Re: [asa] Because of us - Steve Fuller's anthropic principle - Darwin's original sin

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sun May 17 2009 - 20:14:47 EDT

Glad to read much of the commentary and discussion in this thread. There are a variety of topics and issues that have been raised. I'll just try to touch on a couple of them below.
Mike Gene wrote:
"The anthropic principle I outline is purely metaphysical and theological."
Can you please explain how this can be so? When you wrote 'because of us,' I assumed the ‘us’ you meant was 'human beings.' But how can we (people) study human beings 'purely' metaphysically and/or theologically? Aren't there necessarily involved other realms, levels or dimensions of such a concept duo as 'anthropic principle' that cannot be avoided? Are you asserting an ‘anthropic principle’ could serve meaningfully without reference to the human-social sciences? Did you define ‘anthropic principle’ in TDM? And also, I don’t really follow why you say ‘it doesn’t matter’ about these things – it seems to me it matters (or could matter) quite a lot.
John Burgeson wrote:
"Peter Berger recently used that term [methodological atheism] to describe theologians and historians who study religion as only a human creation. It seems to ‘fit’ better there. I think Berger applies it to any social science which assumes no supernatural. This is the concept Gregory appears to be arguing against (rightfully so, IMHO)."
Yes, it is accurate to say that I'm arguing against 'methodological atheism' in the human-social sciences. As you already know, I don't preference the term 'supernatural' because I think it echoes Emerson's view expressed below; instead the divine, transcendence, sacred, or spirit of humankind, these are preferred. A human-social science that operates without referring to such a constellation of vocabulary is what Max Weber called a 'disenchanted' view, like to what Nietzsche said of the most famous naturalist in history: "Darwin forgot the spirit."
Disenchantment of the world: “The knowledge or belief that, if one only wanted to, one could find out at any time; that there are in principle no mysterious, incalculable powers at work, but rather that one could in principle master everything through calculation.” – Weber (“Science as a Vocation,” 1919)
Let me also add, John that I am arguing against 'methodological naturalism' in the human-social sciences for exactly this reason: it privileges a natural scientific methodology that does not do justice to the complexity or subtlety of human beings qua multi-layered, multi-dimensional creatures. MN as a 'creed of doing science' is predicated on a dehumanisation motive because it reduces human beings to merely being 'natural,' and nothing more. I'll return to this thought in the upcoming thread contra Keith Miller's position.
Also, John quoted Ted Davis in exactly the same way that I would have done, so let me comment further on that.
Ted wrote, in part: “I very much like Schwarzwald's suggestion, namely that 'methodological agnosticism' is a better term for the particular attitude previously called 'methodological naturalism.' ... But I'll stick with MN.”
If you'll forgive my lack of familiarity with the cultural, political and social conditions where you are Ted, given that I live several thousands of miles/kilometres away from you and that I was bon in another country, but I fail to comprehend why you would not use a term (concept duo) that you deem to be 'a better term' and instead would revert to a supposedly inferior (or worse - i.e. opposite of better) one. Is there pressure to conform to something exterior to you, some scholarly expectation? Could you please explain this more clearly?
As your area of specialisation is history of science, having also studied philosophy of science as well (HPS), would you not accept the limited realm of the 'natural' in 'doing science'? If so, there should be no problem with circumscribing the relevance of MN and of inviting alternative concepts and ideas that can explain or describe or evaluate things that it cannot.
Surely I do see the point of not using 'methodological agnosticism' (MA) in terms of defining ‘what science does’ or 'doing science' because one of the goals of science is to acquire knowledge, which is the opposite of 'agnostic.' Yet at the same time, if the definition of (science, limited by) MN is a negative one, simply 'anti-supernatural' or ‘no appeal to the gods or God,’ which some on this ASA list have suggested it is, then MA would seem to be more appropriate in some cases. For example, if used on such a topic as 'origin(s) of life' or ‘origin(s) of human consciousness.’ Would you be willing to use the terms MA, instead of MN, Ted, in a few limited spheres, rather than not at all – i.e. not subjecting everything that 'science does' to the explanatory power of MN? 
Sunday regards,
“The youth, intoxicated with his admiration of a hero, fails to see, that it is only a projection of his own soul, which he admires.” – Emerson
 --- On Thu, 5/14/09, Nucacids <> wrote:

From: Nucacids <>
Subject: Re: [asa] Because of us - Steve Fuller's anthropic principle - Darwin's original sin
To:,, "Schwarzwald" <>
Received: Thursday, May 14, 2009, 5:46 PM

Hi Gregory,
“I still imagine that Mike Gene might have something more to say that is insightful after his sort of epiphany which started this thread in suggesting that things happen 'Because of Us.' Sounds like an anthropic principle of sorts to me. Don't TE/ECists and IDists both make use of an 'anthropic principle' in their cosmologies?”
I’m not sure how you define “insightful”, but I can say the position I posed to start this thread has accomplished two things.  First, there has been no counter-argument, thus it stands.  Second, it has allowed me to explore a highly controversial and inflamed topic in an open-ended, intellectually honest manner. 
The anthropic principle I outline is purely metaphysical and theological.  It is also parsimonious and rooted in sound observation.  The implications for TE and ID is that “it doesn’t matter.” 
Yes, I know many Christians agree with the New Atheists that if Dawkins/Gould are correct, Christianity is false.  That is why I have seen a few Christian IDists over the years become atheists.  Yet once you get your mind around the view I outlined at the beginning of this thread, the Dawkins/Gould vs. Christian perspective is seen for what it is – a false dichotomy.  Just as false as the Mendel vs. Christian perspective.
As a Christian, I can easily accept the picture that Dawkins/Gould paint because I recognize its one-dimensionalism.  Of course, I can just as easily entertain the idea that life was designed.  Just as it is easy to entertain the idea that the designer of life on this planet was not God.  I can focus on such questions without my mind worrying about where the analysis where lead.  Let the chips fall where they do – it doesn’t matter. 
-Mike __________________________________________________________________ Yahoo! Canada Toolbar: Search from anywhere on the web, and bookmark your favourite sites. Download it now

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Received on Sun May 17 20:15:11 2009

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