Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Denis Alexander is coming to Norwich Cathedral.

Breaking the horizon from left to right are: Norwich Castle, St Peter Mancroft, Norwich City Hall and Norwich Cathedral. If you know where to look there are at least nine medieval churches visible in this picture. Good website on Norwich here.

Biologist Denis Alexander is scheduled to do a lecture at Norwich Cathedral entitled Evolution & Adam: Reality, Myth & Symbolism. I hope to attend. 

Recently, I noted that evangelical atheist and Toronto Professor of Biochemist Larry Moran has done several blogs on Alexander: See here, here and here. Larry has always taken the line that science is a comprehensive and exclusive way of knowing. Actually, I might have a qualified agreement with him on that, but not for the reason that you might think, which in Larry's case seems to be connected with his evangelical way of drawing an epistemic line around what he deems as authentic knowledge. I've seen plenty of that kind of noetic hegemony my time!

My dispute with Larry Moran is that he doesn't really grasp just how epistemically flaky our world really is, especially as it seems to throw up observational erratics and one-offs. As a result we either need to generalise the meaning of "science" or alternatively formalize that meaning with the understanding that science's formal relation between theory and experience must give way to a more informal seat-of-the-pants relation when moving out of the physical sciences into the sociological. However, I'm in general agreement that in the final analysis an epistemology involving a contention between theory and experience, between narrative and text (see my side bar) covers an all but exhaustive epistemic domain*. Larry Moran, however, has a very specialized laboratory level understanding of epistemology. This would be OK if it were not for the fact that it's simply impossible to observe everything under lab conditions. In my view he needs to generalise his epistemology which might help smooth off those sharp unforgiving evangelical edges.

Talking about evangelicals; Denis Alexander's Wiki page categorizes him as an evangelical Christian. I was once evangelical myself but for many reasons now find I'm veering toward a more liberal stance. Therefore, I think I might be even more interested in Alexander's take on Christianity than his biology.  However, there is no disputing that Alexander is a great man of faith who doesn't stint on his witness to Christ.  The de-facto IDists and the fundamentalists are very critical of Alexander and in comparison Larry Moran's criticism seems muted  As I don't get on well with de facto IDists and fundies, I've probably got something in common with Alexander!

Finally, relevant links: There is no point in repeating here in detail just why I find Larry Moran's epistemic outlook blinkered. Below are links to posts I've done on epistemology, some specific to Moran's views and where he himself gets more than an honourable mention.


* Verifying this vision of generalised science uses the same theory vs. experience,  narrative vs. text  contention to verify itself. It's one of those circularly self supporting concepts.  Circularity is OK provided it is self-affirming rather than contradictory: See 
This concept of self affirming circularity may be at the the bottom of Aseity. See comments at the end of this post: 

No comments: