11/26/2011

Enns and the Ditch

I posted this comment on Enn's latest. There's no guarantee it will make it past moderation:

~

“The problem is that, most trained, practicing, scientists have concluded that evolution is true.”

I read the story of the Ph.D. biologist on the Biologos site and he had almost no exposure to the details of evolutionary biology until doing some reading during his career. Just how many people are competent to engage the details of evolutionary biology? I’d be surprised if there are more than a few dozen. Limit it to human evolution and you’ve probably reduced that number further. Most of us with Ph.D.’s are frankly ignorant of most of the details even of our own fields beyond the narrow areas where we did some dissertation work.

What I do know is that there is an inescapable ditch between science and history. The only way to cross that ditch is to have some kind of philosophical or methodological framework for introducing confidence in an assumption of continuity. Only continuity moves from “accumulation of patina” to “this statue is actually old.” And continuity can’t be argued for rationally. This is the basic thrust of Hume’s argument.

Now, I admit this makes those of us who reject human evolution look like the equivalent of conspiracy theorists, the great bugbear of my field where conspiracy historiography is not respected. And I’m sorry that’s the case, but sometimes looking like a nut is unavoidable. The Apostle Paul said X was important and he argued for it on the basis of Y. I don’t see how we can accept X and reject the apostolic case for X, that is, Y. You’re willing to look like a nut to believe discontinuous things in the first century A.D., but not things in the time we want to assign to the miracles of Genesis. Your “miracle filter” is as ad hoc as anything you find in your critics.

Engagement with the details seems important to the questions you’ve been talking about if the details will help us cross that ditch. Follow the scientific details as far as they will take you and you will never, ever penetrate the historical question. Your arbitrariness in labeling miracles and expecting the uniformity of nature here and not there should trouble you.

~ Update: Enns responded:

"You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but I disagree with you in virtually every sentence of your post."

~

Pretty disappointing. Am I just crazy or are my objections not the very ones with which his theory needs to do business? I've set out my strongest response and he considers it an "opinion"?

12:22:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::

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