Tag Archives: theistic evolution

So scientism = non-theism?

I have concluded that anyone making accusations of “scientism” is just being dishonest. The term is usually used inappropriately, as a straw man, and in an attempt to claim “other ways of knowing” which are preferable to science. (But in a cowardly way, by attempting to discredit the science and not providing support for this “other way”).

But this is really stretching the strawmannery of “scientism.” It’s part of a BioLogos infographic portraying “America’s View on Evolution and Creationism.” It blatantly presents “scientism” as the only alternative to creationist ideas (theistic evolution, intelligent design and creationism)  (See the original inforgraphic at Infographic: America’s View on Evolution and Creationism in Christianity Today or click here for full graphic).) You get the message – if your beliefs don’t rely on the magical thinking of “other ways of knowing” you are guilty of “scientism” – which is a bad thing.

Modern science relies on evidence and reason. It tests and validates its ideas and theories against reality. There is plenty of room for speculation but it’s very much reality driven. So far no scientific theories incorporate gods, angels, leprechauns or fairies. But that is not to say they are excluded – just that so far there is no evidence or need for such entities. If, and when, the evidence arrives we will happily include such ideas. (Just don’t go holding your breath).

But according to this infographic modern science is guilty of “scientism.”

Well, if that’s how you want to define “scientism” I am happy to be declared guilty. But you can’t use that as a term of derision.

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Theistic evolution?

This term gets used a lot – but what does it mean?

In a recent discussion a local supporter (I think) of theistic evolution put it this way: Both “theistic evolutionists” and “atheistic evolutionists” accepts Darwinian evolution as true. Nevertheless – he describes these as two alternatives “theories.” But he admits: “the empirical evidence . . .  will not provide reasons for one position over another. The two positions have to be decided then on other grounds.”

I think this person, and probably most other people who use the “theistic evolution,” label are confused. They are not talking about scientific theories. They are talking about their own religious beliefs. These “other grounds” are religion.

All these people are saying is: “I accept evolutionary science but I am still a theist.”

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What is theistic evolution?

I have just finished reading Ken Miller’s new book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul. Some intelligent design proponents reacted angrily to the publication of this book a few months ago (see Holy war!). Have a look at how upset Bill Dembski was in his Uncommon Descent post Theistic Evolutionists Close Ranks — Let the Bloodletting Begin! But I didn’t find anything in Miller’s book about theistic evolution.

First, let me say that Only a Theory is an excellent book. Ken Miller is a cell biologist well known for his biology text books and for his very effective role in defending evolutionary science against intelligent design (ID)/creationist attacks. He was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover (2004-05) trial in Pennsylvania, USA which found attempts by the Dover School board to introduce ID in science classes illegal. Miller is also a devout Catholic and author of the book Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. His writing is just as clear and enthusiastic as his lectures are.

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