Re: [asa] ID views on macroevolution, common descent, age of earth, etc.

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Sat Aug 22 2009 - 12:00:51 EDT


I might take up your suggestion, to invite George and Nancy to join in (on George, see my comment at the end). My offer to post something from George, if he wanted to clarify his views on common descent and the earth's age, was of course meant very seriously. I would be happy to do the same for Nancy, since I mentioned her in a similar context. I gather from some of your comments, Cameron, that you would generally agree with me in saying that it's often hard to know precisely what George thinks on a number of issues related to origins: he is very critical of views he does not hold, but seemingly quite reticent to offer a specific alternative that he likes. If he's genuinely agnostic on all of the points on which he comments, I have to wonder what he has to contribute to the conversation. If however he does have views on many of those points, then IMO he should be forthcoming with them; or else, he ought not be so quick to criticize the views to which he objects so stron!

Now, I will comment on this paragraph you wrote, expanding on the point we were talking about:

Hunter's argument is that the "additional" argument is unscientific, i.e., metaphysical or theological. He believes that the inference that creature A evolved from creature B assumes that only naturalistic explanatory options for the emergence of A are possible. That is, it makes a religious, theological or metaphysical decision that, say, human beings arose via naturalistic means. Once that decision is made, the rest is all arguing details of the evolutionary pathways (australopithecus, etc.), which can be quite "scientific", in the sense of being driven by the data, but the decision that the means *must have been naturalistic* is not a scientific decision. Thus, he claims that all Darwinian theory is metaphysical at heart, resting on a premise (naturalism) which cannot be validated by science, and which is held for religious reasons, reasons springing from the liberalization of Christianity as it strove to harmonize itself with Enlightenment conceptions of science, nat!
 ure, reason, history, etc.


Ted comments:

This is also my understanding of Hunter's position, Cameron. In his view, evolution is so deeply loaded with metaphysical assumptions (some of which are theological), that it entirely lacks any objectivity in the ordinary sense. We can see the fossils, and we cah say which strata they came from in which parts of the world, but that is all that we really say. The intepretation of that evidence is entirely driven by worldview commitments, if I understand Hunter correctly. Thus, a creationist interpreation of that evidence, whether OEC or YEC, is on an equal footing with an evolutionary interpretation. That much seems clear; Hunter does not seem to be an agnostic about that.

On the ages question, however, he seems to maintain a careful silence, which is why I've interpreted him as agnostic on that issue -- at least this seems to be his public stance. However he is quick to criticize scientific views on physical (non-biological) cosmogony, without offering alternatives as far as I can tell. There is always something wrong with the historical sciences, apparently; and, when coupled with his presuppositional approach to phylogeny (above), I am led to suggest that he does not believe in the validity of the historical sciences at all. Again, this is my inference, but it does seem to be implied by what he says, by what he does not say, and by the fact that he does not say it. I doubt that many serious students of science find such a general approach/attitude very convincing.

Overall, I am struck by a superficial resemblance (superficial, since I have to go largely on inferences) to the presuppositional approach of Cornelius Van Til. That has some cogency, but to work in a context like this I think more credence needs to be given to inferences to the best explanation. Granted, those inferences can be influenced by prior commitments, but surely not all inferences are on the same level?

If you have his current email address, Cameron, please do forward this to George and ask him to be in touch with me if he wants to join in. The last thing I want to do, is to misrepresent anyone's views. Far better for him to speak for himself. I'd love for him to respond to my comments here, esp if he can fill in the "gaps", as it were, with clear statements of his views.


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Received on Sat Aug 22 12:01:48 2009

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