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Am I A Metaphysical Bigot?
International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology ^ | February 15, 2005 | Clifford Sosis

Posted on 07/16/2007 12:59:52 PM PDT by dan1123

In this paper, I will define creationism, talk about the relationship between creationism and science, discuss the way that Karl Popper inspired creationists such as Philip Johnson to see the debate between creationists and scientists that subscribe to evolutionary theory and biblical literalists as philosophical, how this conclusion, combined with reflections on creation science, should be applied to the constitutional debate, and discuss whether or not we can persuade creationists to believe that evolutionary theory is true.

My metaphysical commitment to naturalism is unjustified and may be unjustifiable. I believe that we shouldn’t argue with creationists because we can’t convince them that creationism is false: it seems as if they begin with different metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality. So, the theory of evolution or creationism will appear false if you use the perspective of one to evaluate the other. So, creationists are going to be able to believe in creationism, as far as I can tell, for as long they would like.

I am a metaphysical bigot and you probably are too. What do metaphysical bigots think? We think that creationism is a historical hypothesis: it is not a hypothesis about the future. We come to the conclusion that creationism is not scientific because it, by definition, is a supernatural historical hypothesis. We come to the conclusion that creationism is probably not true because we cannot tell whether or not creationism is, in fact, true.

We believe that the theory of evolution is a historical hypothesis, like creationism, because it is a theory, or, if you prefer, fact about the history of life on earth. We come to the conclusion that evolutionary theory is a stronger historical hypothesis, because, evolutionary theory gives a natural rather than supernatural explanation of the history of life on earth. The theory of evolution is also a hypothesis about the future: it is probably going to tell us how life is going to evolve over time.

Since the theory of evolution can be tested now, with evidence that is available to all of us, provides us with an explanatory mechanism that is still at work, and will be able to explain the development of organisms today, we conclude that the theory of evolution is true. We come to this conclusion due to the fact that we subscribe to metaphysical and methodological naturalism. We recognize that our unjustified commitment to naturalism has determined our answer to these questions.

The fact that we are aware of this fact makes us enlightened and distinguishes us from ordinary metaphysical bigots, such as creationists. This commitment maybe justifiable but we are comfortable with accepting that it is unjustified. We are aware of the internal coherence of the way we justify our claims, and we are also aware that other belief systems, can be coherent, though we do not believe in them, in a literal sense. We value consistency and coherence.

The fact that it is true, we contend, is due to the fact we have the unjustified metaphysical commitments that allow us to talk about the truth, and that if we did not have those commitments, we would not be able to talk about the true. If we did not have any metaphysical commitments, we could not talk about the truth, in any meaningful sense, whatsoever. We believe, given our sociological circumstances, that naturalism is probably true. We can investigate this fact, and understand how we came to believe in naturalism

We can accept that we are not as different from creationists as we would like to believe. We know that if we are going to make metaphysical claims, we need to be dogmatists. We need to posit distinctions as well as assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality that will presuppose what answers are acceptable and unacceptable. So what do we evolutionists do, now that we know that, in the end, incommensurable metaphysical commitments, distinguish us from creationists?

We now can be somewhat certain that we are not going to be able to settle our disputes with creationists and talk to someone else about something far more interesting. We evolutionists should focus our energy on developing evolutionary theory and investigating the natural word. If asked whether or not our world-view is “true” we can say, “Yes, in a sense, but only against my theoretical or metaphysical background.” If asked whether or not creationism is “true” we can say “No, in a sense, against my theoretical or metaphysical background.”

I understand that most of us want to say much more than this, but then again, most of us are not enlightened: "To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."


TOPICS: Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creationism; evolution; intelligentdesign
This seemed to be a fairly well-balanced take on the metaphysical underpinnings of the creattion-evolution debate. Since evolution debates on this forum usually do not address this issue, I think this is worth reading.
1 posted on 07/16/2007 12:59:56 PM PDT by dan1123
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To: dan1123

Getting out the popcorn.....


2 posted on 07/16/2007 1:04:55 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: dan1123

B4L8r


3 posted on 07/16/2007 1:08:12 PM PDT by Kevmo (We need to get away from the Kennedy Wing of the Republican Party ~Duncan Hunter)
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To: dan1123

If an ape falls in the forest, did it evolve?.........


4 posted on 07/16/2007 1:16:51 PM PDT by Red Badger (No wonder Mexico is so filthy. Everybody who does cleaning jobs is HERE!.......)
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To: metmom

5 seconds until the “Christians are all idiots” faux intellectual rhetoric begins anew...... 4... 3.... 2.... 1..... and.....


5 posted on 07/16/2007 1:17:46 PM PDT by Hi Heels (Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.)
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To: dan1123
I understand that most of us want to say much more than this, but then again, most of us are not enlightened: "To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."


6 posted on 07/16/2007 1:18:12 PM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan (NY Times: "fake but accurate")
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To: metmom
The coefficient of gravity's internal coherence that we are aware of makes us enlightened and distinguishes us from ordinary metaphysical bigots.

Creationists maybe justifiable but we are comfortable & uneasy with accepting that it is unjustified at the speed of light, except in the precense of Black Energy.

7 posted on 07/16/2007 1:18:18 PM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: dan1123
it seems as if they begin with different metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality.

That's actually true. The reason the two sides can't debate is because the two sides hold views of the universe that are entirely different and mutually exclusive.

We recognize that our unjustified commitment to naturalism has determined our answer to these questions.

IOW, he has faith that his side is right. Much the way I have faith that my side is right. In short, evolutionism is essentially a religious belief.
8 posted on 07/16/2007 1:20:20 PM PDT by JamesP81 (Keep your friends close; keep your enemies at optimal engagement range)
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To: TexasCajun

You took the words right out of my mouth.
Thanks


9 posted on 07/16/2007 1:25:22 PM PDT by D_Idaho ("For we wrestle not against flesh and blood...")
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To: TexasCajun

Perfessor Corey ? Is that you ? metaphysically ?


10 posted on 07/16/2007 1:28:02 PM PDT by stylin19a (Since bad golf shots come in groups of 3, a 4th bad shot is the start of the next group of 3)
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To: dan1123
If asked whether or not our world-view is “true” we can say, “Yes, in a sense, but only against my theoretical or metaphysical background.” If asked whether or not creationism is “true” we can say “No, in a sense, against my theoretical or metaphysical background.”

Or just be a pragmatist and say that there is no objective truth.

11 posted on 07/16/2007 1:30:55 PM PDT by mjp (Live & let live. I don't want to live in Mexico, Marxico, or Muslimico. Statism & high taxes suck.)
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To: Donald Rumsfeld Fan
Clifford Sosis
12 posted on 07/16/2007 1:32:37 PM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan (NY Times: "fake but accurate")
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To: mjp
Or just be a pragmatist and say that there is no objective truth.

It's one thing to recognize the limits of discerning truth under one set of metaphysical assumptions, but entirely another to deny that one set of metaphysical assumptions might ultimately be correct.
13 posted on 07/16/2007 1:44:46 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: dan1123
How handy ... this is the abstract, and according to the link you provided, the full text is not available.

As a result, we do not know how the author "will define creationism," and thus we cannot discuss what he has to say about it.

Sorry, Dan, but your post is nothing more than an invitation to ignorant finger-flapping.

14 posted on 07/16/2007 1:45:08 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: dan1123

Before I lived in the Bible belt, I was firmly convinced that man had evolved from the apes. Now I am of the opinion that the degree of evolution is too small to waste time in argument.

Paraphrasing Descartes, I think, therefor I am evolving.


15 posted on 07/16/2007 1:52:45 PM PDT by wow (I can't give you a brain. But I can provide a diploma.)
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To: dan1123
I am intrigued at the idea the Naturalism “evolved” from Theist thinking.
16 posted on 07/16/2007 2:04:31 PM PDT by 11th Commandment
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To: dan1123
I am intrigued at the idea that Naturalism “evolved” from Theist thinking.
17 posted on 07/16/2007 2:04:59 PM PDT by 11th Commandment
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To: dan1123

Evolutionists never seem to fail to make the debate between the evolutionists and *Bible literalists*.

I wonder why they never seem to be willing to just make it *creationists* instead instead of forcing it into such a narrowly defined segment that few indeed (if any) fall into it?


18 posted on 07/16/2007 2:53:01 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom
I wonder why they never seem to be willing to just make it *creationists* instead instead of forcing it into such a narrowly defined segment that few indeed (if any) fall into it?

Who are the "non-biblical" creationists?

19 posted on 07/16/2007 3:00:30 PM PDT by blowfish
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To: dan1123

The science of metaphysics was completely developed and resolved about 1780.


20 posted on 07/16/2007 3:02:53 PM PDT by RightWhale (It's Brecht's donkey, not mine)
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To: blowfish

>> Who are the “non-biblical” creationists?

The narrow YEC line is a small subset of creationists that I believe metmom was referring to. There are other interpretations of Genesis 1 that don’t require solar days before there was a sun.


21 posted on 07/16/2007 3:04:25 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: RightWhale
The science of metaphysics was completely developed and resolved about 1780.

Is that some kind of joke? Wasn't metaphysics classified as "not science" since the Enlightenment?
22 posted on 07/16/2007 3:16:59 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: dan1123

read later


23 posted on 07/16/2007 3:17:23 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: blowfish; dan1123

It’s the literalist part and you know it.

Evos would have a lot harder time ridiculing and mocking creationists who are old earth creationists or not *Bible literalists* in an attempt to disparage their views.

Besides, taking the creation account literally, which some do, does not equate with taking the whole Bible literally, which I don’t know of anybody who does. It’s intellectually dishonest to make that conjecture.

There are other religions who have creation accounts, but you knew that, too.


24 posted on 07/16/2007 3:35:14 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom
Evos would have a lot harder time ridiculing and mocking creationists who are old earth creationists or not *Bible literalists* in an attempt to disparage their views.

That's because OECs for the most part hold to the scientific consensus concerning the history of the Earth. They don't try to rewrite public school curricula to reflect a demonstrably false pseudo-history. (And Genesis 1-2 is a pseudo-history; it was adapted from Egyptian creation myths in order to disparage the Egyptian gods and elevate Yahweh.)

Most OECs believe in evolution, so there's no reason for "evos" to mock them. On the other hand, YECs can sometimes be quite vicious to the OECs. Friends like these, I guess.

25 posted on 07/16/2007 3:55:14 PM PDT by Caesar Soze
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To: dan1123
Is that some kind of joke?

We're supposed to think so.

26 posted on 07/16/2007 4:03:40 PM PDT by RightWhale (It's Brecht's donkey, not mine)
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To: Caesar Soze
They don't try to rewrite public school curricula to reflect a demonstrably false pseudo-history.

OK, demonstrate it.

Never mind that the public school system did just fine for decades before the Scopes trial anyway, when the Bible and creation account were taught. We can't have someone breaking the stranglehold the secularists have on public education, now can we?

27 posted on 07/16/2007 4:13:28 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: metmom
OK, demonstrate it.

Never mind that the public school system did just fine for decades before the Scopes trial anyway, when the Bible and creation account were taught. We can't have someone breaking the stranglehold the secularists have on public education, now can we?

1920 the currently accepted (and taught) geological theories dated the Earth at around 200-250 million years. Old earth theories based on geological evidence that conflicted with YEC doctrines had been around and generally accepted for at least 100 years before that.

28 posted on 07/16/2007 4:38:57 PM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: Caesar Soze
(And Genesis 1-2 is a pseudo-history; it was adapted from Egyptian creation myths in order to disparage the Egyptian gods and elevate Yahweh.)

It is possible that the creation account in the Bible addresses the pagan Egyptian gods, just as the Exodus account addresses them. Just as Baal and other pagan gods are addressed later in the Bible. That does not mean that the primary purpose of Genesis was an adaptation of one-upmanship among myth creators. Your link doesn't even support this claim.
29 posted on 07/16/2007 4:52:24 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: tacticalogic
1920 the currently accepted (and taught) geological theories dated the Earth at around 200-250 million years. Old earth theories based on geological evidence that conflicted with YEC doctrines had been around and generally accepted for at least 100 years before that.

Yes, and in the 1920s they also thought that the milky way galaxy was all there is to the universe, and more importantly Harlen Bretz's proposal about the Channeled Scablands was rejected on account of it being too much like a Biblical flood. Geology was married to the idea of uniformitarianism at the time.
30 posted on 07/16/2007 5:06:32 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: dan1123
Yes, and in the 1920s they also thought that the milky way galaxy was all there is to the universe, and more importantly Harlen Bretz's proposal about the Channeled Scablands was rejected on account of it being too much like a Biblical flood. Geology was married to the idea of uniformitarianism at the time.

It seems, then that it was considerably removed from a literal Biblical interpretaion by then, based on theories that predate evolutionary theory by several decades.

31 posted on 07/16/2007 5:18:15 PM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: tacticalogic
It seems, then that it was considerably removed from a literal Biblical interpretaion by then, based on theories that predate evolutionary theory by several decades.

Um, the 1920s were considerably after the publication of Origin of Species in 1859. Plus there is a naturalist philosophical push even before Darwin published, due to the changing political nature of the early 1800s.
32 posted on 07/16/2007 5:37:50 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: dan1123

The point was in response to arguments that before Scopes, natural history based on the Biblical account of Creation was taught in public schools, as if Darwin and ToE was solely responsible for “secularizing” science in the classroom.


33 posted on 07/16/2007 5:53:51 PM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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