After the nineteenth-century “turn from idealism,” when idealist philosophies were largely abandoned for materialist ones, many analytic philosophers have adhered to scientific naturalism as the new orthodoxy, largely due to the success of scientific advancements. The New Atheists, such as Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, claim it is Darwin who deserves much of the credit for repudiating the traditional Mind-first world view. In The Implications of Evolution for Metaphysics: Theism, Idealism, and Naturalism, David H. Gordon explores questions such as: Is it true that evolution is incompatible with theism and necessarily results in naturalism? Is it possible, as naturalism maintains, that everything can be reduced to physical processes? Or are there too many recalcitrant phenomena that defy reduction? Can the epistemological conditions for metaphysical knowledge be met? If the underdetermination of theory allows for multiple metaphysical theories to cover the same phenomena, with each offering an epistemically adequate explanation, then neither naturalism nor theism can be asserted to be objectively true. Nevertheless, it is possible to favor one over the other based on overall coherence and explanatory power.
David H. Gordon is assistant teaching professor at Loyola University Maryland.
Introduction: Mapping the Possible Implications of Evolutionary Theory
Chapter 1. The Turn from Idealism
Chapter 2: The Turn towards Naturalism
Chapter 3. Evolutionary Theory: Darwinism and The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis
Chapter 4. Theism: To Be a Theist Is to Be Committed to What?
Chapter 5. Justifying Naturalism: Distinguishing Metaphysical from Methodological Naturalism
Chapter 6. The Logical Relationships Between Evolution, Naturalism, and Theism
Chapter 7. Epistemological Concerns: Justified True Belief, Skepticism, and the Limits of Knowledge
Chapter 8. Underdetermination of Theory and Its Consequences for Metaphysics
Modern science has evolved in a way that there seems to be a conflict between science proper and anything beyond, including metaphysics and religion. Particularly the question of evolution has reached popular debates. This book explains in terms of history how this apparent conflict has emerged, it lays out out the basic assumptions of each of the directions, and—instead of clear cut ‘solutions’—it proposes interdisciplinary dialogue and mutual understanding.
Understanding biological evolution is one of the most significant breakthroughs of the modern period. Yet the field is frequently presented only by “insider” specialists, or by scientists (or theologians) who think that evolution and religion are at war and only one side (their own!) wins in the end. By contrast, Prof. Gordon here offers readers a calm, clear introduction to what evolutionary theory is, what it has established, and what it does not prove. Philosophical without being technical, this book is recommended for laypersons interested in science, theology, and evolution and their rich interrelationships.
Debates about biological evolution and its implications for theology are among the most important in the history of thought. Unfortunately, our thoughts about God after Darwin have usually suffered from an absence of clarity about what is the real issue. What the debates have always needed, but not always had, is the voice of a philosopher who keeps the conversations from straying into nonsense. David Gordon is such a voice. Readers of this fine book will find in it considerable promise of making progress in their own inquiries into the meaning of theistic faith after Darwin.