RE: [asa] fall of Satan logic questions (racism)

From: Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu May 07 2009 - 12:24:41 EDT

Bernie,

 

Did those things "evolve" naturally, through random changes in human
condition, as either a happy accident (truly random mutation) or an
inevitable consequence of human history (sort of as is proposed
biologically, with convergent evolution being set up to converge on certain
outcomes)? If humanistic sociologists tell you that slavery or women's
rights naturally evolved as a consequence of larger brains developing their
own standards of moral fairness, in the absence of God or an absolute moral
law, how will you answer them?

 

Or did humans exercise the choice to take a stand to change the status quo,
in response to a sense of moral obligation to some higher law of justice,
equality, and fairness? Did they willingly choose to exercise free will,
even to suffering the consequences, to stand up against the seemingly
"natural" status quo of mankind's oppression and subjugation of other
groups? Think of Wilbur Wilburforce, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, and
many others who have exercised great labor and sacrifice to bring about
these changes in social thought, and tell me whether this has anything to do
with evolution - at least anything even remotely related to the term
"evolution" as used by the natural scientists in the field of biology. Men
fought and died in the United States both defending slavery and opposing it;
one side prevailed, and slavery is not illegal. How can this be said to be
evolution?

 

Oh, and by the way, what about slavery as still practiced in other parts of
the world? Have they not evolved as far, socially, as we in the "developed"
world have, as evidenced by our attention to human rights of life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness? Is this not just a bit rosy-eyed and biased
toward the so-called developed world? How many of those in the
underdeveloped world have dropped nuclear weapons or Agent Orange or carpet
bombed populations of civilians, or bilked billions of dollars from unwary
citizens and third-world governments? (all things that our non-slavery,
women's suffrage, minority rights culture in the United States has done over
the last 60 years) What does "evolution" mean in this context?

 

If there is anything even remotely related to the use of the term evolution
in these two genres, what is it? I submit it's the use of the term
"evolution" as "change over time", which is such a vague usage that I
believe it is equivocation to relate the two. Everything changes over time,
doesn't it? Oh, except God. But that's not even true. Okay, theologically
I believe that "God changes not." But if you look at God's dealing with
Israel (law of Moses, Abraham-centric religion) vs. His dealing with the
ancient prophets of Israel (who spoke against the law in some ways, calling
the people to a higher law of the heart) vs. His dealing with the early
church vs. later Christian religion - one might make a good case that God
does change in His dealings and even His explicit legal requirements for
believers. I could provide an answer to that for the critics, but if you
are going to use such a broad definition of evolution that takes in any
change over time, then God evolves. Are you willing to deal with the
theological consequences?

 

Or did these social concepts evolve naturally, with God's providential
guidance over the affairs of men, in the same way that natural scientists
have proposed for God's governance over the biological and cosmological
history of the universe? I find this a very attractive belief, both in the
natural and social sciences - God typically interacts with the cosmos below
the surface, so to speak, to providentially direct its development in
certain directions, while allowing the natural forces of cause and effect
(and human free will) to act independently in many ways (and not ruling out
overt dealings, such as miracles). Again, the meaning of "evolution" in a
social sciences context seems meaningless other than "change," and seems
more related to the goal of atheistic social scientists to preach a
non-theistic philosophy of human development. Even if providence is true,
just as in the natural sciences the concept of providence is a theological
construct, not something that is provable or meaningful in a scientific
context. Oh, one more - if evolution is simply "change over time", then the
water evolved into wine at the marriage of Cana. Does this have any meaning
or positive value, biologically, socially, philosophically or theologically?

 

Jon Tandy

 

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Dehler, Bernie
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 9:32 AM
To: ASA
Subject: RE: [asa] fall of Satan logic questions (racism)

 

"Ethics, well, they just 'don't evolve' in so far as they are not biological
or otherwise 'natural' things."

 

All of these ethics have evolved (changed for the better):

-- Slavery (was universally condoned, now shunned by developed nations)
-- Women's rights (equal pay for equal work, for example)
-- Minority rights (for African Americans, as an example)

 

That's a small listing. Another huge category is Military operations.
Example: carpet-bombing a city was a natural tool of war- now it is
denounced as immoral (replaced with "surgical strikes"). Notice the
negative connotation of WMD. probably used to be good as a show of strength,
as "we have WMD's, don't mess with us!"

 

You can't put religion in science because there is no common understanding
of religion. There are different religions, and different flavors within
religions (Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, etc.). There's also no way to
measure anything with religion, because it is super-natural (it has to be
natural to measure).

 

,,,Bernie

 

  _____

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Gregory Arago
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 3:48 AM
To: ASA; Murray Hogg
Subject: Re: [asa] fall of Satan logic questions (racism)

 

I haven't followed this thread at all, but was curious to peek when the word
'racism' came up.

 

Then, checking another post, I discovered this:

 

"BTW, the issue of cultural development & ethics is one about which Gregory
could make a useful contribution if he'd be a good shoemaker & stick to his
last."

 

While I'm glad to hear that George thinks I can make a 'useful contribution'
in this area, I don't think my response is going to please him too much
either. This is because it is anti-TE in so far as TE justifies an
over-reaching definition of evolution in the academy. I am glad that George
chose the word 'development' to go with the adjective 'cultural' because to
use the terms 'cultural evolution' would have more directly drawn my
opposition. It would be helpful if those who call themselves TEs or ECs
would pause for a moment in terms of categories that exceed natural
sciences, which are the main sciences that are spoken about on this list.

 

Ethics, well, they just 'don't evolve' in so far as they are not biological
or otherwise 'natural' things.

 

In my current home field, sociology, the triad of super-categories, "Class,
Race (or Ethnicity) and Gender" is common in North American institutions of
higher ed. This triad, however, is not a global phenomenon, as for example
was indicated by a Commission headed by the well-known historian-sociologist
Immanuel Wallerstein:

 

"For a large number of non-Western social scientists, the distinction
between the political, the religious, and the scientific does not seem
entirely reasonable or valid." (Open the Social Sciences, 1996: 88)

 

To Murray's point about 'more evolved' not belonging in an intra-human
context, unfortunately, the history of the social sciences does not bear out
this perspective. The ideology of 'evolutionism' has been applied to suggest
that Africans are indeed 'less evolved' than say Swedes or Danes. 'Less
evolved' here means cutural *and* biological, like the 'co-evolutionists'
might sugggest today (and like Dobzhansky and Huxley argued during the
forming of the 'modern synthesis'). 20th century anthropology (e.g. Boas),
however, rejected the linear process of human-social evolution.

 

Nevertheless, the ideas of 'primitive,' 'barbaric' and 'savage' are still in
some ways with us. Now the terms are applied, though nevertheless rarely, to
issues that centre on 'complexity' - i.e. if a society is more complex, then
it is considered more 'evolved' or more 'civilised.' Doesn't almost everyone
on this list think that the United States of America is one of the most
'civilised' nation-states in the world (Talcott Parsons, the 'great'
American sociologist would certainly back you if you thought this)?

 

Again, referring to the Gulbenkian Commission, headed by Wallerstein:

"The classification of the social sciences was constructed around two
antinomies which no longer command the wide support they once enjoyed: the
antinomy between past and present, and the antinomy between idiographic and
nomothetic disciplines. A third antinomy, that between the civilized and the
barbaric world, has few public defenders anymore, but in practice still
inhabits the mentalities of many scholars." (196: 95)

 

As for making a contribution, it is a basic one to suggest that the term
'development' is more appropriate than 'evolution' in most cases of
discussing human-social change. Development is human-intended change,
whereas 'evolution' is non-intentional, i.e. without meaning or purpose,
based purely on enviromental factors, dehumanised. 'Evolution' best refers
only to the biological changes in humanity that happen in various societies,
which we now know account for only a very small part of the overall changes
in human society.

So when it comes to speaking about racism, the argument of 'more' or 'less'
evolved would be a telling one for theistic evolutionists to come forward
and outright deny its legitimacy. Here would be a case, where people on this
list could step up to the question I asked over a year ago about 'things
that don't evolve.'

 

Back to my dissertation within 7 days of pre-defense.

 

Gregory

 

--- On Thu, 5/7/09, Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au> wrote:

From: Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
Subject: Re: [asa] fall of Satan logic questions (racism)
To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
Received: Thursday, May 7, 2009, 2:45 AM

 
Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> if the first humans came from Africa, that means Africans are lower on the
evolutionary scale
 
An evolutionary chart for humans would not show Caucasians as more evolved
descendants of modern-day Africans. Rather it would show that both groups
are
evolved from a common ancestor.
 
It's that common ancestor who would be lower on the evolutionary scale.
 
-Murray
 
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