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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New at Access Research Network: On Darwin's Philosophical Imperative

British physicist David Tyler writes (15 December 2009):
Ulrich Kutschera is a German biologist and Darwin scholar who has reached the conclusion that Darwin's 1859 treatise conveys a "philosophical imperative". By this is meant the strict separation of "scientific fact and theories from religious dogmas". Kutschera rejects the claims of some that "evolutionary theory and Bible-based myths are compatible". From an ID perspective, Kutschera's essay warrants a critical analysis because there are points of agreement and major areas of disagreement.

Let us start with the central claim that Darwin "strictly" separated scientific facts and theorising from religion. It is fair to say this was his stated approach - but did he achieve it? Darwin presented himself as working in the Baconian tradition, but how did he implement induction? In his writings, he makes frequent references to the religious concept of creation. Characteristic of his reasoning is that a Creator could not be responsible for the world portrayed in On the Origin of Species. Repeatedly, theological reasons are provided to support Darwin's conclusion. ID authors have drawn attention to this style of argument: notably Nelson (1998) and Hunter (2001).

Once it is acknowledged that theological arguments can be used in scientific discourse to reject design and advance evolution, then it follows that responses to these arguments which affirm design are also, in principle, legitimate within science. This is not, of course, what Kutschera and his colleagues want. Significantly, Darwin advocates never interact with ID authors about these matters.

Continuing with the core theme of Kutschera's paper, Darwin's metaphysical stance is described as philosophical naturalism. This means that only natural causes are admitted within science (although exceptions are permitted for archaeological science and forensic science where evidences of intelligent design are always of great interest). ID advocates have generally agreed with Kutschera regarding Darwin's philosophical naturalism, but not with the way he has reached this conclusion.

For more, go here.


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