Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Catholic Reactions to Father Coyne's Replacement

My blog entry about Father Funes' statment has been picked up by Inside Scoop, the blog for Ignatius Press. There is very interesting discussion about the language used by scientists to talk about evolution and genes and I think this discussion should be seen by scientists. The discussion mentions a book by David Stove called Darwinian Fairy Tales. The book apparently raises some interesting points about the langauge used by scientists to describe(if only metaphorically) genes, for instance describing genes as "selfish" or "altruistic". Stove was not a creationist of any stripe or even a religious person and he has no truck with ID as near as I can tell. But this looks like an interesting read.

The article quoting Joseph Sobran says:


Stove, who died in 1994, was a noted Australian philosopher. He was neither a scientist nor a creationist, but an atheist. He didn’t entirely reject the theory of evolution, and in fact had great respect for Darwin himself. But as a rigorous practitioner of linguistic analysis, he thought Darwin and his successors, from T.H. Huxley to Richard Dawkins, had relied less on scientific method than on the abuse of language.

The result was what Stove called “Darwinism’s Dilemma.” The facts simply didn’t — and couldn’t — square with the claims of the theory, particularly in its account of human life. And the Darwinians, while claiming to explain evolution and “the descent of man” as an enormous accident of a blind struggle for survival, have had to keep smuggling teleology — purpose — into their arguments.

They reject the idea of God as an intelligent designer, but they persist in using such expressions and metaphors as intelligent genes, selfish genes, tools, tactics, devices, calculated, organized, goal, and design. By implication, these words transfer the notion of purpose from a benign, superhuman God to subhuman entities like genes and “memes.” Dawkins, who posited (he’d say “discovered”) memes, flatly calls “altruism” “something that does not exist in nature.” After all, altruism would be a fatal handicap in the ruthless struggle for survival."

Now personally I think there is a failure to understand that our modern view of natural selection is more general than Darwin's notion and I am not sure that Stove, or Sobran for that matter, really understands the underpinnings of modern evolutionary theory.

Update! More on Catholics and Evolution and the Pope's evolution seminar.

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