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Friday, February 29, 2008

More from Before Darwin

Another lovely tidbit from Thomson's wonderful book Before Darwin p. 200 in the chapter "This is Atheism":

Atheism in the form of evolutionary ideas opened the door for the discovery and investigation of second cause mechanisms flowing from the properties of material nature ... Evolution was always more than a purely scientific notion, however, and both before and after Charles Darwin its consequences were felt in a larger political context than the narrow debate over Genesis.

Evolution basically refers to change. Whether as an actual mechanism or a metaphor, evolution was an attractive notion to political theorists ...


The final part of the quote reminds me of what Stephen Gould has said, that evolution has more to do with 19th C predilictions than science.

The first part is congruent with Thomson's other 'natural a-theology' comments (that is, evolution couples with atheism inevitably).

But, Thomson is wrong, and I suspect, tendentiously so, in splitting the flowering of modern science from Genesian belief.

The split that had to be made was from Aristoteleanism, with its demands for stasis and a rigid and abstracted notion of perfection, which was then read back into what God 'must' have done. It was this that held back science.

Early modern scientists who took Genesis at its word were not kept from investigation, but were free to openly enquire. One of the great falsehoods of modern paganism (athesim, humanism, materialism versions) is that free enquiry came from itself. It did not, paganism produces an intellectual introversion which stifles enquiry with dogma. The early modern scientists, driven by faith in God's creation, and putting creation into the realm of objective knowledge (which Genesis 1 does), were able to 'open it' to their investigations and could fearlessly go anywhere, knowing who God is as revealed to us definitively in the incarnation.

3 comments:

Eric said...

An example of reading back into Scripture from paganism is (apart from the Gallileo debacle, of course) the confusion between 'kinds' and 'species'.

In the pre-Darwin period it got into people's minds that species, under the then emerging definition, were the same as 'kinds' in Genesis, and that these species could not change: paganism's dead hand on enquiry at work.

Of course, nowhere in Genesis 1 is such nonsense stated or implied.
God made animals grouped into seemingly broad classes called 'kinds'; nothing like today's concept of species, I submit. Those kinds reproduced 'after their kind'. I suggest this indicates that reproduction was within the wide confines of the broad categories: variation was possible, and we know, the possibility of variation is built into all living things: part of the 'loose fit' design of God.

Speciation is, we now know, quite quick. But divergence at the genome level as required by current neoDarwinism is impossibly slow: Haldane's dilemma. The dilemma is that there has not been enough time for evolution to have worked its 'magic'. 4 or 5 billions of years is orders of magnitude insufficient.
Now, there's a problem for you.

Eric said...

Doesn't it burn you up when you see that a comment has been made to your post, then check it and . . oh no . . it was me!! I've just done that very thing. Forgotten I'd added an addendum to my post.

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