Evolution and Intelligent Design: August 2006 Archives

One of the bigger difficulties of an old-earth view of the early chapters of Genesis is how to deal with what seems to to be the biblical teaching that death came into the world through sin, since old-earth views usually involve lots of animals dying, eating each other, and even extinction of species long before humans even existed, never mind sinned. David Heddle has some very interesting thoughts on what old-earthers can say about death, some of them entirely new to me.

The most important suggestion is perhaps that death was already around before the human fall because of the earlier angelic fall, but this was not death for humans. That's what made Eden special. What separates Eden from the rest of the world on the young-earth view? If there's no good answer to that (and there are some answers in the comments, but nothing as huge as death), then this problem, originally against old-earth views, one of the few that I consider serious enough to worry about) actually favors old-earth views on one score rather than undermining them.

Uncertainty about what the original autographs said is no argument against inerrantism about what the original autographs said, not just because whether the original has errors is independent of whether we know what the original said. Kenny Pearce offers some Bayesian probabilistic reasons for concluding that a doctrine of inerrancy might still make a difference epistemically about particularly propositions despite uncertainty about whether the original autographs teach those propositions. He applies this to doctrinal issues that inerrantists who accept some principle of sola scriptura might nevertheless dispute, and then he applies it to science and evolution. I don't really know any Bayesian probability, so I can't really evaluate this in those terms, but what he's saying seems right to me in general.

I've cross-posted this at Prosblogion, so you might want to check the comments there to see if it generates a good, higher-end philosophical discussion.

Joe Carter seems to have gotten a little weary of people who constantly accuse ID defenders of committing the No True Scotsman fallacy every time they try to point out a straw man argument. So he turns it against some of the ID opposition.

I do think this gets to a real inconsistency of labeling among a certain kind of ID opponent. It's the No True Scotsman fallacy when ID proponents want to call an anti-ID argument a straw man. That's supposed to stop debate about what most ID arguments actually involve and therefore allow the dysphemistic labeling the anti-ID crowd wants to use. But then it's not the No True Scotsman fallacy when someone offers a parochial and positivistic account of what can fall under the heading of scientific reasoning, tailor-made to rule out anything remotely like ID.

It's noteworthy that such definitions also rule out any other kinds of scientific reasoning that only logical positivism would count as not science (because it's metaphysics, a dirty word for positivists) but most scientists would easily call science. See here and here for more on that. I think that's an inconsistency in science about what counts as scientific reasoning. But the more poignant issue here is that those who insist that there's no true Christianity becaue of different conceptions of Christianity and no true intelligent design argument because there are different versions of ID will then insist that there are those who occupy the scientific profession but aren't true scientists. That's an inconsistency on the popular level of those who criticize ID proponents' defenses for doing something they themselves regularly do. That hadn't occurred to me until I read Joe's post, but I think he's right.

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