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Archive for the ‘Philosophy of Science’ Category

It seems the last two big cover stories in Christianity Today covering evolution issues have completely ignored the many scientists and others who accept evolution as the best explanation for some things, but have serious doubts about it as the best explanation for all of biological history.  These articles ignore those Christians who doubt evolution based primarily on the scientific evidence, not theology.

The latest cover story deals with the biography of a theistic evolutionist and a young earth creationist.  No biography of Michael Behe who was taught theistic evolution growing up, but who came to doubt Darwinism as he delved deeper into the science.  Sigh.  Christianity Today is dumbing down the church and missing the most interesting questions.

Christianity Today also never reviewed Alvin Plantinga’s book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, in which Plantinga devoted a whole section to Michael Behe’s design arguments, and had very positive things to say about them.  CT published an interview with Plantinga, but avoided all discussion of ID.

In the recent article, the author, Tim Stafford, asserts that Darrel Falk “has held to his plea for Christians to love and respect each other while advocating different points of view.”  Well, that is not quite right.  Falk has claimed elsewhere that he has a kind of “mission from God” to attack other believers:

With all respect for [Michael] Behe as a person, his science has turned out to be highly incompetent in the field in which he writes—biology.  Since he chose to take his science to non-professionals many of whom have not had more than one college course in biology (if that), you are correct: BioLogos needs to show that he, bless his heart, is professionally incompetent; one of our God-given tasks (to be frank this is the way we see it) is to demonstrate this to a public which (unlucky as they are) doesn’t have the biology background to know better.

When I asked Darrel Falk to explain how Behe was incompetent, he failed to do so.

 

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As used on this blog, I provide the following definition of “theistic materialism”:

The belief that God exists, but God did not intervene supernaturally in the history of biological life on earth until the miracles recorded in the Bible pertaining to salvation history.  God did not intervene supernaturally in the creation of Adam and Eve and did not intervene supernaturally in any significant way in the history of humanity from its origin until the Bible makes reference to miracles such as the virgin birth of Jesus.

Please see the category Theistic Materialism for more posts and examples of scientists articulating this position in their own words.

In a previous post I described it this way:

RJS is a theist and accepts God’s miraculous workings in some contexts. But she rules out the miraculous in biological history and biological origins. There are certain spheres where she is a materialist. I see no basis in Scripture or the scientific evidence for this a priori philosophical position.

RJS then put it in her own words:

I think that, until proven otherwise, there will be a “natural” explanation in general, because God created the world in a rational manner. If you want to call this theistic materialism – ok. . . .

I think that God is outside of the natural order and can certainly intervene. But the evidence suggests (including the evidence of scripture) that he only does so for a purpose and in relationship with his creation. Intervention is almost always, if not always, in relationship with humans created in his image.

 

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Apt observations from Professor Gould:

I am both angry at and amused by the creationists; but mostly I am deeply sad. Sad for many reasons. Sad because so many people who respond to creationist appeals are troubled for the right reason, but venting their anger at the wrong target. It is true that scientists have often been dogmatic and elitist. It is true that we have often allowed the white-coated, advertising image to represent us—”Scientists say that Brand X cures bunions ten times faster than…” We have not fought it adequately because we derive benefits from appearing as a new priesthood. It is also true that faceless and bureaucratic state power intrudes more and more into our lives and removes choices that should belong to individuals and communities. I can understand that school curricula, imposed from above and without local input, might be seen as one more insult on all these grounds. But the culprit is not, and cannot be, evolution or any other fact of the natural world. Identify and fight our legitimate enemies by all means, but we are not among them.

I am sad because the practical result of this brouhaha will not be expanded coverage to include creationism (that would also make me sad), but the reduction or excision of evolution from high school curricula. Evolution is one of the half dozen “great ideas” developed by science. It speaks to the profound issues of genealogy that fascinate all of us—the “roots” phenomenon writ large. Where did we come from? Where did life arise? How did it develop? How are organisms related? It forces us to think, ponder, and wonder. Shall we deprive millions of this knowledge and once again teach biology as a set of dull and unconnected facts, without the thread that weaves diverse material into a supple unity?

But most of all I am saddened by a trend I am just beginning to discern among my colleagues. I sense that some now wish to mute the healthy debate about theory that has brought new life to evolutionary biology. It provides grist for creationist mills, they say, even if only by distortion. Perhaps we should lie low and rally around the flag of strict Darwinism, at least for the moment—a kind of old-time religion on our part.

But we should borrow another metaphor and recognize that we too have to tread a straight and narrow path, surrounded by roads to perdition. For if we ever begin to suppress our search to understand nature, to quench our own intellectual excitement in a misguided effort to present a united front where it does not and should not exist, then we are truly lost. (bold mine)

Long live freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom to go deep and explore all the details.

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Ignorance is the handmaiden of prejudice and discrimination.  Here is some more evidence of it at JPL:

Some testimony from Margaret Weisenfelder:

Q. I’m trying to understand why you feel [ID is] a religious viewpoint, not a scientific viewpoint.

A. I’m really not — I’m not clear on the distinction. I’m not well versed in the idea of intelligent design. … I’m not an expert in any of this. (33:9-19)

……

Q. And your understanding of intelligent design what’s that based on?

A. Just my own surmise.

Q. Okay. It’s not based on any literature, is it?

A. No, it’s not. (April 3, 2012, PM, 239:1-11)

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