[Taxacom] teleology example

Dick Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Mon Mar 11 12:14:15 CDT 2013


I think it depends on what one means by (i.e, how one defines) "belief".  I believe that certain things will happen in the laboratory, and in nature, because there are sound scientific explanations for them.  This form of belief is not the same as what is generally accepted for religious belief; the idea that I accept, simply by faith with no empirical evidence, that something is true or can be explained.  

The same holds for "purpose".  Given John Grehan's position that definitions don't matter, it seems that another explanation is that Grehan and Winter are using two different definitions of purpose (at least one definition of purpose makes no reference to intent) .  If that's the nature of the problem, then there can be  no resolution until both provide a definition of what they mean  by "purpose".  


Dick J  

----- Original Message -----

From: "Curtis Clark" <lists at curtisclark.org> 
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 12:34:43 PM 
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] teleology example 

On 2013-03-11 3:30 AM, John Grehan wrote: 
> The real nature of the problem may be that there is this a 
> pervasive and explicit language of teleology in evolutionary biology 
> that is perfectly at home with theologically based approaches such as 
> intelligent design and creationism. 

I would go further and say that is is pervasive in English (and probably 
other natural languages as well), that we are biologically predisposed 
to seek teleological arguments, and that a different view of the world 
must be learned. 

> But in this case the teleological statement was so explicit and direct 
> that it was worthy of notice. 

And I contend that a single statement is not an accurate enough measure 
of the underlying state to be adequate for analysis (as contrasted to 
hand-waving). It seems that the best example is not one where an 
evolutionary biologist's thought processes *could* be explained by 
teleology, but rather one in which they cannot be explained any other way. 

> My personal view is that for many biologists, evolution has become a 
> substitute for traditional religious belief - which would explain a 
> lot of the hostility that arises in evolutionary biology when 
> certain fundamental 'truths' are challenged, and the sometimes deified 
> or saintified  state given to Darwin. 

I totally agree. I would never put a "Darwin fish" on my auto, because 
evolution isn't my religion. A relative told me that she "doesn't 
believe in science", and I responded that I don't, either: "belief" 
plays no useful role in science (beyond the belief that there is a 
consensus reality). 

Curtis Clark        http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark 
Biological Sciences                   +1 909 869 4140 
Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona CA 91768 

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