Main   Terms   People   Interviews   Resources   Events

a) Holist Versus Reductionist Accounts

Evolutionary biology presents another domain for the debate between reductionism and holism. ii) Methodology As Barbour, Ernst Mayr and others stress, methodological reductionism has been fruitful in molecular biology, but other methodologies such as population genetics and ecology are needed to deal with organisms as a whole.Ian G. Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science, Gifford Lectures; 1989-1990. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990), 165-66.ii) Epistemology. As Francisco Ayala points out,Francisco J. Ayala, "Reduction in Biology: A Recent Challenge," in Evolution at a Crossroads: The New Biology and the New Philosophy of Science, ed. David J. Depew and Bruce H. Weber (Cambridge:...there are biological functions and concepts which cannot be defined in purely chemical and physical terms; they include fitness, adaptation, predator, organ, heterozygosity, and sexuality. For Mayr,Ernst Mayr, "How Biology Differs from the Physical Sciences," in Evolution at a Crossroads: The New Biology and the New Philosophy of Science, ed. David J. Depew and Bruce H. Weber (Cambridge:...evolutionary biology is best treated as historical narrative. Anti-reductionist views such as these in biology fit nicely in the broader epistemic hierarchies developed by Peacocke, Murphy and Ellis.Such epistemic hierarchies are not intended as support for ontological and axiological hierarchies (e.g., ‘the great chain of being’) since, as feminists and ecofeminists stress, these in turn...iii) Ontology. Reductive materialism is frequently championed as the only alternative to vitalism, but there are other options. Barbour, for example, supports a holist philosophy of organicism drawn from Whiteheadian metaphysics in which the capacity for experience is ubiquitous in nature (i.e., panexperientialism). By envisioning the ecosystem as a whole, with its many interwoven ecological communities, rather than individual organisms in nature, as the primary context of ecological ethics, Holmes Rolston suggests a holist ontology as well.Holmes Rolston III, Philosophy Gone Wild: Essays in Environmental Ethics (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1986); Holmes Rolston III, Genes, Genesis and God: Values and Their Origins in Natural and Human History... Other holist ontologies include Murphy’s emergentist monism (nonreductive physicalism) and what I call ontological emergence (see Part 1, D and E, above).

Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.