In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the (...) supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative. We will discuss five arguments that have been proposed in support of IMN: the argument from the definition of science, the argument from lawful regularity, the science stopper argument, the argument from procedural necessity, and the testability argument. We conclude that IMN, because of its philosophical flaws, proves to be an ill-advised strategy to counter the claims of IDC. Evolutionary scientists are on firmer ground if they discard supernatural explanations on purely evidential grounds, instead of ruling them out by philosophical fiat. (shrink)
Phillip Johnson claims that Creationism is a better explanation of the existence and characteristics of biological species than is evolutionary theory. He argues that the only reason biologists do not recognize that Creationist's negative arguments against Darwinism have proven this is that they are wedded to a biased ideological philosophy —Naturalism — which dogmatically denies the possibility of an intervening creative god. However,Johnson fails to distinguish Ontological Naturalism from Methodological Naturalism. Science makes use of the latter and I show (...) how it is not dogmatic but follows from sound requirements for empirical evidential testing. Furthermore, Johnson has no serious alternative type of positive evidence to offer for Creationism, and purely negative argumentation, despite his attempt to legitimate it, will not suffice. (shrink)
Creationism with respect to fictional entities, i.e., the position according to which ficta are creations of human practices, has recently become the most popular realist account of fictional entities. For it allows one to hold that there are fictional entities while simultaneously giving such entities a respectable metaphysical status, that of abstract artifacts. In this paper, I will draw what are the ontological and semantical consequences of this position, or at least of all its forms that are genuinely creationist. (...) For some people, these consequences will sound as plagues against the position; for some others, especially realists on ficta, they are welcome results. Although I hold that all forms of genuine creationism have these consequences, I will conclude by explaining why I take moderate creationism, according to which ficta are created by means of a reflexive stance on the make-believe practice grounding them, to be the best of these forms. (shrink)
Richard Dawkins has argued on several occasions that bringing up your child religiously is a form of child abuse. According to Dawkins, teaching children about religion is fine (it helps them to understand cultural references, for instance), but indoctrinating children – by which Dawkins means any form of education that teaches religious beliefs as facts – is morally wrong and harmful. Dawkins is not alone: the American theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, for instance, recently argued that teaching Young Earth Creationism (...) (henceforth YEC) is a form of child abuse. Here, I want to focus on the role of parents in instilling religious beliefs in their children, especially beliefs that are incompatible with science, such as YEC. Instead of using the rather laden term “child abuse,” I want to tease apart two questions: Are YEC parents harming their children, and is what they do morally wrong? (shrink)
If you want to challenge or at least weaken the adhesion to a system of values, you can basically adopt two radically opposed rhetorical strategies. Either you will attack the system in a frontal way: for instance, fundamentalists or fascists deny any validity to democratic values and human rights. Or you will pretend to argue from within the system (by saying that you accept some of its basic premises), while subtly distorting the process of reasoning in order to get to (...) your conclusions. If the audience is naïve or poorly informed, you will be able to defend positions that are fundamentally at odds with liberal-democratic values while seeming to argue from inside the system. I would like to show how such a process of “perverse” translation works in the context of the Darwinism/Creationism “controversy”. The attacks on the teaching of evolutionary biology began approximately one century ago. The way Creationists have argued and changed several times their rhetorical strategies seems very interesting to me, in that it exemplifies an important contemporary phenomenon, which I call “perverse translation” or “the wolf in the sheepfold”. (shrink)
When the creationism issue rose to the surface in the late 1970s, an organized opposition to the creationist campaign came from an unexpected source. Local groups of rank and file evolution defenders, led by a retired biology teacher, organized a grassroots network of anti-creationism called the Committees of Correspondence. They basically approached the creationism issue as a political rather than a scientific problem and fought the battle on local fronts, where creationists were heavily engaged in legal campaigns (...) to include their ideas in the public schools. Grassroots anti-creationism was, however, eventually replaced by a centralized national operation with an educational emphasis. In this paper, I will document the development of this neglected part of the creation-evolution controversy and discuss related issues, namely the politics of science that became clearly visible in the course of evolutionists' disputes over anti-creation strategies. (shrink)
In this paper, I describe an approach to the teaching of philosophy of science that draws normally reluctant students into controversial issues in the philosophy of science. I have found that the topic of creationism is a good vehicle for introducing students to the more difficult issues in philosophy of science. I explore the use of creationism as a case-study in the philosophy of science and detail my own experience in the creationism debate.
This essay explains why creationism about fictional characters is an abject failure. Creationism about fictional characters is the view that fictional objects are created by the authors of the novels in which they first appear. This essay shows that, when the details of creationism are filled in, the hypothesis becomes far more puzzling than the linguistic data it is used to explain. No matter how the creationist identifies where, when and how fictional objects are created, the proposal (...) conflicts with other strong intuitions we have about fictional characters. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Technorati What's this? (shrink)
That Intelligent Design Creationism rejects the methodological naturalism of modern science in favor of a premodern supernaturalist worldview is well documented and by now well known. An irony that has not been sufficiently appreciated, however, is the way that ID Creationists try to advance their premodern view by adopting (if only tactically) a radical postmodern perspective. This paper will reveal the deep threads of postmodernism that run through the ID Creationist movement’s arguments, as evidenced in the writings and interviews (...) of its key leaders. Seeing their arguments and activities from this perspective highlights the danger to science posed by both ID Creationism and radical postmodernism. (shrink)
Until recently, little attention has been paid in the school classroom to creationism and almost none to intelligent design. However, creationism and possibly intelligent design appear to be on the increase and there are indications that there are more countries in which schools are becoming battle-grounds over them. I begin by examining whether creationism and intelligent design are controversial issues, drawing on Robert Dearden's epistemic criterion of the controversial and more recent responses to and defences of this. (...) I then examine whether the notion of ‘worldviews’ in the context of creationism is a useful one by considering the film March of the Penguins. I conclude that the ‘worldviews’ perspective on creationism is useful for two reasons: first it indicates the difficulty of using the criterion of reason to decide whether an issue is controversial or not; secondly, it suggests that standard ways of addressing the diversity of student views in a science classroom may be inadequate. I close by examining the implications of this view for teaching in science lessons and elsewhere, for example in religious education lessons and citizenship lessons and at primary level where subject divisions cannot be made in so clear-cut a manner. (shrink)
Teach the Controversy? Kansas just can't get a break. In 1999, the state became an international laughingstock when creationists on the State Board of Education, led by Steve Abrams, gutted what would have been a model science curriculum, removing the theme of evolution as well as mentions of the Big Bang and the geological timescale (Pennock, 1999b, 2000). These board members and the creationist groups that assisted them seemed to confirm every stereotype of Kansas as an ignorant backwater. The creationists (...) lost their majority on the Board in the next election when sensible I~sans made their voices heard, and the standat'ds were righted. But freedom Ã¢â¬â in this case, freedom from the tyranny of ignoranceÃ¢â¬â demands eternal vigilance, and science defenders were too quick to test on theit laurels. Another election passed and in 2005 Steve Abrams and his allies. were at.. (shrink)
Recent events indicate that creationists are becoming increasingly active in the Netherlands. This article offers an overview of these events. First, I discuss the introduction of intelligent-design (ID) creationism into the Dutch public sphere by a renowned physicist, Cees Dekker. Later, Dekker himself shifted toward a more evolution-friendly position, theistic evolution. Second, we see how Dekker was followed in this shift by Andries Knevel, an important figure within the Dutch evangelical broadcasting group, the Evangelische Omroep (EO). His conversion to (...) ID, and subsequently to theistic evolution, brought him into conflict with young-Earth creationists who still strongly identify themselves with the EO. Third, provoked by the dissidence of prominent orthodox believers and the celebrations surrounding the Darwin year, young-Earth creationists became very visible. After three decades of relative silence, they started a project to make sure that the Dutch people would hear of the “alternatives” to evolutionary theory. This article (1) adds to the growing number of reports on creationists' increased activity in Europe and (2) suggests that ID, in a context different from the United States, did not unite but rather divided the Dutch orthodox Protestant community. (shrink)
Creationism is the conjunction of the following theses: (i) fictional individuals (e.g. Sherlock Holmes) actually exist; (ii) fictional names (e.g., 'Holmes') are at least sometimes genuinely referential; (iii) fictional individuals are the creations of the authors who first wrote (or spoke, etc.) about them. CA Creationism is the conjunction of (i) - (iii) and the following thesis: (iv) fictional individuals are contingently existing abstracta; they are non-concrete artifacts of our world and various other possible worlds. TakashiYagisawa has recently (...) provided a number of arguments designed to show that Creationism is unjustified. I here critically examine three of his challenges to CA Creationism. I argue that each fails to undermine this version of Creationism. (shrink)
Key Words creation science, evolution education s Abstract Creationism, the rejection of evolution in favor of supernatural design, comes in many varieties besides the common young-earth Genesis version. Creationist attacks on science education have been evolving in the last few years through the alliance of different varieties. Instead of calls to teach “creation science,” one now ﬁnds lobbying for “intelligent design” (ID). Guided by the Discovery Institute’s “Wedge strategy,” the ID movement aims to overturn evolution and what it sees (...) as a pernicious materialist worldview and to renew a theistic foundation to Western culture, in which human beings are recognized as being created in the image of God. Common ID arguments involving scientiﬁc naturalism, “irreducible complexity,” “complex speciﬁed information,” and “icons of evolution,” have been thoroughly examined and refuted. Nevertheless, from Kansas to Ohio to the U.S. Congress, ID continues lobbying to teach the controversy, and scientists need to be ready to defend good evolution education. (shrink)
My answer to the title question is a qualified "Yes." A certain rare form of creationism is in principle testable and compatible with natural law, and therefore scientific, however, this is a moot point. I arrive at my conclusions purely through thought experiments. But before getting to that, let us first consider the issues of what creationism is and what it means for a theory to be scientific.
home page other lists my email address Philip Dorrell, 6 September 2005 At talk.origins there is a list of creationist claims with links to accompanying responses. The responses attempt to refute the corresponding claims, but there are errors in some of the refutations. Each item below starts with a link to the section of the talk.origins site that responds to a particular creationist claim.
I claim that our desire to be special motivates us to suppose that if we were not God created, we must be self-created. I also claim that Stephen J Gould's claims about punctuated equilibrium, the absence of directional selection, and exaptations, when taken together, lead to kind of secular creationism. I introduce the notion of “adaptive effects” and argue that a focus on the actual physiological and psychological mechanisms that produce adaptations provides a way out of the exaptation dilemma.
In this paper, I want to show that a reasonable thesis on truth in fiction, Fictional Vichianism (FV)—according to which fictional truths are true because they are stipulated to be true—can be positively endorsed if one grounds Kripke’s justification for (FV), that traces back to the idea that names used in fiction never refer to concrete real individuals, into a creationist position on fictional entities that allows for a distinction between the pretending and the characterizing use of fiction-involving sentences. Thus, (...) sticking to (FV) provides a reason for a metaphysically moderate ontological realism on fictional entities. (shrink)
Creationism is an ancient worldview that was incorporated into ancient religious doctrines and survived in the western world due to its domination by religious institution such as the Catholic and Protestant Churches. Slowly, with the development of democratic political systems and science, the church lost its power of dominance over intellectual enterprises, and evolution became accepted by the majority as the inherent process in nature. Nevertheless, creationism is still very much alive among various fundamentalist churches and their organizations (...) in the United States. This article discusses the premises of the creationist movement, its varieties, and confronts it with the basic premises, characteristics, and modus operandi of the scientific enterprise. (shrink)
Rethinking “philosophy” to-day, it is necessary to think first of all about ontological foundations of the modern scientific universe description and rethink them on the ground of modern scientific knowledge, because until now there is no any precise scientific conception of the structure of the universe, of reasons and movingforces of its permanent evolution. All of it create basis to propose various unscientific ideas of creationism. Until now most of philosophers associate the motion of Matter on the whole only (...) with its motion in space and in time, mixing philosophical and physical aspects of these two principle categories. Generally speaking, the present-day ontological model of understanding the World, the Universe is constructed purely on the basis of only these two fundamental categories. However, a more deep reflection of the essence of Being, if to realize it on the basis of only these two global categories, brings us to the disappointing conclusion, that in this case we have nothing more except a mechanical motion, i.e. spatial displacement of a material point (or a system of points) relatively some point of counting off. To make it normal and logic we should add to the ontological model one more essential part – the motion in quality. So, in order to create the full and complete picture of the formation and evolution of the material World it is necessary to observe the motion of material forming in the three equivalentphilosophical categories: in space time quality. The ideas of the new conception of ontological model become actual supplementation of really scientific philosophical knowledge on the way of a more objective ontological comprehension of our Being, of the law of development of the human civilization and the Universe as a whole. This knowledge can be successfully used for the description of the realistic paradigm of Being, in explanations of the meaning of Life. (shrink)
Nature exhibits a rich variety of adaptations. Cells contain complex biomolecular structures, such as proteins, that are exquisitely adapted to perform specific biological functions. Evolutionary biology explains how biomolecular structures evolve. Intelligent design creationists reject evolutionary explanations. They want to believe that all adaptations in nature are the handiwork of God. Their critics aver that “it ain't necessarily so.” The anthology under review is an excellent display of the issues between intelligent design creationists and their critics. I agree with the (...) critics. (shrink)
Intelligent design creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator's interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties. Despite these difficulties and despite ID's defeat in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), ID creationists' continuing efforts to promote the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms threaten both science education and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution. I (...) examine the ID movement's failure to provide either a methodology or a functional epistemology to support their supernaturalism, a deficiency that consequently leaves them without epistemic support for their creationist claims. My examination focuses primarily on ID supporter Francis Beckwith, whose published defenses of teaching ID, as well as his other relevant publications concerning education, law, and public policy, have been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. Beckwith's work exhibits the epistemological deficiencies of the supernaturally grounded views of his ID associates and of supernaturalists in general. I preface my examination of Beckwith's arguments with (1) philosopher of science Susan Haack's clarification of the established naturalistic methodology and epistemology of science and (2) discussions of the views of Beckwith's ID associates Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. Finally, I critique the religious exclusionism that Beckwith shares with his ID associates and the implications of his exclusionism for public policy. (shrink)
Intelligent Design creationism is often criticized for failing to be science because it falls afoul of some demarcation criterion between science and non-science. This paper argues that this objection to Intelligent Design is misplaced because it assumes that a consistent non-theological characterization of Intelligent Design is possible. In contrast, it argues that, if Intelligent Design is taken to be non-theological doctrine, it is not intelligible. Consequently, a demarcation criterion cannot be used to judge its status. This position has the (...) added advantage of providing reasons to reject Intelligent Design creationism without invoking potentially philosophically controversial demarcation criteria. (shrink)
This is an unpublished talk written for a meeting of French philosophers. The paper describes the evolution versus creationism/intelligent design controversy in the U.S. A number of philosophers and scientists try to resolve this issue by sharply distinguishing the realm of science versus any talk of the supernatural. These pro-evolutionists often appeal to science's essential commitment to "methodological naturalism," the view that scientific methodology is essentially committed to naturalism and cannot meaningfully entertain hypotheses concerning the supernatural. I criticize methodological (...) naturalism, suggesting that such an appeal is misguided and counterproductive. I suggest an alternative view of the supernatural consistent with scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Williamson (1986) presents a troublesome example of the contingent a priori ; troublesome, because it does not involve indexicals, and hence cannot be defused via the usual two-dimensional strategies. Here I explore how the example works, via an examination of crucial belief-forming method M, partly in response to Hawthorne (2002) and the questions there raised for 'hyperreliable' belief-forming methods. I suggest that, when used to form a belief, M does its special work through creating a verifying state of affairs which (...) guarantees the truth of the belief thus formed. This creative link can be said to account for the knowledge-conferring status of M. But it also provides us with a way to defuse the purported example of the contingent a priori . The knowledge at issue is only a priori in virtue of this creative link, an importantly different epistemic achievement from standard cases of a priori knowledge. One important moral to be drawn is that the a priori / a posteriori distinction does not appear to be slicing the epistemological beast at its joints. (shrink)
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional individual. So is his favorite pipe. Our pre-theoretical intuition says that neither of them is real. It says that neither of them really, or actually, exists. It also says that there is a sense in which they do exist, namely, a sense in which they exist “in the world of” the Sherlock Holmes stories. Our pre-theoretical intuition says in general of any fictional individual that it does not actually exist but exists “in the world of” (...) the relevant fiction. I wish to defend this pretheoretical intuition. To do so, I need to defend two claims: that fictional individuals do not actually exist, and that they exist “in the world of” the relevant fiction. The aim of this paper is to defend the first claim. (shrink)
Denying Evolution aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly “balanced” treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter for discounting science education and presenting science as scientism to the public and the media. The central part of the (...) book focuses on a series of creationist fallacies (aimed at showing errors of thought, not at deriding) and of mistakes by scientists and science educators. The last part of the book discusses long-term solutions to the problem, from better science teaching at all levels to the necessity of widespread understanding of how the brain works and why people have difficulties with critical thinking. (shrink)
Why is the academy in general, and philosophy in particular, not more involved in the fight against the creationist threat? And why, when a response is offered, is it so curiously ineffective? I argue, by using an analogy with the battle against the Black Knight from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, that the difficulty lies largely in a failure to see the nature of the problem clearly. By modifying the analogy, it is possible to see both why (...) large sections of the academy have remained unmoved and also why many of the reactions to the threat have been so unsuccessful. Finally, I offer some very broad suggestions as to how to modify our approach in light of this new perspective. (shrink)
In this paper I trace Michael Ruse's Booknotes from the first volumeof Biology and Philosophy in 1986 to the present. I deal withboth the style and the content of these booknotes. Ruse paid specialattention to authors outside of the traditional English axis as wellas to feminist writers. He complained that too much attention wasbeing paid to certain topics (e.g., evolutionary ethics, evolutionaryepistemology, the species problem and reduction) while other, moreimportant topics were all but ignored (e.g., natural selection,population genetics, levels of (...) selection and extraterrestrial life).He also dealt with the Darwin Industry. Creationism, his love-haterelationships with several authors and his undiluted love of CharlesDickens. (shrink)