Re: NTSE #11

Murphy (
Sat, 01 Mar 1997 14:42:24 -0500

John W. Burgeson wrote:

> Paul argues to jettison the MN "rule" as part of science.

I reject that MN "rule" in the form "consideration of
natural processes alone can lead us to all the truth we can know." I do
think MN is the way to do science. In fact, all scientists do this
unless they're talking about (or against) evolution or related topics.
Can you imagine the reaction, from scientists of whatever religion, at a
paper in Physical Review explaining the solar neutrino problem in terms
of divine agancy?

> BTW -- I hope George Murphy, Dick Fischer and a couple others I can think
> of, in particular, will comment on this. George has suggested the ASA might
> be an "obscurant" organization (in some peoples' eyes) for even
> entertaining Paul's thesis seriously;

I haven't said this. What led (well before current debates
about ID) to this image of ASA is the apparrent desire of many members
to eliminate or minimize the role of evolution. ID just strengthens

>I think Dick has too. OTOH, there are
> those (unnamed) who see the ASA as a "compromising" organization in some
> ways. It all seems to be "whose ox is being barbequed."
> Here is the situation. You have been asked, and in a moment of weakness you
> have agreed, to talk to an 8th grade (or whatever) public school class on
> natural science; particularly on that organism known as the panda. As part
> of your talk, the question of eating habits comes up and you HAVE to
> explain to your eager (we hope) audience what you know, or think you know,
> about the panda's thumb.
> So you do your best. Now here is the question:
> Do you talk about the apparent imperfection at all?
> If so, how do you do so in a non-theological manner?
> Maybe you do so in a theological manner, ala Gould?
> Can you bring in counter arguments that are theological? Remember, this is
> a public school.
> Can you, in short, discuss this issue fully, from all sides, or must you
> avoid certain arguments?

I find it hard to imagine myself lecturing on pandas, but many
things are possible. (I'm helping to judge a middle school science fair
next week!) But supposing ...
Having crammed on the subject myself, I would talk about the
panda's thumb in evolutionary terms, somewhat a la Gould. I would point
out that many biological structures aren't "perfect" but "close enough
for government work" because that's the nature of natural selection.
Then I might say (depending on reactions &c) - "You may be
wondering how God fits into all this. Well, God uses these processes of
evolution, & God allows the world to in agreement with the laws he has
established. That's why we can understand it. But it also means that
things won't be perfect. Remember, though, that God isn't finished with
the world yet.
& then say my good-byes & let the teacher face the wrath of the
George Murphy