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Original Contribution to the Debate,
This review is from: Science Vs. Religion?: Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution (Paperback)I doubt that either creationists or evolutionists will be very comfortable with this book but I suppose it will bother evolutionists more. First of all, Fuller claims that intelligent design (ID) has been behind most of scientific progress, and that Darwin's anti-ID stance is more the exception than the rule to that history. In fact, according to Fuller, a good deal of the history of science has been about trying to get inside the mind of God and, more recently, trying to play God. What this suggests, and here is where Fuller makes life difficult for creationists, the kind of theology that underwrites ID as a science-promoting movement is fundamentally Unitarian, as the greatest scientist of them all, Isaac Newton, himself was. Now, Unitarianism is a sort of heretical offshoot of Christianity (also present in the other monotheistic religions) that veers dangerously close to Humanism and other such anthropocentric visions of reality. This does not bother Fuller in the least, but those more firmly rooted in a traditional Biblical approach to Christianity will have issues with him. What does seem to be true, though, is that it's hard for ID NOT to go down the Unitarian route if it is genuinely trying to promote science, as opposed to being a `science-stopper', as the movement's detractors claim. In other words, Fuller is arguing that science requires a rather specific theological orientation that mainstream religious believer may find hard to accept. But he does agree with the creationists that Darwin's theory of evolution is not necessary, and perhaps even detrimental, to the future of science. Does this make Fuller a `postmodernist'? I don't know. All I know is that only his enemies make the charge. Neither he nor people normally call themselves postmodernists think of Fuller as one. Perhaps you should just read the book!
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Initial post: 23 Oct 2011 10:40:00 BDT
Mr. P. R. Stanbridge says:
Hi Morgan, Thanks for your informative review. I hope you don't mind my ramblings here because I find your view good but I am also rather challenged by the book, but not yet ready to offer a review. I don't think Fuller himself would align with the postmodernist at all - thus his book "Kuhn Vs.Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science" where he clearly states his anti-postmodernist view. In the scheme of things, I think he would align himself with the Critical Realists (I think this is brought out more clearly in his "Knowledge Management Foundations (KMCI Press)" - the KMCI are clearly aligned to Critical Realism). I wonder if there is a big difference between the religious orientation of the earlier scientific thinkers such as Newton and the current ID community. I wonder if the comparison is not entirely useful. The current ID with their wedge strategy are ultimately attempting to bring direct Christian revelation into the mainstream of the scientific method and content. This is clearly not present in Newton, Leibniz and others who while brought in God in their philosophical debates, did not include him at all in their scientific work. I also wonder if Fuller's conclusion would be seen as blasphemy in ID circles - where he is really promoting a completely humanistic approach based on a view *as if* "we were its creators". This is rather nice for conservationists but not so good for Christians who would see this as the ultimate source of sin. For example Francis Schaeffer somewhere said that to believe in God on the basis that it is better for us to base our lives in this way, even though we know it to be false, is to base one's whole life on a known lie!. Fuller is not the only person to in effect accuse Dawkins et al. of a type of straw man argument. But in my experience, while they no where near exhaust (or begin to cover) the multitude of religious positions (even within Christianity) the views that they criticise in my experience are well represented in core evangelical Christianity. But I expect that one of their arguments is that with such diversity of views, one seems to be able to believe whatever one likes. But the difference with natural selection is that while it is not an established fact (contra to Dawkins I suppose) it at least is a scientific program and attempts to verify it forms a key scientific program. Contra now to Fuller, the number of nobel prizes, proportion of papers published or grades of high school science papers by those either not directly working in or citing natural selection or including design as an alternative is really quite beside the point. The example he gives of a high school beating exam grades in Biology and that this school also covers ID is certainly beside the point. There will/can be many reasons for this and I expect the candidates answering exam questions on biology were not quoting Genesis in their answers. The fact that a more sophisticated perspective of natural selection is not always included in school curricula is also beside the point and probably should be lamented.
To me, Fuller is just simply wrong with his claims that science is going down the wrong route with evolution - although it is obviously or at least should be restricted to certain aspects of biology (I think again that Fullers claim that so many papers in Biology don't mention natural selection is beside the point as I would expect that much of the study doesn't require it - but this does not mean that natural selection is not underlying much of the thinking of those biologists responsible for the research. Just like a lot of geology is done without direct mention of continental drift does not indicate that the majority of geologists don't believe in it or that continental drift is a detriment to the future of the subject). To think that theology or theological thinking is an important contribution to scientific thought is a rather strange position to take, which is why I expect, Fuller's views will never form a mainstream philosophy of science. I think Stuart Kauffman's work on the origins of order indicate that one can get complex based emergence without design. His book "Reinventing the Sacred" is also a good antidote to the Dawkins school.
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