Re: [asa] Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Tue Aug 04 2009 - 09:20:48 EDT


I know next to nothing (maybe nothing would be closer) to what de
Chardin believed, but construed broadly, I'd say that he is "correct."

The notion that the world evolves or develops according to some process,
dare I say, physical process is taken today as a truism. We can almost
not think otherwise. This is as true for biology as it is for
cosmology. The primitive "data" of biology as well as that of cosmology
need not be interpreted as the product of a dynamic (physical) process.
Yet we are (almost) unable to think otherwise today.

We ought to remember that de Chardin lived (I believe) in a time when
process theology was all the rage, and why not? If Everything is
process and "evolution," why not God, man, life, cosmos, and memes (Hegel
or Marx take your pick)?

Today's mind set has difficulty with the static, the absolute, the
Beginning, the End. We can only imagine unending change and development.
It seems to me that this is a fairly new mindset.


On Mon, 3 Aug
2009, David Clounch wrote:

> *The wiki article quotes de Chardin:
> "(Evolution) is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses,
> all systems must henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be
> thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a
> trajectory which all lines of thought must follow this is what evolution
> is."
> *Ahem, well, biological evolution does not explain cosmological history.
> Indeed, these are entirely two different topics.
> So de Chardin's statement is patently untrue. (It is difficult to see how
> this does TE any kind of favor.)
> De Chardin's statement is untrue except in one case: where evolution is
> defined in the broadest possible sense to mean "any physical change". But
> then it is so broad that it cannot be anything but true. It then is
> difficult to see how it supports, say, theism, and rejects non-theism. Why?
> Because it is not specific enough to differentiate the two. It is the kind
> of theory one can always adapt to make true no matter what. It cannot fail.
> Everything always changes.
> So building a philosophy based on this type of statement seems a very weak
> argument. It then becomes mind boggling that the NCSE started building on
> a house of cards. Not even the New Atheist movement seems that inept to
> me.
> If one defines creationism as "a concept of origins involving theism" then
> TE is clearly creationism. The only way to not be creationist is to be
> non-theist (there are none of those) or anti-theist (which is what atheism
> really is).
> OK, so then define creationism as something other than "a concept of
> origins involving theism". But what exactly?
> How is it that creationism must be excluded from schools if it *isnt*
> aligned with theism? Explain that please.
> This seems like a rock and a hard place.
> On Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 10:19 PM, David Campbell <>wrote:
>>>> But in the past few years, what I've started to find odd is the
>> insistence that evolution is the single most
>>>> important scientific claim in town...
>> Obviously, there's the fact that it is the about the most vigorously
>> contested (in the popular arena) scientific claim that is generally
>> accepted in the scientific community (though global warming is
>> similar). There's also the fact that many are trying to push
>> evolution as part of a more or less atheistic agenda.
>> On the other hand, Wile's YEC middle school science textbook tries to
>> attack the credibility of science (except YEC claims) across the
>> board, and more generally a lot of other scientific errors generally
>> are promoted as a part of antievolutionism.
>> However, public grasp of other issues is probably about as bad if not
>> worse. Science News several years back had a comparison of views on
>> science from a survey taken at a fairly conservative Christian
>> gathering and at a neopagan-type gathering; the latter overall were
>> further from scientific reality (even often on age of the earth).
>>> Because the NAs need evolution to be true with only natural causes so
>> that they can be intellectually fulfilled atheists.<
>> Many "new atheists" try vigorously to give the impression that their
>> intellect is weak enough to be fulfilled by evolution, such as when
>> they claim that evolution allowed one to be intellectually fulfilled
>> atheists. On the one hand, I doubt that Dawkins really wants to claim
>> that all the pre-evolution atheists were idiots who should have been
>> theists instead. On the other hand, biological evolution fails to
>> provide intellectual fulfillment for atheists on two counts. First,
>> NA's are assuming scientism. Evolution provides a good explanation of
>> how biology works. But in claiming that evolution provides
>> intellectual fulfillment, they are assuming that a scientific
>> explanation of origins is all that they need for intellectual
>> fulfillment. Second, even if you grant that, evolution was not the
>> last missing link in providing a scientific explanation of origins.
>> 20th century developments in physics and cosmology (e.g., fusion as a
>> stellar energy source) are necessary to provide a reasonably complete
>> scientific model of origins.
>> --
>> Dr. David Campbell
>> 425 Scientific Collections
>> University of Alabama
>> "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Aug 4 09:21:37 2009

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