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Aug 29, 2005

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will spotts

A couple observations:

"David Hume . . . believed it was inappropriate to attribute purpose to anything that could be studied by the scientific method."

There is an irony in this -- as it is purpose that is said to drive evolutionary mechanisms. Well -- people would not choose to use this word, but that is what it amounts to. Adaptations are passed on BECAUSE they serve a purpose that confers benefit in the sense of making successful reproduction more likely. Thus a lot of study is focused on what benefit a particular thing confers -- e.g. what is its purpose?

Also, catastrophism seems to play a greater role than most in the 19th and early 20th centuries believed. (i.e. periods of mass extinction, and sudden, inexplicable (i.e. dramatic and unforseen) change. These changes are too complicated for the gradual, one mutation at a time notion -- each of the individual mutations would not convey advantage, and would more likely convey liability -- thus, not being passed on.)

Uniformitarian perspectives do not reflect observable reality. (Most especially in social spheres.) Take the development of language for example. This perspective would dictate that older, more "primative" languages were less complex than more recent, developed languages. This is observably not the case.

This perspective also was used for the late dating of John's Gospel. The assumption was that it demonstrated a more sophisticated, and thus later theology. Yet archeological evidence, such as it is, suggests an eariler date of composition. (This perspective also would insist that this was not a product of divine revelation, but of growing human development.)

Denis Hancock

The discovery of fossils representing extinct creatures was a problem to those who believed in the fixity of species. This problem was compounded when the first human fossils were recognized beginning in the mid 1800s.

It was one thing to learn that odd creatures were once on Earth, but no longer. It was quite another to see fossils of humans that were noticeably different from people today.

This gave rise to all sorts of explanations intended to reconcile what was being found in the geological strata and the testimony of Scripture. Were all the fossils deposited by the Flood? Did God put them in the Earth to "test" us?

Or did they result from natural processes? In any event, the paradigm of a recent earth and the fixity of its species became more and more untenable.

Michael Kruse

Will, I think you are tapping into one of the key tensions that I see repeatedly. I think a scientific method requires a uniformitarian perspective. Research would be absurd with out. It is more or less a tool of research. The problem comes when this tool is transformed into a ideological absolute about all of existence. I think that is what is bothering you. I know it bothers me.

All of this touches on the larger question of how God interacts in the world. I have some thoughts to share in furure posts but I am counting on you all to straighten me out.

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