Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents

From: wjp <>
Date: Tue Apr 14 2009 - 16:41:50 EDT


You say:

> It's OK to teach Dawkins' gene-level selection argument or Einstein's
> physics or Michael Behe's biochemistry (histone protein experiments he
> did years ago, for example) in public school science classes. I do not
> think it's OK, however, to teach Dawkins' atheism or Einstein's
> pantheism or Behe's ID in public school science classes, nor is it OK to
> teach Collins' BioLogos in public school science classes. It would be
> helpful to mention that a wide spectrum of philosophical and religious
> views have been and are now held among successful scientists but, unless
> there's time to thoughtfully expand the scope of the class beyond
> science, anything more than briefly mentioning the wide spectrum could
> be problematic.

I don't think the issue is quite this simple.
Let's suppose that science could be presented "uninterpreted."
It seems you would argue that Behe's histone protein experiment is of
this ilk, but that to interpret this experiment as evidence of ID is
"interpreted." Or that Dawkins' gene-level selection argument is
"uninterpreted," while the atheism he draws from it is "interpreted."

What distinguishes the "uninterpreted" from the "interpreted"?
Is it that the "uninterpreted" is more generally acceptable?
I suppose you would suggest that the "uninterpreted" is more
representative of MN, and the "interpreted" as PN.

It is not clear to me that the distinction can be so easily drawn.
While I am unfamiliar with either of these works of Behe and Dawkins,
is it really true that none of it is "interpreted"?
I am certain that it contains such an element.
Sense datum tell us nothing of themselves alone. In fact, I'm pretty sure
that sense datum don't even exist except within an already existing
interpretative context.

The PN part of work of these men is likewise interpretative.
The possibly appropriate question to ask is whether this "interpretive"
aspect is of a scientific nature.
On seeing a cathode ray deflected by a magnetic field, one may interpret this
as the result of a stream of particles. That not everyone so interpreted it,
is not to say that the interpretation might not be a fruitful interpretation.
Today we say that it was, for it led to attempts to measure the e/m ratio
of the presumed "particle," a "particle," albeit much changed from its
original conception, that we accept today.

Interpretations and speculations are essential to science.
Without them science would not progress, even if it should end up
falling on its face in doing so (e.g., phlogistin or ether).

Science as presently taught teaches science for the most part
mechanically: science for machines.
The Whig version of science presented never falls on its face and is
always faultless.
There is no element of speculation and risk.
It is taught as fact, hard solid fact.
This is a myth, but the one implicitly presented.
You cannot avoid interpretation in science.
Should one teach a real history of science, what then would be
implicitly taught?
One might not exactly know. I only know that something of interpretation
will be taught and received.

I think we have to simply live with the ambiguity of interpretation
and speculation. What is science cannot exactly be known.
It is not a fact. Long live interpretation and speculation!
It is the beating heart of meaning.

The distinction between MN and PN is, I suggest, more one
of temporal convention and the desire for a clean and pure
science. When it ever becomes such, science will be dead.
But no one will care. So need to worry.

At least that's my present interpretation.


To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Apr 14 16:42:34 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Apr 14 2009 - 16:42:35 EDT