Re: What do you mean by the "theory of evolution"? (was A

Lloyd Eby (
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 23:27:47 -0400 (EDT)

On Mon, 27 Apr 1998, Stephen Jones wrote:

> Lloyd
> I do suspect, however, that the supposed
> >distinction -- a distinction that, at first glance, seems perfectly
> >straightforward -- between "natural causation" and "supernatural
> >causation" will not stand up to criticism and scrutiny.
> Disagree. Within theism, there are three logically distinct
> categories:
> 1. Natural causation-God working normally through secondary causation
> (eg. laws of nature);
> 2. Supernatural/Natural causation-God working supernaturally through
> secondary causation (eg. Geisler's "second class miracles");
> 3. Supernatural causation-God working supernaturally through
> primary causation (eg. ex nihilo creation of universe, etc.).

Your discussion here presupposes that we know or can distinguish between
natural and supernatural events. (Notice that you use the terms
"normally" and "supernaturally" in your definition-descriptions. In
other words, your account is, I think, fatally circular.)

Here's my point, stated briefly: Suppose you observe any event. How can
you know whether it is natural or supernatural? Clearly, saying that it
must be supernatural because it does not conform to any known natural
principle will not guarantee that it is supernatural, except by use of
handwaving definitions of "natural" and "supernatural."

I think the supposed natural/supernatural divide will turn out, on deeper
examination, to be as ephemeral or as impossible to sustain as, according
to the account you summarize, demarcation between "scientific" and
"non-scientific" has become. (For myself, I'm not yet convinced that the
demarcation problem is unsolvable or meaningless, although I do agree that
it cannot be solved by positivistic or syntactical (i.e. Popperian)

Lloyd Eby