Debate:Can the science of evolution be separated from the philosophy of it?

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Some people say that the science of Evolution can be researched and studied without getting into any philosophical, metaphysical or religious issues. Others say that both research and study are too closely connected with other issues to be dealt with separately. Which is right, and why?


yeah, it's a theory that says that we share a common ancestor and you can make scientific predictions from this, such as that we should share a great deal of DNA with closely related species. It makes no philosophical predictions.

That isn't the question, but in any event you have a larger problem: you cannot show that we would share any less DNA with any closely related species apart from evolution. Whether by chance or by design, the DNA sharing ratio might be the same, for this reason: when you've got something that works, you tend to use it again and again wherever you can. Why should that be any different for various forms of life from how it is for the machines that we build?
Therefore, even if you have a lot of shared DNA, you have not falsified creation or intelligent design if those two theories predict the same phenomenon. In order to falsify any given theory, you have to find something that it predicts that does not come to pass.--TerryHTalk 14:55, 5 June 2008 (EDT)
I agree. It would be like arguing the philosophical implications of the fact that lithium reacts exothermically with water at standard temperature and pressure to form aqueous lithium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. (This is an unholy mating of two things, neither of which is a man or woman! Do we really want to teach our children about these things?!) Nrupert 13:55, 11 December 2008 (EST)


Philosophy underpins your theory of everything

The Theory of Evolution—and more particularly the paradigm of methodological naturalism of which it is a key pillar—is part and parcel of a philosophical movement. Therefore, one cannot separate the two.

Science has never truly been value-free. One's values, and one's worldview, inform one's interpretation of the data. Only the most obviously inexplicable findings (like, for example, the phases of Venus) can ever topple a widely-held worldview, and usually that toppling produces social upheavals that are almost seismic.

If, therefore, you want to believe that man is a close cousin to the great apes and has no higher purpose to serve than his own temporary existence, then the Theory of Evolution is for you.

If, on the other hand, you accept the idea that God created man in His own image and likeness, and gave man a definite purpose, then creationism is for you.

Now as it happens, the paradigm of methodological naturalism, that includes uniformitarianism, abiogenesis, and "common descent" (which is what the Theory of Evolution is all about), is already racking up a lot of "Phases of Venus" moments. I have documented several in my Solar System edits over the last few months. This while the creation paradigm is now producing models with definite predictive value.

But in order to understand creationism fully, you have to come to philosophical terms with it. Edwin Hubble refused to come to terms with the thought that our galaxy is at the center of the universe, and for that reason created a cosmology that says that the universe has no center. He had absolutely no warrant in his observations or in the laws of physics for that action. And he knew it, too, as John Hartnett clearly documents in his latest work, Starlight, Time and the New Physics. He defended his anti-centrism purely on philosophical grounds. Now if a man like Edwin Hubble couldn't get away from philosophy, what makes you think you can?--TerryHTalk 08:56, 24 May 2008 (EDT)

Sorry, Terry, but you're falling victim to some pretty common misconceptions.
1. The so-called paradigm of methodological naturalism is a simple and accurate description of the scientific process. This website defines it as "the strategy for studying the world, by which scientists choose not to consider supernatural causes - even as a remote possibility." Another way to say this is that the scientists are attempting to observe and describe the natural world. They are not attempting to observe and describe the supernatural world, and so the supernatural world is intentionally left out with the assumption that there is no interaction between the two. Many people from both the fundamentalist and atheist camps nonetheless attempt to draw such conclusions from scientific findings; this is merely an attempt by them, usually unconscious, to find something not directly implied by the data which aligns with their pre-existing beliefs, and often this behavior is self-reinforcing. And while these unintentionally false interpretations of the science may be brick and mortar for their particular philosophies, science itself remains inherently neutral.
(One could make the argument that there is no basis for the above-mentioned assumption that the supernatural world and the natural world do not interact, but such an argument would need to be backed with examples of events in the natural world for which no natural causes exist.)
2. As you should infer from the above, we agree that people are wont to find meaning in the world around them. It doesn't change the goal of science, though.
3. It's true: people who believe that humans share a relatively recent common ancestor with other modern primates also typically endorse the theory of evolution. But I do not see how this relates to, or should be the cause of, a lack of higher purpose. An evolutionary biologist may be as profoundly dedicated to bettering humanity as a missionary. Does it matter that their methods differ?
4. Couldn't God have created man in His own image through the process of evolution? If you believe in God and accept radiometric dating, this seems like a pretty good explanation. And I'm talking about uranium-lead and samarium-neodymium dating, not just radiocarbon.
5. The concept of uniformitarianism is completely and utterly at odds with modern quantum physics (which predicts that during a very brief period immediately following the Big Bang, the four fundamental forces -- strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetic and gravitational -- arose from one unified force), and as such is not representative of what's accepted by the majority of the scientific community. Meanwhile, abiogenesis is a field of study distinct from that of evolutionary biology. Indeed, evolutionary theory makes no predictions about how life came to be, only how it changes. That an individual might experience a similar strong opposition to these two and as they do to evolutionary theory does not make the three related in any way besides their conflict with that person's ideology. I'd be curious to read about some of these predictive models based on the creation paradigm, if you don't mind sharing links.
6. This is a classic example of the logical fallacy appeal to authority. You are implying that because Edwin Hubble was capable of arguing for something from purely ideological grounds, scientists in general and proponents of evolutionary theory in particular must therefore be incapable of not making claims based on ideology. If one prominent member of a group does something, the rest of the group will not necessarily behave the same way.
For the record, I don't think science really has a philosophy besides the basic desire to understand the universe. Cheers! --SStaples 08:11, 25 March 2009 (EDT)