Monthly Archives: March 2013

How the new biology furthers theism

Atheist Lou Jost asks Eddie on a Biologos: I am unsure why religious people in particular are so excited by Shapiro’s book. It mostly discusses new sources of genetic variation. These only serve to make naturalistic evolution even easier than we had previously thought. More variation means faster evolution. And as far as I can recall, Shapiro’s book does not really offer any other explanation for adaptation, apart from natural selection.

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Theistic personalism and the heart of God

A post on Victor Reppert’s Dangerous Idea raises the question of God’s “accountability” to creation, quoting the reply of Romans 9.20 about pots questioning their maker as, in some way, problematic. What is interesting is the series of excellent replies from (definitely!) Catholic Ben Yachov (who used to post on BioLogos a year or two ago). In effect, he suggests that Reppert’s soul-searching is yet another unnecessary complication from accepting theistic personalism, which I have written about here before. Ben Yachov, being a Thomist very sympathetic to Ed Feser, largely reflects the latter’s thought in this. 

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What is man?

As mentioned in my last post my foolish decision to respond to Melanogaster on BioLogos was a mistake. If you look at that thread (or any other in which he has participated) every response he makes is a long list of sins one has supposedly committed, with a demand for lengthy and abject penance. Any further reply just gets added to the list of sins. It’s a bit like being in a confession meeting in Mao’s Cultural Revolution, or at least on National Service, where answering a charge just earns you another. An interesting discussion style, that – if  communication is low on your priorities.

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Huxley on the laws of God

Dodging more irrelevant attacks from melanogaster (who will no doubt open his artillery again later) I contributed to this thread on BioLogos, which is part of a re-run of the series by Kathryn Applegate on randomness. Like last time round, people raised the only really significant issue about it – how does it fit with God’s sovereignty – and like last time round, and like similar questions raised with others like Darrel Falk, Dennis Venema etc the author’s response has been a deathly silence. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m reading Gertrude Himmelfarb’s biography of Darwin, and am struck once again how all the important issues regarding the … Continue reading

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Brian May for a Day

Last week the saxophone choir of which I am a small part took part in the Devon Performing Arts Festival in Exeter. It’s astonishing how playing a Queen number for three minutes before judges was so much more tiring than belting out rock for a paying audience for 2 hours was, in my other band, the weekend before. We were pipped to the top place in our section by a senior school sax group led by the same director as ours, which doesn’t surprise me as they were awfully good.

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What Darwin, or Fodor, or someone, got wrong (2)

Last time I tried to represent simply what made Jerry Fodor’s 2007 article and the later book with Massimo Piattelli Palmarini so controversial in both the biology and philosphy communities. The reaction to them, in my view, either shows the subtlety and difficulty of the case they were making, or (as Fodor suggested in a discussion with Massimo Pigliucci) that those committed to natural selection are circling the wagons to defend their paradigm. There seems to be evidence of both, which makes it that much harder to draw conclusions about the strength of weakness of the argument. 

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What Darwin, or Fodor, or someone, got wrong (1)

A link from a recent blog by The OFloinn led me to this old article by Jerry Fodor. Only on following it up did I realise the link (authorial and thematic) with the somewhat notorious book that followed it, What Darwin Got Wrong. I shan’t be reading the book, partly because it is written in analytical philosophy-speak, but the core ideas are clear enough in the article. I’ll look at them a bit today in “idiot’s guide” manner, and at the equally instructive reaction to them in another post.

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One to read

I stumbled across this 2011 essay by Aristotelian-Thomist essayist The OFloinn today. A brilliant must-read that integrates so many of the scientific, historical, philosophical, metaphysical and theological issues that the all culture-war websites leave un-examined. Penman, you’ll like the reference to Shapiro in a bigger context.

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The building blocks of evolution

My brother and I were laughing about NASA’s weekly announcements from Mars that we’re getting ever closer to finding life there. If there isn’t any, of course, we’re not close at all. But they keep telling us they’ve found the “building blocks”, and we conjectured that the next press release will say life is more likely than ever because they’ve found its absolutely most completely fundamental building blocks on Mars – ie protons, neutrons and electrons.

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A Platonic Dialogue

“Socrates, I have heard men say that God was able to bring mankind purposefully into being without taking any action to make it so. I would very much like to hear your opinion.” “That is an interesting question, Cephalus. If I were to tell you that I wished to acquire exactly two billion pounds would you consider it a rational purpose?” “I should be surprised to hear such an unphilosophical desire from your lips, Socrates. But I suppose the purpose itself to be perfectly rational, though hard to fulfil.”

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