God and Evolution

"the "creation or evolution" dichotomy is needless and false, based upon a category mistake. For example, if I held up a grapefruit and asked, "Is this fruit yellow or is it spherical?", the sentence would make no sense, because "yellow" and "spherical" are not contradictory, but complementary descriptions of the fruit."

"Do you believe in creation or evolution?" has the same problem. Like color and shape, "creation" and "evolution" do not occupy competing categories, but are complementary ways of looking at the universe. "Creation" is a philosophical concept: it is the belief that the universe depends for its existence upon something or some being outside itself. As a philosophical term, "creation" is an empirically untestable belief that makes no claims about how or when the world came to be, or even whether creation was a determinate "act" or an event in time. It is a philosophical tenet compatible with the theological doctrines of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other monotheistic religions. (A contrary and equally untestable philosophical assertion would be that the universe is uncreated, or self-subsistent.)

"By contrast, "evolution" is in the scientific category. It is a statement about physical reality, not a metaphysical claim. Evolution, in its most general sense, is the inference that the universe has changed over time - that stars and galaxies and planets and living things on Earth are different now than they were in the past. In biology, evolution is the principle that all life is related through descent with modification from common ancestors. Science is the process of explaining phenomena by testing explanations against the natural world. The important element is testing, rather than accepting an explanation based on authority or personal preference. Science also restricts itself to explaining things through natural, rather than supernatural, mechanisms."

Peter M. J. Hess, Director, Religious Community Outreach, NCSE

Views: 132

Replies to This Discussion

Hm-mm, what's a categorical mistake? What's Joan up to now?

And so I clicked. Not clicking on the G&E link, I started reading.

Hm-mm 2; Joan's going past creationism and biological evolution.

Oh, these aren't Joan's words. They're from Hess at NCSE.

Hm-mm 3; no one has said an answer is unknowable.

Click on G&E link and read.

I like your response! "What's Joan up to now?" Gee, am I ever up to something? You better believe it ... I look for ideas, concepts, principles wherever I can find them. Way too often I gullibly accept a premise and my beloved friends on Atheist Nexus call me on them to call attention that I need to think more deeply. 

"Hm-mm 3; no one has said an answer is unknowable."  OK, what say you?

I forgot the question.

Having read the article again, I see the question was "Do you believe in creation or evolution?"

Hess answered the question before he examined it. Which of the following does it ask?

1) Do you believe in both creation and evolution?

2) Do you believe in creation or evolution [but not both creation and evolution?]

In the first, the "or" is inclusive; it allows both.

In the second, the "or" is exclusive; it allows one but not both.

Here's a cross-purpose example:

Parent: "Do you want cake or ice cream?" [Exclusive]

Child: "I want both!" [Inclusive]

People who studied philosophy a half-century ago (when I did) were tested on whether we knew how an inclusive "or" differs from an exclusive "or".

Like color and shape, "creation" and "evolution" do not occupy competing categories, but are complementary ways of looking at the universe.

Horse manure.  I don't know who this Peter M. J. Hess is, but he'd be well advised to pull his head out of his nelly.  The Discovery Institute, Creation Ministries International, and too many other religious-based organizations have not only made creation-based claims (irreducible complexity, no transitional fossils), but have attempted to foist their crap on school systems across the United States.  They also attempt to conflate evolution with abiogenesis and the cosmological theories which go to the explanation of the Big Bang.

And I should mention, Mr. Hess: the second you mention metaphysics, forget about your audience, at least if that audience has any interest in rationality.  Metaphysics is a dodge, like spirituality.  It is nothing but woo, attempting to dress itself up as though it were respectable ... and it is not.

Joan, I don't know how Hess got onto the NCSE site, but if I were them, I'd be embarrassed as hell.

The category mistake doesn't make "creation" any more valid or supported: it's like asking "Is this grapefruit purple or is it spherical?" (Assuming a natural, unpainted fruit!)

And those religious-based organizations Loren mentions don't want students to know about the "unpainted", untwisted evidence for our completely natural origins!

Creation and evolution are two different theory, both contravene each other.

As an atheist, I don't say that the world is created by 'Gawd'.

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