Re: [asa] The Debate Goes On

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Jun 19 2009 - 04:52:52 EDT

Pragmatism is, pretty much, the *only* philosophy that the United States of America has offered (produced) as a contribution to world philosophy in its entire (short, just like my homeland's) history.

--- On Fri, 6/19/09, Schwarzwald <> wrote:

From: Schwarzwald <>
Subject: Re: [asa] The Debate Goes On
Received: Friday, June 19, 2009, 8:44 AM

The very fact that this debate is going on - and the manner in which it's playing out among the (save for Miller, mostly atheist it seems) participants - should be instructive to everyone. But especially TEs of any stripe.

First, because what we see here is Coyne aggressively advocating a view of evolution - particularly "Darwinism" - that frankly seems very close to what Cameron has been insisting really IS Darwinism. He's mixing metaphysics/philosophy with science to a degree that would normally result in condemnation and possibly more if it were from Behe, Dembski, etc.

But go read the critical responses to him, and you're not going to see anything close to that. There's some hand-wringing over how Coyne's thoughts on this matter are extreme. By and large, however, the appeal isn't to the sanctity of science and the importance of keeping science unpolluted with metaphysics. There's hardly even an appeal to defending a common and valid opinion on the matter. Instead, the replies seem frankly weaselly - they amount to "Look, America has a lot of religious people in it. Ergo, like it or not, we have to cooperate with them to get things done."

That leads into the second point here. Namely: The fact that this isn't about "science" but what amounts to political pragmatism, and all such pragmatism is ultimately temporary. When atheists respond to Coyne that, like it or not, we have to appeal to neutrality here because otherwise the results would not be to our liking, any thoughtful TE should be given pause. Because that comes awfully close to saying, "The moment it seems more effective to ditch these religious yahoos [Not meaning Ken Ham or YECs, but of all people, Ken Miller and company], we'll do it. For now, there's more to be gained by compromising." Which may explain why, no matter how much they pollute science with unjustifiable metaphysical, philosophical, and even political excess, those who are doing so from an atheist vantage point are going to be treated in a markedly different fashion by many "science defenders" than any theist. Because this isn't totally about the protection of
 science anyway.

Third, there's this. I make no secret about my thinking ID proponents do a lot of things wrong. I think the drive to get ID viewpoints taught in school is incorrect - I believe the focus should be on making certain that the metaphysics of Coyne and Dawkins, and even Cameron's Darwin, are kept out of classrooms and are recognized as excess metaphysics, not scientific essentials. I can go on with other criticisms as well. But this conflict also demonstrates why, at the end of the day, my sympathies lie with ID and why I think ID-proponents had a net-positive influence on the topic of "Science and Religion": Because while so many TEs (including myself, once upon a time) have been spending their time bashing YECs and playing the meek accomodationist card with atheists who see their cooperation as a necessary materialist-equivalent-of-evil, ID proponents have been aggressively pointing out design in nature. While their big tent does have people who I sharply
 disagree with, it also has more than a few thoughtful people who see evolution as yet one more part of a design process in a purposeful world, or people who are willing to point out biological structures and argue the "illusion of design" that Dawkins and company grudgingly have to admit to is no illusion. In other words, from my point of view, the ID proponents have been the principal guys [sic - and gals] providing an intellectual offense on a question where one is sorely needed, and clearly lacking in the TE alternatives.

Putting it short: Maybe ID proponents are on to something, in however a limited way, when they criticize "Darwinism" and our science educators / instituations in general. Because whether or not Cameron's Darwinism (Sorry Cameron, I call it that because you're the one guy on the ASA thread who's most forcefully insisting that that's the "real" Darwinism - no insult intended) is the "real" Darwinism, it happens to be essentially the Darwinism that Coyne, Dawkins, and others adhere to. You can bet they're not alone in this, and that they've never been alone besides. Responding to it needs to be something more than ganging up on YECs or whoever the NCSE's current out-group is. And as Miller has accidentally demonstrated, no matter how qualified, gentle, and limited the speculation of guidance in nature is, it's going to be labelled as an abuse of science by any New Atheist - and any determined atheist, period, who thinks it's more advantageous to denounce
 such a view rather than accept it as a valid one within its sphere.

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Received on Fri Jun 19 04:53:48 2009

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