Re: [asa] Appeasing TE?

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Tue Dec 23 2008 - 23:09:48 EST
You raise an interesting question (or two). Just how fuzzy or sharp does the distinction between "elegant" and "miraculous" get in the limit?  JimA [Friend of ASA]

Schwarzwald wrote:
Heya David,

I haven't looked at any of the refernced materials yet. But apparently the proponents of TE think it is some sort of a real idea, real enough  to deserve a label,  and the idea can be distinguished from non-theistic evolution.  Inquiring minds would want to know, of course, how does one differentiate the two? (TE vs NTE?). 

Scientifically, I doubt there would be a difference between a TE and an NTE. Presumably both would (ideally, and both TEs and NTEs can fall short of this ideal) have the same views of science's limits, and what science generally indicates with regards to evolution. The differentiation would come outside of science - how to regard those natural processes, maybe even whether those processes were possibly instances of design (or at least particular intended parts of a grander design), and so on. I certainly doubt there is a single and monolithic TE position.

Even though I'm a TE (or I believe I am) myself, I've often wondered about the limits. What if I believe in common descent, in an evolution that naturally unfolded throughout history, but suspect that certain events (the dawn of man) was certainly intended - either by way of front-loading, or a particular intervention, while at the same time recognizing science could never rule on such a question? Am I still a TE? There are some people, even some scientists, who actively entertain the possibility that our world is a simulation - do THEY believe in evolution? I think that question becomes tricky once thought about.

It seems to me that a TE, oddly enough, could (or at least should) be open to the possibility of an intervening act of creation, or a front-loaded evolutionary process - with the sole and overriding distinction that such acts or processes would be an area that science cannot address, and be a claim that is itself unscientific. I realize others have suggested that TE should or does require that a person not ascribe to intervention or miracle what a natural process is entirely capable of achieving - but I think such a position fails to recognize the limits of science, the problem (ironically) of identifying 'nature' versus 'miracle/intervention', and more.

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