Why be skeptical about Swamidass’ ‘Peaceful Science’ pitch?

This thread is meant to be a resource for people to express their hopefully sincere & proper skepticism about Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass’ so-called ‘Peaceful Science’ project on an on-going basis as issues & challenges arise. The purpose for starting this thread now is the announcement of a grant to Peaceful Science (PS) by the mutual fund wealth-based John Templeton Foundation. http://peacefulscience.org/new-voice/

I will express some of my skepticism about PS in a few words: Joshua is strangely aiming by ‘inviting all positions as equal’ to relativise the names ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve,’ while at the same time trying himself to become a ‘genealogist’. The woman in the pair he apparently has some kind of a gender bias against, since he hasn’t laid out why he sometimes omits her & only sometimes brings Eve into the conversation. I predicted here a few months ago that Joshua would eventually change his almost exclusively ‘Genealogical Adam’ talk to finally start being more inclusive with ‘Genealogical Adam & Eve.’ Joshua hasn’t taken the hint by adapting his language & thinking yet, though he has been known to change his mind about things in the past.

Once others realise the relativistic, ‘diversity-driven’ goal of his enterprise, even while he speaks about that goal only indirectly, he will hit his ceiling much like BioLogos has in its mission to convert evangelicals to ‘evolution-accepting,’ kinda like Joshua but different. BioLogos stands as the USAmerican-made role model for Joshua to go his own way, not long after he actively alienated himself from Deborah Haarsma & BioLogos leadership publicly. Example 1 of borrowed modelling: PS uses the same software as BioLogos. (TSZ is behind & should likewise adopt Discourse asap.)

While the explicit intention of making an attempt to bring people of different ‘faiths’ into a dialogue about ‘human origins’ for the improvement of relations between people drawn along what Joshua labels as ‘secularist vs. confessionalist’ lines may sound good on the surface for valuable social & cultural purposes, unfortunately, at the end of the day it’s a USAmerican production of the creationist & IDist flavour that could not have arisen elsewhere the way Swamidass has been promoting himself & selling it. Because of this I don’t think Joshua can actually ‘act peacefully’ in his own community due to his sometimes loud, brash attitude, which I have witnessed now on several occasions in arrogant dismissals & self-justification of wrongs at the cost of relationships with others who he seems to consider as ‘below’ him or simply ‘non-scientist’ & therefore less suited for the broader science, philosophy & theology conversation. Ann Gauger has already expressed how uncomfortable she feels in the way she has been treated at PS, despite Joshua’s efforts at pleasantries. This is largely due to Joshua’s hierarchical structure of participants through which he finds himself compelled to defend one of his largest boosters & fanboys, an atheist friend of FFRF who has made over 3,600 posts at PS, as well as a self-described ‘frantic’ unitarian universalist with 2800 posts.

As for the TSZ & PS relationship, it has been growing & I am delighted to see more and more atheists & agnostics (i.e. ‘skeptics’) from this site visiting there, which is surely more inspiring & enlightening than here. TSZ moderator Neil Rickert a.k.a. “Agnostic Mathematician” has posted over 730 times there in the past 4+ months. Former TSZ moderator Alan Fox “Secular European” has posted almost 160 times. Once volunteer moderator Vincent J. Torley “Catholic Philosopher” has posted 174 times. New TSZ moderator Mung “Theistic-ID Evolution” has posted almost 1,000 times already at PS in just 3 months. John Harshman “Secular Avian Phylogenist” ( I have no idea why he uses the term ‘secular’ there other than following Joshua’s main dichotomy of secular vs. confessional) has created more than 1,200 posts there. This is a record transfer of attention from TSZ to PS, just as I had hoped! There is really no need to turn back to UD or continue to give it attention when PS is available now & growing. http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/peaceful-science-has-eclipsed-uncommon-descent-how-will-that-impact-tszs-reason-to-be/

Nevertheless, the absence of balance is obvious. Joshua has only a few times comes to TSZ to share or explore his views in a more challenging environment than in his own ‘safe space.’ Perhaps he is daunted that he might have to actually face ideological scrutiny, which so far he has proven himself unable to handle carefully, properly or sufficiently, either when he started going public only with his ‘science vs. religion’ views over at BioLogos or now at his own site.

It appears that there’s enough of a taste of PS & Swamidass’ view of managed ‘peace-seeking’ already from people here. So, what do you think? Why are you skeptical about Swamidass’ ‘Peaceful Science’? Or, on the other side, what do you believe in about this ‘new voice’ on ‘human origins’ (which sounds mostly palaeological, rather than contemporary anthropological, sociological or psychological) now funded to expand its platform?

344 Replies to “Why be skeptical about Swamidass’ ‘Peaceful Science’ pitch?”

  1. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    DNA_Jock,

    dare i ask what cantab signifies?

    If you’re aiming to compare the egos of Joshua & I, then at some point I may wish to submit for evidence the 1st email he sent me privately, letting me know what a not good, but great ‘scientist’ he is. It is not too far different from the sectarian pride that is on display at BioLogos, where Joshua got his ‘public’ start under Collins’ invitation, before the Haarsmas’ dis-invitation. If you don’t know what evangelicalistic (kataphatic) egoism is, dazz, then perhaps we’re having quite a different conversation. You go silent or drift away when a lot of the rest of us get more keenly interested in the conversation given what we value.

    Are you a man without an ego, is that it dazz? So it’s fun to compare the egos of others who take ‘pride’ in their work & aim to do it well? A sinless atheist who avoids knowledge & stories that could corrupt his heart & mind?

    You lost me there. Who are you talking to? DNA_Jock or me?

  2. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Which stronger claim? Regarding evolutionism & the double-speak of evolutionists that some people here, a significant number apparently, think doesn’t exist & is a false characterisation of what evolutionists by definition are pushing?

    Woa! Now that’s actually surprising. Normally, creationists refer to anybody who doesn’t believe in their magical being in the sky as an evolutionist (with some rhetorical intents). This, therefore, is perplexing, since I doubt that people who don’t believe in magical beings in the sky “double-speak.” So you must be referring to other sense for the word “evolutionist.” So, what’s the meaning you’re using for “evolutionist,” what’s that double-speak, and what are those evolutionists pushing, ahem, by definition?

    Gregory:
    “No evolutionists here but us evolutionists,” is a common strategy in such conversations. Allan Miller should declare if he considers himself an ‘evolutionist’ first or not.

    Well, I don’t know about Alan, but, if we used the term as creationists do, to refer to someone who doesn’t believe in magical beings in the sky, it would be tempting to say that I’m one. However, the word is intended to have more implications, which I reject, besides I don’t worship evolution. Therefore I’m not an evolutionist by that definition. I don’t know what evolutionist means to you, but I’m not pushing anything by definition, nor do I engage in double-speak. So I cannot be an evolutionist given your definition either.

  3. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz,

    Oops. Corrected. It wasn’t meant to you. Thanks.

  4. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy,

    1st, as I’m not a ‘creationist’ are you able to have a different conversation with a non-creationist? Otherwise, I won’t waste the time.

    “if we used the term as creationists do”

    No, I’m uninterested in that & have heard it too many times already.

    A vast majority of ideological evolutionists are atheists. Agree/Disagree? This does not mean that a vast majority of atheists are ideological evolutionists. That would probably be an exaggeration, though I’d guess ideological evolutionism has had a major impact on a significant # of atheists.

  5. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    I think you’re grossly overstating the impact of “ideological evolutionism”. I personally didn’t even know it was a thing and never heard about it from anyone in debate forums where evolution/religion/creationism/atheism were discussed.

  6. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz,

    “I think you’re grossly overstating the impact of “ideological evolutionism”.”

    Well, you sure became confident quite quickly about what you know & what you are not competent to judge upon! ; ) Ideology, is that something you’ve studied closely, dazz?

    One major problem is that there’s a brand of old southern anti-evolutionism that was tried by USAmerican non-mainstream evangelical protestants & sometimes is still attempted, though most USAmerican non-mainstream evangelical protestants are not credible witnesses in ‘science & faith’ discussions due to their gross ideological confusion. I’m not doing ‘that kind of anti-evolutionism.’ I’m critiquing it much more seriously & comprehensively by challenging scholars who exaggerate evolutionary biology into social sciences & humanities (SSH). This is an obvious area where ideological evolutionism can be exposed more comprehensively than has been done before.

    Try D.S. Wilson, as I suggested in the other thread. This guy is incredibly obtuse & obnoxious! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_Institute BruceS came down against his ‘new social Darwinism’, only at first blush. There’s a TON more of this stuff out there that a lot of people simply don’t know exists. I have been researching this in a somewhat unique way as a sociologist of science/scientists. The evidence is nevertheless there to be considered by those willing to try. A major problem is that atheists rarely try, also for obvious reasons.

  7. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    True. ID would need to offer something that is not supernatural, not immaterial, and probably one that could be characterized as a mechanism. And most IDists I’ve encountered are opposed to naturalism, materialism, and mechanism in evolution preferring instead to opt for interventionism.

    Yes, & they have no idea what ‘Intelligent Design’ as a ‘theory’ in sociology, economics, politics, linguistics might look like … other than their USAmerican Republicanism imbued with ‘exceptionalism’ (not just the ‘human’ kind!), as viewed by the DI’s vast majority white evangelical protestant base.

    Listening to Dembski contort the meaning of ‘mechanism’ or Meyer ravage the meaning of ‘history’ to fit their ideological IDism was enough of a shock; it might flatten you if you looked more closely into it, Mung.

  8. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    dazz,

    Well, you sure became confident quite quickly about what you know & what you are not competent to judge upon! ; ) Ideology, is that something you’ve studied closely, dazz?

    Believe it or not, I thought of that right after I pressed the submit button. My limited experience in internet forums counts, at best, as anecdotal evidence. Point taken.

    Gregory: There’s a TON more of this stuff out there that a lot of people simply don’t know exists.

    Well, if it’s that bad, then it’s a good thing that a lot of people don’t know it exists. And if a lot of people don’t know it exists, then maybe I wasn’t too far off about it being a relatively irrelevant issue. Although fringe theories can still be dangerous if they eventually spread

  9. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: I disagree but only because I don’t share your implicit definition of materialism. But I’m also not a materialist so I don’t really care too much.

    I don’t see how the difference between a wink and blink could be explained in terms of what we are comprised of. I actually think it’s a mistake to try and do ontology in terms of what stuff is comprised of. That’s a legacy of the 17th century that we’re better off without.

    True, but that’s a red herring with regard to the differences between oaks and humans — which, let us bear in mind, is something I introduced only to stress the disanalogy between evolution and economics.

    Yes, but I doubt you have a definition of materialism that you can elucidate that anyone else shares. I am talking about the definition of materialism that we use in English. This is why I press you on this issue. You know fully well what materialism means to normal understanding people. It means nothing supernatural, nothing outside of the physical world we can possibly observe.

    But you choose to take a position that allows ANY kind of unseeable , unexplainable force as long as you don’t call it God, and say you believe in that. Or equivocate in that you may or may not be willing to believe in that, but anyway, you know man is more than it’s constituent parts, but you want to call the magic part something else so you don’t have to accept that the theists have a point.

    But in doing so your third way is so void of any explanation that it is nonsensical to call it any kind of believe at all. It’s not material, and it’s not supernatural, it’s… Who knows?

    In taking this escape door to no where, I think honesty at least requires that you acknowledge that the actual materialists (most people here) are wrong. But you hesitate to do so, because then it’s essentially agreeing that the theists position is much stronger than you like to admit.

  10. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock:
    J-Mac
    Chill, please.
    Insults directed at me get a pass; those directed at other posters do not.

    I give him a pass.

  11. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo,

    Mind you , I don’t only accuse KN of this artful dodge, Neil R does essentially the same thing, as do others who want to proclaim that materialism can’t explain humans, but the thing that can explain them is unknowable, but whatever it is, it’s just not a God. Be clear, it’s not a God. No really, it’s not. It’s something else. It’s, well it’s supernatural sure, but no OK, not super super natural, just natural supernatural. It’s not a God for sure. It’s, it’s…. Emergence! But natural. And material. But also not only material. See, no contradiction!

  12. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory

    dare i ask what cantab signifies?
    If you’re aiming to compare the egos of Joshua & I, then at some point I may wish to submit for evidence the 1st email he sent me privately, letting me know what a not good, but great ‘scientist’ he is.

    Seeing as you were boasting about your time at the HPS dept in Cambridge, “Darwin’s alma mater” as you noted, I assumed you would recognize the qualifier that some Cambridge graduates append to their degrees, as in “M.A. cantab” or “Ph.D. cantab.” (for cantabrigiensis). I think Meyer got his Ph.D. in the HPS department.

    Are you a man without an ego, is that it DNA_Jock? So it’s fun to compare the egos of others who take ‘pride’ in their work & aim to do it well? A sinless atheist who avoids knowledge & stories that could corrupt his heart & mind?

    Lordy, no. I have quite the ego — but that wasn’t the subject under discussion, was it? Still not an atheist, nor sinless, either, however. I do take pride in my work, sinful as that is, and I don’t avoid knowledge. Really not at all clear what you are driving at here.
    Given your line of work, your writing is terrible.

  13. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock,

    Count Jock as another non atheist supporter of the third way that believes in something but it’s natural and also supernatural and not God, and well… Something.

    The ranks of the atheists at Tsz continue to dwindle. What they actually believe in we will never know however. Materialism is dead, to be replaced by….???

  14. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock,

    If you call this boasting; I just call it suitable minimal defense against nonsense:

    Yeah, right, “Agnostic non-religious retired mathematician”. It’s your hobby, while I’ve done it in the trenches, including at Darwin’s alma mater Cambridge, in their HPS department. To suggest my research was limited to sociology within the social sciences and humanities and that I haven’t looked at definitions of ‘evolution’ across a fairly wide range of academic disciplines in SSH would be something I would take you up on as a challenge. I’ve done the work, Neil, unlike the agnostic position you currently assume.

    The resident philosopher here pointed out Neil’s wrong premises & we may move forward from there. A simple glance at facts & actual publications reveal Neil’s bluff.

    “I have quite the ego — but that wasn’t the subject under discussion, was it? Still not an atheist, nor sinless, either, however.”

    Oh right, there are a few non-atheists here among the anti-theists. So you’re an agnostic then, or a jaded apostate? Frankly I don’t recall your story. TSZ tends to melt people together with ‘skepsis.’ That’s why I usually don’t stay long here.

    Now with PS, something new is being stirred up & BioLogos’ message is brought into much needed relief so people can see it more clearly. Nice to witness! & even the head of NCSE is a religious man right now. (!)

  15. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    What do you get when you have a bunch of agnostics in one room, all boasting how dumb the theists are for believing in a being in the sky, when their being is buried in the ground of some other universe?

    The Skeptical Zone.

  16. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    Allan Miller,

    Which stronger claim? Regarding evolutionism & the double-speak of evolutionists that some people here, a significant number apparently, think doesn’t exist & is a false characterisation of what evolutionists by definition are pushing?

    The claim that evolutionists use obfuscation and equivocation in order to deceive, rather than it being a by-product of the inevitable imprecisions arising from language, to which all speakers are subject, regardless of worldview. Your response is just more vague allusion. “The double speak that a significant number … think doesn’t exist”. If it exists, pointing up examples should be a piece of cake.

    “No evolutionists here but us evolutionists,” is a common strategy in such conversations. Allan Miller should declare if he considers himself an ‘evolutionist’ first or not.

    I’m someone who thinks evolution – descent with modification – is the root cause of all biological diversity, if that’s what you mean.

  17. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy,

    Yes, ‘by definition’ struck me as odd too, though I didn’t pursue it.

  18. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: I give him a pass.

    Me too.

  19. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    By amusing irony, I suspect that Gregory is falling victim to the equivocation he cautions against, in using the term ‘evolutionist’. To me, it’s like ‘geneticist’, or ‘cladist’, and not like ‘Marxist’ or even, dare I say, ‘eugenecist’. It comes as a bit of a surprise to find that people who study biological evolution are trying to ‘push’ something ideological, using doublespeak etc. It’s what a lot of people hereabouts think, of course, but I don’t think Gregory and (say) Mung or phoodoo are talking of the same thing, despite their apparent agreement on the matter.

  20. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: What do you get when you have a bunch of agnostics in one room, all boasting how dumb the theists are for believing in a being in the sky, when their being is buried in the ground of some other universe?

    Can anyone translate this for me?

  21. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: First, we’re on the slippery slope to metaphysical entity-mongering if we open the door to every concept that we can’t empirically verify.

    What do you think about use of the adjective “self-” in the autopoietic view of life, where one sees terms like “self-organized”, “self-contained”, “self-maintained” and in particular “self-maintained boundary”? I think these capture something important about the role of the self in our theories.

    Of course, I understand that this most basic view of the self is a long way from the human self as the locus for willed action, for unified perception, for purpose, and for meaning. But I think there is a possibility of providing a narrative linking the two. That type of narrative is the one that Godfrey-Smith gestures to in his Mind, Matter, and Metabolism paper that I mentioned in an earlier post.

  22. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist:
    True, but that’s a red herring with regard to the differences between oaks and humans — which, let us bear in mind, is something I introduced only to stress the disanalogy between evolution and economics.

    Michael Pollan in today’s NYT: “The Overstory,’ by Richard Powers, is something genuinely new, in the way it decenters the human as the source of all meaning and value. Here, it is the trees.” Granted, “Overstory” is a novel….

    On a more serious note, regarding economics and biological evolution: Are you aware of Godfrey-Smith’s book “Darwinian Populations”. In it, he models biological evolution along several dimensions, picking how various other usages of evolutionary thinking differ from the paradigm case. I have only read Godfrey-Smith’s intro and Dennett’s simplified summary in Dennett’s latest book, but the last chapter does consider cultural evolution and, from a quick skim, includes how G-S’s model might apply when human agents are involved.

  23. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    If there’s a ton of stuff out there that people don’t know exists, I suspect it exists in the same sense that landfills exist.

  24. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “It comes as a bit of a surprise to find that people who study biological evolution are trying to ‘push’ something ideological, using doublespeak etc.”

    Yes, if you haven’t thought about it or taken the time to look into it, then perhaps it is a surprise to discover the widespread proliferation of ideology in biology. Here’s a link to a book about it by Alexander & Numbers: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/B/bo8273814.html. Lewontin’s “Biology as Ideology” is a key text to lower the surprise & perhaps instead help Allan Miller to realise a real problem that he didn’t know about before today. I doubt he’ll change his tune, as an atheist, though.

    “The claim that evolutionists use obfuscation and equivocation in order to deceive, rather than it being a by-product of the inevitable imprecisions arising from language…”

    Yeah, those unfortunate people who overuse the term ‘evolution’ just don’t have a choice. They are pressured simply by lack of oxygen to write idiotic exaggerations like “The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge” by Matt Ridley & “Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory can change the way we think about our lives” by heartless religion-distorting D.S. Wilson. Instead, these people are not wrong; the fault is with “imprecisions arising from language”! LOL = P They just keep perpetuating the imprecisions!

    “I suspect that Gregory is falling victim to the equivocation he cautions against, in using the term ‘evolutionist’.”

    Which equivocation have I cautioned against that I am now supposedly ‘falling victim to’? Please be specific.

    In my vocabulary, ‘evolutionist’ = ideologue, that includes ‘theistic evolutionist’. Otoh, ‘evolutionary biologist’ = natural scientist. Simple enough? There is a difference here between a work position = biologist doing science, & ideology = evolutionism. If you’re not aware of the ideology, chances are you’ve already swallowed it.

    Instead of listening to Allan Miller who is just an armchair voice, amateur who has barely thought about the topic, another narrative is available. I’m being much more careful & specific than most people (due to 1000s of hours studying the nuances of the topic) & also warning people about misuse of evolution. Since Allan Miller can’t even imagine the term ‘evolution’ being misused, then voila! – in his mind there is *no* misuse. Score for the ignorant who doesn’t know how or even if the term ‘evolution’ could be misused!

    “I’m someone who thinks evolution – descent with modification – is the root cause of all biological diversity, if that’s what you mean.”

    Great, I accept evolutionary biology too. Accepting the general statement above, however, qualifies neither person as an ‘evolutionist.’ So what?

    However, rejecting cultural evolution, evolutionary economics, evolutionary psychology (that almost entirely irrelevant, showcase of contemporary atheism), evolutionary sociology & evolutionary political science (surely the most idiotic of the ‘evolutionary SSH’ topics should be considered a normal, responsible, proper activity, given that better options are available. But for evolutionists who would wish their concept to become a ‘covering theory’, nay, even a ‘grand unified theory’ or ‘theory of everything’, they are almost never called out by fellow evolutionists or atheists in general, who usually wish to entertain evolutionary theories for just about everything, their lack of religiosity included.

    So, the double speak is this: evolution – just biology (& ecology, geology, etc.), or also SSH as well? Evolutionists usually want their cake & eat it too. Joshua Swamidass is simply yet another geneticist to fall under the spell of ideological evolutionism when he takes evolutionary biological theory beyond it’s proper boundaries.

  25. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: To claim ‘reflexive thinking is unscientific’ matters little because we are all as human beings ‘reflexive’ creatures, no matter what (natural or physical) scientists say about us.

    As I mentioned, I know little about the HPS perspective and find your explanation of it interesting and informative.

    1. What do you think of the “liberal naturalism” espoused by Putnam among many others. It recognizes the ontological independence and irreducibility of human intentionality, meaning, and agency. Do you think that approach to naturalism could be used to help capture part of what you are getting at by distinguishing artificial and natural selection?

    2. I understood your use of ‘reflexive’ quoted about to refer to science’s limitation to the third-person perspective, which is unable to address knowledge gained from the first person perspective of lived human experience and from the second person perspective of human empathy. In what further way does such reflexiveness inform your views of evolution and selection?

    or seeking the divine in theological anthropology; we are more often elevating our humanity in such discussions.

    In what way, if any, is Einstein expressing a divinely inspired view of the world though his belief in Spinoza’s God?

  26. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    1st, as I’m not a ‘creationist’ are you able to have a different conversation with a non-creationist? Otherwise, I won’t waste the time.

    Hum. On a second read I see why you say this. I was not trying to imply that you were a creationist. I don’t know anything about you, and I apologize if it reads as if I think you believe in magical beings in the sky. I just meant that normally the term is used by creationists to mean “someone who doesn’t believe in a magical being in the sky,” but, obviously, you didn’t mean that, since someone who doesn’t believe in a magical being in the sky would imply their engaging in “double-speak” or “pushing” whatever your “evolutionists” are pushing by definition.

    Gregory:
    A vast majority of ideological evolutionists are atheists. Agree/Disagree?

    I don’t know what ideological evolutionists means, so I don’t know if they’d be atheists or not.

    Gregory:
    This does not mean that a vast majority of atheists are ideological evolutionists. That would probably be an exaggeration, though I’d guess ideological evolutionism has had a major impact on a significant # of atheists.

    Well, until you explain what that means I remain as perplexed as before.

  27. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    My own impression of people who claim that ideology is dreadfully pervasive and important are people who are unable to contribute anything useful or interesting to the world, but would nevertheless like to control what other people do.

  28. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “I don’t know what ideological evolutionists means, so I don’t know if they’d be atheists or not.”

    If you’ll do some reading, I’ll engage. Please let me know if in your view, as you learn what the term refers to, these people are ‘ideological evolutionists’ pushing ‘ideological evolutionism’ or not? They are all atheists, for what I’ve been able to discover so far. If you need help on what ideologies are, I suggest you compare with others that are not only seen as offensive to you; what makes it particularly an ideology instead of merely science or knowledge or information, etc.?

    Is this ideological evolutionism or not?
    https://evolution-institute.org/
    https://culturalevolutionsociety.org/
    https://medium.com/@joe_brewer/guiding-the-evolution-of-cultural-sciences-e4e09e2d758

  29. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy,

    Accepting evolutionary biology doesn’t make one an ‘evolutionist’. If that’s all you’re worried about, then relax, it’s not hard to be clearer with your language about what you actually believe so that others don’t miss your main point.

    It’s when a person elevates the term ‘evolution’ as an explanation for ‘everything’ or exaggerates & misuses it in fields where the term is not only ‘foreign’ but usually awkward and misleading even though a few novices & diehards want to push ‘evolution’ there – still these fields haven’t accepted it; this is when it becomes problematic. This is what we need a term of abuse, a signification that something is wrong; that a small number of ideologues is politically active in trying to change the language via a ‘paradigm’ of thought they call ‘evolution’ but which can only properly be called ‘evolutionism’ – the exaggeration & misuse of the term ‘evolution’ in ‘wrong’ fields .

    1st, you can call me ‘Gregory’. I’m not ‘friendly’ with you to think shortening my name is appropriate. Do you respect peoples’ wishes or not?

    2nd, “those misapplications / extensions / metaphors / whatever cannot be blamed on Darwin now, can they?”

    No, they can’t for the most part. I’m not attacking ‘Darwinism’ as that’s a relatively small target & Darwin’s entire written contribution to history doesn’t involve more than a tiny fraction of interest in the work I do or the proactive, present & future-oriented research & projects I do.

    However, have you read Darwin’s “Descent of Man”? If so, then tell us what Darwin actually said about humanity or human kind or the ‘human race,’ if you like (to maybe even get a bit biblical, like Jordan B. Peterson), that has been overturned by studies in sociology, anthropology, economics, psychology and other fields in SSH or is entirely irrelevant or wrong-headed today. There’s hours of conversation that can be had on how Darwin got ‘human society’ badly wrong with his Victorian ‘truths’, but focusing on better ideas would be a better use of our current time.

    The ‘by definition’ part simply refers to the semantics involved. ‘Evolutionism’ is by definition an ideology. There are some people who frankly refuse to call an ideology an ideology or similarly who indiscriminately use ‘-ism’ to refer to ‘nothing ideological at all’. For the amateur colloquial usage, I’m not really concerned.

    The confusion of many atheists about this topic, however, can be excused, all the better if done with humility, like dazz showed above when called out, since learning is a lifelong task for all of us.

  30. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS,

    Thanks BruceS for engaging with the topics, rather than wandering off on side-tracks. My answers on these questions might be less than informative or interesting than previous others.

    1) Putnam has somewhat of an audience globally & especially USAmerican ‘philosophers’ push his ideas. I read a bit of his stuff during my master’s degree. Can’t say much at the moment about ‘liberal’ because the Canadian version of ‘liberal’ is in the midst of being re-defined right now.

    It never ceases to amaze, though, how many people try to ‘neuter’ naturalism & convince people it isn’t indeed an ideology by giving it a qualifier that is supposed to magically change it into a non-ideology. Liberal naturalism appears no better than metaphysical naturalism. If you really need to hang on to naturalism as a key pillar in your worldview, then that’s the main issue, rather than adding ‘liberal’ or ‘metaphysical’ or ‘ontological’ as a qualifier.

    As for the cast of its exponents, no, Sellars & al. don’t get the job done on so many fronts. It’s like you’re a glutton for anti-social communication out of science-envy that never actually delivers honour & dignity of man. I’d suggest trying Margaret Archer’s views of agency instead, which do not collapse into ideological naturalism as what you are proposing. http://privateaudio.homestead.com/Being_Human__the_Problem_of_Agency__by_Margaret_S._Archer_.pdf

    I’d also highly recommend for you in the USA Christian Smith’s “What is a Person?” That’ll set some healing to the over-philosophical tone of many of your questions; this *is* a personal conversation that you & I are having, not ‘merely academic.’ We are writing reflexively about important things (after getting through all of the atheist noise & distraction). It’s just left out of the PoS that officially qualifies as ‘philosophical’ in the English N. American landscape.

    Start dipping your toes in Pitirim Sorokin, if you want a macro-umbrella that makes sense of some of the disparate pieces you seem to be exploring. They dishonoured him with the promotion of his ambitious student Talcott Parsons at Harvard, the one who ‘took the spirit out of the system’ in US sociology. Yet at the end of his career honoured Sorokin when they finally realised what they had available to them all along but couldn’t properly see or hear. His turn to altruism completely baffled the ‘pathological’ sociologists of the day. On the eco-front he even kept a prize-winning flower garden & learned from the great Theodosius Dobzhansky’s views of “Genetics & the Origin of Species” (1937).

    2) Re: 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person ‘points of view’. Reflexivity is a different type of ‘knowledge’ to ‘positive knowledge’ or ‘scientific knowledge’, yet can be recorded in ways so as to be transferred, shared & learned from between people & thus that ‘makes a difference’ to us. A personal diary is perhaps the simplest example. “In what further way does such reflexiveness inform your views of evolution and selection?” Deeply. Try Michael Burawoy (aside from his superficial ‘western Marxism’), though I didn’t get ‘human extension’ from his & the Manchester School’s ‘extended case method,’ Anthony Giddens or Pierre Bourdieu.

    3) No, please don’t sic me on Spinoza’s & Einstein’s ‘god’ right now. I’m not a pan(en)theist, if that helps. Inspiration, it’s there; go seek it more often.

    I’d be glad if you’d come back to Swamidass too, since that’s what this thread is meant to be about. PS is another in a line of websites designed to address the ‘science & religion’ or ‘science & faith’ conversation in the USA where there are significant social problems with evolutionism, creationism, intelligent design, BioLogos, etc. You can bet Swamidass will follow the same or a very similar campaign strategy to BioLogos, Discovery Institute, Reasons to Believe & Answers in Genesis in the days & weeks to come. This is a rather significant announcement (though largely meant for non-mainstream protestant evangelicals, Joshua’s main audience, it will have impacts beyond those sects) at the start of this thread that no one has yet addressed.

    Joshua has just sold the rights to ‘Genealogical Adam’ (usually without Eve) to an evangelical Christian press (IVP) based on advice from his largely creationist boosters, yet is without the philosophical or theological training or sophistication to back it up. JTF is surely going to get their money’s worth this time! = P

  31. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    The first seems to be the only one where they’re aiming, somehow, to apply “evolutionary theory” (whatever they might mean by that), to try and solve problems. I can imagine “legitimate” ways to apply evolutionary algorithms to try and solve problems, but they seem to be all over the map. Instead of “double-speak,” I found it to be a bit messy in their concepts about evolution, and I don’t know if they’re really thinking evolutionary algorithms or something else. I don’t see attempts at killing people, or such things. So maybe they’re “ideological” “evolutionists” in some sense, but I don’t see them pushing some “ugly thing” by definition either. Just some confused but, on the surface, well-intended people. Who the hell knows if they’re atheists.

    The second seems to be about studying the changes in society with time, and the word “evolution” has had that meaning, change, before being used in biology. I think it’s important to remember that evolution, like other words, has different meanings depending on the context. So, I would not call this “evolution as an ideology.” As far as I went, no double-speak, and nothing being pushed by definition.

    The third is some guy who seems to have drunk the holistic kool-aid. Doesn’t look like “evolution as an ideology,” more like “evolution as a label.” The guy seems worried about real issues, like climate change, etc, and to be trying to find better ways to education, etc. No double-speak, no pushing by definition either.

    However, I read your other comment. It was going well in terms of clarification. I thought, of course, people can misapply things here and there, take concepts like “survival of the fittest” and put them to work/explain things happening in any place where there’s competition, like economics, societies, or even going to sick extremes. But then you say that “they’re not called out by fellow evolutionists.” That gets us back to you making commenters here into “fellow evolutionists” with those other people. I don’t understand why you’d do that. For example, no eugenicist is my “fellow evolutionist,” and you cannot know if I protest when someone misuses “Darwinism” or not, since what goes on here at TSZ consists on contesting the creationist claims that atheism equals evolution equals Hitler equals eugenics equals all-evil.

    Even if the misapplication / misuse / whatever was “inspired” by some zealot view of evolution, that would not make the problem really about the acceptance of biological evolution, but a problem with zealot mentality. I think that what you call double-speak, is the fact that I, and others here, distance ourselves from such zealotry. If so, well, there’s no double-speak since, for one, I do not label myself as an evolutionist, since my acceptance of the fact that we share common ancestry with many-if-not-all other life forms doesn’t make me an evolutionist, just like my acceptance of gravitation doesn’t make me a gravitationist, nor does my acceptance of gravitation mean that I agree with pushing people down precipices to comply with gravitation’s “natural mandate,” and, that you don’t see me protesting against pushing people down precipices, here at TSZ, doesn’t mean that I’m not calling “fellow” gravitationists out. They’re not my fellows, I’m not a gravitationist, and what I do out of TSZ you cannot know.

    I hope that helps. No need for further engaging. I read your answers to others here, and thus, I don’t expect this discussion to go well, or lead anywhere.

  32. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: I hope that helps. No need for further engaging. I read your answers to others here, and thus, I don’t expect this discussion to go well, or lead anywhere.

    Its a shame this comment will be moved to guano soon by Jock. Tsk tsk.

  33. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Its a shame this comment will be moved to guano soon by Jock.Tsk tsk.

    DOWN-Joke is a little slow because of his deeply ingrained bias…

  34. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: What do you think about use of the adjective “self-”in the autopoietic view of life, where one sees terms like “self-organized”, “self-contained”, “self-maintained” and in particular “self-maintained boundary”?I think these capture something important about the role of the self in our theories.

    Of course, I understand that this most basic view of the self is a long way from the human self as the locus for willed action, for unified perception, for purpose, and for meaning.But I think there is a possibility ofproviding a narrative linking the two.That type of narrative is the one that Godfrey-Smith gestures to in his Mind, Matter, and Metabolism paper that I mentioned in an earlier post.

    I don’t want to derail this thread any further, so I’ll be brief: I think that there’s a substantial conceptual gulf between “self-” and “the self”. In talking about “self-“, such “self-organizing systems”, we’re talking about systems that have a characteristic activity whereby the activity of the parts tends to contribute to the further perpetuation of the structure of the whole. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything like “the self” as some sort of enduring thing that persists through all those changes. One could accept the whole story about self-organizing systems as based on far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics or autopoeisis and still accept the Buddhist teaching of no-self. (And that is actually my view.)

  35. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: The ranks of the atheists at Tsz continue to dwindle. What they actually believe in we will never know however. Materialism is dead, to be replaced by….???

    I know ,it is so very complicated when people people don’t adher to your stereotypes.

  36. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,
    This is the introduction of the Peaceful Science:

    “Dr. Swamidass affirms mainstream science, including evolutionary science, the common descent of all living things (including humans), methodological naturalism (though he thinks it’s incorrectly named), and an old earth.”

    https://discourse.peacefulscience.org

    Can you point out at least one discrepancy in this introduction that could potentially be viewed as deceptive?

    Can anyone else?

  37. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: War is war. Eugenics is eugenics. Totally different concepts.

    But not mutually exclusive. If in war , victors kill all the men of a conquered nation while taking the conquered women to breed with, they are controlling breeding to increase the occurrences of a desirable ,to the victors, bloodlines. Likewise ,as did the Spartans and Romans , they culled the undesirable and weak.

  38. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    “…accept the Buddhist teaching of no-self. (And that is actually my view.)”

    Are you a Buddhist now, then KN? If so, you’ll be welcome at PS. If not, you’ll also be welcome at PS. ; ) Why not go there, given how you elevate ‘science’ not too dissimilar to how Joshua does, yet instead based on a non-theistic system of values?

  39. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    You attribute a number of positions to me that I have not uttered, which leads me to doubt your powers of comprehension. As I’ve said, I think it hinges around differential understandings of the term ‘evolutionist’. To the word ‘evolutionist’, you attach a whole host of evils while I perceive a reference to someone who studies biological evolution. Yet, even when I make that explicit, you seem to lack the capacity to accept that distinction. By ‘evolutionist’, I must mean what you mean – ‘by definition’. Perhaps you need a better term.

    I can indeed imagine people abusing the term ‘evolution’, but the position is more nuanced than the vague slur from Mung, endorsed by you, which would appear to place every ‘evolutionist’, whether biologist or ideologue, into the same doublespeaking bucket. And it is clear, when you finally deign to favour us with examples, that you don’t mean the same as Mung and phoodoo when you criticise the generality of ‘evolutionists’.

    That dumb dismissal ‘I doubt he’ll change his tune, as an atheist, though’ rather takes the biscuit, and demonstrates poor thinking, despite spending much time assuring us you’re an authority. My metaphysical worldview is a total irrelevance when it comes to my views on – for example – selection, drift, endosymbiosis, sex, common descent etc, and likewise on the extent to which evolutionary thinking may be applied or misapplied outside of biology. But apparently not. It’s all about the atheism, for you. This is a close cousin of the ‘metaphysical blinders’ taunt regularly emanating from Creationist quarters. As arguments go, it’s pretty crap.

  40. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac:
    Can you point out at least one discrepancy in this introduction that could potentially be viewed as deceptive?

    I’ve read the Introduction, thanks. It’s not really about looking into Joshua’s words as ‘deceptive’; he is answering according to his ideology, which he calls a ‘fifth voice’ & himself an ’empty chair’. His stubborn acceptance of an ‘incorrectly named’ ideology without offering a ‘correctly named’ alternative is hilarious. A prideful badge for him, it seems, much like Brad Kramer’s ‘Evolving Evangelical’ column at BioLogos. Kramer had to have swallowed a fool’s bait to go there.

  41. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    I implore your patience as there are indeed several definitions of ‘evolutionist’ on the conversation table. I have clearly distinguished my view from creationists & IDists & reject both of their ideologies – creationism & IDism. Are we clear about that?

    My critique is rather different than Mung’s (“Theistic-ID Evolution”). Mung like the DI has a Darwin fixation & Darwin is largely irrelevant to my critique of ideological evolutionism.

    “To the word ‘evolutionist’, you attach a whole host of evils while I perceive a reference to someone who studies biological evolution. Yet, even when I make that explicit, you seem to lack the capacity to accept that distinction. By ‘evolutionist’, I must mean what you mean – ‘by definition’. Perhaps you need a better term.”

    I accept the distinction between a term that signifies a profession & an ideology and focus on the ideology. The ‘evils’ are your moral conclusion from what I’ve stated, as neutrally as a sociologist can. I suggest you simply refer to ‘evolutionary biologists,’ thus considering why ‘biologist’ is the qualified noun, instead of ‘evolutionist’. Frankly, evolution is not ‘bigger than biology,’ it is rather a ‘theory’ within the field of biology (or overlapping several fields to be more precise) that “people who study biological evolution” try to apply in their research. Thus, for me, I don’t call any biologists as ‘evolutionist’ who simply promote ‘evolutionary theories’ in biology, unless they are actively promoting ideological evolutionism (which many biologists deny is a ‘thing’), like a few rather well known biologists do.

  42. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:

    So… You have no problem with Swamidass’ claim that he affirms the mainstream science on evolution and yet his ideology contradicts this very claim?

    I personally couldn’t careless…but if I were a Darwinist, I probably would…
    After all, the mainstream view on evolution is still an undirected process and just because Swamidass is hoping to change it into “Maybe God guided evolution” doesn’t make it so or mainstream, does it?

  43. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    Now if you’re saying that, try as hard as you can (type some keywords into a search engine & take a few minutes to explore), you just can’t see anything, that’s fine, Allan. It’s your educational path, not ours, that you are on. The time at which people receive sometimes highly important answers to their existential & greatest worldview questions can vary greatly.

    “I can indeed imagine people abusing the term ‘evolution’”

    Ok great, you’ve arrived at a minimum stage of credulity. Why not then go a step further than just imagining it? Take a few minutes & find it happening by searching online.

    Start with David Sloan Wilson & Joe Brewer. Follow links from there. They’ve got a network of nonsensical evolutionism, including calls for a “new social Darwinism” going on at their Evolution Institute, if you’d only take the time to check it out.

  44. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory: Are you a Buddhist now, then KN? If so, you’ll be welcome at PS. If not, you’ll also be welcome at PS. ; ) Why not go there, given how you elevate ‘science’ not too dissimilar to how Joshua does, yet instead based on a non-theistic system of values?

    I don’t go to Peaceful Science because I need to limit how much time I spend on-line. As it is, I’m online more than I should be.

    I’m not a Buddhist but I think there are really important ideas in Buddhist philosophers such as Nagarjuna and Dharmakirti. More generally, I’m getting closer to the position that cross-cultural comparisons are the best way of arriving at metaphysical truths. So I’m interested in the relevance of Buddhism for philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

  45. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    “You have no problem with Swamidass’ claim that he affirms the mainstream science on evolution and yet his ideology contradicts this very claim?”

    Well, I’m not a Darwinist. A different question to ask is: how slavish is Joshua to being perceived as ‘mainstream’. Is he really just positioning himself as a populist journalist & booster for ‘mainstream science’ who happens to be a computational biologist, cum scientific genealogist from LCMS?

    I do not observe ‘his ideology’ (which one?) to be contradicting ‘mainstream science’ as Joshua means it. Joshua knows very little about at least some significant fields he claims to represent under the broad umbrella ‘evolutionary science.’ So is he guilty of over-reach? Obviously, yes. But he is well within his rights & responsibilities to be in error the way he is without being unconstructively called ‘deceptive’ or a ‘liar’ for it.

    Will Dr. Swamidass come here to discuss these things openly & directly, as he did at least once & then only partially in the past? That is doubtful, because he doesn’t really seem to want peace, only divisive protestant confessionalism or post-evangelicalism. That is what he learned from his largely divisive, but sometimes locally unifying creationist heroes, whom he must now (evolutionarily) attempt to vanquish with his ‘new voice’ GAE surprise.

  46. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory:
    J-Mac,

    Well, I’m not a Darwinist. A different question to ask is: how slavish is Joshua to being perceived as ‘mainstream’. Is he really just positioning himself as a populist journalist & booster for ‘mainstream science’ who happens to be a computational biologist, cum scientific genealogist from LCMS?

    I do not observe ‘his ideology’ (which one?) to be contradicting ‘mainstream science’ as Joshua means it. Joshua knows very little about at least some significant fields he claims to represent under the broad umbrella ‘evolutionary science.’ So is he guilty of over-reach? Obviously, yes. But he is well within his rights & responsibilities to be in error the way he is without being unconstructively called ‘deceptive’ or a ‘liar’ for it.

    Will Dr. Swamidass come here to discuss these things openly & directly, as he did at least once & then only partially in the past? That is doubtful, because he doesn’t really seem to want peace, only divisive protestant confessionalism or post-evangelicalism. That is what he learned from his largely divisive, but sometimes locally unifying creationist heroes, whom he must now (evolutionarily) attempt to vanquish with his ‘new voice’ GAE surprise.

    Since you are not a Darwinist therefore you have no right or any business to question his claims? I wonder why?
    Perhaps as a Christian you would have a problem with his claim of the affirming the mainstream science on evolution, no?

  47. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Gregory,

    Thanks for the reading list. You are right in saying that my intellectual background has made me more comfortable with the certain forms of the naturalist perspective.

    I have to admit to seeing nothing wrong with accepting funding from Templeton, as long as that acceptance is openly declared. For example, Tim Crane, a philosopher whose views I respect without agreeing with, also did so.

    My questions were on topic, at least for me, in that they helped me understand the nature of the gaps in PS at your were pointing out.

  48. Gregory Gregory
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    Yes, I am not a Darwinist and both can & do question some of Swamidass’ claims. I don’t have a basis to critique his computational biology, nor does it seem do you. But his philosophistry & loose liberal evangelical theology is open for questioning. If this topic were only about biology, then Joshua might have an advantage that he thinks make him perfectly suited as a ‘fifth voice.’ As it is, another poor communicating evangelical isn’t likely going to make a major difference, especially when the guy borrowed GAE directly from his family of YECists, not from his biology lab.

    You are not a guide or role model in the way you critique Swamidass or in the recently suggested mess of your now ‘ex-catholic’ (declined answering about it) esoteric buffet worldview, so I’m not sure what credit you think you are taking & from whom. I would defend Swamidass’ ‘right’ to be whatever kind of (confessional) Christian he chooses.

  49. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: NAZISM! COMMUNISM! THE EU (OR IS IT THE USSR!) PETA! GLOBAL WARMING! Stuff nonlin.org has a beef about, and bugger all to do with evolution.

    Like it or not, they’re all connected by Darwinism nonsense:
    1. “Human just an animal”
    2. “Natural selection”
    3. “Survival of the fittest”
    4. “Struggle for survival”

  50. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Like it or not, they’re all connected by Darwinism nonsense:
    1. “Human just an animal”
    2. “Natural selection”
    3. “Survival of the fittest”
    4. “Struggle for survival”

    The EU? PETA? Global warming? All connected by Darwinism? You are talking shite.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.