We present a theory of information expressed solely in terms of which transformations of physical systems are possible and which are impossible – i.e. in constructor-theoretic terms. Although it includes conjectured laws of physics that are directly about information, independently of the details of particular physical instantiations, it does not regard information as an a priori mathematical or logical concept, but as something whose nature and properties are determined by the laws of physics alone. It does not suffer from the circularity at the foundations of existing information theory (namely that information and distinguishability are each defined in terms of the other). It explains the relationship between classical and quantum information, and reveals the single, constructor-theoretic property underlying the most distinctive phenomena associated with the latter, including the lack of inprinciple distinguishability of some states, the impossibility of cloning, the existence of pairs of variables that cannot simultaneously have sharp values, the fact that measurement processes can be both deterministic and unpredictable, the irreducible perturbation caused by measurement, and entanglement (locally inaccessible information).
Conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) posits the existence of an aeon preceding our Big Bang B, whose conformal infinity I is identified, conformally, with B, now regarded as a spacelike 3-surface. Black-hole encounters, within bound galactic clusters in that previous aeon, would have the observable effect, in our CMB sky, of families of concentric circles over which the temperature variance is anomalously low, the centre of each such family representing the point of I at which the cluster converges. These centres appear as fairly randomly distributed fixed points in our CMB sky. The analysis of Wilkinson Microwave Background Probe’s (WMAP) cosmic microwave background 7-year maps does indeed reveal such concentric circles, of up to 6o significance. This is confirmed when the same analysis is applied to BOOMERanG98 data, eliminating the possibility of an instrumental cause for the effects. These observational predictions of CCC would not be easily explained within standard inflationary cosmology.
The idea of a multiverse – an ensemble of universes – has received increasing attention in cosmology, both as the outcome of the originating process that generated our own universe, and as an explanation for why our universe appears to be fine-tuned for life and consciousness. Here we carefully consider how multiverses should be defined, stressing the distinction between the collection of all possible universes, and ensembles of really existing universes that are essential for an anthropic argument. We show that such realised multiverses are by no means unique. A proper measure on the space of all really existing universes or universe domains is needed, so that probabilities can be calculated, and major problems arise in terms of realised infinities. As an illustration we examine these issues in the case of the set of Friedmann-Lemaˆitre-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) universes. Then we briefly summarise scenarios like chaotic inflation, which suggest how ensembles of universe domains may be generated, and point out that the regularities which must underlie any systematic description of truly disjoint multiverses must imply some kind of common generating mechanism. Finally, we discuss the issue of testability, which underlies the question of whether multiverse proposals are really scientific propositions.
The above article is written by G. F. R. Ellis, University of Cape Town, U. Kirchner, University of Cape Town, and W. R. Stoeger, University of Arizona.
In recent years the teaching of the religiously based philosophy of intelligent design (ID) has been proposed as an alternative to modern evolutionary theory. Advocates of ID are largely motivated by their opposition to naturalistic explanations of
biological diversity, in accordance with their goal of challenging the philosophy of scientific materialism. Intelligent design has been embraced by a wide variety of creationists who promote highly questionable claims that purport to show the inadequacy of evolutionary theory, which they consider to be a threat to a theistic worldview. We find that examples from protistan biology are well suited for providing evidence of many key evolutionary concepts, and have often been misrepresented or roundly ignored by ID advocates. These include examples of adaptations and radiations that are said to be statistically impossible, as well as examples of speciation both in the laboratory and as documented in the fossil record. Because many biologists may not be familiar with the richness of the protist evolution dataset or with ID-based criticisms of evolution, we provide examples of current ID arguments and specific protistan counter-examples.
The above presentation was by Mark A. Farmer, University of Georgia, and Andrea Habura, The University at Albany.
The paper discusses how Charles Darwin’s theory, from a simple hypothesis on the origin of species, reasonably non-aggressive on cosmological and ontological basis, became, under recent Darwinian and materialistic approach, a definite “scientific thesis” against any possible consistency on the side of any theological or non-materialistic philosophical theory. Here, we may realize that the real aim of such authors is a sort of ontological nihilism fed by human
ancestral tendency to replace empiric reality by theoretical utopias heavy loaded by wishful thinking.
The above paper is written by Conor Cunningham, University of Nottingham.
The US government has spent over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.
Did Darwin really do what Kant said was impossible, and serve as a Newton for the biological world? In assessing this question we need to look at both the structure of evolutionary theory and the structure of our explanation-seeking minds. The short answer to the question is yes. Both underestimates and overestimates of the significance of Darwinian explanations derive from psychological habits which may stem from our own evolutionary history.
The above article is written by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Harvard University.
Climate change is a poor justification for energy statism, which consists of centralized government administration of energy supplies, sources, prices, generating facilities, production and conservation. Statist energy governance produces climate change charades: government actions taken in the name of climate change that bear little relationship to the nature of the problem. Such actions include incremental, unilateral steps to reduce domestic carbon emissions to arbitrary levels, and attempts to choose winners and losers in future technology, using public money to subsidize ineffective investments. These proffered solutions are counter-productive. Governments abdicate their responsibility to govern energy in a manner that is consistent with domestic legal norms and competitive markets, and make the development of environmental solutions less likely rather than more so.
The above article is written by Bruce Pardy, Queen’s University.
On several occasions during the last eighty years, states have attempted to either prohibit the teaching of evolution in public school science classes or counter the teaching of evolution with mandatory references to the religious doctrine of creationism. The Supreme Court struck down examples of the first two generations of these statutes, holding that they violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A third generation of creationist legislation is now being proposed. Under this new generation of creationism legislation, science teachers would present so-called “intelligent design” theory as an alternative to evolution. Intelligent design theory asserts that a supernatural intelligence intervened in the natural world to dictate the nature and ordering of all biological species, which do not evolve from lower-to higher-order beings. This article considers whether these intelligent design creationism proposals can survive constitutional scrutiny. The authors analyze the religious, philosophical, and scientific details of intelligent design theory, and assess these details in light of the constitutional doctrine developed by the Court in its previous creationism decisions. The Article discusses several factors that pose problems for intelligent design theory, including the absence of objective scientific support for intelligent design, evidence of strong links between intelligent design and religious doctrine, the use of intelligent design to limit the dissemination of scientific theories that are perceived as contradicting religious teachings, and the fact that the irreducible core of intelligent design theory is what the Court has called the “manifestly religious” concept of a God or Supreme Being. Based
on these details, the authors conclude that intelligent design theory cannot survive scrutiny under the constitutional framework used by the Court to invalidate earlier creationism mandates.
The above article is written by Matthew J. Brauer, Princeton University, Barbara Forrest, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Steven G. Gey, Florida State University.
Despite widespread beliefs to the contrary within the secular intellectual culture of the modern academy, scientific findings are not necessarily incompatible with religious truth claims. The latter include claims about the reality of God as understood in traditional Christianity and the possibility of divinely worked miracles. Intellectual history, philosophy, and science’s own self-understanding undermine the claim that science entails or need even tend toward atheism. By definition a radically transcendent creator-God is inaccessible to empirical investigation. Denials of the possibility or actual occurrence of miracles depend not on science itself, but on naturalist assumptions that derive originally from a univocal metaphysics with its historical roots in medieval nominalism, which in turn have deeply influenced philosophy and science since the seventeenth century. The metaphysical postulate of naturalism and its correlative empiricist epistemology constitute methodological
self-limitations of science—only an unjustified move from postulate to assertion permits ideological scientism and atheism. It is entirely possible that religious claims consistent with the empirical findings of the natural and social sciences might be true. Therefore historians of religion not only need not assume that atheism is true in their research, but they should not do so if they want to understand religious people on their own terms rather than to impose on them an undemonstrated and indemonstrable ideology. Exhortations to critical thinking apply not only to religious views, but also to uncritically examined secular ideas and assumptions, however widespread or institutionally embedded.
The above paper is written by Brad S. Gregory, University of Notre Dame.
Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection has been hailed as one of the most innovative contributions to modern science. When first proposed in 1859, however, it was widely rejected by his contemporaries, even by those who accepted the general idea of evolution. This article identifies those aspects of Darwin's work that led him to develop this revolutionary theory, including his studies of biogeography and animal breeding, and his recognition of the role played by the struggle for existence.
The above article is written by Peter J. Bowler, The Queen's University of Belfast.
We examine empirical evidence for religious prosociality, the hypothesis that religions facilitate costly behaviors that benefit other people. Although sociological surveys reveal an association between self-reports of religiosity and prosociality, experiments measuring religiosity and actual prosocial behavior suggest that this association emerges primarily in contexts where reputational concerns are heightened. Experimentally induced religious thoughts reduce rates of cheating and increase altruistic behavior among anonymous strangers. Experiments demonstrate an association between apparent profession of religious devotion and greater trust. Cross-cultural evidence suggests an association between the cultural presence of morally concerned deities and large group size in humans. We synthesize converging evidence from various fields for religious prosociality, address its specific boundary conditions, and point to unresolved questions and novel predictions.
The above article is written by Ara Norenzayan and Azim F. Shariff.
This paper addresses two main questions. First, how does one determine that something has the features it does as a result of design, as opposed to for example chance? Second, how are inferences to design affected when one makes the (plausible) assumption that the universe is spatially infinite? I will show that arguments for the existence of God based on the improbable development of life don’t go through under the supposition that the universe is spatially infinite. I will also show that the model of design inferences promulgated by William Dembski is flawed, because it has the consequence that one can never infer design in a spatially infinite universe. My model for design inferences has the (desirable) consequence that there are circumstances where a seeming miracle can count as evidence for the existence of God, even if one would expect that type of event to naturalistically occur in a spatially infinite universe.
The above paper is written by Bradley Monton, University of Colorado, Boulder.
It seems improbable that life would exist in a naturalistic universe. But if the universe were spatially infinite, then seemingly improbable events would be expected to happen; life would be expected to exist. It follows that the existence of life provides evidence that the universe is spatially infinite.
The above paper is written by Bradley Monton, University of Colorado, Boulder.
For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research. This paper will deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.
The above article is written by Richard S. Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This article reviews two standard criticisms of creationism/intelligent design (ID): it is unfalsifiable, and it is refuted by the many imperfect adaptations found in nature. Problems with both criticisms are discussed. A conception of testability is described that avoids the defects in Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion. Although ID comes in multiple forms, which call for different criticisms, it emerges that ID fails to constitute a serious alternative to evolutionary theory.
The above article is written by Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin.
Naturalism claims that all genuine properties and relations are in some way reducible to the categories that are studied, or that could, in principle, be studied, by the natural sciences. The main objection to naturalism is that it cannot account for the existence and character of the normative, including rational and moral qualities. In the philosophy of mind, even more fundamental than the problem of consciousness is the problem of intentionality. Natural relations obtain between entities all of which exist, they are not about anything (they have no “content”), and they are not goal-directed. Thus when a rock falls from a mountainside into a river, not only the rock, but also the mountainside and river, must exist. And no one would claim that any state of the rock was about anything or had the goal of ending up in the river. But our thoughts are fundamentally different. I can think of sensible Californian gubernatorial candidates and property tax reduction even though no such things exist, and perhaps never will. What is more, I can think various things about these non-existent objects and I can have as a goal the meeting of a sensible Californian gubernatorial candidate or the promotion of property tax reduction far in advance of any relevant action of mine. Prima facie, the intentional relation of thought to its object is not a natural relation. To claim that intentional qualities just are rather odd natural ones would trivialize naturalism. So what the naturalist needs is an explanation of intentional qualities, one which shows that they are in fact compatible with a naturalistic worldview. In other words, some sort of reduction is needed.
The above paper is written by Angus J. L. Menuge, Concordia University Wisconsin.
In the years leading up to the Second World War the ethologists Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen, created the tradition of rigorous, Darwinian research on animal behavior that developed into modern behavioral ecology. At first glance, research on specifically human behavior seems to exhibit greater discontinuity that research on animal behavior in general. The 'human ethology' of the 1960s appears to have been replaced in the early 1970s by a new approach called ‘sociobiology’. Sociobiology in its turn appears to have been replaced by an approach calling itself Evolutionary Psychology. Closer examination, however, reveals a great deal of continuity between these schools. At present, whilst Evolutionary Psychology is the most visible form of evolutionary psychology, empirical and theoretical research on the evolution of mind and behavior is marked by a diversity of ideas and approaches and it is far from clear which direction(s) the field will take in future.
The above article is written by Paul E. Griffiths, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
This essay focuses on the cognitive tension between science and religion, in particular on the contradictions between some of the claims of current science and some of the claims in religious texts. My aim is to suggest how some work in the philosophy of science may help to manage this tension. Thus I will attempt to apply some work in the philosophy of science to the philosophy of religion, following the traditional gambit of trying to stretch the little one does understand to cover what one does not understand.
The above article is written by Peter Lipton, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane, Cambridge.
Cable-news talking heads and political cartoonists neatly summarized the Intelligent Design controversy: The well bred and enlightened are courageously defending science and public education from mouth-breathing neanderthals charging schoolhouses with torches and Bibles.
This was to be expected though; cartoonists and talking heads get paid to prepare tough, flavorless news stories in spicy, chewable bites. The surprise was that the ID discussion among policy types and the education community was equally vacuous and one-sided. When the federal judge's decision banning ID from the science classroom came down, it was roundly hailed by just about everyone with a pen, microphone, or blog, cementing the perception that objectivity and good sense had carried the day. Even the Education Gadfly, the on-line vehicle of Checker Finn (the sharpest and most independent-minded conservative education reformer around) dismissed, insulted, and mocked the other side.
You don't need to be a card-carrying creationist to feel cheated by the way this played out. Anyone interested in fair debate had the right to quietly mutter the equivalent of Galileo's "It still spins" in the wake of the court's ruling and the intelligentsia's cheering: Yes, the debate's over, but I'm unpersuaded.
In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligent design disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligent design fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there.
The above paper is written by Bradley Monton, Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky.
The evolution controversy is rife with alternatives. Like a giant buffet dinner, we have sitting before us a feast of alternative explanations for the origin of species. Depending on your tastes, one can dine on atheism, creationism, intelligent design, or theistic evolution.
What makes selection less than enjoyable, however, is the stern frown on the faces of the maitre d’ and waiters, who are self-appointed food critics. They tell us that Christians dare not eat anything flavored with Darwinism! They tell us that only creationism or intelligent design fits the Christian diet, that everything else is poisoned with natural selection. Despite the large size of the buffet table, our choices become limited. That takes some of the fun out of our grazing and tasting just for the experience of it.
Worse, the maitre d’ has secretly removed from the buffet some of the most delectable choices. Quite specifically, theistic evolution has been removed and hidden. The Christians coming for dinner are hardly even aware that theistic evolution is available, and that it might even be to their liking.
We, Marty and Ted, the authors writing this Theological Brief, have deliberately tasted every item on the menu. We talked with the cooks who prepared each dish. We’ve carefully examined the recipes.
What tastes best, in our judgment, is theistic evolution. We recommend that Christians reading this theological brief do the following: pile your plate with a large serving of theistic evolution and experiment to see if it might fit your taste. If it does, frown back at the maitre d’.
Why do we get a bad taste from Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design?
The above paper is written by Ted Peters, professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California, and Martinez Hewlett, emeritus professor in the departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.
William Dembski holds that "the origin of information is best sought in intelligent causes" ("Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information", 1997). In particular, Dembski argues that Darwinism is not able to explain the existence of biological structures that contain a certain kind of information – "complex specified information" (CSI). To explain these informational features of living systems, we must instead appeal to the choices made by an intelligent designer.
Dembski's version of the argument from design derives an apparent sophistication from the information-theoretic terms in which it is expressed. But in
the end, Dembski's version is one of the least plausible versions of the design argument. Partly because of the formal apparatus, Dembski's version of the argument is far too sweeping; it omits qualifications that other opponents of Darwinism sensibly include.
My discussion will have two main sections. One outlines information theory, and Dembski's use of the concepts of information and complexity. The other looks at the alleged consequences of these ideas for Darwinism.
The above paper is written by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Australian National University and Harvard University.
Evolutionary theory has had a major impact on the development of biology since the appearance of On the Origin of the Species in 1859. Over the century following publication of that book, experiments and field observations led to successive refinements of the Darwinian theory of evolution, and it was confidently proclaimed as the foundation of biology in the Darwin Centennial year of 1959.
Such confidence is not warranted today. New technologies developed in the past four decades have revealed to us the chemistry underlying biological processes. These technologies have revealed that life is far more complicated than was imagined in 1959, and that much of its complexity cannot easily be addressed by existing evolutionary theory. Indeed some of the major discoveries in the life sciences presented in this article were hardly anticipated by evolutionary theory, but instead came out of advances in experimental technologies.
The above article is written by Roland F. Hirsch, Program manager in DOE Office of Biological & Environmental Research.
Our image of Darwin is hardly that of a German metaphysician. By reason of his intellectual tradition - that of British empiricism - and psychological
disposition, he was a man of apparently more stolid character, one who could be excited by beetles and earthworms but not, we assume, by abstruse philosophy. Yet Darwin constructed a theory of evolution whose conceptual grammar expresses and depends on a certain kind of metaphysics. During his youthful period as a romantic adventurer, he sailed to exotic lands and returned to construct a theory that attacked the citadels of orthodoxy. In the long process of theory construction, he explored difficult philosophical questions - for instance, the nature of reason and the mind-body problem. Moreover, he founded that theory on something like a concept of absolute mind, echoing from afar ideas propounded
by such German Romantic scientist-philosophers as Friedrich Schelling and, more proximately, Alexander von Humboldt.
In this essay, I will explore the metaphysical grammar that underlay Darwin’s theory. This grammar structured the way he joined the various parts of his conception and reveals itself most perspicuously in the metaphors that he constantly deployed to articulate his ideas. He used these tropes, certainly, to make his ideas come alive for his readers. But as he constructed his theory, he also employed the more significant of them to explain to himself the nature of his slowly developing notions. In particular, he came to understand human mind, productive nature, and his special explanatory device of natural selection all with the indispensable aid of particular metaphors and similes. In what follows, I will first consider specifically his developing ideas about rational mind, its animal origins and human embodiment, and then turn to what might be called the concept of absolute mind, a concept that structured his general theory of evolution by natural selection.
The above essay is written by Robert J. Richards, University of Chicago.
Radiometric dating - the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements - has been in widespread use for over half a century. There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them. It has become increasingly clear that these radiometric dating techniques agree with each other and as a whole, present a coherent picture in which the Earth was created a very long time ago. Further evidence comes from the complete agreement between radiometric dates and other dating methods such as counting tree rings or glacier ice core layers. Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent. Many are also unaware that Bible-believing Christians are among those actively involved in radiometric dating.
This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another. In the process the paper refutes a number of misconceptions prevalent among Christians today. This paper is available on the web via the American Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community.
The above paper is written by Roger C. Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Is evolutionary theory a vehicle for anti-God ideas? One of the more extreme "theo-conservatives," National Review writer David Klinghoffer, has even argued that evolution should be regarded as a doctrine of the "religion" of secularism. But this is nonsense; plenty of people who follow traditional religions do accept evolution. Yes, some champions of evolution such as British scientist Richard Dawkins are militant atheists, but there were militant atheists long before Darwin.
The above article is by Cathy Young, Reason contributing editor.
Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as "fact," I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism.
The above article is by Roy W. Spencer, Principal Research Scientist, University of Alabama.
I have been an interested observer of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement for some years, and although I have argued elsewhere that some of the philosophical points made by a number of ID advocates are right, I have been critical of other aspects of ID views. Having that interest, I would welcome a comprehensive, competent, evaluation and critique of ID. The structure, the catalogue of topics addressed, and the Oxford University Press imprimatur initially suggest that Niall Shanks's God, the Devil, and Darwin, may be exactly the book. However, overall this book is more likely to detract from than to contribute to objective and on-target discussion/evaluation/criticism of Intelligent Design. Consequently, I shall focus on
what I take to be some of the major problems of the book.
The above paper is written by Del Ratzsch, Calvin College.
The biblical and scientific evidence pertaining to the subject of a universal versus local Noachian Flood are discussed in this paper. From a biblical perspective, a universal flood model (and its corollary models: flood geology and the canopy theory) is based primarily on: (1) the universal language of Gen. 6-8, (2) Gen 2:5-6, and (3) the presumed landing of Noah's ark on the summit of Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:4). It is argued that the "universal" language of Gen. 6-8 was meant to cover the whole known world of that time (third millennium BC), not the entire planet Earth, and that this
interpretation also applies to Gen. 2:5-6 - the verses on which the canopy theory is based. It is also argued that the "fifteen cubits upward" flood depth mentioned in Gen. 7:20 favors a local rather than a universal flood.
From a scientific perspective, a universal flood, flood geology, and canopy theory are entirely without support. The geology of the Mount Ararat region precludes the premise of flood geologists that all of the sedimentary rock on Earth formed during the time of Noah's Flood. The most likely landing place of the ark is considered to have been in the vicinity of Jabel Judi (the "mountains of Ararat" near Cizre, Turkey) within the northern boundary of the Mesopotamian hydrologic basin, rather than on 17,000-foot-high Mount Ararat in northeastern Turkey. Since it would have been
logistically impossible for all animal species on Earth to be gathered by Noah and contained in the ark, it is concluded that the animals of the ark were those that lived within the Mesopotamian region. The archaeological record outside of Mesopotamia also does not support a universal flood model. All of the evidence, both biblical and scientific, leads to the conclusion that the Noachian deluge was a local, rather than universal, flood.
The above paper is written by Carol A. Hill, a consulting geologist.
The eminent historian and philosopher of biology, Michael Ruse, has written several books that explore the relationship of evolutionary theory to its larger scientific and cultural setting. Among the questions he has investigated are: Is evolution progressive? What is its epistemological status? Most recently, in Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose?, Ruse has provided a history of the concept of teleology in biological thinking,
especially in evolutionary theorizing. In his book, he moves quickly from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and such British thinkers as Paley and Whewell. His main focus, though, is on Darwin’s theory and its subsequent fate. Ruse rests his history on some shaky historical and philosophic assumptions, particularly the unexamined notion that evolutionary theory is an abstract entity that is unproblematically realized in different historical periods. He also assumes that Darwin conceived nature as if it were a Manchester spinning loom – a clanking, dispassionate machine. A more subtle analysis, which Ruse eschews, might discover that Darwin’s conception of nature owed a strong debt to German Romanticism and that he contrived to infuse nature with moral and aesthetic values, not to suck them from nature. Ruse proves he is a thinker to contend with, and this essay is quite contentious.
The above paper is written by Robert J. Richards, Fishbein Center for History of Science, The University of Chicago.
Science and religion are two major long-term themes of human thought-indeed two dominating aspects of human culture, each making major contributions to how we live and think. At issue here is the way we understand ultimate reality and humanity: the very nature of existence. This plays a crucial role in how we see ourselves and how we see the meaning in our lives. Because of this, their interaction is of considerable importance for the way we live and behave, which to a large extent flows from our world-view.
Science and religion have in the past been taken by many to be in deadly conflict, and indeed many have talked of the battle between science and religion. This was, however, by no means a universal position. There is now an increasing recognition of mutuality, with a growing science and religion dialogue taking place, and numerous books appearing on the topic.
The above is a public lecture given by George F. R. Ellis, 2004 Templeton Prize winner at the meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature in November 22, 2004 in San Antonio, Texas. Professor Ellis is Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Cape Town.
Methodological naturalism is the assumption or working hypothesis that understanding nature (the physical world including humans and their thoughts and actions) can be understood in terms of unguided laws. There is no need to suppose interventions (miracles) from outside. It does not commit one to metaphysical naturalism, the belief that there is nothing other than nature as we can see and observe it (in other words, that atheism is the right theology for the sound thinker). Recently the Intelligent Design movement has been arguing against methodological naturalism, and in this project they have been joined by the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. In this paper I examine Plantinga's arguments and conclude not only that they are not well taken, but that he does no good service to his religion either.
The above paper is written by Michael Ruse, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University.
In a recent defence of what he calls “study by religion,” Robert Ensign suggests that alleged divine revelations represent public forms of knowledge, which should not be excluded from the academy. But at least according to two major Christian thinkers, namely Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, revelation is received by an act of faith, which rests on evidence that is personrelative and therefore not open to public scrutiny. If religious studies is to remain a public
discipline, whose arguments may be evaluated by believers and non-believers alike, it should maintain its defeasible but not yet defeated presumption of naturalism.
The above essay is by Gregory W. Dawes, University of Otago, New Zealand.
The The Lawrence Journal-Worldhas a section dealing with the ongoing Evolution vs. Creation debate taking place in Kansas.
Presents the basic fine-tuning argument along with responses to some of the frequently raised objections to the argument. It was written for an undergraduate textbook in philosophy of religion. (The version is the penultimate copy of the paper before final proofreading.)
The author of the above essay is Robin Collins, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Messiah College.
It is not irrational to criticize Darwinian theory, as being, in its developed form, an incitement to crime. The message of Darwinism in the abstract is that species are not natural kinds, and that there is no reason to expect ‘evolutionary progress’. In its concrete manifestations, in Darwin’s writings as well as in his followers’, it is more usually assumed that the poor, sick, savage - and Irish - are ‘unfit’, and will be eliminated soon (unless a misguided compassion delays the process). Even a more sociable Darwinism (emphasising the value of social feeling, and even of self-sacrificing heroism) insists that we can only ‘really’ mind about our kin and those few others who might do us good, and should for that reason act to prevent the poor or sick or ‘savage’ from breeding. Darwinists, though inconsistently, allege that we are always bound to be enduring the Malthusian tragedy, and cannot expect people to be more rational, generous or compassionate than they would be in such dire conditions. Because there ‘must’ be such a struggle for survival we ‘civilized’ folk initiate it. These ethical effects do not flow from the bare bones of Darwinian theory (that we are all related, with four thousand million years of history, and that populations change their character in part because of differences in the number of viable offspring resulting from the particular traits of the parent population), but they are so entangled with Darwinism as this is popularly presented that we have good reason to complain when our children are taught such ‘Darwinism’ as the only rational theory. On the contrary, if ‘Darwinism’ were the only truth, we could have no interest in the truth, nor any reliable way of uncovering it.
The author of the above essay is Stephen R. L. Clark, Department of Philosophy, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool.
How Not to Detect Design. This is a review of William A. Dembski’s The Design Inference -- Eliminating Chance Through Small
As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses a larger set of issues. William Paley saw clearly that we sometimes have an excellent reason to postulate the existence of an intelligent designer. If we find a watch on the heath, we reasonably infer that it was produced by an intelligent watchmaker. This design argument makes perfect sense. Why is it any different to claim that the eye was produced by an intelligent designer? Both critics and defenders of the design argument need to understand what the ground rules are for inferring that an intelligent designer is the unseen cause of an observed effect.
Dembski’s book is an attempt to clarify these ground rules. He proposes a procedure for detecting design and discusses how it applies to a number of mundane and nontheological examples, which more or less resemble Paley’s watch. Although the book takes no stand on whether creationism is more or less plausible than evolutionary theory, Dembski’s epistemology can be evaluated without knowing how he thinks it bears on this highly charged topic. In what follows, we will show that Dembski’s account of design inference is deeply flawed. Sometimes he is too hard on hypotheses of intelligent design; at other times he is too lenient. Neither creationists nor evolutionists nor people who are trying to detect design in nontheological
contexts should adopt Dembski’s framework.
The authors of the above essay are Branden Fitelson, Christopher Stephens, and Elliott Sober, Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Recent work in Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) reopens a number of questions concerning God's providence over nature. Friends of IDT claim that their "explanatory filter" allows us to detect design empirically and that this provides a way to make appeal to supernatural design in properly scientific explanations while at the same time undercutting methodological naturalism. I argue here that the explanatory filter is fatally flawed, and that detection of detection of design would not undercut methodological naturalism in any case. Friends of IDT fail to see this because they adopt a Newtonian conception of natural providence, while failing even to consider a preferable Leibnizian conception.
The author of the above essay is Michael J. Murray, Professor of Philosophy, Franklin & Marshall College.
In The Incompatibility of Naturalism and Scientific Realism (1998), the U.T. Austin philosopher Robert Koons argues that "Nature is comprehensible scientifically only if nature is not a causally closed system--only if nature is shaped by supernatural forces." According to Holtz, "Koons' fundamental mistake in his paper is to treat our epistemological criteria for truth--parsimony and possibly other unspecified 'quasi-aesthetic considerations'--as if they were empirical conclusions rather than methodological assumptions. Koons mistakes a definitional connection for a causal connection, and thus mistakenly concludes that 'scientific realism' rules out philosophical naturalism.
Science and religion both make claims about the fundamental workings of the universe. Although these claims are not a priori incompatible (we could imagine being brought to religious belief through scientific investigation), I will argue that in practice they diverge. If we believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between fundamental pictures of reality, we are led to a strictly materialist conception of the universe. While the details of modern cosmology are not a necessary part of this argument, they provide interesting clues as to how an ultimate picture may be constructed.
The author of the above essay is Sean Carroll, Professor of Physics, University of Chicago.
Claims for the unification of biology routinely refer to the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the 1930s. It is, however, instructive to consider the several respects in which Darwin himself may be said to have achieved a unification: in connecting otherwise disparate phenomena, in describing a single evolutionary process, in looking to just one ultimate origin for all species and in the case of homo sapiens favouring a monogenism over polygenism. Darwin's references to the "laws impressed on matter by the Creator" remind us that his philosophy of nature had been rooted in a monotheistic tradition in which the unity of nature itself reflected the design of an intelligent deity. In this lecture I shall explore the wider cultural context in which Darwin was both indebted to and a reformer of a natural theology that his theory is often seen as having displaced. Because Darwin's eventual agnosticism was not occasioned primarily by his science, it becomes necessary to introduce considerations that lie beyond the simplistic and reductive categories of 'science' and 'religion'.
The author of the above essay is John Hedley Brooke, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford.
Science is often characterized as providing objective knowledge of the world as it exists independently of consciousness, whereas the humanities in general, and religion in particular, pertain to human experience. In this way, science is commonly viewed as being "objective," whereas religion is "subjective." In contrast to this popular idea, in this paper I shall argue that both scientific and religious truths cover a spectrum in terms of their invariance across multiple cognitive frames of reference. A highly objective truth, for instance, is one that is invariant across a wide range of cognitive frames of reference, including different modes of observation and different types of conceptual frameworks. A highly subjective truth, on the other hand, is one that is valid only for a very limited range of cognitive frames of reference. Following this model of intersubjective frames of reference, the validity of a truth-claim is tested, not in reference to some purely objective realm of existence, independent of all modes of inquiry, but in reference to multiple modes of perceptual and conceptual knowledge. With this criterion of truth, both scientific and religious modes of knowledge are seen to be inextricably embedded in human experience. Moreover, following this model, human consciousness--so long omitted from the scientific worldview--is seen to play a central role in both the natural world of science as well as the world of religious truths.
The author of this essay is B. Alan Wallace, is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
This is chapter five of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism by Tim Berra. Berra is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at Ohio State University.
The evolution-creation debate is ostensibly about science, but that is simply what the fundamentalists want us to believe, for a great deal more is at stake, and they are well aware that creationism is not science. The goals of "creation science" have far more to do with religion, politics, law, and education. To whatever extent the scientific trappings of "creation science" are accorded credence, by the schools or by the courts, much will suffer: freedom of thought, an informed, open-minded American public, the vitality of science and technology, and the fate of our society in an increasingly competitive, increasingly educated world.
So there are good reasons why traditional believers of all sorts ought to take seriously these claims made by scientists and in particular by evolutionary biologists.
The claims made are essentially:
(1) Evolutionary theory implies a meaningless universe, that is, that there is no ultimate meaning or that the universe is not here for a reason.
(2) Evolutionary theory implies, more specifically, that there is no meaning to be found behind the emergence of human beings in natural history, that is, we are not here for a reason and in particular we are not planned by God or anything like God.
In short, the key assertion is that evolutionary theory undermines the religious belief that there is a purpose or meaning to the existence of the universe and to human life in particular. It shows that the universe and humans are not here for a reason. Let us take a closer look at these claims and evaluate the arguments that are given to support them.
The author of this essay is Mikael Stenmark, Uppsala University, Sweden.
This paper compares the ways in which revealed theology, natural theology and philosophical theology justify religious belief. Revealed theology does so with an appeal to revelation and natural theology with an appeal to reason and perception. It is argued that both are inadequate. Philosophical theology analyses the meaning rather than proving the truth of religious belief. In doing so it does show how truth claims are entailed by a religious tradition and how the whole heritage of a tradition should be coherent, credible, and intelligible as well as relevant and adequate to the
demands of life.
The author of this essay is Vincent Brümmer, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
The metaphilosophy of naturalism is about the nature and goals of naturalist philosophy. A real or hypothetical person who knows the nature, goals and consequences of naturalist philosophy may be called an “informed naturalist.” An informed naturalist is justified in drawing certain conclusions about the current state of naturalism and the research program that naturalist philosophers ought to undertake. One conclusion is that the great majority of naturalist philosophers have an unjustified belief that naturalism is true and an unjustified belief that theism (or supernaturalism) is false. I explain this epistemic situation in this paper. I also articulate the goals an informed naturalist would recommend to remedy this situation. These goals, for the most part, have as their consequence the restoring of naturalism to its original state (approximately, to a certain degree, given the great difference in the specific theories), which is the state it possessed in Greco-Roman philosophy before naturalism was “overwhelmed” in the Middle Ages, beginning with Augustine (naturalism had critics as far back as Xenophanes, sixth century B.C.E., but it was not “overwhelmed” until much later). Contemporary naturalists still accept, unwittingly, the redefinition of naturalism that began to be constructed by theists in the fifth century C.E. and that underpins our basic world-view today.
The author of this essay is Quentin Smith, Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Western Michigan University.
Stephen M. Barr reviews the book, A Devil’s Chaplain by Richard Dawkins, for First Things.
We often hear of a conflict between religion and science. Is there one? Certainly, some religious beliefs are scientifically untenable: for example, that the world is six thousand years old. However, for Jews and Christians not committed to a narrowly literalistic interpretation of Scripture, that kind of direct and clear--cut contradiction between scientific facts and religious doctrines does not exist.
What many take to be a conflict between religion and science is really something else. It is a conflict between religion and materialism. Materialism regards itself as scientific, and indeed is often called “scientific materialism,” even by its opponents, but it has no legitimate claim to be part of science. It is, rather, a school of philosophy, one defined by the belief that nothing exists except matter, or, as Democritus put it, “atoms and the void.”
The above essay is by Stephen M. Barr, theoretical particle physicist at the Bartol Research Institute of the University of Delaware.
Some Christian philosophers and apologists have vigorously mounted a moral argument for God's existence considered independently of the standard nonmoral grounds. The moral argument is based upon the natural moral law (fundamental moral principles and norms apprehended as such by persons of good will as universally binding and as not based upon supernatural revelation or divine positive law). Guminski proposes to show why those Naturalists and Theists who hold that the natural moral law obtains should conclude that the moral argument is unsound.
The above lecture was given by Arnold T. Guminski at the University of Colorado Theology Forum on April 6, 2004.
Darwinism and Atheism: A Marriage Made in Heaven?
This talk will look at the relationship between evolution and Christianity, from the earliest times, through the work of Charles Darwin, and down to the present, ending with some comments on both the prominent Darwinian atheists like Richard Dawkins, as well as the supporters of so-called Intelligent Design. The main theme of the lecture is that Darwinism is a child of Christianity, and that as is usual in parent-children relationships, there is both love and tension. I argue that Darwin's own work stemmed from his religious background rather than despite it, that his supporter T H Huxley had very different ends in view making of evolution a secular religion, and that once the history is understood, as is usual with evolutionary matters, the present is much easier to understand.
The above lecture was given by Michael Ruse, Professor of Philosophy at the Florida State University. Read the complete lecture here. Two commentaries follow the lecture by Ruse.
Atheists love Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker. In this essay, Dallas Willard, Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, offers his reflections on Dawkins' book.
A critique of Aspects of the Philosophy and Theology of Richard Dawkins by Michael Poole, Visiting Research Fellow at King's College London. A reply by Dawkins. A response to Richard Dawkins' reply.