Re: [asa] Re: On the Barr-West exchange and ID/TE

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Tue Nov 17 2009 - 11:23:53 EST

Heya Rich,

"To date there has been no scientific evidence for teleology"? The whole
line of reasoning I've heard from one Christian ID critic after the other is
that there can be no "scientific evidence for teleology" to begin with,
because questions of design, guidance, purpose and teleology are outside the
proper scope of science.

Your battery of quotes, as seems to be the trend as of late, address
questions I did not ask, and concerns I have no interest in. I'm not asking
for the Pope John Paul II's views, and I expressly stated that platitudes
about how "God can exist and evolution can be true" are of zero interest

Are you saying now that design, guidance, and teleology is a question that
"science" *can* address? If so, Rich, I'd absolutely *love* to hear how. I
have repeatedly said that I reject the ID movement's claim that science can
address this question, but that the hypocrisy from many opponents forces me
into a position of great sympathy with them.

So, let's hear it. Are questions of divine design, guidance, and teleology
ones that science can address and rule on? If so, how? And if not, then when
can I expect the NCSE, Ken Miller, and other self-appointed defenders of
science to say that for all they know, evolution can be guided and
purposeful, and the natural world can be rife with teleology - but such
questions are outside the scope of science?

Or is there a whole lot of hypocrisy and - let's call it by those most
genteel term possible - deceptive PR talk going on here?

On Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 10:59 AM, Rich Blinne <> wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 2:47 PM, Schwarzwald <>
>> wrote:
>> Well, I may be outside the ID movement, but I can imagine one response. ID
>> is very critical of the aid and comfort they see some Christians giving to
>> atheists by means of their endorsement of "Darwinian" evolution,
>> particularly via their associated with the NCSE and other groups. But I can
>> imagine one way to put ID proponents, even YECs, at much greater ease. Have
>> the NCSE and other groups (the AAAS, perhaps the NAS, etc) expressly state
>> the following: "Science has nothing to say about the presence or lack of
>> guidance, or teleology, in evolutionary theory. It is entirely possible for
>> evolution to have been guided by God, or man to have been one intended
>> outcome of evolution. But discerning guidance or design in evolution, or its
>> lack, is entirely outside of science."
> Note some excerpts from Science, Evolution, and Creationism (2008)
> published by the National Academies Press, the authoritative source for all
> books from the National Academy of Science, pp. 10-15. While you might be
> disappointed in the lack of eschewing ateleology below but that's because
> to date there has been no scientific evidence for teleology. But that
> doesn't *disprove* either guidance or teleology since that would
> be proving a negative and that's what the NAS is doing over and over and
> over again below.
> In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena.
> Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked
> independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that
> are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or
> disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be
> *testable *— there must be possible observational consequences that could
> support the idea *but also ones that could refute it*. Unless a proposed
> explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could
> potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to
> scientific testing.
> ...
> Science is not the only way of knowing and understanding.
> *But science is a way of knowing that differs from other ways in its
> dependence on empirical evidence and testable explanations.*
> *...*
> *Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has
> produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s
> history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets
> of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written
> eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of
> life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their
> faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do
> not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in
> strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.*
> *Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience.
> In science, explanations *
> *must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world.
> Scientifically based observations or experiments that conflict with an
> explanation eventually must **lead to modification or even abandonment of
> that explanation. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend only on
> empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting
> evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities. Because
> they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated
> by science. *
> *In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of
> human understanding in different ways. Attempts to pit science and religion
> against each other create controversy where none needs to exist. [emphasis
> mine]*
> *“[T]here is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human
> origins and the doctrine of God as Creator.”*
> *— General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church*
> *“In his encyclical *
> *Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that
> there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith
> regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of
> certain fixed points. . . . Today, more than a half-century after the
> appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the
> recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is
> remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the
> spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different
> scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent
> studies — which was neither planned nor sought — constitutes in itself a
> significant argument in favor of the theory.”*
> *— Pope John Paul II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,
> October 22, 1996.*
> *...*
> *Scientists, like people in other professions, hold a wide range of
> positions about religion and the role of supernatural forces or entities in
> the universe. Some adhere to a position known as scientism, which holds
> that the methods of science alone are sufficient for discovering everything
> there is to know about the universe. Others ascribe to an idea known as
> deism, which posits that God created all things and set the universe in
> motion but no longer actively directs physical phenomena. Others are
> theists, who believe that God actively intervenes in the world. Many
> scientists who believe in God, either as a prime mover or as an active force
> in the universe, *
> *“Creationists inevitably look for God in what science **has not yet
> explained or in what they claim science **cannot explain. Most scientists
> who are religious **look for God in what science does understand and **has
> explained.”*
> *— Kenneth Miller, professor of biology at Brown **University and author
> of *
> *Finding Darwin’s God: A **Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between
> God **and Religion*. Quote is excerpted from an interview *available at
> http://www.actionbioscience.<>
> **org/evolution/miller.html.*
> *“In my view, there is no conflict in being **a rigorous scientist and a
> person who **believes in a God who takes a personal **interest in each one
> of us. Science’s **domain is to explore nature. God’s **domain is in the
> spiritual world, a realm **not possible to explore with the tools and **language
> of science. It must be examined **with the heart, the mind, and the soul.”
> *
> *— Francis Collins, director of the **Human Genome Project and of **the
> National Human Genome **Research Institute at the National **Institutes of
> Health. Excerpted **from his book, *
> *The Language of God: **A Scientist Presents Evidence for **Belief *(p.
> 6).
> “Our scientific understanding of the universe . . . provides for those who
> believe in God a marvelous opportunity to reflect upon their beliefs.”
> — Father George Coyne, Catholic priest and former director of the Vatican
> Observatory. Quote is from a talk, “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A
> Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution,” at Palm Beach Atlantic University,
> January 31, 2006. Available at
> Blinne
> Member ASA

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Received on Tue Nov 17 11:24:13 2009

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