Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

From: Terry M.Gray <>
Date: Sat May 30 2009 - 22:52:49 EDT

The main thing I have to say here, Gregory, is "huh?"

1. I do think that our descriptions of creation get better. The
standard is creation itself. Whatever this has to do with "perfection
of humanity" I have no idea. And don't start lecturing me about Thomas
Kuhn and such. I know all about it. Even with such post-modern twists,
it's not unreasonable to say that our understanding is increasing.
This is not to say that we will ever have God's knowledge of creation,
in fact, I think it's clear that we won't.

2. FWIW, I'm not a Dooyeweerdian--I'm merely a sympathizer. I'm also
not convinced that modal distinctions can't be explained via
reductionistic sorts of arguments. For example, I'm not convinced that
the biological is not irreducible to the physical/chemical in
composition. However, once a living thing emerges, the biotic
creational laws come into play. I.e. there are unique biological laws
that only apply when you have living systems. Most secular philosopher
of biology agree. Similar arguments can be made at nearly every level
of Dooyeweerd's modal structure. Again, this is this underlying basis
for "the disciplines" in the academic world.

3. Not sure what you mean when you say I'm defending Ken Miller. I
defend him when I think he's right. I largely agree with him in his
defense of Darwinism, his critique of intelligent design, his belief
that faith and evolutionary science are compatible. I don't agree with
Ken Miller on many things, including the way he fits together the
faith / science story. I also wish he would mention in his critique of
Dawkins and the new atheists that is standing together with all other
creationists and "designists".

4. Of course, our understanding of evolution is "evolving". All
science is "evolving". As for whether Darwinism as a version of
evolutionary theory will be replaced. It's possible. Lamarckism was
the early 19th century version of evolutionary theory. It was replaced
by Darwinism. Perhaps the most fundamental mechanisms will be found to
be non-Darwinian. It hasn't happened yet, but who knows. This history
of science is full of surprises.

5. I will most certainly affirm that Darwinism, understood as a
biological theory saying nothing about the underlying relationship
with God's activity, is compatible with Christianity.

6. I'd be happy for a truce if the ID folks would stop saying that
evolutionary biology is fundamentally flawed and fundamentally at odds
with Christianity. How can we have a truce when folks like Cameron say
that those of us who don't think that evolutionary biology is
fundamentally flawed have taken our critical apparatus off in our
assessment of the current state of evolutionary theory? I don't want
to suggest that there's no place for disagreement or debate, but just
as the ID folks can't seem to understand why I don't have a problem, I
can't seem to understand why they do. I suspect that it's not just the
scientific evidence that's at work here.


On May 29, 2009, at 1:30 PM, Gregory Arago wrote:

> Hi Terry,
> It seems to me that you,re having some of the same troubles that
> Herman Dooyeweerd had with evolutionary process-oriented thought. It
> has taken-over your ideological capacities and requires a <better
> and better>, perhaps towards <perfection of humanity> point of view.
> This is simply and clearly *not* consistent with Christianity in the
> Orthodox sense.
> You write: <The E part of TE or EC says that we think that the
> explanations are basically right, certainly on the right track, and
> subject to the normal process of science will get better and better.
> If ID has a fundamental critique with E then we have a problem.>
> Let me first ask you, as a Doyeweerdian, which of the <modal
> aspects> are approachable by <science> as you define it?
> Is science really getting <better and better>, Terry? If so, what,s
> the reference point? Is this an inevitable part of the ideology of
> <scientism> or an independent view of what science actually
> contributes to human self-understanding in a divinely-created world?
> You seem to now advocate a simple <progressivism>, which is not a
> difficult position to argue against.
> You speak of 15 <modal aspects> of the Doyeweerdian variety and then
> seem to privilege a certain few of those aspects, indeed, the
> <lower> ones. Why is this Terry? Is your view not reductionistic
> from time to time? You are defending Ken Miller,s view of anti-
> reductionism, which is rather ironic, when far better views are
> available. Ken Miller is a third rate philosopher (but a great
> <popularizer>) without debate.
> There is really no problem with making fundamental and accurate
> critiques of <certain types> of <evolutionary theories>. Darwin made
> errors, indeed. Or do you think <all> evolutionary theories are
> immune to criticism? When a legitimate falsification of <evolution>
> is eventually revealed, will you embrace it, or continue to argue
> for universal evolutionism?
> Which leads me to the question: Do you accept that <evolutionary
> theory> could one day <evolve> into being something other than
> itself? I.e. could evolution <change> so that it is not identifiable
> with the term <evolution> anymore? If it can, would you then admit
> that <evolution> is a limited view of existence? If it can,t, would
> you admit that <evolution> is a type of <grand unified theory> which
> can be equated with a <worldview>? These two options allow you to
> state your position more clearly.
> I doubt that you think Darwinism is compatible with Christianity,
> Terry. But then again, you didn,t say that Darwin was a Christian
> either.
> It seems obvious that Cameron is seeking a kind of truce or balance
> or possibility for collaboration between ID and TE or EC. Some folks
> on the ASA list, however, would, for a variety of personal reasons,
> <never> let that happen.
> Gregory
> --- On Fri, 5/29/09, Terry M. Gray <> wrote:
> From: Terry M. Gray <>
> Subject: Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?
> To: "ASA" <>
> Received: Friday, May 29, 2009, 9:27 PM
> Cameron,
> Perhaps we're coming to some understanding--unfortunately, not
> necessarily agreement:
> 1. You seem to say that ID and TE are compatible, but then you go on
> to say that the proper response to Dawkins and company is to point
> out the flaws in their science. But this is the problem. TE's don't
> usually see the science as fundamentally flawed. Let me make it
> clear that evolutionary science broadly construed includes non-
> Darwinian mechanisms. Technically, exaptation and even neutral drift
> are non-Darwinian. If you throw in the stuff that Gould liked to
> talk about--morphological constraint, developmental constraint,
> historical contingency and the Stuart Kauffmann self-organization
> and emergence type stuff. Then you've got a much expanded
> repertoire. Most of these, except perhaps the Kauffmann stuff, can
> be woven fairly cleanly into a Darwinian/neo-Darwinian approach. The
> E part of TE or EC says that we think that the explanations are
> basically right, certainly on the right track, and subject to the
> normal process of science will get better and better. If ID has a
> fundamental critique with E then we have a problem.
> 2. I don't quite understand how ID and E are compatible and maybe
> Ted can chime in here. Sure, Behe accepts common ancestry, and I'm
> glad for that. But isn't the bottom line argument for design the
> fact that that evolutionary mechanisms cannot account for a given
> feature. Isn't that in the end how you detect intelligent design?
> (And, by the way, everyone, including Dawkins, recognizes design--he
> speaks of things that have the appearance of being designed--and
> when we teach structure/function in biology/biochemistry we talk
> design. The real question is where did the design come from, did it
> evolve via Darwinian or other mechanisms, or did it come from
> somewhere else.) Behe accepts common ancestry but rejects that
> evolutionary mechanisms could have produced various molecular
> machines. How is this compatible with E or TE or EC?
> 3. I think you miss the force of the Type III Secretory System.
> There is a "joke" that for a creationist every time you find one
> missing link, you create two new ones. Your assessment of the Type
> III Secretory System seems to be much like that. If we're honest,
> and when I've heard Miller speak, I think he is, we don't know if
> the system is a predecessor or a subsequent development of the
> flagellar system. It doesn't matter. What it shows is that there is
> a functional system, with a completely different function, that is a
> subset of the "irreducibly complex" system. Pieces of the mousetrap
> are missing yet it still functions.
> 4. Your story about the flat tire is imaginable (did it really
> happen?), but then so is finding the English text of John 1:1 in
> some protein sequence using the one letter codes for an amino acid
> or for finding instructions in the digits of pi for a time/space
> travel machine. I need to think more about it, but it seems to me
> that your sequential probability calculation has the same problem as
> any historically contingent probability calculation. The probability
> of any particular historical event is fantastically small, however,
> when an event occurs, the probability of it happening is "1" and so
> the probability of some event being built upon it is "1 x p" where p
> is the probability of the individual event happening. In other
> words, we always have to think "given the present state of affairs
> what is the chance of something happening on top of that?" This is
> how evolution works and how evolutionary probabilities have to be
> calculated. No matter how improbable a pair of events might be, once
> the first of the pair has occurred, the probability of the second
> event happening is just the probability of the second event.
> TG
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Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801

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Received on Sat May 30 22:53:27 2009

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