Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Darwin Group - Goals and Purpose

This summer, I am involved in a Darwin discussion group. The purpose of this group is to explore the science behind Darwin, Darwin's actual writings, and the aftermath of Origin of Species. The impact of Darwin touches many aspects of modern science and life. I have some educational experience in chemistry, biochemistry, genetics and biology while other members of the group do not. Some of the members have taken a Philosophy of Genetics class but the course did not deal directly with evolutionary arguments. My goal is to work through the science to judge the strength of evolutionary arguments to better respond to questions concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools, the Intelligent Design debate, and what seems to be a religious anti-evolutionary view. I want to be clear that I do not think that just because you go to church on Sunday that you must automatically reject evolutionary thought. However, the religious implications of the theory and the general religious and/or conservative party line (for lack of better words) is a real conflict that has not been resolved since the time of Lamarck, almost 200 years ago. Lamarck published Zoological Philosophy in 1809, was a early proponent of evolution, and was attacked by the scientific and religious community of the time for suggesting that species were not fixed or as Darwin would later call it, subject to variation according to the Principle of Divergence.

I will come back to this subject from time to time and encourage your respectful comments. Regardless of your feelings on the matter, it is a controversy, passions run high on the issue, and arguments for reconciliation seem remote. If this is of interest to you, I would also recommend checking out Tough Questions a blog run by Dr. Jason Epps who is a both a friend and colleague of philosophy. He also happens to have a doctorate in Theology and is Pastor of Gospel Fellowship Church. Jason is much more prolific with his writing/blogging than I and teaching me to be more analytical and critical in all of my work in philosophy.
I'm sure our debates this summer will center on epistemological difficulties and the question and definition of "What is Science?" He and I may have different presuppositions going into this project but we are both interested in getting a little a closer to the truth. Stay tuned to both blogs and let's see how we fare in that pursuit.

If you are interested in following along with the reading ...
Appleman, Philip
, ed. Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition, 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. ISBN: 0-393-95849-3

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