I'm curious about the reactions of people in this forum to the evangelistic approach of Michael Dowd. Dowd is the author of Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World. He used to be a YEC but saw the error of his ways and now says evolutionary theory affirms God's role as creator.
A representative sample from his web site:
Today, thanks to Charles Darwin and the countless evolutionary scientists and writers he inspired—in fields as diverse as astrophysics, geology, genetics, primatology, sociobiology, and brain science—I interpret my Christian faith in far broader and more this-world realistic ways than ever before. It is obvious to me now that God didn't stop revealing truth vital to human wellbeing back when people believed the world was flat and religious insights were recorded on animal skins. God is still communicating faithfully today, publicly, through the worldwide, self-correcting scientific enterprise. I now see science as revelatory and facts as God's native tongue.
Hi. I think he has a very positive message of faith, joy, hope, using science, and that the real message of faith may have a darker side to it.
Life could be all roses and candy or it could be hard work and repeated failure. Judging by my own experience, I wonder if the day will come when people will want justice for others because it is the right thing rather than due to our having a system at play.
What will we do when that system doesn't provide for us or when we grow beyond that system? Take me for instance. I'm trying to raise a volunteer "army" of supporters for the publication of my new theory of evolution. I'm also trying to find that needle in the haystack where someone will find themselves to be the straw that broke the camel's back and insist that this is their chosen purpose in life - to see me succeed.
If people were just willing to take a chance and go out on a limb.
Stimulating concepts have been "break out" before. Why not find a new SHOCKING approach to life that puts Darwin back in the background? We can't live in the past. Things are always becoming outdated. Moving forward might be fun if we can ward off danger from other nations who don't particularly find themselves in the position that the United States is in.
If we begin to think of ourselves as special in this vast scheme of things, jealousy and other not so pleasant human traits may try to destroy what we have - unless we show the rest of the people on earth that we mean to help them with our "specialness." Why not convince the rest of the people who are kind of stuck in their 5th race mentalities that we mean to meet the girasas and use them to promote the 6th race growth across the globe, in small segments of the population at first and then with the intent to cover the globe?
It's going to take 400,000 years before the 6th race begins and 10 million years after that for the 6th race to exist and we still won't be off this earth until the 7th race is completed in another 6 million years. (Rough estimates at best with so little help from co-workers.)
I'm hoping Michael Dowd will come and visit as I took the liberty of inviting him to this discussion.
I'm glad you think of me as rational (not using lunacy) and Archer as capable of carrying on this discussion with all types of people. I know that I am different and hence I may take a certain amount of time introducing myself before corresponding, but it is only an attempt to let the other writers know where I am coming from.
I read the table of contents and some of the blog on the website for the book and the word kingdom isn't in the table of contents once.
I support Admin on this, Brenda. Your ideas sound detailed, involved and highly original. For this reason, though, they are also obscure. The specialized terms are lost on most readers, I'm afraid. It will obviously take some time and considerable thread space for you to explain these things properly so we can all understand.
The focus of this thread is Dowd's theology. I wish to retain that focus. Explaining your views in detail here would amount to a thread hijack. And yet, until you explain them clearly elsewhere, we have no frame of reference for making contrasts and comparisons between your theology and anyone else's.
You need to start your own thread. Hosting your own discussion gives you the best opportunity to present your views in the comprehensive fashion they require.
It seems that Michael's theology is of a kind my mother was always trying to tell me exists - that science and faith and in particular evolution and christianity can be brought together. Dowd is a consumate showman and uses audio-visuals excellently.
In the NYTimes review Ruse wonders whether there is anything especailly spiritual about LUCY and doubts that but given Micahel's taking to Maclean's triune brain to which M. Dowd added the "higher porpoise" it is not out of intuitive possibility for Michael to claim some kind of access to evoulutionary "spirituality" provided the physico-theology in this particular is not directly in line with "the great chain of being".
Dowd ascribes to a hierarchical perspective of multilevels and an aggregative character (not branching) to substance, which puts his general accidental thoughts generally, in layers with mine. The whole idea he has however depends very heavily on the existence of "cosmic teleology"- that we are all God's star stuff.
It seems to be Mayr's position that although Huxley was mistaken that Darwin did away with teleology historically later developments permitted Quine to assert (the same) that the greatest contribution of Darwin to the world, was the "refuation" of Aristotle' final cause. If that is true Dowd's creation is nothing but a next generation of touchy feely creationism vis video art.
I just spent a week at Ghost Ranch and realized that my theological reflections are just as far out religiously (beyond others) as my scientific ones (are) so I am not doubting that Dowd's theology can not come to compete for some slice of the EvC pie (as ID did) but Quine and Mayr need to be handed the house literally before reciprocity opens up (origins and extinction concepts) in academia for the tolerance of Michael's view of change.
If you see Michael on Opra W it may be because I had a copy of his book sent to one of her producers
As for Micahel's particular excercies in the book, I still get more simply by reading Kant.
What I find refreshing and encouraging in Dowd's message is the willingness to view "divine revelation" as something that is still ongoing, because this entails that "divine truths" that were "revealed" thousands of years ago should really be considered as open to question, critical re-evaluation, reinterpretation and revision. In other words, he seems to be proposing that the faithful should treat (some aspects of) their faith the way scientists treat their hypotheses: subject to change based on new evidence.
Of course, history shows us that this is not really a completely novel idea. People have been reexamining and revising the tenets of their various faiths in almost every generation, and have even tried to introduce new revelations ("updates from God") to supplement or replace existing sacred texts.
But the difficulty throughout history has been that, as people do this, they never seem to achieve a viable basis for establishing consensus, and as a result, each time a group adopts some new variation of religious belief, they do so by splitting away from some other group that chooses to hold to the previously existing belief. And so the number of distinct religious factions -- all similar in many general respects, but ultimately irreconcilable on particular details -- simply and steadily increases over time. (Some factions do ultimately die out for lack of propagating themselves to younger believers, so the increase in sectarian diversity doesn't quite reach geometric proportions.)
Looking briefly at Dowd's web site, I noticed that there were a number of replies from readers who were strongly opposed to his ideas -- in their view, Dowd simply is not the kind of Christian he should be (i.e. whatever kind of Christian they happened to be). These people demonstrate the impossibility of establishing any sort of objective basis for consensus when it comes to modifying or updating religious beliefs.
And this is what I find disappointing and unfortunate about Dowd's "mission": he wants to convince people that it's possible to examine physical reality with scientific detachment and empirical rigor, while still believing in an all-powerful deity who takes a personal interest in each individual's well-being by watching over us and responding to our prayers (after having taken the trouble to create the universe and life as we know it, with all the threats to human survival to be found therein).
Alas, the Rev. Dowd cannot have it both ways. His acceptance of scientific research must lead at least to a kind of theism that acknowledges a non-interventionist creator (we are all on our own now), if not to full-scale atheism (we represent a particular state of development in an unguided process where life is working things out for itself as it goes along).
Whether he proceeds along either of those paths, or simply continues trying to juggle the contradictions in his current ideas, he will be leaving behind a number of hard-core "true believers" who will not accept any questioning or critical thinking applied to their unwavering dogma, no matter how stridently their beliefs conflict with observable reality. Unless/until he becomes an atheist, Dowd is just another sectarian branch falling away into a field already littered with countless other branches.
autotelicadj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.
quote:along either of those paths, or simply continues trying to juggle the contradictions in his current ideas, he will be leaving behind a number of hard-core "true believers" who will not accept any questioning or critical thinking applied to their unwavering dogma
You seem to say this somewhat dogmatically. I do not think that it is impossible for socialYECism to meld fully with my own take on E/C. It is just unclear to me how this may occurr. There is some kind of common ground between my own position and YEC on "form" but how this formats out of geological layers is difficult to make an orbit out its historical trajectories. Dowd however does not"juggle" anything in the context. He simply walks back and forth, sort of "to and fro". It is rather that there IS a perception of "contradiction" in the science side that I think does not exist (Mayr example). So it seems to me that, in Michael's superfluidity you impute a contradition that can only be in the a posteriori data. There may be one in the trascendetal logic of the same but Dowd IS NOT that philosophical. He is rather trying to gain access to evolutionary psychology mentally. As I suggested this may not be impossible but it is hard indeed to feel the intuition unless one is already committed to the science and THEN any contradcition - not the other way around...
Perhaps you could reiterate or recapitulate your-
quote:Alas, the Rev. Dowd cannot have it both ways. His acceptance of scientific research must lead at least to a kind of theism that acknowledges a non-interventionist creator (we are all on our own now), if not to full-scale atheism (we represent a particular state of development in an unguided process where life is working things out for itself as it goes along).
Biology is not physics and it is not really a great thought to try to apply thinking that works for the latter in the former place. Evolution however is not psychology. There is an intricate pattern of thought that must be passed on the way. Dowd seems to suggest a way. His work is some kind of response to the Creationist revival of the 60s and explains in large social swatchs how I am out of my own time and generation despite best efforts I for example could give.
Again, I do not view this as a splitting, as much as an attempt at a broader harmony. His position is compatible with a more than ecumenical view than a less and more protestant style one.
The only question for me, as I review his work, is whether his emtional and subjective appeal works as motivation for an expanded externality of potential objectivity. YECism for instance always has to struggle against its own "stranggling down" of the region of objective research possibility.
When Dowd questions "first century" thought he is really only tryig to open his own religious notions to what is day to day today. His lizard legacy does not work for me but it may for someone who has not spent as much time comparing herps as I have but rather followed the lemmings as they may have migrated off this "mental map".
YECism for instance always has to struggle against its own "stranggling down" of the region of objective research possibility.
The main problem YECs have to face is the overwhelming evidence that contradicts their beliefs.
When they try to bend and distort science to fit their beliefs, something always pops loose somewhere else. For example, to claim that all of the radioactive decay that has occurred has occurred just in the past 6,000 years has the unintended consequence of parbroiling the earth.
Science is an interlocking set of data and theory. When you try to pull one thread loose, for example in claiming a young earth, you end up with consequences elsewhere. YEC has not successfully managed to deal with these consequences. It has failed as a scientific idea, and lives on as a religious belief.
Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.