Conflict Thesis and the Scopes Monkey Trial

Those are good questions I’m not qualified to answer, however, I believe there is a good deal of work going on in this area. One would need to do a serious amount of background reading of either primary sources or secondary sources that do a truthful assimilation of the best work in this area, before one could really consider whether it were possible to follow this line of research. I am not qualified even to speculate.

But again, simply because I don’t like the answers that I predict may come from a line of enquiry, doesn’t mean the hypotheses, tests or conclusions will necessarily be wrong. This is how we examine reality.

And again, I understand discomfort with following this research process. It risks everything, doesn’t it? Or feels that way.

I understand that the different methods required for studying human behavior feel fuzzy and down-right unreliable. However, there has been a great deal of development in the research tools and methods that they use as well. Real researchers are not pulling things out of their hats and presenting them as “science.”

Thanks for talking about how you would include philosophy of science in science education. I think you have some very valuable suggestions.

However, I don’t understand how this point would be of value, particularly in a public school – I am thinking again particularly of my New Age coworker, Cathy, as well as my former Hindu, animist, Wicca, generically spiritual, occult-fascinated students would approach this and how that would work in the class:

You aren’t recommending that we start a study of the effectiveness of charms and spells, prayer, essential oils, etc, etc, etc, are you?

How would such a posture toward science: “claims of supernatural intervention are usually outside of scientific study” help public school students (or any students) better understand how nature operates?

Supernatural intervention may be claimed as a reason, but it is entirely untestable, unrepeatable, unfalsifiable. This is gaps, not an understanding of how the natural world functions.

By whom, and where should it be addressed?
In a public school classroom? By my friend Cathy? She would be more than happy to oblige.

Absolutely, and I think the issue isn’t really with researchers but science communicators. There was a paper I read for a cognitive psychology class arguing that women could see more shades of color than men (Sex & vision I: Spatio-temporal resolution | Biology of Sex Differences | Full Text). The methodology seemed fine to me for how they determined this, but at the end they gave an explanation in terms of hunter/gatherer societies with women more likely to pick berries and thus sex differences in color perception were adaptive.

While this is a plausible explanation, this is no way a “scientific” explanation because one cannot falsify whether or not sex differences in color and spatial perception can be traced to this versus some other explanation (there are theories involving estrogen impacting perception as well). How do we arbitrate between these different, speculative accounts?

Do articles aimed at a popular level differentiate between the actual “science” and the speculation on this topic? Of course not. Do they point out that this is one such plausible explanation but there could be many others and this was suggested as an example (as Abramov does in the original paper)? Nope.

So who is in charge of the public’s perception of science? It doesn’t seem to be researchers themselves as much as teachers and science communicators. Nowadays, it may be social media, because most people outside of science do not even have access to the original documents or journals without paying a large fee, or may not understand the methodology themselves unless they have been trained in it.

I’d argue the point of science education in K-12 (public school) isn’t to teach students to understand how nature operates as much as how to become literate in understanding science itself. Arguing “claims of supernatural intervention are usually outside of scientific study” helps public school students understand why even if supernatural events occur they cannot usually be discussed in a scientific situation.

According to a poll, 2/3 of Americans claim they have had an experience that falls “beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.”

If this poll is representative, a majority of Americans already believe nature operates in ways that is not understood (or may never be understood) by science. Perhaps this brings up a deeper political question of whether we should expect the models produced by science to supersede people’ beliefs about the supernatural (and whether these supernatural experiences count as “knowledge”).

Is it not true that “evolution” has been based on the concept of the Survival of the Fittest?And this concept has been used by eugenics and racism?

Is the Survival of the Fittest true or not? If it is not, then is evolution true? If it is, then is evolution evil?

I agree that the hypothesis is quite speculative, but one can still think of ways these might be scientifically tested by methodological naturalism. For example, by manipulating estrogen level and observing the effect on colour perception (whether a board of ethics would actually let one do this to a study group of girls or boys is another matter! but the hypothesis is still a scientific one if it can theoretically be falsified). And in a controlled lab setting, one might mix a bunch of berries with some leaves and then see whether a group of women could find the berries faster than a group of men. Or one could test whether the greater colour range perception of women was focused in the range of the colour of berries, or not. Or one could compare the the range of colour perception of women from current hunter-gather tribes which depend a lot on the berry-gathering activities of women to that of populations which have been more urbanized and where women’s berry gathering hasn’t been part of the diet for millenia.

At the end of the day, none of these proposed tests will “prove” the hypothesis, of course. Science doesn’t ever “prove” anything. But the hypothesis, although speculative, still makes predictions and is testable.

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This is common in almost every single scientific paper. You have the basic conclusions supported by results discussed in the paper, and then you have speculative hypotheses of what the results could mean at a higher level. It is very, very common for scientists to ask each other, “So what do you think this means?”, and they are asking for the scientist to speculate. This is where future hypotheses come from in future papers and future research.

You do more research.

The majority of articles about science aimed at the general population are of low quality. This is something that scientists complain about all of the time.


The question as to whether God intervenes in this world has little or nothing to do with evolution. If God were to intervene in this world, God would have put a stop to the murderous careers of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. He would have prevented Putin from killing thousands of Ukrainians and Russians in a senseless war. that is supported by the Russian Orthodox Church.

God does NOT human problems, but God does give humans the tools to overcome them. It is up to us as Christians and people of good will to stop Putin by helping Ukraine.

The question of evolution is simple. Did God create the universe or not? Darwin seemed to say that Nature created the universe. Ift that is so, did God create evolution? Fundamentalist said No because evolution seems to contradict the Biblical narrative found in Gen 1 and 2, however looking at the big picture of the Biblical of the world, this is absurd.

However, Darwin and Dawkins have presented two other objections to God the Creator, One is the existence of suffering in the natural world. If God is Good and Loving, how could God create a world where animals suffer? This is relative minor.

The more important objection is the character of evolution. God is Love, but Darwin said that evolutionary creation is based on conflict, the Survival of the Fittest. Yes or No? Can God go against God’s own character to create an evil world where selfishness is rewarded?

God does not create conflict, contrary to the implications of Survival of the Fittest. Ecology is the scientific view of creation that says nature is not based on conflict but harmony. Sadly, Dawkins does not accept the ideas of ecology. What do you think?
… . . . .

I agree with you for the most part. Good to hear from you, and I hope retirement is treating you well!

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Often it is the Christian’s belief that God did intervene with Jesus, that helps to frame the suffering experienced in the world.

God did relate with our world when the Father sent the Son to offer humans the gift of salvation and eternal life. However, the Father did not intervene in order to impose on humanity salvation on us. A gift is a gift to be accepted or rejected.

When Jesus comes back again, we believe that at that time all history will cease. Even so the Kingdom of God will not be imposed on anyone.

NATO has not intervened in Ukraine because it has sent its troops and air force to fight against Russia. This does not mean that NATO has not helped Ukraine in many other ways. God helps God’s people in many ways, but not directly intervening against their enemies.

Creation and Salvation are two different things. Our creation is not intervening in our behalf. Against whom?

When are the people on BioLogos going to be critical of evolution as Survival of the Fittest?

It’s hard to imagine a greater intervention.

Obviously, I do not represent anyone’s view but my own, but my understanding is that modern evolutionary theory which is held by most, includes many other factors like neutral drift etc, and of course the environment is the primary driving force in natural selection, and of course the if you look at which offspring are fittest, fittest is literally defined by what is most successful within the ecosystem the organism is living. I think you are sort of tilting at windmills, here.

Is it harmony when a pack of lions takes down a water buffalo calf? Is it harmony when a microorganism kills its host? Is it harmony when a new species moves into an area and causes native species to go extinct?

If the environment is the primary driving force in natural selection and it is then Dawkins and his people are not in agreement with modern evolutionary theory. His view is that the DNA determines everything.

This is very different from the traditional definition of survival of the fittest, which was based on physical fitness, not ecological fitness. I find it problematic that science would change its definition of fitness in midstream without making it very clear as to what it is doing, esp. since people like Dawkins and T_aquaticus do not agree with the new definition.

Since the ecology that determines evolution as you have said, then it would be fair to say that the environment guides evolution. Since it is God who determines the shape of the environment, it is also true that God guide evolution, regardless of what people might say.

Don’t you agree?

That is backwards. The traditional definition of fitness is how well an organism fits into its environment and therefore how successful it is.


Can you give me a citation from the Origin of the Species to verify this?


Because the Creation and humans by necessity are finite, death is a part of life. God gives it a positive meaning, if we listen to God and not our fears.

“Or, again, the wolves inhabiting a mountainous district, and those frequenting the lowlands, would naturally be forced to hunt different prey; and from the continued preservation of the individuals best fitted for the two sites, two varieties might slowly be formed.” Download a pdf of the Origin and search for ‘fit’. You’ll find that this is consistently how Darwin uses the word, as meaning how well an organism is suited to a particular environment or life-style.



Thank you for the quote.

That is certainly a good observation, and it is true. Darwin was a good observer.

However, I do not see it as the basis of a basic understanding that species evolve because the environment has changed. Did Darwin know about the dinosaurs and how much the environment has changed since their era?

“We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some physical change, for instance, of climate. The proportional numbers of its inhabitants would almost immediately undergo a change, and some species might become extinct. We may conclude, from what we have seen of the intimate and complex manner in which the inhabitants of each country are bound together, that any change in the numerical proportions of some of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would most seriously affect many of the others.”–Charles Darwin, “Origin of Species”

You can find the entire book over at TalkOrigins and read it for yourself. Instead if just guessing at what Darwin thought you could actually learn what he thought.