Re: [asa] Artificial molecule evolves (now 'evolving' labels)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Jan 16 2009 - 13:19:46 EST

>> How does chemistry relate to the usefulness of any theology?
> It doesn't. Thats the point. The mechanics of chemistry doesn't overlap
> with theology. I think if one is somehow concerned with the religious beliefs of another
> person doing chemistry then one has gone astray. Science is supposed to
> eliminate the differences between people doing the science, not accentuate
> them. So I don't care if the chemist herself believes in voodoo or
> communism or Islam or Christianity or whatever. It just doesn't matter what
> her religion is. To say that her math is off because of her religious motivations is
> nonsense.
> But may I point out the humorous irony of some folks who are so down on
> creationism then themselves going on to imply that the human mind is a
> supernatural phenomena? The idea that the human mind gets some of its
> capabilities from somewhere other than just genetics? It strikes me as
> being downright anti-evolution. But perhaps I am missing something that is
> obvious to others. I just wouldn't expect someone who firmly believes in
> evolution to ever propose that humans have capabilities that don't come from
> God's created nature but instead come from somewhere else.

Ironically, the previous paragraph addresses the question of the
second paragraph. Equating firm belief in evolution with rejection of
the idea that there might be something outside the operation of
natural law in the origin of our minds is claiming that religious
views do affect one's claims about science.

If you hold that God is sovereign over all that happens and that He is
at work in all things, whether they happen by natural laws or not,
then there's no contradiction in thinking that He generally used
natural laws in creating living things but did a bit extra with regard
to human minds. Given the complexity of human minds, it's hard to see
how one could exhaustively prove things one way or another, so it's a
judgement call.

There's also a problem of definition-what is the relationship of
brain, mind, spirit, etc.? There are more dualist and more monistic
ideas out there, with little to no way to decide between them. Recent
work in neurobiology is often touted as a serious challenge to a
dualist view. However, given that in a dualist view, the spirit still
has to interact with the physical brain in some fashion, I don't see
how showing that physical processes in the brain relate to
personality, spirituality, etc. tell us anything one way or the other.

Thus, "is the human mind supernatural?" requires a good deal of
definiton. Although it is exceptional in its relative size and
complexity, the physical human brain is not so drastically different
from that of other primates as to seem to be a serious challenge to
evolution. Our mental abilities are remarkable, possibly but not
overwhelmingly convincingly suggesting something above and beyond
regular natural selection might be involved. Philosophically, simply
appealing to natural selection is not very satisfying. Theologically,
Christianity makes it clear that humans have a supernatural component
to their identity, but the exact relationship with our physical bodies
is never explicit in the Bible, nor is there any obvious way to decide
between the idea that it is something inserted at a particular point
as opposed to being a front-loaded emergent property that would
"automatically" appear when we evolved to a certain level of
intelligence, not that those are the only two options.

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 Fri Jan 16 13:20:16 2009

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