Catching up, deeply breathing, summarising

So while I have lots to do, lots happens (and when I have little to do, nothing noteworthy happens and I am forced to rely on that scarcest of resources, my own ability).

John Lynch wrote a blog entry on the roots of Intelligent Design in response to a disingenuous piece (do they do any other kind?) of the Disco Institute. I would only note that the argument from design, as opposed to assertions that God is the cause of apparent design in the world, is, according to an excellent book by David Sedley, Creationism and its critics in antiquity, due to Socrates.

Apparently I coined a word in a dictionary… let’s hear it for “lobbocracy”! I want this in the OED by year’s end, folks.

Via Leiter, comes a link to an online commentary on three of Plato’s dialogies (Euthyphro, Meno, and book I of the Republic, with really nice drawings in a 1950s style Greek vase kind of way. It will be a published book, too.

Sandwalk has closed the poll on what scientific associations should say about the compatibility of science and religion. The results: 14% compatible, 31% incompatible, and 54% say nothing. That seems representative of the scientific opinion I have encountered.

u n d e r v e r s e has a piece on Plantinga’s assertion that if evolution is true, then our knowledge is suspect. This is an old opinion, first voiced, I believe, by Darwin in a latter to Gray about knowledge of God, ironically. However, it is true, and I shall write some more on this in a while, that evolution tracks fitness not truth, and so if an idea or belief is fit, it can be as false as you like. This is not news, by the way. It was hashed out under the rubric of evolutionary epistemology back in the 70s. What Plantinga seems to want to do is conclude that evolutionary theory is therefore self-defeating, which doesn’t follow.

Merry Youle at Small Things Considered has a marvellous piece on gene exchange among the neisseriae, which include the pathogen that causes gonorrhoea. Apparently they can uptake DNA via transformation and filter out harmful or not-closely-related DNA in the process, using a “DNA-uptake-signal” sequence. It means they are, as in all cases of gene exchange, more able to adapt to novel conditions.

Bristol University philosophers are podcasting talks and blogging philosophy.

I better go do some of the things I am supposed to do now. Happy reading.

3 thoughts on “Catching up, deeply breathing, summarising

  1. Hey, first off, I like the new place. I’m even subscribing, which I didn’t do at the old place.

    You write: “What Plantinga seems to want to do is conclude that evolutionary theory is therefore self-defeating, which doesn’t follow.”

    His conclusion is not about evolutionary theory but about naturalism, right? And…that’s a relevant distinction, right? I see the non sequitur in your summary, but I’m not sure that Plantinga is making that mistake.

  2. Yes, it is about naturalism, but “evolutionary naturalism”, and he concludes:

    “The obvious conclusion, so it seems to me, is that evolutionary naturalism can’t sensibly be accepted. The high priests of evolutionary naturalism loudly proclaim that Christian and even theistic belief is bankrupt and foolish. The fact, however, is that the shoe is on the other foot. It is evolutionary naturalism, not Christian belief, that can’t rationally be accepted.”

    He is arguing that any naturalistic account is self-defeating, and that Christian belief is not.

  3. I find these philosophical arguments very interesting. I find it particularly useful to always go back to the ancient, time tested philosophers that have contributed and helped bring us to the place where we are today. Whether it be Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli. I’ve recently been listening to an audio version of Plato’s Euthyphro (I got it for free from and have been reminded of the rich philosophical tradition we have available for our enjoyment.

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