Philosophy of Evolution: Belief Problem

Philosophy and Ideology


Philosophy and Ideology

What is the duty of philosophy in the light of ideology? Philosophy must necessarily be critical of science and even take into account the ethical dimension of scientific research.41 As opposed to Dogmatism and Skepticism, philosophy must be critical by attempting a scrutiny of the range and validity of our knowledge.42

What is the nature of theory, such as is found in the theory of evolution? The value of theories or hypotheses should not be exaggerated too much.43 The theory should not be proposed as certain. The theory should not be proposed as the one true way. Debates concerning the hypothesis of evolution continue. Among scientists, even the most recent theory, the theory of punctuated equilibrium, is under serious discussion.44 Among educators, debates frequently arise in the area of school systems asking for direction, and some educators responding that natural selection is "only a theory." However, in science a theory actually holds the highest rank among scientific ideas and is often well supported by data and observation.45

Is there an ideological opposition between philosophers and empirical scientists? The philosopher has no quarrel with scientists who restrict their discussions to empirical data. However, when biologists attempt an explanation of the unity manifested by an organism and thereby try to solve a philosophical issue, the nature of the unitary organism; they have left the field of empirical science and become philosophers.46 Other illustrations of philosophizing are: some scientists do not distinguish science and philosophy; some scientists do make dogmatic pronouncements in philosophy; and some scientists profess a materialism that is not required by evolution.47 Science, philosophy, and theology all have their proper competence. However, it is not always easy to keep each field of inquiry apart.48 Although evolution is proposed as an explanatory hypothesis, it is of interest to philosophers because many non-scientists and non-philosophers accept evolution as absolute truth. So the role of the philosopher is to relate the empirical positions of the scientists to ontological statements of common knowledge and of the philosophy of human nature.49

Author: John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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