Category Archives: Philosophy
I was reminded to return to the subject of “universals” by a comment on an old post by a new subscriber, Mark Chenoweth. It seems worth raising again, given the new degree of rapprochement between some TEs, IDists and OECs, characterised by the forthcoming Dabar Conference in Illinois. And also by the fact that I recently cut my hand by falling out of our field into the lane whilst chasing a squirrel… don’t ask.
When I wrote a recent piece on the limitations of science, compared to the sum total of truth (and even of knowledge), I was building on discussions with Joshua Swamidass, who liked the article, I’m pleased to say. He might be less in agreement, perhaps, with another thought about science, and that is the dependence on all kinds of “soft” human qualities that make science impossible to define, except by rather ad hoc conventions which, in any case, are full of exceptions.
The Renaissance humanists saw the human being as a microcosm, because the mind of man can reach out to encompass the farthest reaches of the universe, or the smallest particles of matter. It can even raise itself to contemplate the things of heaven, and God himself. The last shows why the microcosm view, which gives man such a central importance in the creation, is both a glorious truth and a misleading half-truth at the same time.
A thread over at Peaceful Science started with the claim that postmodernism is atheistic, and developed into a free discussion as imprecise as is the definition of postmodernism, appropriately and inevitably, given what it is about. Someone’s mention of “classical thinking” reminded me of this quote by C S Lewis:
Here’s a thought experiment about how the socially-constituted rules of scientific methodology can easily be misconstrued as the real constraints of the world.
I want, again, to critique the notion that “God uses chance” in evolution, off the back of my last piece, whose main burden was that admitting such chance into the picture utterly destroys the already dubious ability of the laws of nature to achieve divine aims, such as the evolution of mankind. Now I want to consider “randomness” from the viewpoint of divine being. Consider, for a moment, what it means for us to exist, given the truth of Christianity – as far as we can consider what is a rather deeper matter than we are used to assuming it to be.
How Hegelian! The pained responses to the unfairness of the large ID book critiquing Theistic Evolution has led to the clearer exposition of the various views within BioLogos that some of us have been calling for for years. This piece was drafted before Eddie’s recent post, which nevertheless arises from the same observation of self-examination within the organisation. I particularly recommend reading the discussion on this thread, and the clear theological and metaphysical water between, say, Ted Davis and Jim Stump there. In this piece, though, I want to examine one particular view presented by BioLogos president Deb Haarsma, not so much in her own recent “defence” piece, as more … Continue reading
As I’ve described in the previous two posts, natural selection is, despite its reputation as the biggest discovery ever, the central tenet of (only) some of the theories of evolution that have held centre stage since Darwin and Wallace popularised it. One of the negative reasons for its being recurrently in doubt is the ongoing difficulty of deciding what natural selection actually is.
I think my reply to the last critique made by Jay313 to my recent C S Lewis post warrants a longer treatment than an inline comment. So here it is as a post.
In his 1947 book Miracles, C S Lewis presents an argument against naturalism that has become one of the most influential philosophical arguments of its type of the last century. Very briefly, it says that under naturalism, mankind evolved purely by natural selection, for survival alone. His brain, therefore, could only (by the very tenets of materialistic evolutionary theory) be orientated towards survival, and not truth. There is no way then, under naturalism, that one could rely on human reason to discover truths about the world – including, of course, naturalism itself.