Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Coherency of Evolution and Faith - Part I

If we assume that evolutionary theory points to a certain kind of truth and that faith also points to a certain kind of truth then it is only logical that there must be a certain kind of coherency between the theory of evolution and faith. Naturalism as a metaphysical worldview versus God seems to be the boiled-down, line-in-the-sand issue, not mutability of species as the basic, basic tenant of evolutionary theory. Too bad we couldn’t put representatives from both camps in a cage match, let them fight it out, and be done with the conflict, bickering, name-calling, hypocrisy, and tactics that take place on both sides of the fence. Since we cannot do a cage match … as cool as that might be … what would it take from both sides to resolve this debate? Maybe all I can hope for in this post is formulation of questions that must be answered before resolution can be achieved but I am truly interested in thoughtful, respectful solutions.

So … what do you think?

Best Wishes,
Roger

4 comments:

Mario said...

Roger,

You made me smile! A cage match to resolve the name-calling, bickering and animosity between the two camps? I think your current project is much more effective at creating meaningful dialog. I'll get to work right away! Good to see you last night, by the way!

Jason Epps said...

Honestly, I think much of the problem involves both "sides" talking aver one another. It seems to me that certain words and concepts need to be clearly and concisely defined if any productive conversation is to take place. The real question, however, is whether strict adherents to either side are interested in civil conversation. My experience has been that both are usually quite content to misrepresent and attack the other side. It would be nice if there were a clear-cut statement of belief on both sides regarding the fundamental issues at stake here. I have been hard pressed to find a statement like this on the evolutionists' "side," but there needs to be one on the "intelligent design" side as well as on the "creationist" side.

Ronin said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and for taking one of the first philosophical steps in this arena.

Upon reflection on this issue, I believe many related questions must be answered to even envision what the debate should look like so I’m going to ask a few of those questions and leave the first substantive commentary to Mario (or anyone else for that matter). These are in no particular order.

1. Should the debate be under the label of “science”? If you think yes, then why? If you think, no then under what label and why?

2. Can someone please outline an argument for me how Intelligent Design does not fall prey to a regress that concludes with an entity we traditionally define as God?

3. The following is a basic definition that I pulled from Wikipedia (5/30/2008): “In biology, evolution is the process of change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next. The genes that are passed on to an organism's offspring produce the inherited traits that are the basis of evolution. Mutations in genes can produce new or altered traits in individuals, resulting in the appearance of heritable differences between organisms, but new traits also come from the transfer of genes between populations, as in migration, or between species, in horizontal gene transfer. In species that reproduce sexually, new combinations of genes are produced by genetic recombination, which can increase the variation in traits between organisms. Evolution occurs when these heritable differences become more common or rare in a population.”

I used Wikipedia because it seems to be a basic source for basic definitions and nothing in this definition seems out of line with my understanding of the basic tenants of the theory. What more is required for a meaningful debate to take place?

4. If there are 480,000 accredited, University affiliated earth and life scientists working in the United States alone, how many dissenters of the theory constitute a significant amount?

5. If the dissenters of the theory from #4 above make a supernatural conclusion, are they still practicing science?

6. Who has the burden of proof and why?

7. If the moral and Biblical implications of evolution (regardless of the observations, inferences, or argument) are intolerable to so many of faith, is reconciliation, debate, coherency, or any other unifying word even possible?

I hope we get some meaningful dialogue to answer these and many more to come. I will try to work out my answers to my own questions … unless Battlestar Galactica is on, of course.

Cheers,
Roger

Jason Epps said...

R,

I think your last comment should be its own post.

J