This essay examines the relation of Darwin's orchids book to a central persuasive flaw in theOrigin: Its inability to give variation sufficient “presence” to break the hold of “design” in the mind of the reader. Darwin characterized the orchids book as “a flank movement on the enemy”; this essay identifies the “enemy” as Paley's naturaltheology and the “flank” as thetopoi, maxims, and habits of perception that led Darwin's colleagues and contemporaries to see design in nature. Moreover, this (...) essay examines three aspects of rhetorical timing pertinent toOrchids - time askairos, time as adequate duration, and time as transformation - and then relates those features to Robert Cox's Heideggerian logic of repetition, disavowal, and transcendence. The essay concludes with implications of the tactical and temporal aspects of Darwin's reasoning for understanding both the logic of science and of Darwin as a rhetorical artist. (shrink)
This is the outline: Introduction : le praticien d’une science-philosophie; Épiphénoménisme retourné et subjectivité délocalisée; Dieu est-il jamais inféré par la science ?; La question du panthéisme; Le pilotage axiologique et la parabole mécaniste; L'unité domaniale comme ce qui reste en dehors de la science.
In the current dialogue of “science and religion,” it is widely assumed that the thoughts of Darwinists and that of atheists overlap. However, Jerry Fodor, a full-fledged atheist, recently announced a war against Darwinism with his atheistic campaign. Prima facie, this “civil war” might offer a chance for theists: If Fodor is right, Darwinistic atheism will lose the cover of Darwinism and become less tenable. This paper provides a more pessimistic evaluation of the situation by explaining the following: Fodor’s criticism (...) of adaptationism (as the backbone of Darwinism), viz., his refutation of any counterfactual-supporting laws on the macro-evolutionary level, implies that a law-maker is dispensable on this level. This will either encourage skepticism against the omniscience (at least that concerning the future of macro-evolution) of the Creator, or render the notion of God less appealing. (shrink)
The argument from design stands as one of the most intuitively compelling arguments for the existence of a divine Creator. Yet, for many scientists and philosophers, Hume's critique and Darwin's theory of natural selection have definitely undermined the idea that we can draw any analogy from design in artifacts to design in nature. Here, we examine empirical studies from developmental and experimental psychology to investigate the cognitive basis of the design argument. From this it becomes clear that humans spontaneously (...) discern purpose in nature. When constructed theologically and philosophically correctly, the design argument is not presented as conclusive evidence for God's existence but rather as an abductive, probabilistic argument. We examine the cognitive basis of probabilistic judgments in relationship to naturaltheology. Placing emphasis on how people assess improbable events, we clarify the intuitive appeal of Paley's watch analogy. We conclude that the reason why some scientists find the design argument compelling and others do not lies not in any intrinsic differences in assessing design in nature but rather in the prior probability they place on complexity being produced by chance events or by a Creator. This difference provides atheists and theists with a rational basis for disagreement. (shrink)
In ‘The Presuppositions of Religious Pluralism and the Need for NaturalTheology’ I argue that there are four important presuppositions behind John Hick’s form of religious pluralism that successfully support it against what I call fideistic exclusivism. These are i) the ought/can principle, ii) the universality of religious experience, iii) the universality of redemptive change, and iv) a view of how God (the Eternal) would do things. I then argue that if these are more fully developed they support (...) a different kind of exclusivism, what I call rational exclusivism, and become defeaters for pluralism. In order to explain rational exclusivism and its dependence on these presuppositions I consider philosophers J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga, who offer arguments for their forms of exclusivism but I maintain that they continue to rely on fideism at important points. I then give an example of how knowledge of the Eternal can be achieved. (shrink)
Scotus’ naturaltheology has distinctive claims: (i) that we can reason demonstratively to the necessary existence and nature of God from what is actually so; but not from imagined situations, or from conceivability-to-us; rather, only from the possibility logically required for what we know actually to be so; (ii) that there is a univocal transcendental notion of being; (iii) that there are disjunctive transcendental notions that apply exclusively to everything, like ‘contingent/necessary,’ and such that the inferior cannot have (...) a case unless the superior does; (iv) that an a priori demonstration of the existence of God is impossible because there is nothing explanatorily prior to the divine being, and so, reasoning must be a posteriori, from the real dependences among things we perceive to the possibility of an absolutely First Being (The First Principle); (v) that such a being cannot be possible without existing necessarily; and (vi) that the First Being (God) is simple, omni-intelligent, free (spontaneous), omnipotent and, positively infinite; and moreover, (vii) that there is a formal distinction, that is more than a distinction within our concepts or definitions, among the divine attributes. He makes that first point obvious throughout his several treatments, that one cannot reliably reason from conceptual consistency for us to the real and formal possibility or necessity of something; one must reason only to those necessities that are conditions of the possibility of what is known to be actual. The schema of the reasoning is, in a word, that “only the existence of God can make an effect even possible”. Thus, it is explicitly incorrect to classify him along with St Anselm, Descartes and Leibniz, among those who reason a priori to the being of God. He characteristically and deftly argues by indirect proof. He supposes the opposite of his intended conclusion and deduces a contradiction between that supposition and certain self-evident, or previously proved propositions, thus, getting his own conclusion by using the principle that whatever entails the denial of what is already known to be so, is false and its opposite is true, “si negatur negatio, ponitur affirmatio.” He also uses the argument form, “ if ‘p’ is not necessary, then ‘not-p’ is possible”.. (shrink)
Abstract This essay is in response to Professor Celia Deane-Drummond's 2012 Boyle lectures. The first part calls attention to the value and significance of her “sophianic theo-drama hypothesis” for the contemporary engagement between Christian theology and evolutionary science. In a sense, her proposal itself is a religious “adaptation” to changes within an international, interdisciplinary academic environment. The second part of the essay explores the rapidly shrinking “niche” of Christian naturaltheology and briefly summarizes an alternative set of (...) hypotheses from the biocultural sciences of religion. (shrink)
Arguments in naturaltheology have recently increased in their number and level of sophistication. However, there has not been much analysis of the ways in which these arguments should be evaluated as good, taken collectively or individually. After providing an overview of some proposed goals and good-making criteria for arguments in naturaltheology, we provide an analysis that stands as a corrective to some of the ill-formed standards that are currently in circulation. Specifically, our analysis focuses (...) on the relation between the veracity of the premises and their relation to the conclusion of an argument. In addition to providing a clearer account of what makes an argument good, an upshot of our account is that there remain positive contributions for "weak" arguments, especially within cumulative case arguments in ramified naturaltheology. (shrink)
In the present paper I address two signiﬁcant and prevalent errors concerning to naturaltheology within the Reformed theological tradition. First, contrary to Alvin Plantinga, I argue that the idea of properly basic theistic belief has not motivated or otherwise grounded opposition to naturaltheology within the Reformed tradition. There is, in fact, a Reformed endorsement of naturaltheology grounded in the notion that theistic belief can be properly basic. Secondly, I argue that late (...) nineteenth- and twentieth-century Reformed criticisms of naturaltheology do not constitute an objection to naturaltheology as such but rather an objection to naturaltheology construed in a particular way. I explore the nature of this objection and its compatibility with an alternative understanding of naturaltheology. (shrink)
Karl Barth and the displacement of natural law in contemporary Protestant theology -- Development of the natural-law tradition through the high Middle Ages -- John Calvin and the natural knowledge of God the Creator -- Peter Martyr Vermigli and the natural knowledge of God the Creator -- Natural law in the thought of Johannes Althusius -- Francis Turretin and the natural knowledge of God the Creator.
Recent responses to evidential formulations of the argument from evil have emphasized the possible limitations on human cognitive access to the goods and evils that might be connected with various wordly states of affairs. This emphasis, I argue, is a twin-edged sword, as it imperils a popular form of naturaltheology. I conclude by arguing that the popularity enjoyed by Reformed Epistemology does not detract from the significance of this result, since Reformed Epistemology is not inimical to (...) class='Hi'>naturaltheology, and Reformists themselves concede the usefulness of theistic proofs. (shrink)
Most streams of Christianity have emphasized the unknowability of God, but they have also asserted that Christ is the criterion through whom we may have limited access to the depths of God, and through whose life and death we can formulate the doctrine of God as Triune. This standpoint, however, leads to certain complications regarding ‘translating’ the Christian message to adherents of other religious traditions, and in particular the question, ‘Why do you accept Christ as the criterion?’, is one that (...) Christian thinkers have attempted to answer in different ways. There are two influential responses to this query in recent Christian thought: an ‘evidentialist’ approach which gradually moves from a theistic metaphysics to a Christ-centred soteriology, and an ‘unapologetic’ standpoint which takes God's self-disclosure in Christ as the perspectival lens through which to view the world. The opposition between these two groups is primarily over the status of ‘naturaltheology’, that is, whether we may speak of a ‘natural’ reason, which human beings possess even outside the circle of the Christian revelation, and through which they may arrive at some minimalist understanding of the divine reality. I outline the status of ‘naturaltheology’ in these strands of contemporary Christian thought, from Barthian ‘Christomonism’ to post-liberal theology to Reformed epistemology, and suggest certain problems within these standpoints which indicate the need for an appropriately qualified ‘naturaltheology’. Most of the criticisms leveled against ‘naturaltheology’, whether from secular philosophers or from Christian theologians themselves, can be put in two groups: first, the arguments for God's existence are logically flawed, and, second, even if they succeed they do not point to the Triune God that Christians worship. In contrast to such an old-fashioned ‘naturaltheology’ which allegedly starts from premises self-evidently true for all rational agents and leads through an inexorable logic to God, the qualified version is an attempt to spell out the doctrinal beliefs of Christianity such as the existence of a personal God who interacts with human beings in different ways, and outline the reasons offered in defence of such statements. In other words, without denying that Christian doctrines operate at one level as the grammatical rules which structure the Christian discourse, such a naturaltheology insists on the importance of the question of whether these utterances are true, in the sense that they refer to an objective reality which is independent of the Christian life-world. Such a ‘naturaltheology’, as the discussion will emphasize, is not an optional extra but follows in fact from the internal logic of the Christian position on the universality of God's salvific reach. (shrink)
First it is argued that the linkage of naturaltheology to epistemology is invalid historically, epistemologically and metaphysically. Second it is argued that knowledge claims about the ultimate cause of everything should be evaluated not in terms of justified true belief but in terms of the intellectual virtue of wisdom.
I deliberately choose a provocative title for this article. I’m sure some of you thought, when reading the title, that there must have been some sort of typo. ”The place of naturaltheology in Lutheran thought”? Isn’t that like addressing the place of Marxism is modern conservative thought, or the place of astrology in modern physics? Surely, there is no place for naturaltheology, for philosophical attempts to demonstrate the existence of God, in Lutheran thought, with (...) its emphasis on reason over faith, on the lived experience of a relationship with 1 NaturalTheology in Lutheran Thought.. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a critique of Alvin Plantinga’s well known and widely accepted contention that his “Reformed” objection to naturaltheology can plausibly be said to derive from the writings of John Calvin and traditional Reformed theologians generally. I argue that although there is indeed a traditional Reformed objection to naturaltheology, Plantinga’s own objection is very different from and, in fact, incompatible with, it. I conclude that whatever the merits of Plantinga’s own position, (...) it should not be confounded with that of Calvin or the Reformed tradition. (shrink)
This paper comments on the other papers in this special issue of ’Faith and Philosophy’ on naturaltheology. It claims that most people today need both bare naturaltheology (to show that there is a God) and ramified naturaltheology (to establish detailed doctrinal claims), and that Christian tradition has generally claimed that cogent arguments of naturaltheology (of both kinds) are available. Plantinga’s "dwindling probabilities" objection against ramified naturaltheology (...) is shown to have no force when different pieces of evidence are fed into the arguments at different stages. But showing the cogency of arguments of naturaltheology involves the lengthy process of helping people to see the correctness of certain moral views. (shrink)
This article seeks a new way to conceptualise the 'classic' work in the history of science, and suggests that the use of publishing history might help avoid the antagonism which surrounded the literary canon wars. It concentrates on the widely acknowledged concept that the key to the classic work is the fact of its being read over a prolonged period of time. Continued reading implies that a work is able to remain relevant to later generations of readers, and, although some (...) of this depends upon the openness of the original text, much more depends on the actions of subsequent publishers and editors in repackaging the work for later audiences.This is illustrated through an examination of the long publishing history of William Paley's Naturaltheology (1802). Over the course of the century, Naturaltheology was read as a work of gentlemanly naturaltheology, as a work which could be used in a formal or informal education in science, and as a work of Christian apologetic. These transformations occurred because of the actions of the later publishers and editors who had to make the work suit the current interests of the literary marketplace. Comparisons are made to Constitution of man, Vestiges of the natural history of creation and Origin of species. (shrink)
Leibniz was writing his "Discourse on the NaturalTheology of the Chinese" as the Leibniz-Clarke Controversy developed. Both were terminated by his death. These two fronts show interesting doctrinal correlations. The first is Leibniz' concern for the "decadence of natural religion." The dispute with Clarke began with it, and the Discourse is a defense of Chinese natural religion in order to show its agreement with Christian natural religion. The Controversy can be summed up as "clockmaker (...) God versus idle God." Leibniz wants to escape from the perverse consequences that all criticism of divine voluntarism seems to cause. Thus, his elaboration is directed at a distinct concept of a God that rules without interposing, a supramundane intelligence. And the Leibnizian interpretation of the naturaltheology of the Chinese can be viewed the same way: it emphasizes a First Principle, Li, which rules without interposing. (shrink)
Matthew D. Eddy and David Knight’s new edition of William Paley’s NaturalTheology deserves to become the standard scholarly edition of what is a historically, theologically, and philosophically important work, despite a certain neglect of philosophical issues on the part of the editors.
Although the second and third University Discourses in Newman’s Idea of a University are well known for according theology a place in a university education by showing the relationship of theology to the other sciences, this essay points out that Newman was also arguing against the “naturaltheology” of British thinkers like William Paley, Lord Brougham, Sir Robert Peel, and Bishop Edward Maltby, who maintained that the study of the natural sciences would necessarily lead to (...) religion; Newman objected that this kind of “naturaltheology” could easily lead to deism or pantheism. (shrink)
It should be clear by now the extent to which many features of Thorpe's interpretation of animal behavior and of the animal mind rested, at bottom, not simply on conventional scientific proofs but on interpretive inferences, which in turn rested on a willingress to make extensions of human experience to animals. This, in turn, rested on his view of evolution and his view of reality. And these were governed by his naturaltheology, which was the fundamental stratum of (...) his intellectual experience.Contrary to the scientific ethos, which restricts theory choice to scientific issues alone, Thorpe's career suggests that the actual reasons for theory choice among scientists often are not limited to science, but are multiple and may sometimes be difficult to discover. It is largely because Thorpe took a public part in the naturaltheology enterprise that we can know something about his religious beliefs and so can see their probable influence on his scientific decisions. Similar beliefs of other scientists are sometimes harder to get at. Most may be practically beyond discovery, for the ethos of science has discouraged public professions of personal belief in relation to scientific work.101 Yet does it seem plausible that, for example, the restriction of self-consciousness to humans by some scientists is a purely scientific decision?102 Surely not, any more than that the strong influence of naturaltheology on Thorpe's thought means that he was not a good scientist. His naturaltheology may have led him into incautious enthusiasms regarding the animal mind — such as the potential if unrealizable linguistic ability of chimpanzees — through a bias in favor of the continuity of emergents in a progressive evolutionary system, just as it led him to advocate animal consciousness long before the recent upsurge of interest, but the scientific integrity of his work overall is unimpeachable. And yet, that work is not comprehensible historically as science alone. Personal philosophy must not be discounted in writing the history of recent science. This somewhat obvious conclusion (obvious to historians of science) needs emphasis, for we are still prone to think that the sciences of our own time provide their own internal dynamic that is in itself sufficient to account for their content and development. (shrink)
Summary The object of this study is to analyse certain aspects of the debate between David Brewster and William Whewell concerning the probability of extra-terrestrial life, in order to illustrate the nature, constitution and condition of naturaltheology in the decades immediately preceding the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin's Origin of species. The argument is directed against a stylised picture of naturaltheology which has been drawn from a backward projection of the Darwinian antithesis between (...)natural selection and certain forms of the design argument. Contrary to the popular image of naturaltheology as an essentially static, autonomous and monolithic set of presuppositions about the existence of design in nature, the paper underlines the existence of a fundamental divergence of strategies within naturaltheology, a divergence that, in the case of Brewster and Whewell, can be correlated with the religious cultures to which they most closely belonged. The fact that, in the plurality of worlds debate, their respective positions became mutually exclusive suggests that the fragmented and disordered state of naturaltheology, only too apparent before the Darwinian impact, was occasioned as much by the ulterior problem of rationalising the excessive space of the astronomers and the excessive time of the geologists as it was by any principle of the uniformity of nature in the biological sphere. The argument is substantiated with particular reference to the breakdown in communication as Brewster and Whewell developed conflicting strategies to expose the ?development hypothesis? that had appeared in Vestiges. Their altercation also reveals a certain conflict of status concerning the conclusions of astronomy and geology which, in turn, suggests that tensions between the physical and life sciences were not peculiar to the period following the publication of Darwin's theory. (shrink)
About Aquinas: St Thomas Aquinas lived from 1224/5 to 1274, mostly in his native Italy but for a time in France. He was the greatest of the medieval philosopher/theologians, and one of the most important of all Western thinkers. His most famous books are the two summaries of his teachings, the Summa contra gentiles and the Summa theologiae. -/- About this book: Norman Kretzmann expounds and criticizes Aquinas's naturaltheology of creation, which is `natural' (or philosophical) in (...) virtue of Aquinas's having developed it without depending on the data of Scripture. The Metaphysics of Creation is a continuation of the project Kretzmann began in The Metaphysics of Theism, moving the focus from the first to the second book of Aquinas's Summa contra gentiles. -/- Here we find Aquinas building upon his account of the existence and nature of God, arguing that the existence of things other than God must be explained by divine creation out of nothing. He develops arguments to identify God's motivation for creating, to defend the possibility of a beginningless created universe, and to explain the origin of species. He then focuses exclusively on creatures with intellects, with the result that more than half of his naturaltheology of creation constitutes a philosophy of mind. Kretzmann gives a masterful guide through all these arguments. As before, he not only expounds Aquinas's naturaltheology, but advocates it as the best historical instance available to us. (shrink)
About Aquinas: St Thomas Aquinas lived from 1224/5 to 1274, mostly in his native Italy but for a time in France. He was the greatest of the medieval philosopher/theologians, and one of the most important of all Western thinkers. His most famous books are the two summaries of his teachings, the Summa contra gentiles and the Summa theologiae. -/- About the book: The Metaphysics of Theism presents an explanation and evaluation of Aquinas's naturaltheology, the paradigm of which (...) is the first book of the Summa contra gentiles. But in addition to considering this as a monumental achievement of medieval philosophy, Norman Kretzmann approaches it as a continuing enterprise which can be developed with considerable benefit in contemporary philosophy. Professor Kretzmann follows Aquinas in seeing naturaltheology as the means of integrating philosophy and theology. What makes this enterprise naturaltheology is its forgoing of appeals to revelation as evidence for the truth of propositions. What makes it naturaltheology is its agenda: to investigate, by means of analysis and argument, not only the existence and nature of God but also the relation of everything else--especially human nature and behaviour--to God considered as reality's first principle. Professor Kretzmann argues that naturaltheology offers the only route by which philosophers can, as philosophers, approach theological propositions, and that the one presented in this book is the best available naturaltheology. (shrink)
This paper considers two related claims in the work of D. Z. Phillips: that commitment to God precludes a distinction between the commitment and the grounds for the commitment, and that belief and understanding are the same in religion. Both these claims motivate Phillips’s rejection of naturaltheology. I examine these claims by analyzing the notion of commitment, discussing what is involved in making a commitment to a worldview, why commitment is necessary at all in religion, levels of (...) commitment, and commitment and justification. I show that Phillips fails to distinguish between adopting a hypothesis, where justification would be germane, and committing to the hypothesis after one has adopted it, where justification is not so pressing. This failure fatally undermines his rejection of naturaltheology. (shrink)
If the theological virtues are supernatural they must be said to be in some sense not natural. This suggests the possibility that they are not only not natural but positively unnatural, in that they postulate either an inhumanly high level of achievement or a divine takeover of human life. The solution proposed draws on Peter Forrest’s work inGod Without the Supernatural: A Defence of Scientific Theism, and suggests a naturalistic account of the virtues in question.
The theory of evolution, which provides the conceptual framework for all modern research in organismal biology and informs research in molecular bi- ology, has gone through several stages of expansion and refinement. Darwin and Wallace (1858) of course proposed the original idea, centering on the twin concepts of natural selection and common descent. Shortly thereafter, Wallace and August Weismann worked toward the complete elimination of any Lamarckian vestiges from the theory, leaning in particular on Weismann’s (1893) concept of the (...) separation of soma and germ, resulting in what is some- times referred to as “neo-Darwinism”. (shrink)
In this paper, I attempt to develop the account of intellectual virtues offered by Aristotle and St. Thomas in a way which recognizes faith as a good intellectual habit. I go on to argue that, as a practical matter, this virtue is needed not only in theology, where it provides the basis of further intellectual work, but also in the natural sciences, where it is required given the complexity of the subject matter and the cooperative nature of the (...) enterprise. (shrink)
The paper considers the possibility of an alliance between natural theologians and environmental ethicists in so far as both uphold the goodness of the natural world. Specifically, it examines whether the work of Holmes Rolston III can contribute towards the natural theologian’s treatment of two issues: the nature and extent of the world’s goodness, and the reasons why we may fail to register its goodness fully. The paper argues that the holism and non-anthropocentrism of Rolston’s work throw (...) new light on the values in nature, and on the multiple achievements which are presupposed in any informed appreciation of its goodness. (shrink)
In late September 1838, Darwin read Malthus's Essay on Population, which left him with “a theory by which to work.”115 Yet he waited some twenty years to publish his discovery in the Origin of Species. Those interested in the fine grain of Darwin's development have been curious about this delay. One recent explanation has his hand stayed by fear of reaction to the materialist implications of linking man with animals. “Darwin sensed,” according to Howard Gruber, “that some would object to (...) seeing rudiments of human mentality in animals, while others would recoil at the idea of remnants of animality in man.”116 With this link closed, Darwin hung the materialist chain around his own neck, where it rested most uncomfortably. Stephen Gould, supporting Gruber's argument, finds evidence for this reconstruction in Darwin's M and N notebooks, whichinclude many statements showing that he espoused but feared to expose something he perceived as far more heretical than evolution itself: philosophical materialism-the postulate that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. No notion could be more upsetting to the deepest traditions of Western thought than the statement that mind-however complex and powerful-is simply a product of brain.117The proferred hypothesis suggests, then, that Darwin was acutely sensible of the social consequences of equating men with animals and therefore mind with brian, and that he thus shied from publically revealing his views until the intellectual climate became more tolerant.The history I have examined makes this hypothesis implausible. Even if Darwin warily explored the implications of his emerging theory in his notebooks, his subsequent study of Fleming, Wells, Brougham, and Kirby should have quieted any trepidation. If these natural theologians did not flinch at seeing human reason prefigured in the mind of a worm, should Darwin have? Moreover, he recognized in his M notebook that the thesis of evolutionary continuity between men and animals did not require an explicit avowal of his conviction that brain was the agent of thought.118 And in any case, his materialism was of a rather benign sort; at least he so expressed it in an annotation in Abercrombie's Inquiries concerning the Intellectual Powers (1838): “By materialism I mean, merely the intimate connection of thought with form of brain — like kind of attraction with nature of element.”119 This belief would have held little terror for British intellectuals, who were quite familiar — some even comfortable-with Locke's anti-Cartesian argument that there was nothing contradictory in supposing God could make matter to think.120 Finally, even if the intellectual atmosphere of early nineteenth-century Britain were inhospitable to Darwin's brand of materialism, there is little reason to believe he breathed a different air at mid-century while preparing his manuscript.That Darwin should not have feared suspicions of materialism, of course, does not mean that he did not. But I think there were other, more persistent sources of anxiety that kept him from rushing to publish: namely, the several conceptual obstacles he had to overcome if his theory of evolution by natural selection were to be made scientifically acceptable. Prominent among these were the problems surrounding his changing notions of instinct.The inertia of his older ideas about instinct at first made it hard for Darwin to gauge how far the theory of natural selection might be applied to behavior. By the early 1840s he finally felt ready to meet the challenge of the natural theologians by providing a naturalistic explanation for the wonderful instincts of animals. In his “Essays” of 1842 and 1844 one sort of instinct is, however, not considered-that of neuter insects. Yet Darwin seems to have appreciated the difficulties such instincts entailed at least by 1843, when he read Kirby and Spence. He simply required time to work out a solution to a problem he initially perceived as “fatal to my whole theory.” Even while writing the “Species Book” in the summer of 1857, he was still juggling several possible solutions compatible with natural selection. It was only a short time before he actually turned to work on the Origin of Species that he appears to have settled on a single explanation for the difficulties posed by the instincts of worker bees and ants. The force of his theory of community selection snapped the last critical support of the creationist hypothesis and, conveniently enough, also fractured the generalized Lamarckian account of the evolution of behavior. These results were worth waiting for. (shrink)
FoIlowing an historical oveview of problems which have affected an aesthetic account of God, I examine several contemporary approaches (including that of J.-D. Robert), and conclude with a cautious defense or the use or aesthetic judgement as a means or approaching the existence of God.
There are good and bad reasons to be skeptical of intelligent design. Perhaps the best reason is that intelligent design has yet to establish itself as a thriving scientific research program. Thus far philosophical, theoretical, and foundational concerns have tended to predominate. From the vantage of design advocates, this simply reflects the earliness of the hour and the need to clear the decks before a shift of paradigms can take place. Give us more time, and we'll deliver on the program. (...) That's our promise. Skeptics are at this point in their rights to refuse such promissory notes, albeit without sabotaging our efforts to make good on this promise. (shrink)
In the Dialogues Hume attaches great importance to an objection to the design argument which states, negatively, that from phenomena which embody evil as well as good there can be no analogical inference to the morally perfect deity of traditional theism and, positively, that the proper conclusion as regards moral character is an indifferent designer. The first section of this paper sets out Hume's points, and the next three offer an updating of Hume's objection which will apply to Swinburne's Bayesian (...) form of the design argument. The final section concludes that Hume's objection, suitably developed, holds against most of the main theistic arguments, even in their Bayesian form. (shrink)
This paper first outlines the main ideas of British naturaltheology, and shows the perennial value some of them have kept. It then outlines ways of searching for connections between God and nature, seeking traces of intelligence, first in the context of the setting of the modern ontology of the laws of nature, and then in the context of the design argument. It contrasts the positions of Hume and Paley. A presentation of recent "intelligent design" proposals is then (...) offered, from the perspective of their continuing that tradition of argumentation. They are contrasted with a Millian acount of their leaving the problem of evil unanswered. Behe's concept of irreducible complexity is presented in greater details, followed by Dembski's attempt to turn it into a logically valid mode of inference. Objections stemming from philosophers of science are lastly considered. The nature of life's strategies is in the end found to escape both attempts to have it on one's side. (shrink)
The paper proposes a novel understanding of how Aristotle’s theoretical works complement each other in such a way as to form a genuine system, and this with the immediate (and ostensibly central) aim of addressing a longstanding question regarding Aristotle’s ‘first philosophy’—namely, is Aristotle’s first philosophy a contribution to theology, or to the science of being in general? Aristotle himself seems to suggest that it is in some ways both, but how this can be is a very difficult question. (...) My answer is in some respects a version of one that goes back at least to the middle ages—i.e., that first philosophy is concerned with the gods (and to that extent offers a theology) because the gods are causes and principles of beings precisely insofar as they are beings. The more original aspect of my position lies in my claim that the sort of tension found in the Metaphysics is likewise to be found in many of Aristotle’s physical works. Thus, for example, the De caelo is (I argue) concerned generally with natural beings (= beings susceptible of change), but its discussions are focused largely on the heavenly bodies and the Aristotelian elements insofar as they admit of change with respect to place. Here I claim that the particular objects of discussion are dealt with precisely because they are causes and principles of natural beings as such. Something similar goes, I claim, for the De generatione et corruptione, the general concern of which is a particular species of natural being—i.e., natural beings susceptible of generation and corruption. In this way, I argue, Aristotle successively deals in his theoretical works with those causes and principles of (say) a horse which attach to it insofar as it is a being, those causes and principles of a horse which attach to it insofar as it is a natural being, those causes and principles of a horse which attach to it insofar as it is a perishable natural being, and so on for the lower genera under which the species horse is subsumed. (shrink)