… the arguments against Molinism in this article are no better, and may be worse, than the arguments against evolution.
I suppose it isn’t trying to argue against either here, but only against MacGregor’s assertion that evolution (in the context of theism) lends credence to Molinism. And maybe the author scores a couple points there. But it doesn’t even show that Molinism doesn’t provide a good explanation for how God could work through evolution; only that other explanations (like comprehensive divine causal determinism, or intermittent supernatural interventions) work just as well.
I also find the claim that Molinism was part of the conceptual nexus that led to evolutionary theory to be… somewhat dubious.
Why is a “science” organization discussing theology? I thought they were just about the science. Nothing to do with religion.
From the post:
“has long since been considered that these “useless” whale bones are likely used in reproduction”
Doesn’t mean they arent vestigial! I mean the pelvis in whales is disconnected from the spine for goodness sake. Then on top of that whale embryos have external hind limb buds. And there have been whales found in nature with external hind limbs! All of this points to the pelvis and leg bones of whales being vestigial. Also I love how he defined vestigial as useless when he knows no biologist does. He set that straw man up and then knocked it down.
Note: Theobold in his “29 evidences for Macroevolution” has the best definition of vestigial I’ve seen. You know these guys have read it. But it doesn’t fit that rhetoric so they ignore it
That was a most turbulent and muddy article by Cornelius… probably the worst one I’ve ever seen him sign… but that is not likely to stop his supporters from thinking how brilliant the article is.
He is all over the map in his narrative… and then comes back to where he started and says “There.”
Excellent article by Dr. Hunter exposing a flawed argument. We should learn from this how assumptions drive conclusions.
What is excellent about it? What should we learn from this?
How shows why the argument by Kirk MacGregor doesn’t hold up. He discusses how religion drives science. He provides a case study in what to look for in arguments. Just all around good logical thinking and clear writing.
To me religion holds back science.
To Cornelius Hunter religion drives science. It would help if you had an argument.
Patrick, that extremely broad statement is much like saying, “Philosophy holds back science” or “Politics holds back science.” Yes, some philosophies hold back science while others encourage science. And some schools of political thought hold back science while others encourage science. Likewise, the word “religion” encompasses a spectacularly broad spectrum, a vast range of philosophies which may discourage or encourage science. That is what @DaleCutler’s linked article explains.
I could just as easily state, “To me, people hold back science.” Yes, many people do. And many people don’t. Is my statement profound? Not so much. People may encourage or discourage scientific progress (e.g., in how they vote.) Religions, politics, and philosophies encompass the diversity of human worldviews and approaches to science.
The article which Dale Cutler cited summarizes well my own background and research in religious studies (at an secular American university) and in the History & Philosophy of Science. Some religions have fostered philosophies which largely inhibited scientific progress in those cultures. Other religions have fostered worldviews which greatly encouraged scientific progress. (Guess which ones.)
Indeed. Hunter recycles tired old anti-evolution arguments which play well with his intended audience but which are nothing but cliches demolished long ago. Moreover, I also got the impression from the article that Hunter has no idea that evolutionary theory has progressed in the past century. (Or, at least, his writing creates that impression.) He’s still fighting mutations-plus-natural-selection with no awareness of the modern synthesis, neutral drift, horizontal gene transfer, etc. Most tellingly, he gave us this:
Another example of how MacGregor’s evidences do not serve his purposes is the so-called nested hierarchy pattern of biological forms which MacGregor claims is accounted for through the successive branching pattern of evolutionary transformation. Again, this icon of evolution has failed badly. It is simply false that the evolutionary tree pattern is explained by a successive branching pattern. As I have documented many times, the problem is not that there are a few outliers. We’re not talking about a third-decimal point error. Empirical contradictions to the expected nested hierarchy are everywhere, and at all taxonomic levels. They are pervasive and consistent, and it is fair to say that the so-called nested hierarchy pattern is imposed onto the data rather than read out of the data. Homoplasy is rampant in biology, and there simply is no justification for the “nested hierarchy” pattern, such as it is, as an evidence for evolution. Indeed, by modus tollens what the evidence is telling us is that evolution is false, by any reasonable interpretation of the evidence. If an evidence would be powerful evidence for a theory, then the failure of that evidence must be evidence against the theory.
Oh my. Where does one begin? (He also misapplies modus tollens, but whose counting?)
The next section of the article begins with the heading Incoherence. Yet, I soon got the impression that the author either doesn’t understand Molinism or he is presenting a caricatured version of it to appeal to his audience. To be fair, there certainly are a variety of applications of Molinist thought to origins issues, but if his description of MacGregor’s view is accurate, that still doesn’t justify the title of the ENV article.
Of course, this popular anti-evolution mockery formula—“X proves Y and Y proves X is circular reasoning!”—is a misrepresentation of what is actually the consistency of mutually compatible realities. That is, when X and Y accurately summarize reality, X harmonizes with Y and Y harmonizes with X. In science we call this kind of harmony consilience. Consilience is NOT "circular reasoning."
POSTSCRIPT: to explain further at least one aspect of Hunter’s misuse of modus tollens:
Modus Tollens is not as straightforward as its companion, Modus Ponens. Although common in argument, a Modus Tollens is not necessarily true, as the major premise ( If X is true then Y is true ) says nothing about falsehood. If, however, X and Y are bivalent (both can be either true or false) and X can only be true if Y is true, then the Modus Tollens stands.
---- from Modus Tollens
Hunter’s argument is guilty of denying the antecedent. Even if there are exceptions to nested hierarchies in comparisons of genomes (for example), that does NOT mean that those exceptions somehow overturn the theory (or constitute “evidence against the theory.”) If there are other processes which can create those exceptions (such as horizontal gene transfer), then the blind application of “If not X, then not Y” is a fallacy.
Using Latin terms while claiming logic fallacies can be a powerful tactic in denying science while addressing non-academic audiences. (It sounds convincing to the untrained.) Science deals in enormous quantities of data which do not always conform neatly in “If X, then Y” simplistic claims. To put it more colloquially, “If the overwhelming quantity of evidence supports that X is true, then Y is most likely true.” That does NOT mean that one can apply some rule of logic which claims, “However, if you find even a few exceptions in terms of evidence [or even MANY] which do not suggest that X is true, then Y is false.” The latter is what Hunter is arguing. (Of course, his claim that “Homoplasy is rampant in biology” is powerfully misleading in the way that Hunter applies it in the context of his article. The real world is often far more complicated then “If X is always true, then Y is true—but if X is NOT always true, then Y must be false.” Hunter wishes that his audience will accept the latter via some rule of logic.)
Of course, homoplasy in terms of convergence doesn’t somehow require Common Design instead of Common Descent. It is not evidence against nested hierarchies.