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Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 3$
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Jonathan L. Kvanvig

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199603213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603213.001.0001

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Evolution without Naturalism

(p.187) 10 Evolution without Naturalism
Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 3

Elliott Sober

Oxford University Press

God and numbers provide two challenges to metaphysical naturalism–the former if God exists and is a supernatural being, the latter if numbers exist and mathematical Platonism is true. Evolutionary theory is often described as having a commitment to naturalism, but this is doubly wrong. The theory is neutral on the question of whether God exists and mathematical evolutionary theory entails that numbers exist. The chapter develops the point about theistic neutrality by considering what evolutionary biologists mean when they say that mutations are “unguided.” Evolutionary theory is logically compatible with deism and also with various interventionist theologies. In connection with mathematical evolutionary theory, the chapter discusses and criticizes the indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism developed by Quine and Putnam. The chapter criticizes their epistemological holism by considering ideas in Bayesian confirmation theory.

Keywords:   Bayesianism, confirmation, holism, indispensability, naturalism, Platonism, unguided mutation

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