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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Death of Darwinism
Glenn Oldham
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# 47

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Neil,
Since you seem to be so impressed by Behe’s argument I recommend that you read this review article by Allen Orr which demolishes it.

http://www-polisci.mit.edu/bostonreview/BR21.6/orr.html

Orr’s key point, amongst others, is that:

quote:
An irreducibly complex system can be built gradually by adding parts that, while initially just advantageous, become-because of later changes-essential. The logic is very simple. Some part (A) initially does some job (and not very well, perhaps). Another part (B) later gets added because it helps A. This new part isn't essential, it merely improves things. But later on, A (or something else) may change in such a way that B now becomes indispensable. This process continues as further parts get folded into the system. And at the end of the day, many parts may all be required.

Behe's argument fails. Even if irreducibly complex systems exist that does not prove that they could not have evolved, indeed one would expect to find many such systems in existence.

Your insistence that we believe Behe until scientists can provide the individual steps by which say, the clotting system evolved is asking for the moon. Such steps may now be irrecoverably obscured by the process of evolution.

Orr deals with several other points and all in all it is an excellent article.

Glenn

--------------------
This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
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I have not read much about Behe, but I am struck when looking at pictures of Flagella how much like Centrioles they are.

Is there a connection? We should be told!

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Glenn, you said
quote:
Since you seem to be so impressed by Behe’s argument I recommend that you read this review article by Allen Orr which demolishes it.

I've read it. Having read the book, unlike anyone else on the thread, I note that Orr has summarised Behe's observations well, though Behe actually spends 200 out of 300 pages (that’s 60% not 30% of the book - but perhaps Orr isn't very good at Maths) describing five irreducibly complex bio-systems. It is fair for Orr to say that Behe draws no conclusion about the designer, only that he thinks cellular mechanisms look like they have been designed and it is now the job of bio-chemists to prove that there is no designer. That's a great challenge which good scientists will relish.

I respected Orr's observation that Behe, like me, is disturbed by the ill will between science and theology (though I think we will soon come to this matter on this thread, but not yet). If Behe is seen as a creationist, Orr points out, it is because YECs and Evangelical Christians have been quick to associate with him. But Behe is not a creationist, he's not even an Evangelical. Orr points out that Behe is the 'real thing', unlike creationists. Behe is simply a very well informed (Roman Catholic) Scientist who happens to pose a particularly difficult question for step-by-step random development of molecular mechanisms. End of chat.

I gather, that no one on this thread has read Behe, and John I appreciate that our time is a limiting factor, but it is not an excuse. If something is important, we should prioritise it. May I humbly suggest that the only way we can form educated opinion about a theory is to read the book for ourselves before reading a potted account and coloured criticism? Everyone, will you please stop telling me to read this or that, I'm getting sick of being patronised…go away and read 'Darwin's Black Box' for yourselves, it is not creationist clap-trap but is a serious challenge to the scientific community. And when you've read it come back with your own opinions.

Glenn, if you had bothered to read it before condemning it as creationist clap-trap (which it isn't), you would you would know that Orr's main argument (which you proudly quoted) is discussed in the book and Behe demands a more scientific approach. The A's and B's of Orr's theory, says Behe, are scientifically insufficient. We need hard facts, not fairy tales.

Orr either ignored or misunderstood Behe's argument (either he is wicked or stupid) knowing that scientists are unlikely, as John pointed out, to bother to read the book for themselves. So Orr was free to quote part of Behe's disproof back to us as proof that systems are not irreducible. I'd quote you part of the book, but I think it better you read the whole. Then you'll see that Orr's mistake (or deliberate deception) does not demolish Behe's argument, and that the scientific work still needs to be done.

I'll say it again for everyone's benefit, I have no issue with the methodological work of science. There should be no ill will between science and theology, but sadly there is and this thread should avoid it.

Has anyone ever wondered why it gets so heated between scientists and theologians?

Before I post my next thread, can anyone offer me the scientific credentials of Richard Lewontin? I am reading some of his stuff now, and would like to move the debate up a few levels.

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
John Collins
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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
(snip)
I gather, that no one on this thread has read Behe, and John I appreciate that our time is a limiting factor, but it is not an excuse. If something is important, we should prioritise it. May I humbly suggest that the only way we can form educated opinion about a theory is to read the book for ourselves before reading a potted account and coloured criticism? Everyone, will you please stop telling me to read this or that, I'm getting sick of being patronised?go away and read 'Darwin's Black Box' for yourselves, it is not creationist clap-trap but is a serious challenge to the scientific community. And when you've read it come back with your own opinions.(snip)

The operative words here are "if something is important" and I disagree with you about whether it is.

Other people on this thread have said that their faith is unaffected by the theory of evolution. I don't have faith, neither do I work in biology, but from what I gather from those who do evolution is an extremely well-founded theory.

Why should I waste time, as I see it, reading a book which won't make any difference to what I think or spend my time on and that people who know anything about the subject matter discussed and whose opinions I have reason to respect say is wrong? Even that won't cover all the subject matter you've brought up either.

I don't think it's been patronising - you've admitted ignorance or lack of understanding of various issues and yet you're still plugging the assertion (inter alia), unsupported by any evidence, that "Darwinist Philosophy" is "the root of liberal humanism", which I disagree with for one thing and am not convinced is a bad thing for another. Where does Behe discuss such things?

The tone of comments about "getting sick of being patronised" and "go away and read (Behe)" sound dangerously like the petulant responses of someone who has lost the argument to me.

--------------------
John Collins


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The sceptical Atheist
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It is not necessary to read somebody that trys to include anything supernatural into science.

It is flawed to begin with.

Behe's only argument "is I don't know, so God must have done it." Many do know, their was a lot of published work on these subjects that Behe ignored. But even if there wasn't this is an "argument from personal incredulity"

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


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Glenn Oldham
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Neil,
I don't think that I have ever used the word creationist in respect of Behe. If I have I apologise.

It seems to me important to distinguish carefully between two different arguments that Behe may be making:

1) The first is the greater claim that irreducibly complex systems cannot in principle be evolved by natural selection. This argument fails, and Orr's argument shows why. Orr's As and Bs in his argument are perfectly legitimate since the argument is, in effect that all irreducibly complex systems cannot in principle be evolved. Orr need only show that natural selection can in principle explain some.

2) The second is the lesser claim that some particular irreducibly complex system cannot have been evolved by natural selection. Here the jury is out because it is hard to see how Behe could prove this beyond reasonable doubt, and proving him wrong by constructing a step by step explanation of a particular case is likely to be exceptionally difficult even if it is actually an evolved system.

Given that the evidence for evolution is so widespread and compelling and that there are mechanisms which can in principle bring about irreducible complexity many of us feel that the chances of Behe being right about 2 are small. His is a challenge to the theory, certainly, but not such as to throw the theory into crisis at the present time.

His view also has odd theological consequences - given that God, in Behe's view has allowed evolution to operate, why couldn't God let evolution take care of all cases of irreducible complexity too?

Glenn

--------------------
This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Moreover, Behe postulates (IIRC) that the genetic coding for these 'irreducibly complex' systems was placed into the genome of the original population of ancestral organisms, and left turned off until required millions of years later.

There is a problem here. Non-functional DNA mutates freely, because there is no selection pressure against deleterious mutations. The DNA would for the blood clotting cascade would not work by the time it was required.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Glenn, I'll need to take your word for it that some irreducible systems have been shown to have developed step-by-step. Karl, I didn't mean to support Behe's theories, only to back up his challenge to science. Someone needs to answer his questions. Glenn says they have (Orr has not), it has been almost 4 years since Behe wrote his book so it is possible that some science has shown the chemical steps to some irreducible systems. Perhaps someone on the thread might wish to highlight some.

John, I'm sorry for sounding petulant. I was quite frustrated, because I know what I've read and so can see that many arguments are covered in the books. I wouldn't have to argue the points if you had all read the same books.

You helpfully pointed out previously, John, that Philip Johnson is not a scientist but a lawyer. I'll get to get to the science supports liberal humanism and vice versa once this argument is concluded. Please bear with me.

Regarding Johnson, we can ask, what right can a lawyer have to question science? None, right? Scientists are best qualified to question science.

But, if you would have an open enough mind to prioritise the reading of Johnson's books (I am a Christian and read Dawkins and Lewontin without it affecting my faith and you should have the same confidence to do the same) you'd see that whilst Johnson sites simple scientific examples (examples even a lawyer or an engineer can understand), Johnson's primary concern is not with the science but with unraveling the complex arguments philosophical materialists use to defend their 'science'. Johnson shows, with his lawyer's mind, how defenders of 'evolution' use complex rebuttal techniques which mask the underlying science.

Allen Orr is a classic case in hand. The formula for rebuttal is classic.

  • outline the criticism of Darwinism
  • give a solid sounding theoretical response
  • attack the person
  • attack secondary or tertiary arguments (Orr even admits this)
  • throw in a few straw men
  • cross reference a few vaguely related scientific theories
  • do anything (quite rightly perhaps) not to give creationists a foot in the door

'Demolition' job done!

Not at all, says Johnson. The main criticism has been left unanswered. In the case of Allen Orr, Behe asked in his book for scientists to replace A+B=C with the real scientific chemical names and reactions. Can you see the weakness of Orr's response to Behe? It is not that he might be right and Behe wrong, it is that Orr has not given a solid answer as demanded by Behe in 'Darwin's Black Box'. A+B=C is not a valid scientific answer. A+B=C is a fairy story based on a prior commitment to materialism. Read the book.

Johnson has exposed many more rebuttal examples that are similar and all he is doing (like me but much better - he's a lawyer used to spotting flaws in arguments, I'm an engineer used to designing steel structures) is exposing the argument techniques of philosophical materialists committed to keeping the supernatural out of modern thought. Can you see the difference? When people begin to understand the way scientists argue, the debate will be much more open and, more importantly, honest

Neil


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Russ
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Neil,

Let me see if I've got this right. You seem to believe that:

a) It's only a dishonest pre-commitment to a materialistic philosophy which keeps scientists from treating God as a major factor in their theories about how the world came to be.

b) Honest scientists should be able to draw a distinction between those matters which future scientists may somehow be able to explain, and those things that science will never be able to explain.

c) Having identified a list of inherently inexplicable phenomena, all scientists should automatically accept a supernatural explanation for these.

d) That once their false scientific backing has been removed, various unspecified liberal philosphies will collapse, leaving the world a more conservative evangelical and thus better place.

I have to say that I don't find any of this in the slightest bit plausible.

I'd really prefer that scientists didn't go on about God. Hawking may think that his research gives him insight into the mind of God, or it may just be a way of boosting sales of his books, but the "how" of creation, however fascinating, doesn't really say anything about the "why are we here?" religious question.

Perhaps all the "heat" arises because our language isn't very good at distinguishing the empirical and spiritual realms, so that what sounds like a scientific question is actually a philosophical question, or vice versa ?

Russ

--------------------
Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas


Posts: 2999 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Russ

The closing question of your post is indeed part of the complex and unnecessarily 'heated' relationship between science and theology. You said

quote:
perhaps...our language isn't very good at distinguishing the empirical and spiritual realms..

Language is certainly one factor amongst many which contribute to the 'heat' between theologians and scientists. I will clarify this later, rather than jump around the matter.

Before investigating the relationship between science, philosophy or ideology and theology, can we further consider the rebuttal methods adopted by opponents to creationism?

In relation to the rest of what you said, you demonstrated a number of the flawed techniques used by Darwinists to rebut scientific challenges which have been outlined by Johnson. Can we use your response an example of the flaws of these arguments? This is not a personal attack, your post merely demonstrates our learned behaviour in light of the evolution/creation debate. And note, that creationists are guilty in many cases of using the same erroneous rebuttal techniques.

In the context of recent posts, your four point summary refers to the issue of irreduciblity.

  • outline the criticism of Darwinism - you skipped this technique, quite rightly. There is no need to summarise what has just been said on the thread, though it would have made your rebuttal more convincing (not necessarily right) if you'd demonstrated that you understood what had been said about Behe and Johnson.
  • give a theoretical response - you theorise a situation of 'theistic' science. Theorise what you like, it is not answering the scientific challenge posed by Behe.
  • attack the person - you were gracious enough not to do this.
  • throw in a few straw men - 'leaving the world more conservative evangelical' - not an orthodox straw man but a straw man nonetheless, it leaves the reader to imagine an arm waving charismatic or bible-bashing conservative, or whatever their coloured personal perception of 'evangelical' is.
  • cross reference a few vaguely related scientific theories - none, no problem
  • do anything (quite rightly perhaps) not to give creationists a foot in the door - all four points demonstrate this rational fear.

Christians of all persuasions need to unlearn this conditioned response. With clear thinking we will see that it is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to YECs from what we believe is the only alternative.

But it is not the only alternative. One technique a omitted from my original list was 'contorting the conclusions'. I didn't say scientists have 'a dishonest pre-commitment to a materialistic philosophy'. I said that scientists have an honest commitment to a materialistic philosophy, it is their coloured responses that are dishonest.

The honest response to Behe is not to demolish his scientific challenge using the flawed rebuttal methods outlined by Johnson but to acknowledge Behe's challenge and set off to the lab to do some experiments to prove Behe wrong. As Behe said, A+B=C is not science it is a fair story used to mislead Joe Public.

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Has anyone read Richard Lewontin's 'The Doctrine of DNA - biology as ideology' (Penguin books £6.99)?

The Independent described it as 'the most subversive book to be published in English this year (1993)'

Stephen Jay Gould said of the book:

quote:
'The very best in genetics, combined with a powerful political and moral vision of how science, properly interpreted and used to empower all the people, might truly help us to be free'

Wake up Christendom! 'Science' has not just claimed but already assumed the moral authority for western culture. Can the Christians on this thread see what has happened? While we've backed science verses YEC, science has stabbed us in the back and buried Christianity with philosophical materialism and liberal humanism.

The honest position for all involved (scientists, Christains and aetheists) in the debate is scientific agnosticism. A simple statement of 'science is neutral' (which we have already agreed) would be enough to re-establish the possibility of the Almighty in the minds of Joe Public. Christians do not need to be hostile to methodologicalism, science and theology can live at peace. But as soon as science made the claims of Lewontin, and assumed moral legitimacy and as long as science keeps Christians on side against YEC, then science has won the moral high ground, and Lewontin knows it.

Clear scientific agnosticism is called for. A third postion in the evolution/creationism debate. Sit on the fence, say we can't tell, I'm not saying that we need to give serious consideration to YEC, but to the cretaor. Whatever theistic position we hold, do not agree with the evolutionists who have claimed moral authority through the 'fact' that science proves God is dead.

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Neil - science did not make the claims; Lewontin did!

I think both sides here are trying to confuse science and philosophy. In Lewontin and Dawkins' case the confusion is obvious. It is the Intelligent Design people whose confusion is not so clear.

Intelligent Design says (reduced perhaps a little too far, but for the purposes of explanation) 'X looks designed, therefore it is'. But that is a philosophical question. Science does not ask whether the blood cascade reaction is designed, but how the design was realised in the natural world. I agree with ID as philosophy, but not as science.

As regards refuting Behe in the lab, this has been done and Miller refers to some lab experiments that do just this, so I'll leave that until you've read his book. Besides, my father in law currently has my copy...

Turning finally to combatting atheist philosophy from the likes of Dawkins and Lewontin - the solution, surely, is to accept the findings of science (and even Behe considers that to reject common descent is ridiculous given the evidence) but to point out how, philosophically, this does not actually have any bearing on the existence or nature of God.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Karl - sorry, I thought Lewontin's job title 'Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.', meant he was a scientist. I note that some of his published papers include:
  • Lewontin, R.C. 1989. Inferring the number of evolutionary events from DNA coding sequence differences. Mol. Biol. Evol. 6(1): 15-32.
  • Lewontin, R.C. 1984. Detecting population differences in quantitative characters as opposed to gene frequencies. Amer. Nature 123: 115-124.
  • Lewontin, R.C. 1995. The detection of linkage disequilibrium in molecular sequence data. Genetics 140: 377-388.

I may be stating the obvious to you, but you're a scientist (at least I think you are…what is your field?). You sit on the inside of the impenetrable world of science, at least that's the way it seems to Joe Public.

In the eyes of Joe Public, the common man, Lewontin's scientific pedigree makes him a legitimacy voice on the matter of science and the world. And Lewontin knows it.

Here is an abridged version of Lewontin's preface and first chapter 'The Doctrine of DNA - biology as ideology'. It makes interesting reading.

quote:
Western society has become more secular and more rationalist, and the chief sources for social theory have become the professional intellectuals, the scientists, economists, political theorists, and philosophers who work largely in universities. These intellectuals are aware of the power they have to mould public consciousness, and they constantly seek ways in which they can publish their ideas.

For almost the entire history of European society...the chief institution of social legitimacy was the Christian church. It was by the grace of God that each person had an appointed place in society...Even the most revolutionary of religious leaders pressed the claims of legitimacy for the sake of order...

For an institution to explain the world so as to make the world legitimate, it must possess several features. First, the institution as a whole must appear to derive from sources outside of ordinary human social struggle. It must not seem to be the creation of political, economic, or social forces, but to descend into society from a supra-human source. Second, the ideas, pronouncements, rules, and results of the institution's activity must have a validity and a transcendent truth that goes beyond any possibility of human compromise or human error. Its explanations and pronouncements must seem to be true in an absolute sense to derive somehow from an absolute source. They must be true for all time and all place. And finally, the institution must have a certain mystical and veiled quality so that it its innermost operation is not completely transparent to everyone. It must have esoteric language, which needs to be explained to the ordinary person by those who are especially knowledgeable and who can intervene between everyday life and mysterious sources of understanding and knowledge.

The Christian Church or indeed any revealed religion fits these requirements perfectly...but this description also fits science and has made it possible for science to replace religion as the chief legitimating force in modern society...

Not only the methods and institutions of science are said to be above ordinary human relations but, of course, the product of science is claimed to be a kind of universal truth...

Despite its claims to be above society, science, like the Church before it, is a supremely social institution, reflecting and reinforcing the dominant values and views of society...The most famous case is Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection...Most of the ideological influence from society that permeates science is a great deal more subtle...

Our genes and the DNA molecules that make them up are the modern form of grace, and in this view we will understand what we are when we know what our genes are made of...we will know what it is to be human.


I found the above statement refreshingly honest. Lewontin has stated the truth clearly and concisely…God is dead…science rules ethics, morality, culture, purpose and meaning.

Joe Public has no way of questioning Lewontin's philosophy because, as Lewontin pointed out, no one understands his science.

My questions are these?

  • What gives science this legitimacy?
  • What keeps Darwin's philosophical train in motion?
  • How will the church counter this legitimacy?

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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The fact that Lewontin is a scientist does not mean that everything he says is science. When folk start talking about philosophy, even if they think it is informed by their science, they are not talking with their scientist hats on.

I am not a scientist; I'm a computer engineer. I have science A levels and a scientific degree, but that's as far as it goes.

As to your questions:

What gives science this legitimacy?

It doesn't have it. If people look to science for ultimate meaning that is very foolish of them. The fact that so few look to the church reflects the vacuosity of much Christian output.

What keeps Darwin's philosophical train in motion?

You need to be specific what you mean here, because I'm not sure. Darwin proposed a scientific model and didn't relate it to philosophy, so I don't know what his philosophy was. I understand he was a theist.

How will the church counter this legitimacy?

See my last post. Certainly it doesn't happen by finding gaps in current scientific knowledge and saying 'Ha! Goddidit!'

[edited for typo and to add bit I forgot because I can]

[ 17 July 2001: Message edited by: Karl ]

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
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Neil, Lewontin is clearly an expert in his field of science, and as such within that field (and probably closely related fields) his views are clearly important and deserve careful consideration. That, however, does not mean that what he was to say in the fields of philosophy or theology (which are outside his field field of expertise) has any greater value than any other amateur philosopher or theologian. I think I said much the same earlier in relation to Dawkins et al.

I think the quote you gave is actually a fairly accurate description of the way things are (not, of course, how they should be). The general public do tend to give a greater credance to the views of scientists, who have effectively replaced the Church as the source of truth. Now that may be great for the ego of individual scientists, it is not good for society since it results in an implicit rejection of other sources of truth (in art for example) that are not capable of being investigated with the tools of science. As a scientist I am worried by this over emphasis on science; I would be horrified if my thoughts on areas outside environmental radioactivity or physics were considered more worthy of consideration because I'm a practising scientist.

I'll have a stab at answering your three questions in a later post.

Alan

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.


Posts: 32007 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Karl

Many thanks for your response, I re-read your last post on the way back from work in the taxi (the joy of Palm computing...I write most of my posts in the taxi too).

I realised, once I'd re-read past the first line of your post that I agree with everything you said and I agree with everything on your response to my slight rant. Sorry.

Whew...I am pleased that the science and philosophy, including the philosophy of ID, are now clear in my mind), thank you.

May I summarise so that you can make sure I agree with you:

Methodologicalism is science…plain investigation into the way things work. It is by definition natural and requires no philosophical commitment.

Philosophical naturalism, or materialism are fancy ways of saying that a scientist is committed to finding natural ways to explain everything, due to a prior philosophical commitment to atheism.

Intelligent Design is a way of saying that a scientist holds a philosophically theistic understanding of the universe, due to faith in a creator God, but without trying to invoke a literal understanding of Genesis 1 & 2.

Creationism is a way of saying that a scientist is committed to finding scientific ways to explain the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2, due to a prior philosophical commitment to theism.

Remember, I’m a bear of very little brain. Are these definitions accurate?

You said

quote:
The fact that so few look to the church reflects the vacuosity of much Christian output.

I couldn’t agree more. I think this is what I was asking in the very first post. Has the church become a subset of the Lewontin view of the world? Is it time we evaluate the theology and presentation of the gospel to a world which demands objective reality?

My next question was meant to open up some thinking about the complex relationships between science, the media, the public, government and so on. What systems exist which support liberal humanism and the ‘scientific’ philosophy of the West?

I must go for dinner.

Talk tomorrow

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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This is a bit long, but a response to Neils three questions.

quote:
What gives science this legitimacy?

I would say apparent legitimacy. A general misunderstanding in the general public that sees scientific truth to be in conflict with other expressions of truth, especially theology. Part of this is a result of the way science is taught in schools, as providing definite and reliable answers, which give a false impression of the power of science to reveal all truth, which is then supported by the ability of science and technology to provide solutions to real life problems. It is also partly due to the impression that science and faith are somehow in conflict; through media misrepresentations of how science and faith interact (the conflict model makes good TV) and also the vociferous attack on science from a small minority of Christians who accept a hyper-literal reading of Scripture.

Interestingly it seems that things are changing. The image of science to be able to solve problems is badly marred by the problems of pollution and climate change brought about by technological advances, as well as concerns about GM food, nuclear power, emerging diseases etc. There is a move within the general public away from science as the only (or primary) source of truth, hence the growth in "New Age" spiritualities, alternative medicines and the like. The challenge to the Church is to gain a hearing as being a genuine source of truth.

quote:
What keeps Darwin's philosophical train in motion?

I'll talk about philosophical materialism, ie the extension of the methodological materialism of science to the philosophy of Scientism that says the material is all there is and science is the only way of determining the truth of the way the material works, rather than "Darwin's philosophy" because it is a more accurate term. As Karl has said, Darwin didn't extend his theory to a philosophy, although many people have included evolution within philosophical materialism.

This, of course, relates to the comments above. While science is seen as the preferred (or only) source of truth then philosophical materialism is a fairly natural extension of that idea. This means that scientists who hold such a philosophical viewpoint have a ready audience in the general public, because as a scientific expert the impression is they have authority to speak as philosophers. As I've said this is incorrect, but the perception is there nonetheless. Of course, it doesn't help when emminent scientists who recognise that they have no expertise in philosophy, and hence no authority to get involved in philosophical discussion, therefore keep quiet on such issues.

quote:
How will the church counter this legitimacy?

Again, apparent legitimacy. It is not solely the task of the Church to counter this, scientists (whether Christian, Muslim, Atheist, agnostic, whatever) who recognise that philosophy is outside the legitimate bounds of science also need to do their part. The debate has to be conducted in the relevant discipline; countering philosophical materialism by questioning methodological materialism will only alienate the scientific community. Hence, although Behe may have legitimate scientific questions to be answered by the scientific community to use those questions to try and undermine philosophical materialism is counter productive (the same could be said for any attempts to undermine the science from which some people make philosophical statements).

On a practicle level this means the Church needs people sufficiently versed in science and philosophy with the communication skills of the likes of Dawkins to be able to get Christian views of science into the public consciousness. This means trying to get TV in particular to show things which don't depict some form of conflict between science and faith, and to debunk some of the more persistant myths which support the view that science and faith have always been in conflict. It also means we've got to find ways of supressing those within the church who, through some prior commitment to the nonsense of YEC for example, do see science as the enemy.

Sorry for the length,

Alan

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.


Posts: 32007 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Russ
Old salt
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Neil,

Sorry, I take "conservative" to be the opposite of "liberal", and therefore tend to assume that if you're against the one you're in favour of the other. No offence or straw man intended. If you're not intending to put a conservative argument, you might consider whether the word "liberal" adds anything to what you're saying? Is it simply humanism that you're against ?

Perhaps we should treat the philosophy of scientists as we treat the political convictions of pop musicians. Each individual has a right to their own view on philosophical and political issues. (But this isn't a licence to ignore empirical findings).

Can anyone ever be said to speak "for science" ? Not if they're spouting philosophy. Perhaps if they're talking about the method of science and the conclusions drawn from the application of that method...

I'm happy to leave science to the scientists. It doesn't threaten genuine faith in God (although I think that those who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis correctly perceive that such a belief is contradicted by "scientific" knowledge). I feel no obligation to agree with (or even to read) books of the philosophies held by particular scientists just because they are scientists.

So I'm not sure there's anything to get worked up about...

Is it perhaps the case that most Christians today do not believe that the existence of God can be proved, whereas most Christians in medieval times did think that ? So that we believe in God in a different way than our medieval ancestors did ? Is God now a private conviction rather than a publicly acknowledged fact ?

If you're saying that the rise of science and increasing knowledge of the natural world has something to do with this philosophical change (has the argument from design joined the argument of the first cause in the philosophical dustbin ?) then I wouldn't argue with you.

But to suggest that the change is reversible through any particular scientific finding seems to me a misunderstanding.

Is this where the liberal/conservative thing comes in - are liberals happier with modern pluralism while conservatives hark back to the days of crusades against the infidel ?

Or am I going round in circles ?

Russ

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas


Posts: 2999 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Is it perhaps the case that most Christians today do not believe that the existence of God can be proved, whereas most Christians in medieval times did think that ? So that we believe in God in a different way than our medieval ancestors did ? Is God now a private conviction rather than a publicly acknowledged fact >

As a tangent, I think this is the past that the YECs are hankering for. Because if the earth was created in 7 days it needs God.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


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Glenn Oldham
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# 47

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In defence of Lewontin

Various comments have been made about R. C. Lewontin which may have mislead readers of this thread about what his views actually are. Neil quoted/paraphrased a bit from the first chapter of his book The Doctrine of DNA Biology as Ideology as:

quote:
Our genes and the DNA molecules that make them up are the modern form of grace, and in this view we will understand what we are when we know what our genes are made of...we will know what it is to be human.

But this is Lewontin stating the view of biology that the rest of his book seeks to attack and show to be false.

Neil then said:

quote:
I found the above statement refreshingly honest. Lewontin has stated the truth clearly and concisely…God is dead…science rules ethics, morality, culture, purpose and meaning.

But for Lewontin such reductionism is what he argues against. On page 16 he says that he seeks to

quote:
acquaint the reader with the truth about science as a social activity and to promote a reasonable skepticism about the sweeping claims that modern science makes to an understanding of human existence.

Lewontin has co-authored various articles and books with Stephen Gould and also with Steven Rose, and the three of them have much in common with Neil Robbie in that they are very critical of much of Evolutionary Psychology and the way biology is applied to ethics. (see for example the collection
Alas, Poor Darwin: arguments against evolutionary psychology edited by Hilary and Steven Rose).

These people are scientists who dislike the way biological ideas are sometimes improperly applied to people, and naturally get passionate in their protests about it. Bravo, for their part in the debate!

Glenn

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This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Fascinating. And highly illustrative of the disingenuous way in which quotations can be used.

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Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Glenn, thank you for your clarification...that will teach me not to quote from a book I've not finished reading. I bought it on Saturday and only got as far as the end of chapter one (I'm currently juggling 'Unweaving the Rainbow, the third Harry Potter, Gerard Schroder, Preaching the Living Word and Lewontin').

Karl, you said

quote:
Fascinating. And highly illustrative of the disingenuous way in which quotations can be used.

Sorry, I wasn't being disingenous, merely quoting without reading the whole...which is, as you say, highly illustrative of why we should read the whole and not just the quotes from criticisms…I'll do you a deal…I'll buy and read Kenneth Miller if you buy and read Michael Behe ;-)

Regardless of whether Lewontin agrees with us or not, his quotes make a valid and honest point. Science is the current legitimating force in western society.

Karl, I agreed with you that the church needs to put it's house in order to attract scientists who see Christianity as an empty shell. To be fair, the church has been defending itself against philosophical attack over the last 100 years by trying to adapt to the powerful message of science, but the adapted Christian message has little relevance to everyday life, and Christianity of that ilk has, sadly, become a subset of humanism.

If this process is to be reversed, perhaps we must not only revert to the original message of the gospel, but at the same time undermine the authority of science to claim legitimacy in the realms of the meaning and purpose of life.

I've been thinking about my question regarding the systems which keep humanism (liberalism - call it what we will) in place.

Below is a slightly tongue-in-cheek description of the beliefs, people and institutions of the cult of humanism and the part (neo)Darwinism plays in the cult (what's happened to John Collins? This is what he wanted to discuss)

Perhaps, if Christians understand the interaction between science and humanism, it may help us establish how theistic scientists can aid the recovery of the role of the church in shaping Western culture.

Here goes, if anyone wishes to expand or amend these initial definitions, feel free.

Beliefs

  • Gospel - freedom from the oppression of God - Gould said 'science, properly interpreted and used to empower all the people, might truly help us to be free (from God)'
  • Creed - NABT statement is a pretty concice statement of belief - 'The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.'
  • god - the natural world is idolised - (read Dawkiws 'Unweaving the Rainbow' - Dawkins literally worships creation)
  • Creation account - (neo)Darwinism
  • 'Grace' - genes which determine our position in society (this is Richard Lewontin's limited definition of grace in his book 'The Doctrine of DNA - biology as ideology')
  • Law - relativism? Can anyone expand on modern ethics and law? What is the current basis for these?

People

  • 'Theologians' - Richard Lewontin identified that the 'chief sources for social theory have become the professional intellectuals, the scientists, economists, political theorists, and philosophers who work largely in universities.'
  • 'Prophets' - Dawkins et al who confidently predict the day when science will give us complete knowledge of a godless universe.
  • 'Bishops' - liberal politicians (see new French law restricting religious freedom)
  • 'Pastors' - 'civil liberties' campaigners repressing challenges to the 'fact' of Darwinism - see recent court cases against teachers in the USA who have taught both the facts of and problems with natural selection as a theory for explaining life and species.
  • 'Sunday school teachers' - secondary school biology teachers
  • 'Scribes' - civil servants, the law makers
  • 'Congregation' - TV watching, media influenced Joe Public

Institutions & Buildings

  • 'Theological seminaries' - universities (see theologians above)
  • 'College chapel' - university lecture halls
  • 'Pulpit' - all media
  • 'Christian Church' - permitted by humanism as a crutch for simple, superstitious people like us.

I've been thinking about the role of Galileo et al in the undermining of the dogmatism of the church. Science disproved many dogmatically held beliefs of the church and the church lost credibility and confidence in the process.

Just as no one within the church questioned its legitimacy in the days of Galileo, are scientists now unwilling to question the legitimacy of science today?

Please remember that we do not want to advocate a YEC approach to science. But can scientists, like Behe, be part of the dismantling of humanism (liberalism)? If theistic scientists break rank with the established church of science, openly questioning the philosophical assumptions of many scientists (like Lewontin is reported by Glenn to have done…my appetite is whetted again for his book), if theistic scientists publicly announce that science is neutral on the questions of God, how will it effect the (Joe) public perception and authority of humanism?

Neil


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Glenn Oldham
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Neil,
You say that:
quote:
Gould said 'science, properly interpreted and used to empower all the people, might truly help us to be free (from God)'

from God is your addition surely?

quote:
'Grace' - genes which determine our position in society (this is Richard Lewontin's limited definition of grace in his book 'The Doctrine of DNA.

Again, this is the deterministic position Lewontin is arguing against. It is not a definition he believes in.

As a liberal christian humanist (if that makes any sense to you) when I hear other Christians protest about humanism I wonder what it is about it that they are objecting to -what is it that they think of when they hear the word 'humanism'? I am deeply suspicious of the authoritarian aspects of some styles of Christianity and I get alarmed that they might wish to impose some drastic limits on free speech (that's my knee jerk private nightmare). I would be interested to know what you see as the alternative to the humanism you seem so opposed to.

By the way, I did not think you were being disingenuous with your earlier Lewontin quote. Enjoy Harry Potter, (I’m on No. 4).

Glenn

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This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Should add - I was thinking generally not specifically when I referred to disingenuous quote mining. It happens, believe me, it happens. It wasn't happening here.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
John Collins
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# 41

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
Below is a slightly tongue-in-cheek description of the beliefs, people and institutions of the cult of humanism and the part (neo)Darwinism plays in the cult (what's happened to John Collins? This is what he wanted to discuss)

I hadn't gone away I just occasionally remember to shut up if I can't think of anything useful to say.

Besides which I thought this belonged on another thread.

I don't really know what planet you live on but all this stuff seems quite unconnected with any philosophy I recognise in the context in the UK of having the most religious PM since Gladstone and in the US (oh well better shut up).

Why "liberal humanism", whether or not that is a fair definition of its philosophy, is the ultimate enemy in the face of rampant Islam etc escapes me. But then I don't agree with much else you've said.

--------------------
John Collins


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Neil Robbie
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Glenn

I'm sligtly disappointed that I didn't read Harry Potter 3 when my wife read it...before no 4! 3 loses something of its suspense when you know Harry lives for no 4. Never mind, it's still very well written.

You're right, Gould didn't write (from God) I added it as I thought it was implied, sorry for that.

I realise humanism has numerous definitions, I use it in the modern sense as given in Chambers dictionary:

quote:
Humanism (n) literary culture; classical studies; any system which puts human interests and the mind of man paramount, rejecting the supernatural, belief in a god, etc; pragmatism (philos); a critical application of the logical method of pragmatism to all the sciences.

I realise Christian Humanism is an oxymoron in this sense and that you must therefore mean that your theology is post-Renaissance but pre-Reformation (are you interested in any particular aspect of humanism? Northern European, Swiss, French or English?).

If your theology includes Christianismus renascens, from a modern perspective, then our faith as Christians is probably similar.

But, now that you have described your theological position, may I ask how adopting the various adjectives which are used to describe different branches of Christianity help in this context? The context being the unifying of theism in science. John Collins mentioned Islam as the common enemy of the West, but when it comes to science, Islamic scientists share a common understanding of the world as a product of an intelligent design. (Mr Collins your response was illustrative of the type of arguement highlighted by Philip Johnson - attack the person and produce a straw man. Your arguement will hold more water if you stick to the issues).

Can I ask, Glenn and Karl, is it possible for theisists of every shade and colour stop the petty infighting over our understanding of God and unite under the banner of Intellgent Design as a philosophy?

In its simplest form, intellgent design as a philosophy (if it grows in public perception) will at least turn people to consider the creator. God will lead people to the truth and, I believe, that the ressurected Christ is the only objective truth which will satisfy the minds of people who have trained to seek objectivity. Liberal Christian Humanism will be one of many branches of theism which will benefit.

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gurdur
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# 857

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hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.
Neil, I started another thread a day ago which took up some of the issues you are discussing [Irreducible complexity: a funny story].
To recap and expand:
Science is basically about discovering primary causes. To posit "Intelligent Design" is often simply discarded as being uninteresting since it obviates interesting research into primary causes.
There are other good reasons (theological ones too) for discarding it; but I don't want to get side-tracked.
Scientists, on the other hand, are also human. Plus they like anyone else want fame, security and fortune; and much of that lies behind the debates surrounding evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theorists are often guilty of sloppy thinking and sensationalism, which makes them much akin to theists on those counts. But it does not disprove the central basis of evolutionary theory (you can also say the same for theism).
A very good book on the controversies within evolutionary theory (more properly the controversies surronding sociobiology) is "Defenders of The Truth" by Ullica Segerstrale.

You also wrote:

quote:
God will lead people to the truth and, I believe, that the ressurected Christ is the only objective truth which will satisfy the minds of people who have trained to seek objectivity.

Um, why? I can't see that, sorry.

You also wrote:

quote:
Can I ask, Glenn and Karl, is it possible for theisists of every shade and colour stop the petty infighting over our understanding of God and unite under the banner of Intellgent Design as a philosophy?

Please forgive me if I advance my opinion that this has been tried before in history? Unfortunately, theological thought is too important not to lead to schisms.

Finally, one of the reasons why I like this place so much is its atmosphere of cordiality between practioners of extremely different schools of thought. If I may be so presumptious, I find it sad on that basis that you have evolved one attitude from "John" to "Mr.Collins" in your reply here; John may be somewhat abrasive, but I think he has raised some points which need more answering, and in any case I don't think he's abrasive enough to warrant the response you gave just above.

In any case, in a lighthearted manner, let me observe that there are now at least two people on this thread who have atually read Behe.


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Neil Robbie
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Welcome on board Gurdur. I will respond to the points you raised later, but wish to post an apology to you and John Collins first. I am guilty of both ungraciously bating John for a comment and then posting the response to which I deserved your rebuke.

Please accept my apologies gentlemen.

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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Of course, you'll know I meant 'baiting', rather than hitting John over the head with a large stick...those missing vowels.

Neil

PS. It's great to know someone else has read Behe!


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Can I ask, Glenn and Karl, is it possible for theisists of every shade and colour stop the petty infighting over our understanding of God and unite under the banner of Intellgent Design as a philosophy?

Perfectly. But the leaders of the ID movement don't want that. They want us to unite under ID as a scientific alternative to evolution by natural selection. That is, of course, not an option for those of us who accept the case for the latter.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
gbuchanan
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# 415

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I'm not entirely convinced by the Intelligent Design brigade; as Karl does, I'm pretty sure that they are too taken by knocking Darwin.

Also, I.D. tends to be a very particular take in how God was involved in the creation process, and I'm not convinced at all that it is certainly correct theologically or scientifically - indeed personally I think it's pretty unconvincing both ways - or rather it is easily assailed by what I might term "hard evolutionists". It seems rather close to a house built on sand...


Posts: 683 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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# 652

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Philip Johnson's weekly letter on the arn.org webpage makes interesting reading for this thread. Johnson talks about his correspondence with Dawkins.

Philip Johnson on Dawkins - 9th July 2001

quote:
My point is not that his statement is arrogant, but that it is just so much empty rant.

Reading the article, Johnson gets unwittingly drawn into putting his cards on the table by Dawkins regarding his position on common ancestry.

However, I've never read Johnson scientifically, the bloke's a lawyer, he should stick to exposing the fallacious arguments of Dawkins statements on philosophy.

The way I read the article is that Johnson accuses Dawkins, as graciously as he can, of a grossly one-sided philosophical view of the empirical scientific evidence.

Now, I agree that mixing philosophy with science is a dangerous business and that science should be left to its methodologicalism, but I would like to relate this argument to my own experience to state my view on why theists should unite under an 'intelligent design' banner.

I was converted from a position of philosophical materialism, secular humanism, call it what you like, by faith in the resurrected Christ (which I believe is objective truth) to philosophical theism. With my conversion came the almost instantaneous view that the world was designed.

As a simple example. I see that animals consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide and that plants reverse that process, maintaining the atmospheric balance. Philosophically, I saw this, ten years ago, as intelligent design. There is no way we can prove, using science, that the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle is a product of intelligence or evolution. We can theorise about it, speculate and hypothesise, but we'll never prove it.

Is this a valid position all theistic scientists can hold? If it is, why don't theistic scientists hold this philosophy more strongly?

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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John

Getting back to liberal or secular humanism. I commend to you the reading of the Council for Secular Humanism - A Secular Humanist Declaration

Let me quote some parts of the declaration, to give you the gist of why philosophical materialism is the enemy of Christian, and all other monotheistic, faith:

quote:
Secular humanism is a vital force in the contemporary world. It is now under unwarranted and intemperate attack from various quarters. This declaration defends only that form of secular humanism which is explicitly committed to democracy. It is opposed to all varieties of belief that seek supernatural sanction for their values.

We reject the divinity of Jesus, the divine mission of Moses, Mohammed, and other latter day prophets and saints of the various sects and denominations.

We believe the scientific method, though imperfect, is still the most reliable way of understanding the world. Hence, we look to the natural, biological, social, and behavioral sciences for knowledge of the universe and man's place within it.


If you visit the webpage, you'll find that Richard Dawkins is a chief contributor. What does he contribute? Scientific observations and philosophical derivations.

Before saying anything else, I agree with Dawkins revulsion of totalitarian and sectarian regimes. I am perhaps more patient, but no less horrified in the rise of superstition and subjective spiritualism in the West. We only disagree on where our efforts for education should be focused. I agree that we should each be free, but I do not agree that the freedom Dawkins espouses is real freedom. Jesus said 'know the truth and the truth will set you free, and this brings us closer to the real issue and motivation behind secular humanism.

Now, back to Philip Johnson who is the secular humanist's chief antagonist, but why is Dawkins finding Johnson's attack 'unwarranted'? On what basis does Dawkins argue that the attack is unwarranted? He can not argue on the basis of philosophy, because it is subjective, so he turns to his 'objective' science as the undergirding evidence for secular humanism. Philip Johson replies, your science is objective but your subjective interpretation is one-sided and misleading.

That's how the two are linked. And that's why undermining philosophical materialism as an interpretation of scientific empirical evidence is one key to re-establishing public confidence in theism.

Neil


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Is this a valid position all theistic scientists can hold?

Yes

quote:
If it is, why don't theistic scientists hold this philosophy more strongly?

This is not the banner the ID people want us to unite under. They want ID as science, as an alternative to mainstream science. That's the problem.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17492 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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As they say in Singapore...ah-yoh, lah! Can not like that one.

This may be your first Singlish lesson, it means 'I see the problem. We can not argue like that, can we?'

I agree with you Karl, we can not abandon methodological naturalism. From your post, I think I may be beginning to see the reason for the scientific community's reaction to ID.

It seems the scientific establishment has labled ID as anti-scientific. But, I have not detected the abandonment of methodological naturalism in any of the books I've read by Behe or Johnson. In Johnson's letter to Dawkins, (which has a hyperlink above) Johnson states that he will accept the age of the earth from any valid scientific source (currently 4.6 billion or more if science changes its mind). Methodologicalism is not his issue for Johnson.

What is an issue is the adherence to philosophical materialism with the claim that the philosophy has solid empirical grounds. It doesn't, we've agreed that on this thread.

Turning to Behe, the observations of irreduciblity are simply more complex examples of the carbon-dioxide/oxygen cycle. His view is that empirical science may never prove that irreducible systems occurred by chance or by design, but that philosophically and perhaps statistically, ID scientists see the design in the empiricism.

May I postulate that the adverse reaction by theistic scientists is because YECs have been quick to adopt Behe and Johnson as their own, when Behe and Johnson couldn't dream of anything worse.

Can we separate the wheat from the chaff, and see ID as distinct from YEC?

ID is committed to methodologicalism. It just sees the empirical results with different eyes of faith.

Methodologically speaking, ID is behind science all the way. There's no twisting science to suit a Genesis account of creation.

But, philosophically, there is a spectrum, with Dawkins et al at one extreme and YEC at the other. Neither philosophy has irrefutable scientific support, although Dawkins has the support of the massive majority, but not all, of empirical evidence. ID fits somewhere on the spectrum. I'd say if Dawkins is the red end of the visible spectrum and YEC the violet, then ID may be the yellow or green philosophically, with blurring at both edges, depending on the individual eyes of faith.

Where would other board members fit on the philosophical spectrum? I like the colour green.

Neil


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gbuchanan
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Neil, speaking from myself, I wouldn't see YEC and ID as been in the same camp.

As you may surmise from my previous postings, I'd think that the problem space is not one-dimensional as in a spectrum; there are several debates which lead on from on to another; philosophical neo-Darwinism moves on from, but is not the same as, the scientific principle of evolution - to portray it as parallel to and continuous from Darwinism is exactly the sleight of hand philosophical neo-Darwinists themselves play; a more accurate representation would be for it to diverge at right angles to the line of evolution vs. creationism at the end point of hard evolutionism.

I believe that in portraying the path as continuous, you are both supporting the interpretation of the problem space favoured by the neo-Darwinists for their own reasons, which I'd argue that we should all challenge and refute; and that secondly this sets up a tension between faith and evolution which is unnecessary (and further supports the neo-Darwinist philosophers).

Thus, I can't place myself on the spectrum - though I'm probably close to the intersection of the two lines.


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Neil Robbie
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gbuchanan

Many thanks. The perpendicular lines are an interesting and helpful concept. Philosophical position on one line and I think you say the interpretation of the empirical evidence on the other.

Taking the 3D nature of the problem a step further, perhaps we should view the empirical results of methodologicalism as an object to be viewed like a sphere.

We orbit the sphere philosophically and our philosophical position is geostationery until we have a philosophical shift of orbit.

Let’s say Dawkins views the sphere with a geostationary position directly above the North Pole. And YECs view it fixed above the South Pole. Both view allows a very restricted view of the empirical evidence, and neither can see the way the other person views the sphere.

To move laterally from North to South is to shift one’s philosophical position from atheism through agnosticism through theism to YECism, based on interpretation of the empirical, statistical, scientific evidence.

To move around the sphere at the equator is to consider all the aspects of the argument with an open mind, seeing both the North Pole and the South Pole. Dawkins and YECs are geostationery, the rest of us can consider new empirical evidence by moving longitudinally around the sphere viewing all empirical evidence with a more open philosophy. Perhaps, as we see new empirical facts, our philosophical orbit will shift in the process.

I’m orbiting around the sphere, looking at the empirical evidence and slowly shifting from a northern hemisphere scientific agnosticism to an equator or just 2deg south scientific theism.

Neil


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Glenn Oldham
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Neil,
I could not unite under an Intelligent Design banner as described by Behe, because he appears to think that there must be non-evolved biological systems for God to be credited with designing the universe.

But suppose that all the complexity present in our world, including the irreducibly complex systems Behe talks about evolved. Would that make God any the less amazing or any the less a designer of the universe? He still created a universe capable of evolving such complexity. (Is that not a greater feat?)

Glenn

--------------------
This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

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Just to clear up some old business, vent my spleen and whatever:

Neil, I decided to stay off this thread for a bit when it deadlocked over the scientific method as it relates to Behe. I disagree with your logic on this but I offer my apologies for any patronizing on my part.

Now for the venting: The attitude and assumptions behind the idea that "if you'll just read this list of books, I won't have to explain it" is itself patronizing. People don't need to read Behe, et. al, when multiple critiques of them point out the same flaws in their logic, method, evidence and assumptions. Though I *have* read a fair range of the authors in question, I am not going to submit to a 'required reading list.'

OK, I feel better.....

For a few days, this thread struck me as a little 'crusade-ish' between "Wake up, Christendom!," to the analysis and breakdown of the "Humanist Religion" to the call to unite under the Banner of ID. Since the subject is about competing philosophies, I suppose that can't completely be avoided.

However, it struck me, as an outsider looking in, that the idea of uniting under the Banner of ID is very close to the mindset of the YEC. The only difference is where you draw the line on what evidence you accept and into which theoretical framework you fit your evidence. For example, the YEC feel that any scientific evidence that contravenes their literalist interpretation of Genisis is deception and make that part of their doctrinal purity test. It appears to me that ID sets up irreducible complexity as its touchstone doctrine and insists that only particular analyses of phenomena (e.g. clotting factors) be allowed and that such be placed beyond the reach of scientific investigation.

quote:
Glenn Oldham:
But suppose that all the complexity present in our world, including the irreducibly complex systems Behe talks about evolved. Would that make God any the less amazing or any the less a designer of the universe?

From a theistic point of view, I would say no. After all, what good is omnipotence if you can't use it? The universe could have been designed with all these details and factors built in from 'before' the Big Bang. If that were so, all of the astrophysical, geological and biological data would point to the natural formation of our universe, the Sun and Earth and the evolution of life. Of course, that leads back to the question, "Why is there anything?" (I forget who said that)


Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


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Glenn Oldham
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Willy,

Nicely put.

It seems to me part of the tortures of purgatory to find oneself bombarded with many book recommendations!

You say,

quote:
Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

When I joined my secondary school in 1967 they had just scrapped compulsory Latin. Could you provide a translation!

Glenn

--------------------
This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

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Translation: "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. Or that's what I'm told it says.

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


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Neil Robbie
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Glenn and Willy

I think we all know where we all stand philosophically with regards our view of science. None of us are North Pole philosophical materialists (except perhaps John Collins) and none of us are South Pole YECs (except perhaps Bobr).

So, how can we be labeled philosophically? Can we be united just north and south of the equator? All those between the two tropics losely unite under a 'design banner'.

Given that materialists are divided, Gould and Lewontin think Dawkins is an extremist, a fundamentalist, and they more liberal. But Dawkins says in response,

quote:
‘at least he (Gould) is on our side against the creationists’

Is there a way that theists can united, under a broad banner, even though we have slight philosophical differences (different orbits around the sphere) we can say ‘although we differ slightly philosophically, at least Glenn or Willy or Neil or Karl or whoever is on our side against the creationists and against the materialists’?

Neil

BTW, Glenn, as your school cancelled Latin, you’ll remember that I asked if your theology included ‘Christianismus renascens’ which means ‘Christianity being born again’, which was the call of the Northern European Humanists and, as you know, their prayers pre-dated the Reformation. I am praying for ‘Christianismus renascens’. How it is born again will be up to God, it is God's church after all.


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Neil Robbie
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This thread seems to have come to its natural conclusion without answering my initial question. I asked, in light of the increasing uncertainty of science to provide all the answers (especially the most important answers) how our theology or practice of the Christian faith would change?

I find it encouraging finding an increasing and healthy skepticism regarding the ability of science to provide all the answers, especially as secular humanism rests heavily on science to support its creed.

Way back in the thread, there was a summary of how humans have engaged in God shrinking since the Reformation. From seventeenth century Lutherans and Arminians exalting God's human creatures to deism and then Immanuel Kant who silenced God. The atheist philosophy of Feuerbach and then to Neitzche who pronounced God dead, and whom Marxists, Darwinists and Freudians decided in due course that they could get on better without

The process has undoubtedly been reversed since science began to draw a blank, even point toward a creator (I am now reading Gerard Schroder's 'The Hidden Face of God - How science reveals the ultimate truth' which is enlightening).

When Marxism collapsed a decade ago, the west smugly commented that Marx had taken no account in his ideology of human greed. Christians refer to human greed as part of the very unfashionable concept of sin (rejection of God).

As Darwinism and the secular humanism it supports collapse (and die) we will look back and comment, 'secular humanism took no account in its ideology of sin'.

I am looking forward to the next ten years. The philosophical landscape is about to change significantly following the death of Darwinism.

Neil


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gbuchanan
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Neil - clearly you've been reading a different thread to me - I think the overall tone here has been that the construct of evolution may need refining, but it the accepted model by most, and doesn't seem to be "dead".

Yet once more you continue on the track of Darwinism is undetachably connected to Dawkins et al, which most people don't believe.

Yet once more you compare Darwinism with Marxism, which is a bit like comparing my car to your fruit bowl.


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doug
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# 474

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
(rejection of God).

As Darwinism and the secular humanism it supports collapse (and die) we will look back and comment, 'secular humanism took no account in its ideology of sin'.

I am looking forward to the next ten years. The philosophical landscape is about to change significantly following the death of Darwinism.

Neil


darwinism is ideologically neutral - people
using it to justify a particular worldview
doesn't mean that darwinism ( whatever you mean by that - can i assume the neo darwinist
synthesis ) *is* that worldview.

i don't think many people think that the death of darwinism is imminent - most people
in the field would say that its stronger than ever.

d.


Posts: 28 | From: Oxford | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
gbuchanan
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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
Many thanks. The perpendicular lines are an interesting and helpful concept. Philosophical position on one line and I think you say the interpretation of the empirical evidence on the other.

Taking the 3D nature of the problem a step further, perhaps we should view the empirical results of methodologicalism as an object to be viewed like a sphere.


...erm - what is the "third dimension"?

quote:

Let’s say Dawkins views the sphere with a geostationary position directly above the North Pole. And YECs view it fixed above the South Pole. Both view allows a very restricted view of the empirical evidence, and neither can see the way the other person views the sphere.


...thus far the metaphor works well;

quote:

To move laterally from North to South is to shift one’s philosophical position from atheism through agnosticism through theism to YECism, based on interpretation of the empirical, statistical, scientific evidence.


...erm, but you are again confounding the theistic and philosophical points, returning to your continuing line (the axis 'twixt the poles) which then does Dawkins->"Modernist theist"->YEC; I don't agree with that continuum at all.

Posts: 683 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I am looking forward to the next ten years. The philosophical landscape is about to change significantly following the death of Darwinism.

The philosophical landscape is changing (I doubt it was ever static to start with), but that change is unrelated to the so-called "death of Darwinism". I would say the biggest influence on the changing philosophical situation is the shift from "modern" to "post modern" ways of thinking.

To "modern" thinkers the idea that there is but one truth lends credence to the extension of truth determined in one field (eg: biological evolution) into another (eg: philosophy or theology). Whereas the gradual erosion of the concept of absolute truth will probably make such claims (that science can lead directly to philosophy) harder to justify.

Post modernity offers new challenges and opportunities for the interface between science and faith. The erosion of absolute truth in favour of contextualised truths could result in further comparmentalisation of scientific and religious truth claims into unrelated fields, conversely the situation could develop where the different truth claims of science and religion are seen as having equal validity as complementary explanations of the same reality from different perspectives. I hope for the second possibility.

Alan

--------------------
Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.


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doug
Apprentice
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quote:
Originally posted by gbuchanan:
...erm - what is the "third dimension"?

...erm, but you are again confounding the theistic and philosophical points, returning to your continuing line (the axis 'twixt the poles) which then does Dawkins->"Modernist theist"->YEC; I don't agree with that continuum at all.


indeedly. i'd say the yecs need a whole separate planet

d.


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Al Classic

BANNED
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"Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to your height?" (Jesus Christ)

I wish some of the people who think so highly of themselves and their ideas can recognize the humility of Einstein.

EINSTEIN

Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 18:54:42
Subject: Einstein's Concepts

Dear Bruce,

I'm reproducing the following & sending it to you because
the best place I have to file it is in my Bruce S. E-mail
file.

My immediate answer to anyone about who are my science or
engineering heroes is Newton & Einstein. Newton's laws of motion
& gravitation, because they always worked for me for any occasion
in day to day engineering for anything having to do with motion,
force, velocity or mass, and I was aware of the accuracy of their
derivations.

Einstein, my hero because his deductions based on the
observed fact that the velocity of light is constant allowed him
to predict celestial and other facts not previously noticed. In
particular, in 1905, when asked how he could prove any of his
theories, he replied that if astronomers knew of any double stars
that revolved around a common center, if his theories were
correct they would find that the light spectrum from the star
moving away from the earth would be shifted to longer wave
lengths than the spectrum of the star moving towards the earth,
i.e. the so called "red shift". Sure enough, the astronomers
looked, and for the first time became aware that this prediction
was true. Of course, one of his other conclusions was that E =
mc^2 (m-c squared), where c is the constant speed of light. Of
course, this, too, was found to be correct and the basis for
nuclear bombs and nuclear energy.

Many years ago, I began collecting several booklets of a
series, Science Study Series" with the best of intentions of
reading them right away. Most of them I didn't, but now I have
time, so I am. About the same time, I picked up "The Universe
and Dr. Einstein, by Lincoln Barnett. The best book I ever read
on Einstein was "Einstein, His Life and Times, by Phillip Frank,
1947.

Anyway, in "The Universe and--------" at pages i , 36, 108 &
109, I discovered the following quotes from Einstein:

"My religion," he says, "consists of a humble admiration of
the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight
details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior
reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible
universe, forms my idea of God." (Quoting Einstein)

"Einstein more than once expressed the hope that the
statistical method of Quantum physics would prove a temporary
expedient. (Quoting Einstein "I cannot believe," he wrote,
"that God plays dice with the world." "

"The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can
experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of
all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can
no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To
know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting
itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which
our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive
forms---this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true
religiousness." (Quote of Einstein)

(Frontispiece) "Frequently called an atheist by those who
have failed to grasp the meaning of his philosophy, Einstein
himself was strongly convinced of the creation of the universe by
a Supreme Intelligence."

Anyway, whoever may assume scientists and engineers are all
atheists may be incorrect as regards some of the BEST scientists
& engineers.

Sincerely, Al Mar. 22 Mon. 6:50 PM CST


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Neil Robbie
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Gbuchanan, we're going to go round in circles until we each read Behe and Miller. I find it hard to follow the line of reasoning which says "I've read the critics, so I don't need to read the original".

If I said to you, "I've read Philip Johnson so I don't need to read Dawkins 'the selfish gene' or Gould '8 little piggies", would you say "good for you, Neil, there's no need to read Dawkins or Gould, you've read the critics."?

Now, here's an expansion of the 3D model of the link between philosophy and empirical science:

At the poles are the extreme philosophies of atheism and creationism. In between are agnosticism and theism. Dawkins and YECs are 'poles apart'.

Let's say that the second dimension (longitudinal) is scientific specialty or a narrow field of science. Starting at the Greenwich meridian there are, say, paleontologists. Move to +1GMT there are zoologists. At +8GMT we have embryologists. +12GMT molecular scientists, bio-chemists and so on.

Scientists in any one field orbit very close to the sphere, seeing great detail of the locality of the empirical evidence and relying at the same time on other scientists to inform them of findings on other parts of the sphere. This is the way science interacts and maintains the 'purposeless, meaningless, material and random' process of 'evolution'.

Now, the third dimension is the distance we orbit from the sphere of empirical science. Research scientists orbit somewhere just above the ground. Science educated graduates might orbit at the cruising height of commercial aircraft, seeing the empirical evidence and understanding the principles in general. Somewhere with the satellites are the people who think their stomachs shrink when they eat less food, they can see the sphere but have no idea about the details or principles of empiricism.

The fact is that those who orbit closer to the sphere have always had philosophical authority. Those of us in the outer orbits trust the scientists on statements of philosophy derived from empirical evidence (popularised by Dawkins et al, but scientists can be no less philosophical in organs such as Nature)

Now, the problem today for the philosophical materialists is that some scientists on the inner orbit (near the ground) are looking at the sphere of empirical evidence and are shifting from 'random, purposeless, material universe' to 'a designed universe' as their observed philosophy, and scientists with a materialist philosophy find this conclusion repugnant and are furious.

Scientists on the board will no doubt have heard of Thomas Kuhn, who proposed the system by which scientific theories are tested and revised. To summarise the system goes something like this:

quote:
Experimental research produces data, and a scientific theory is an interpretation of that data which ties everything together in a coherent system. As more data comes to light, or the original data is scrutinised more carefully, old theories are discarded and new theories take shape. But the time between theories is characterised by bitter controversy

'Purposeless, material and random' is a theory which supports and is supported by a philosophy.

A theory of 'design' supports a different philosophy.
Hence, we have a bitter controversy.

Are in the beginning of the bitter controversy stage of a shift in the theory of the origin of life and the origin of species? Only time will tell.

You said,

quote:
Yet once more you compare Darwinism with Marxism, which is a bit like comparing my car to your fruit bowl.

I've already said that Darwin and Marx started at the same point, under the fashionable philosophy of Neitzche (God is Dead). Their products are indeed like my fruit bowl and your car, but their philosophies were closely linked by the fashion of their time. The only difference is this; it was easy for the West to see the problems of the derivatives of Marxism from the outside. Seeing the problems with the derivatives of Darwinism from the inside are proving much more difficult.

It was dramatic and exhilarating when the people of East Germany were freed from the tyranny of Communism (the godless derivative of a godless Marxism). The collapse of the Berlin Wall was the start of a freedom for the oppressed masses. It will be more dramatic still when the masses are freed as the wall of godless Darwinian dogma crumbles and falls and with it, its greatest derivative, secular humanism.

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged



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