is no longer purely 'scientific'. But if there was some kind, any kind, of outside, intelligent intervention with humanity at some point in their developmental history, would that in your view change CD's relevance?

On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 7:36 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

>'The science' (rather monolithically stated) is a bit too big for its britches sometimes, isn't >it John?
No I don't think so. I too was an RTB PC like James for years until I read Francis Collins and found someone who dealt with the scientific evidence honestly. That is why I say psuedogenes are the smoking gun for CD. Once you accept that, the only intellectually honest conclusion is TE, which is where I came to, albeit kicking and screaming.
I understand and empathize with the RTB PC position and I know giving it up is painful, but it just doesn't work.
And you draw a false distinction by implying that creation by TE is not a miracle. I think it is, but just not a sudden miracle, a timed release one. TE and OEC are not that far apart on most issues except this very one but it is a major one. It means the difference between science and faith, and relevance and scorn.
But I will rephrase my use of "'the scientific and thinking community" to "the rational and thinking community". I know there are exceptions like YEC including scientists but again I contend that the only rational conclusion of the evidence of CD is TE. All this hand waving and appeals to "appearance of imperfection" arguments are embarassing and just really immature.

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Received on Wed Oct 29 05:53:51 2008

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