Axe and Swamidass: Should Christians Embrace Evolution?

If this is a correct belief, why should only Christians believe it?

Yeah, if that were correct, everyone should believe it. But some YECs would say that you can’t realize that without becoming Christian first. That’s why YECs seek to evangelize people to become Christians (and YECs), in order to adopt the same epistemology.

I thought it was the other way around: you can’t become Christian without realizing that first.

Well, some “scientific” YECs (who insist that the evidence points the other way) would agree with you, saying that arguments for YEC are one of the best ways to convince people to believe in the Bible and become Christian. But others (such as Todd Wood and probably Hans Madueme, based on his writings) would say that you need to become a Christian first on other grounds and then you’ll get access to the “real truth”.

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I guess the answer would be: The only people who’d believe would be Christians, by definition.

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Ahh yes I recognize that kind of one-way epistemology. Once you adopt it, you’ve made it impossible to discover whether you’re wrong. That’s of course the foundational fallacy of an epistemology that puts a conclusion over and above both the method and the evidence.

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I’m not a YEC, but your criticism can be leveled at any epistemology. Even a epistemology that prioritizes the scientific method must assume that we are cognitively able to recognize our biases and errors by careful analysis and empirical investigation. In this sense, all epistemologies have a set of basic beliefs that the system is built upon and cannot be disproven “from the inside”.

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Sure but there’s a difference between taking a method as an axiom(like assuming reason, or the reliability of your senses), versus taking a particular thing’s existence(or non-existence) as an axiom.

To see how silly the presuppositionalist enterprise is, just try to invert the axioms. Assume that God doesn’t exist, that revelation is impossible, and that all evidence necessarily contradicts scripture. It seems to me this is obviously question-begging and in the same way and for the same reasons YEC presuppositionalism is.

It seems to me one should try to operate on a sort of principle of modesty. Assume as few and as simple things as absolutely possible, just enough to allow you to gain knowledge, and then let the evidence you collect guide you to whatever conclusions it happens to support. That way you allow evidence to show you whether (for example) God exists or not(you’ve not closed yourself off to this possibility just by assuming you can gain information through your senses, and make sense of it with your mind), and you’ve made it possible for you for new evidence to change earlier and possibly premature conclusions. And don’t allow yourself to get into these sorts of hermetically sealed bubbles where you close yourself off to new information that might lead in a different direction.

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I’m not convinced that this definition is non-circular. What is “knowledge”? “Knowledge” is the very thing we’re trying to define a methodology for, so why include it in our definition?

I’m not defining knowledge there, I’m explaining what I mean by epistemological modesty and why I think this is preferable to the presuppositionalist alternative. For a definition of knowledge you can use: Beliefs supported by evidence.

That’s a strange question, just like this one: « If evolution is a correct belief, why should only evolutionists believe it »

Let’s rephrase: If evolution is a correct belief, why should only those who are already evolutionists believe it? If YEC is a correct belief, why should only those who are already YECs believe it?

If people only held correct beliefs, everyone would be evolutionists, and no one would be YEC’s.

Which I suppose is the point.

Did you forget than John Sanford was an atheist evolutionist before he became a YEC?

You appear to have misunderstood my point. Rather than painfully explain it again, I suggest you start reading at the top of the thread.

Well this exchange was quite fruitful. What did you think?

It was interesting to hear Axe basically (but not explicitly) toss out experimental science. The appeal to (inappropriate) analogy takes center stage. Purposefully-arranged parts and all that.

I am reminded of Neil Diamond (or maybe it was Bruce Lee?) - “Don’t think, feel…”

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It was also interesting to hear him appeal to SETI (which we recently discussed: Is SETI Science? and Science Design Inferences are Unlike ID), and then note that he was “going beyond” their methodology. But still using the same methodology?

One more comment. When I discuss neutral theory with my students, I frame the issue as one of allowing, ne demanding, equal consideration of two opposing hypotheses when asking about the origins of features in biology. Natural selection is one, and students see this easily (usually reflexively). To help them better grasp the power of neutral evolution, I have them pose tests of the hypothesis “such-and-such a feature arose via neutral evolution”. For example, the shape of an Arabidopsis leaf is the product of neutral evolution, NOT natural selection. This pushes students in unexpected directions and really gets the point across. And, truth be told, it generates lots of push-back.

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Wow. Can you point me in the direction of some papers on this?

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