Re: [asa] Response to Baylor meeting

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Mon Aug 31 2009 - 14:09:25 EDT

Hi Folks, Just another short message as I have a deadline tomorrow and a lot of work to do to meet it. I've not read all of the messages in this thread, the question goes to the issue of extinction and evolution. The questioner to Randy has a problem with evolution, extinction and stewardship. I would like to ask a simple thought experiment about whether or not 'theories' can become 'extinct' as well as 'species.' Is it possible that 'evolutionary theory' could 'evolve/change-over-time' into something that is no longer itself? For example, if anomalies were found along with things that evolutionary theory cannot explain in its current forumulation (which, according to evolutionary theory is a 'fluid' definition, and not a fixed or absolute one, that is, because nothing in this world is fixed or absolute according to evolutionary theory), and another theory then 'migrated' into the niche left by evolutionary theories, would it be possible for evolution to become 'extinct'? Would treating Darwin as an icon of agnosticism/celebrity of natural science become an obsolete practice? Alongside this question, there is one for Murray: what is the difference or sameness in your view between 'neo-Darwinian evolution' and 'Christian evolutionist'? I see you challenging Cameron by suggesting that neo-Darwinian evolution (or 'the modern synthesis') is 'good science' (I am assuming this is how you would label it - i.e. best explanation of the evidence to date) and that there is nothing contradictory about being both an 'evolutionist' and a 'Christian' (or Muslim or Jew, etc.). But Cameron has made repeated points that the term 'Christian Darwinist' is a contradiction in terms. Do you disagree with him about this or is it a matter of clarifying our terms 'Christian evolutionist' and 'Christian Darwinist', along with what the differences between Darwinian and Darwinism, and evolution and evolutionism, actually mean?  Ruse answers "Can a Darwinian be a Christian?" with a 'Yes.' I would answer that a Darwinist cannot be a Christian, but someone who follows *some* Darwinian principles will find them anti-thetical to their faith. To follow *all* Darwinian principles, however, is tantamount to becoming just as agnostic as he was. And this raises the question of whether or not it s possible for a religious person to become agnostic due to their contemplation and acceptance of certain aspects of 'Darwinian principles' to their logical conclusion. A Darwinian can perhaps be a Christian, while rejecting the agnosticism in Darwin's extra-scientific speculations and ruminations. However, it is also possible for a Christian to become agnostic (van Till?) as a result of their embrace of Darwinist ideology. TEs don't seem to highlight this 'reverse' possibility and rather highlight only the positive aspects of accepting 'biological' evolution or 'cosmological' evolution (and
 sometimes TEs even promote 'cultural' evolution). It is not difficult to realize why this is the case. One might even wonder if TE might become an 'obsolete' theory. (!!!) But then again, I still haven't heard a coherent theory of TE (i.e. one that potentially 'could' become obsolete because it actually exists in the first place), other than ones which thrive on instrumentalist logic, i.e. "God 'uses' evolution". This is highly unsatisfactory language for many scholars, including Christian ones, in the academy. Gregrory   ________________________________ From: Murray Hogg <> To: ASA <> Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 6:30:13 PM Subject: Re: [asa] Response to Baylor meeting Schwarzwald wrote: > As for the question he has about stewardship and evolution, I think his question may go deeper. If extinction is just a part of evolution, then why is it a concern? I don't think this problem goes away just by increasing the scope of the extinction to 'wiping out ecosystems' and 'no daughter lineages'. I think this is divorced from the question of 'human specialness' - even if we're 100% certain that humanity has a unique purpose, that alone doesn't tell us what we should do about the rest of creation. After all, extinctions happen, niches disappear, new species appear, new niches open up. I must admit that I didn't find the question to be the most lucid and would like to see it teased out to make clear some of the assumptions which lie behind it. Other than that, I would urge the view that the scope of the extinctions is the major point of concern *in the contemporary context*. Note that this last is an important qualification because it's not extinction per se that I believe concerns evolutionists here, but rapid and widespread extinctions of the sort we see presently occurring. The rate at which ecosystems are being destroyed is also enormously problematic. Here global warming is a prime example of the problem. From an evolutionary perspective, it is not the fact of global warming which is the problem, but the rate - the fact that species simply can't adapt to rapid rate of habitat change. Actually, the rate of ecosystem destruction AND the scope of extinctions are intimately related. One can, for example, hunt a species like the Bison to extinction and you will merely create a "new" niche into which another species can evolve. But destroy the ecosystem and you destroy both the niches and every organism which might have evolved into them. I'll only add that it doesn't take five minutes of Googling "habitat destruction" or "endangered species" to see that this connection between habitat destruction and widespread extinction is precisely the issue which most raises its head. Concerns about the extinction of individual species due to some targeted threat (say a species specific disease or hunting) are nowhere near so prominent on the evolutionists' radar screen. All this predicates a certain outlook, of course: i.e. an evolutionary point of view which sees adaptation happening in time-frames of tens of thousands of years. So when we see the ecosystems of the planets changing, or even disappearing, in time-frames which can be measured in decades, or even less, I don't think the evolutionists' concerns need much explaining. Blessings, Murray To unsubscribe, send a message to with "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. __________________________________________________________________ Looking for the perfect gift? Give the gift of Flickr!

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Received on Mon Aug 31 14:10:22 2009

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