Re: [asa] ID question? - TE does or doesn't 'limit evolution'?

From: <>
Date: Thu Oct 29 2009 - 11:29:25 EDT

What in the world makes you think that a person who is willing to call his or her view with regard to biological evolution "theistic evolution" wants therefore to use the word "evolution" in an unlimited sense? The great victory you think you've won is over a largely non-existent opponent. There's no need to ask me (or I think the other "TEs" you list) "acknowledge" the limitations "evolution" because it's what we've long thought & said.


---- Gregory Arago <> wrote:
> Ted,  you are cutting out the feet from under 'theistic evolution' at the same time that you intend to be defending it. Do you not recognize *the philosophy* of what you say? If "evolution cannot explain morality, mathematics, religion or culture," as you say in support of the views of others, i.e. Ayala, Peacocke and Polkinghorne, all of which I've read, then you are in effect *limiting evolution* as a part of your trade. This is great!

I agree with you wholeheartedly that "evolution cannot explain morality, mathematics, religion or culture." I do not fail to see this, not at all!

Unfortunately, you need to still go further from what you've just said in order to be consistent, which no doubt you would seek. To say what you've said is to make a *great BIG strike* against the philosophical assumption that has been called 'theistic evolution.' What an unfortunate combination of ideas/concepts! Let's be serious as academics about this!

Sure, Ted, I grant you that to be a (mono)theist who accepts a *limited* view of evolution is both possible and acceptable. I am not against this! (In my surrounding environment this is likely *much, much* less controversial than it is in yours.) But 'biological evolution' is indeed a limited 'realm' of knowledge. You simply need to acknowledge this openly (i.e. that *evolution IS limited*) and then it will allow you to possibly *rise* to a higher level of discourse. Otherwise you will simply *stay small* in my view.

Human-made things *don't* 'evolve' into being (or having become). Why not accept this *reality*? Say it out loud, Ted, because that IS the way things are!!! The paradigm of 'evolution' (via natural selection) created by Darwin (and Wallace) and constructed by Huxley, Dobzhansky and others simply *DOES NOT* take into account human intention, choice, free will, decisions; teleology and action. Do you accept this or not?! We can speak much more freely if you see/hear this. I have been writing it here for quite some time! Is it not time to acknowlege this, Ted, George, David C., Dave S., Iain, and others? 


From: Ted Davis <>
To: asa <>; Gregory Arago <>
Sent: Thu, October 29, 2009 5:02:18 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID question? - TE does or doesn't 'limit evolution'?

>>> Gregory Arago <> 10/29/2009 5:56 AM >>> writes:

Again, let me follow up on this in order to be crystal clear.

Ted wrote:
"So, Gregory, what exactly do you mean?  Or, have I answered your vacuous claim satisfactorily at this point?"

What is at stake here is whether or not 'evolution' has *any* limits, according to 'TE.' I did not ask simply 'what are TE's doing?' but rather 'what are TE's limit evolution?'

If you can't 'limit evolution,' then 'evolution' is effectively 'unlimited,' i.e. a totalizing ideology.

This is not a vacuous claim (i.e. that TEs are doing nothing or very, very little to limit evolution) and it is not a vacuous question to ask, though it is certainly one that asks people to check their grammar carefully and to consider changing the way they communicate about something if there is a better alternative.


Ted replies briefly.  Gregory, when someone like Francisco Ayala or Arthur Peacocke or John Polkinghorne says that evolution cannot explain morality, mathematics, religion, or culture -- or evolutionary biology itself, for that matter -- then IMO that counts as doing plenty to limit evolution.  The reason (perhaps) why you fail to see this, Gregory, is that TEs such as these folks don't challenge the *biology* of evolution.  Rather, they challenge what it means to "explain" something.  I'll close with this pithy little sentence from Polkinghorne, "Belief in God in an Age of Science," p. 18: "Did Oskar Schindler take great risks to rescue more than a thousand Jews from extermination because of some implicit calculation of genetic advantage?"

I see no indication here, Gregory, that evolution is effectively unlimited in Polkinghorne's understanding of it.  None.


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Received on Thu Oct 29 11:29:53 2009

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