Friday, November 20, 2009

So Long Pilgrim

This post on UD publicizes a new book called “Should Christians Embrace Evolution”. The post says:

Believers in a God-guided Darwinism are preaching that Darwinism is a fact and that the Bible can be reconciled with it. This new book comprehensively refutes both ideas. Far from necessary, theistic evolution is both bad theology and bad science.

Firstly: It is impossible for evolution to be “a fact” in the sense that gravitational theory is “a fact”. Gravitational theory deals with a relatively simple mathematical object, whereas evolution, if it has occurred, may be computationally irreducible. So to be fair, all due allowance must be made for evolution’s level of epistemological intractability; just as one must make epistemological allowance for something as complex as deity. I would classify evolution less “bad science” than “difficult science”. And let's not forget that we must also make all due allowance for the scientific difficulties ID theory itself faces. For there is a very wide range of theories held by ID theorists; from those who accept an evolution of sorts from common descent to those who believe God "poofed" the whole cosmic show, as seen, into existence 6000 years ago. So it is clear that ID theory has at least as great epistemological difficulties as evolution. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Secondly: What about bad theology? Well, the prodigal son went through a process of incremental learning and development and yet there came the time when he was self aware enough to willfully reject the right way. Moreover, the environment in which he was reared was good but not perfect.

Looking through the list of book contributors I get a distinct whiff of raw evangelicalism here and there. This does suggest that I am unlikely to be comfortable with the religious culture of many contemporary ID supporters. And yet ironically I accept the general notion of design; namely that the elemental must have its source in a-priori complexity; I personally identify that a-priori complexity with a personal God. But it seems to me that for most contemporary ID supporters the bear and general notion of design is less important to them than a very vocal and specific anti-evolutionism. In fact it even seems that theism is less important to them than anti-evolutionism. In this connection I wasn’t aware that Steve Fuller is a theist, anymore than I was aware that David Belinsky is a theist, but these people connect very well with contemporary ID theory’s prevalent culture of de-facto anti-evolutionism. As I endeavor to be a non-aligned party in the ID/evolution debate I find I cannot support the raw emotionalism and an anti-evolutionism that is so often bound up with the vested interests and crowd dynamics of contemporary ID culture. In many respects ID culture has burnt its boats. It has passed the point of no return.

As I explore links between evolution, quantum theory, algorithmics, intelligence and learning it looks as though I’m on a very different pilgrimage to many contemporary ID theorists.

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