Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Olsen's Criticisms: Religion and Cosmic Teleology

Olsen has a long chapter on how some of my critics--such as John West, Carson Holloway, and Richard Hassing--have criticized me for defending a Darwinian natural right that is not grounded in religious belief and cosmic teleology (247-82).  He suggests that my argument cannot be persuasive if I cannot answer these criticisms.  Since he never mentions any of my many responses to West, Holloway, and Hassing, he leaves the reader with the impression that I cannot answer their criticisms.

In fact, I have answered them many times--in "Vindicating Darwinian Conservatism" in Darwinian Conservatism: A Disputed Question (222-45), in "Defending Darwinian Natural Right" in Interpretation (spring 2000), and in many blog posts.

I have made four arguments on these issues.  First, I have argued in defense of Darwin's adoption of the idea of "dual causality."  The religious belief in God as the "primary cause" of everything is compatible with the scientific study of the "secondary causes" of natural evolution. 

Second, I have argued that the Darwinian scientist can accept the importance of religious belief in the cultural evolution of human morality.  Darwin was explicit in recognizing religious belief in moral evolution.

Third, I have argued that although religion can support morality, our evolved morality can stand on its own natural ground.  That's important, because we sometimes need to correct those religious beliefs that violate our natural moral sense.  Otherwise, we would be trapped in a divine command theory of morality that would make it impossible for us to question religious beliefs that are morally dubious.

Fourth, I have argued that we do not need a cosmic teleology as long as we can ground natural right in the immanent teleology of human biological nature.

Olsen has not explained why he thinks these arguments fail.

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