Do PS Members Believe in Scientism?

That is the scientific method.

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You still have provided no examples of anyone who actually holds that position, and I remain skeptical that anyone of significance does.

I don’t see what you find so appalling about that video. He is not dismissing philosophy as a whole, but simply expressing skepticism over the view of solipsism, while also acknowledging that it is not a question that can be addressed scientifically.

(He also warns the young man about the likely limited opportunities for a remunerative career he may face as a philsophy major, with which I think philosophers themselves would be the first to agree.)

This is the first time I’ve encountered the acronym CAE. Would you mind clarifying what is CAE?

If the various uses of the word “evolution” fell into the following three categories:

  1. Living organisms have changed over time in the history of life.
  2. All living organisms present today can be traced to one common ancestral primordial life form.
  3. Natural mechanisms, i.e. some combination of variations, natural selection, and heritability, are sufficient to explain all the life forms we observe today without reference to a intelligent agent that is not itself limited to natural mechanisms.

then I think:

(1.) would include pretty much all Christians - YEC, OEC, and IDC (I say IDC because not all who associate with ID are Christian)
(2.) would probably exclude YEC, but not necessarily OEC or IDC.

That leaves (3). Would I be right or wrong to conclude that CAEs fall into (3)?

If not, what defines CAE?

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You’re wrong about that. Good historians use the scientific method correctly.

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This distinction between “historical” and “empirical” science (with “real” science being restricted to the latter) is one often attempted by creationists. It is not one advocated by serious and honest thinkers on the subject.


CAE means “Christians affirming evolutionary science”. I would say that it is a general term for self-identifying Christians who affirm the methods and conclusions of mainstream evolutionary biology, cosmology, geology, and other sciences, without necessarily assuming any particular sort of model of interaction between the Creator and Creation.

CAE is my newly preferred term because “evolutionary creation” or “theistic evolution” tends to bring with it some historical baggage about assumptions regarding interpreting Scripture, whether miracles can happen, etc. As a CAE, I tend to disagree with ID-type arguments in science, but I don’t necessarily shirk back from the possibility that God governs natural processes, including evolution.



And you are correct and evaluating them as sciences.

The fact that it is hard to formulate and test hypotheses doesn’t mean that one should give up.


And as @AllenWitmerMiller has pointed out, even Biblical scholars use the scientific method.

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I probably should further clarify my statement: the most competent Biblical scholars use methodologies which share much in common with the scientific method. I am always the first to admit that there have been far too many Biblical scholars who should have used far more of the data available to them. Some should also hold their conclusions less tightly and approach their own hypothesis with appropriate skepticism, proactively looking for evidence which may question, undermine, and/or modify their hypotheses.

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Same applies to many in the “hard” sciences.

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For now I’m going to have to get going with some other errands (my car just died) and writing projects—but thank you for some great exchanges on these threads, Faizal_Ali. Fascinating topics all.

And if I failed to do so previously, welcome to Peaceful Science! It is great to have more of these philosophically-oriented threads and these discussions of the “big picture” topics about the foundations of various disciplines.


Have you heard of positivism?

Yes, this is a related concept. Here’s a bit of background on positivsm for anyone who may not have or is interested in where it came from and where it can go:

"Positivism , the second key element of Comte’s philosophy, is an epistemology whereby knowledge is derived exclusively through the methodology of the natural sciences. All other ways of knowing anything are disregarded. This, Comte wrote, “is the fixed and final state.”

According to Comtean thought, philosophical positivism—untrammeled by “fictitious” theology and “metaphysical” ethics and then christened academically as “sociology”—would transform traditional Europe from a social landscape plagued by primitive passions, strife, and conflict into a modern, predictable, scientifically managed body politic. In this way, Comte, “the first philosopher of science in the modern sense” (Michel Bourdeau, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ), was also a proto-humanist in a religious sense.

About the time Comte was disseminating his grandiose Plan of Scientific Studies Necessary for the Reorganization of Society in Paris, young Herbert Spencer of Derby, England, was absorbing a similar empiricism across the Channel, at the feet of his ex-Methodist, schoolmaster father. He would grow up to pick up where Comte left off.

Spencer adopted Comte’s term sociology , and he, too, applied biological principles to social organizations. Heavily influenced by the pre-Darwinian concepts of biological evolution (Spencer, not Darwin, coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”), he sought to unify all systems of thought under the organizing principle of biological evolution.

See here for the rest: Positivism Negated by Terrell Clemmons - Salvo Magazine


So for you, the break with TE/EC had to do with theological differences?


Unlike Joshua, I have not had any formal association with Biologos or any other advocacy organizations, so I wouldn’t characterize it as a “break.” Rather, I have been in the process of searching and defining what my true position is with regards to these issues. I still think Biologos is an excellent resource on many topics. They have a pretty impressive array of theologians and biblical scholars (though oddly, not that many major scientists lately, apart from Francis Collins himself).

My reluctance to identify with Biologos or TE/EC stem firstly from complaints by Josh, @Eddie , and others about Biologos’ reluctance to affirm certain traditional theological positions, such as God’s guidance and sovereignty even in the midst of randomness, and the whole conflict over the historical Adam which led to Josh leaving the organization. It definitely doesn’t reflect well on them. I haven’t researched deeply about whether each of these complaints are entirely justified, but it just seems to me at the moment that the discussions on PS are more interesting and fun, with regards to speculating on various theological and scientific matters.

The second reason is that while Biologos is quick to respond to YECs, IDs and OECs, they don’t seem to be quick enough to engage with skeptics, atheists and anti-theists. Indeed, the whole genealogical Adam and Eve incident (which you may not be aware of) shows that they seem to be too quick to bow to what they think are mainstream scientific conclusions but actually would not pass rigorous peer review. They are more of a public relations organization instead of a thinking organization which seeks to search for new, detailed models to relate science and theology. The underlying attitude seems to be, “Here’s the scientific evidence. Accept it, or we’ll be behind the times.” So intellectually, they just aren’t that interesting.

The last reason for my reluctance to identify with the TE/EC label is that a number of notable TE/ECs have strayed away from orthodox, evangelical theology, such as open theism, process theology, and so on. I am personally uncomfortable with this. Also many TE/ECs seem to uncritically accept many modern philosophical presuppositions (e.g. seeing the notion of the soul only in light of substance dualism, skepticism about miracles, weak scientism, a simplified view of the history and philosophy of science, and so on).


Excellent discussion, Daniel. Thanks.


That is pretty close to my reasons too. I’d also add:

  1. As a scientist engaging the public, I don’t think I’m supposed to be an “advocate” for a particular position, but a guide to help others along. There been to much origins advocacy for specific answers, rather than effort to engage the larger questions.

  2. There are large groups of overlooked people, secular scientists being one of them, that I want to place my focus on. Most origins groups, including TE/EC are insular and I don’t like this. I want to welcome the full diversity of the church and society, not just one sliver of it.

  3. Both science and Christianity are larger than TE and EC advocacy. I’m not interested in the safe domesticated shadow in any origins advocacy group (and I’m not sure why @terrellclemmons would settle for DI either) I want the wild untamed reality.

  4. I care about much more than origins: what does it mean to be human? That the key question driving my work.


About process theology, I think they have moved on from that along time ago. @Eddie brings it up a lot, but that is out of date.


I have rarely accused them of holding to “process theology.” I have accused some of them of flirting with, and some of them of openly endorsing, Open Theism, which is something different. Ted Davis wrote some pieces on BioLogos explaining the difference.


Either way they have moved on.

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