A touch of Russian cynicism? (was Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design)

From: Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
Date: Thu Apr 23 2009 - 18:02:49 EDT

Hi Greg,

A change in subject line to flag the introduction of a tangential remark/question...

I've been reading Solzhenitsyn recently and got to wondering: to what extent has your Russian experience influenced your views on Philosophy of Science? I ask because Solzhenitsyn explored some rather interesting questions in respects of how "the system" influences perceptions (I'm thinking particularly of "For the Good of the Cause" here, but one sees it in his other works) and did so, interestingly, at the same time that Polanyi was developing his philosophy of science in conscious contrast to what we might call "socialist" (or even "soviet") notions of science.

It does strike me that your remarks below mirror, in some respects, the sort of criticisms that Solzhenitsyn was making of the soviet academy (hence the subject line of the post) - i.e. that it was blind to its ideological commitments - and wondered how your time in Russia might have influenced this?


Gregory Arago wrote:
> Hi Ted,
> In the following quotation you've left out 'humanity' - why?
> "This isn't what the genuine pursuit of truth about God and nature
> should be about, IMO."
> Why not truth about humanity too? Is humanity left out so that a
> certain philosophical assumption about 'science' can be defended and a
> comfortable status quo (based on the 1986 paper of a Calvin College
> philosopher) maintained? That way one doesn't have to deal with all of
> the complicated things that involve the human beings who are doing the
> science itself. One can avoid all of the messiness of how science is
> done through human action and not without it.
> This move (and I suspect it is unintentional and for the most part not
> even recognized by those who commit it) to dehumanise the academy is
> more divisive than anything the IDM has yet offered!
> If we aren't doing science to better humanity, then what are we doing it
> for - science just for science's sake, like a fetish? How does this
> glorify the Creator, by turning our backs on the Holy Spirit?
> Johnson's approach is in some ways muddy and in some ways it is crystal
> clear. He is and was right to challenge 'naturalism' as a "cause of so
> much moral and cultural depravity." Naturalism is not the only cause,
> there are surely others, but it is 'a' cause indeed and is oftentimes
> opposed to theism. Not according to theistic naturalists, of course, but
> then, isn't a 'theistic naturalist' a contradiction in terms and isn't
> their definition of 'naturalism' thus entirely unsatisfactory and
> unconvincing?
> The MN-squad opposes Johnson's views about naturalism with its own
> unsaid 'wedge' strategy, that is, with the argument that "methodological
> naturalism does not equate with metaphysical naturalism". MN does not =
> MN. This is a shoddy philosophical assumption, much more naive than what
> Stephen Meyer is offering about how many great historical scientists
> thought and worked 'doing science' consistently with the idea of
> 'intelligent design'. And MN causes great damage (which MNists don't
> like to admit, but which doesn't make it untrue) to the potential unity
> of the Academy by conveniently forgetting all of humanity 'in the process.'
> May we be on the lookout for bridges (and philosophies) we might not yet
> know exist,
> Gregory
> --- On *Thu, 4/23/09, Ted Davis /<TDavis@messiah.edu>/* wrote:
> From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
> Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design
> To: "David Clounch" <david.clounch@gmail.com>, "Cameron Wybrow"
> <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Received: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 6:40 PM
> If the waters have been muddied, David, in your words "so badly that
> almost everybody thinks thats TD is ID and ID is TD. Everyone seems so
> concerned that some transcendental agent is at work," then IMO it is
> mainly if not entirely b/c leading ID advocates themselves have turned the
> ground under them into mud.
> I mean especially Phil Johnson, none other than the "father" of the
> ID movement, with his campaign to use ID as the "entering wedge" to
> topple naturalism, which he in turn sees as the cause of so much moral and
> cultural depravity. And, I mean Bill Demsbki, who (in the preface to the
> Festschrift for Johnson that he edited) wrote, following the Dover trial, that
> "school boards and state legislators may tread more cautiously, but tread
> on evolution they will — the culture war demands it!”
> When 2 of the 3 top guns in the movement (the other one is Mike Behe) say such
> things, it's somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible to
> separate the ideas from the culture wars and thus from the religious component.
> Ditto for the refusal publicly on the part of ID to pronounce a view on the
> history of nature (i.e., the big bang, the old earth, the historicity of the
> fossil record), which allows YECs to make up a good part of the camp following.
> Ditto for the attack dog mode of UD and Denyse O'Leary, which apes what it
> abhors (namely, the attack dog mode of Dawkins and company) and plays to the
> culture of talk radio and sound bites. This isn't what the genuine pursuit
> of truth about God and nature should be about, IMO. But, if you somehow rid ID
> of all of those associations, you might end up with half a dozen nerds sitting
> around a table talking serious stuff, not a movement large enough to effect
> change in how science is taught in public schools. And that, f!
> or Johnson and many of his friends and followers, is the bottom line.
> Ted
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Received on Thu Apr 23 18:03:09 2009

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