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  Topic: Defining "Anti-evolution", Who is an evolutionist?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 22
Joined: June 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 01 2002,22:24   

Sometime what a first might seem a simple question in the end can start lengthy philosophical debates and turn out not to be so simple after all.

Consider Michael Behe.  His views are often classified as a variety of evolution denial.  

There can be no doubt that he rejects the modern understanding of the process of evolution.  I believe that a convincing case has been made that he has done so due to religious motivations.  Many biologists have also taken him to task for a lack of understanding of evolutionary biology as well.  If the above is to be considered correct than Behe has a lot in common with the YEC Henry Morris whose views are clearly motivated by religious beliefs.

But Behe differs from Morris in an important way.  Behe accepts that he shares a common ancestor with a chimp.  Thus he can be said to accept some form of evolution beyond the "microevolution" only proposed by most special creationists.  So can he be said to "accept evolution"?  Should the term "evolutionist" be restricted to those who accept most mainstream scientific ideas about evolution?

Behe clearly thinks that God outright created "irreducibly complex" structures and thus arguably can be classified as a type of creationist.  (And "creationist" here is not merely being used for those who believe in some sort of creator like Theodosius Dobzhansky.)

People in the context of the evolution/creation debate have not been using terms like "evolutionist" or "creationist" in the same way.  This can often result in misunderstandings or talking past each other.  It would be a good thing if some some sort of understanding of where to draw the lines in the sand.

So who is an evolutionist?
Who is a creationist?
Who is an anti-evolutionist?

One might note that this sort of arguments can considered analogous to the splitter-lumper debates in systematics.  Sometimes sensu lato or sensu stricto are added to a name of a taxon to make it clear if that taxon is being defined as a splitter would define it or as a lumper would define it.  So maybe if agreement is not readed we can say that Behe is an evolutionist s.l. but not an evolutionist s.s.  That would be a fairly ugly "solution."

Glenn Branch

Posts: 19
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 04 2002,16:32   

Note that in the March 14, 2002, Washington Times, Behe is quoted as now rejecting theistic evolution: "ID differs not only from creationism but a third option, theistic evolution, which says God employed the Darwinian process. Behe says that concept is 'no threat to Christian beliefs' and he once agreed with it, but it isn't supported by the biological evidence." The article in question is reproduced at the ARN site here; look in the sixth paragraph from the bottom.


Posts: 6
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 04 2002,16:45   

I'd be interested to hear what "evidence" Behe thinks rules out theistic evolution. If he's talking about "irreducible complexity," I don't see how that -- or anything, for that matter -- could rule out God's involvement in the diversification of life on earth.

Glenn Branch

Posts: 19
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: June 07 2002,17:01   

Behe is presumably rejecting the evolution (or the Darwinian) component of theistic evolution, not the theistic component, on what he takes to be empirical grounds.

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