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“Is Evolution a Secular Religion?” or how a sensible critique of Darwin is done.

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  • “Is Evolution a Secular Religion?” or how a sensible critique of Darwin is done.

    Here is a great little article written by a philosopher of science, Michael Ruse, back in 2003:-

    Is Evolution a Secular Religion?


It largely hits the nail on the head and shows how the complaint against Darwin and the theory of evolution should be argued, as opposed to the kind of silliness often written by creationists who have little more than hatred for Darwin, and are almost to a man, and women, completely clueless as to what the theory of evolution is about.

    Should the reader think that the article is written by a person who likewise hates Darwin and sees his theory as the cause of pretty well every social ill there is, then it's important to note that Ruse also wrote this book:-

    Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy

    - and at the end of the article linked to at the start, makes these points:-

    Originally posted by Ruse, at first link, bolding is mine.
    So, what does our history tell us? Three things. First, if the claim is that all contemporary evolutionism is merely an excuse to promote moral and societal norms, this is simply false. Today's professional evolutionism is no more a secular religion than is industrial chemistry. Second, there is indeed a thriving area of more popular evolutionism, where evolution is used to underpin claims about the nature of the universe, the meaning of it all for us humans, and the way we should behave. I am not saying that this area is all bad or that it should be stamped out. I am all in favor of saving the rainforests. I am saying that this popular evolutionism—often an alternative to religion—exists. Third, we who cherish science should be careful to distinguish when we are doing science and when we are extrapolating from it, particularly when we are teaching our students. If it is science that is to be taught, then teach science and nothing more. Leave the other discussions for a more appropriate time.

    As opposed to the hatred and ignorance so often seen from creationists, Ruse is nuanced in his criticism, showing that there are two sides to this, and even in the context of the non scientific claims made in the name of evolution, he writes:-

    Originally posted by Ruse
    I am not saying that this area is all bad or that it should be stamped out.

Nuance, creationists, nuance. Honesty too, that helps a lot. Not hatred, hubris, and ignorance as illustrated by these words expressed over the past few days:-

    ""survival of the fittest" - that remains every bit as valid today as it did in 1859, has been and continues to be used as "scientific" justification for eugenics (as well as euthanasia, abortion, genocide, and a host of other social atrocities)."

    "Darwin mostly supported his theory not with facts or evidence, but by arguing against straw men, and ignoring evidence. Seems that much of the same has been going on the same ever since. The "evidence" that is used to support it today seems to be more flimsy every day to me."
    Last edited by rwatts; 09-03-2014, 03:20 PM.

  • #2
    Biological evolution is a theory that simply describes how nature works -- just like any theory in natural science.

    Cultural evolution is not biological evolution. Culture involves conscious choices among groups of people. It is not simply a mimicry of nature. People are of course free to mimic nature, e.g., the Spartan elimination of the unfit.

    Biological evolution describes nature and the history of life on Earth, but it does not prescribe behavior in any way, anymore than the description of local gravity by an inverse-square law prescribes defenestration. The latter is a non-prescribed application of the former. (In fact gravity is good example since people knew something that permitted defenestration already existed! Just like the Spartan's pruning of the weak had nothing to with the theory of evolution whatsoever.)

    Perhaps "non-prescribed application" is a better choice than "misapplication" as I used in another thread. Some vehement anti-evolutionist jumped on the latter term, and rightly so. People are free to apply scientific knowledge in any nefarious manner their evil brains concoct (as long their culture allows them to get away with it!). But no application, good or bad, is prescribed by the theory.

    But scientific theories are morally neutral (amoral if you will). In fact if someone tries to append a moral value to a scientific theory, then the amalgam is no longer a scientific theory.

    Jorge's Evolution is (from what I can glean from his bloviating rants) an amalgam that is no longer a scientific theory. The prescriptive addendum spoils the science like a few drops of vinegar in milk.



    • #3
      Originally posted by klaus54 View Post

      Jorge's Evolution is (from what I can glean from his bloviating rants) an amalgam that is no longer a scientific theory. The prescriptive addendum spoils the science like a few drops of vinegar in milk.

      I have this idea that Jorge has shifted the focus of his rants.

      AFAICT from old records I have, bad evolution, which he labelled Evolution, used to be macro evolution while good Godly evolution used to be evolution. This was so because Evolution was not "metaphysically inert" (to use an old phrase of his), whereas evolution was. (It was always easy to show how silly such arguments were, simply by providing different metaphysical interpretations of the data. You know, the old creationist cry of "same data, different interpretation".)

      If I am correct and Jorge has shifted focus, then I suspect the reason is that he knows he's lost the argument against macroevolution. All his "logic" against the theory has been shown by numerous posters to be flawed, silly, and self serving.

      So the best he's got now is some mud to throw. Sure, that mud is there to be thrown, but it's notable that the moment one points out how (the Christian) God is used to justify all kinds of social ills, and has been used in this way centuries even millennia before Darwin came along, these folk simply don't want to know. Likewise with Newton's theories (and any theory in science), mud can be thrown, simply because people use the theories to do nasty things. But again, because Newton is viewed to be the preeminent creation scientist, then to point the finger is not allowed.
      Last edited by rwatts; 09-03-2014, 04:16 PM.


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