RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Wed May 27 2009 - 17:04:05 EDT


I was asking a rhetorical question to those who believe or claim that a living being is a purely physical entity. I did not want to use any fancy words but yes, the nature of life is an ontological question that cannot be addressed by science.

From: wjp []
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 12:18 AM
To: ""; Alexanian, Moorad
Cc: Randy Isaac;
Subject: RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)


Do you mean to say "that life can be characterized in purely physical terms"? What I am focusing on is the word "characterized."

We need to try to draw some distinctions here.
The broadest distinction would be between ontology and epistemology.

I think, having spoken with you about it, you want to say that ontologically life is more than "purely physical." This is why were we able to put together a fetus atom by atom, even chemical by chemical, it would still not be alive.

But when you use the word "characterized" we seem to be more in the realm of description or explanation. This is a different matter.
Nonreductive physicalists are committed to a physicalist ontology, but not to physicalist explanation or description. They believe in a kind of property dualism, whereby certain properites of matter cannot be accounted for in terms of the basic physical properties.

So do you mean to make the stronger ontological claim, or something less strong?



On Tue, 26 May 2009 23:32:20 -0400, "Alexanian, Moorad" <> wrote:
> Randy,
> I am not invoking any sort of vitalism. Those who claim that life can be
> characterized in purely physical terms let them tell us what that
> characterization is. The added substance is definitely not physical and
> thus has to be nonphysical/supernatural. I wrote a letter to PSCF, “Can
> science make the "breath" of God part of its subject matter?”
> I think
> the answer to that question is no!
> Moorad
> ________________________________________
> From: [] On Behalf Of
> Randy Isaac []
> Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 10:29 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
> Moorad wrote:
>> Let me up the ante. Purely physical processes cannot create or bring
> about
>> a human being with the aid and knowledge of only the genetic code, but
>> even life cannot so arise
>> either. This is the fundamental point that the living cannot come from
> the
>> nonliving. I suppose only God can bring this about.
> Does that mean you believe in vitalism? There's a nice history and summary
> of it in Wikipedia:
> Or would you distinguish your view from vitalism in that the added
> "substance" must be non-physical?
> If the latter, would you mind sharing with us the evidence both for and
> against your position?
> Randy
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Received on Wed May 27 17:04:40 2009

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