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Education and child abuse

A critical response to the accusation that teaching children beliefs which contradict secular science is a form of child abuse. This post is a reply to Ken Perrott’s article ‘”Biblically correct” child abuse?’

Ken Perrott, a kiwi blogger, recently made some critical comments about teaching creationism to children. Now, since he’s an atheist scientist, I expect him to be agin it; no one who believes evolution is likely to support teaching kids that mankind was created from the dust a few thousand years ago. “Those”, as he puts it, “who attack science today are basically trying to change reality—to fit their preconceived beliefs.” That’s an understandable perception of the situation. Wrong, but understandable. It isn’t really something worth writing an article about. But the reason I’m writing is because Ken then hops aboard the creaking and overused “child abuse” bandwagon, saying

But the sad thing is what this does to our children. When children are denied access to science, to an understanding of reality, that is immoral. Its a form of child abuse. We should think of this when we hear news of creationists attempts to introduce their material into New Zealand’s school science classes (see Culture wars come to New Zealand). And what about those children who are educated in ‘faith school’? Or those home educated? What guarantee is there that they are not being denied access to a good education in science?

This sort of rhetoric is pretty common from New Atheists, but I didn’t really expect it from Ken. He’s usually more fair-minded. It’s hard to believe that someone who claims the rational high ground can casually throw out the accusation of child abuse. But perhaps this just shows how easily “freethinkers” are influenced by, and indoctrinated in New Atheist dogma. In any case, I want to respond carefully, thoughtfully, and in some detail to this “child abuse” charge. I think that when it’s calmly and carefully examined, it reflects extremely poorly on the people who make it.

Defining the charges

According to Ken, “when children are denied access to science, to an understanding of reality, that is immoral. Its [sic] a form of child abuse.” I infer the following four premises from his statement:

  1. Having a right understanding of science is a necessary condition for having a right understanding of reality.
  2. Not teaching children a right understanding of reality is immoral.
  3. Therefore, not teaching children a right understanding of science is immoral.
  4. The kind of immorality involved is in the category of child abuse.

I don’t think any of these premises are unfairly stated. Indeed, I’ve been very conservative. In particular, premise (i) is quite weakly worded considering that Ken not only relates “science” to “an understanding of reality”, but—implicitly—to an exclusively correct understanding. I think it could very justly be reworded: “having a right understanding of science is a sufficient condition for having a right understanding of reality.” But often people state things more strongly than they might necessarily mean, and so I have taken the weaker interpretation here.

Responding to the charges

Each of these premises bear comment. I really will try to be brief, but if you want to get to the meat of the issue, skip right on down to item (iv).

i. Having a right understanding of science is a necessary condition for having a right understanding of reality

This premise raises an obvious question: which understanding of science is necessary for understanding reality? As scientists are so fond of pointing out, science is an ever-changing discipline. Theories which are accepted today are thrown out tomorrow and replaced with new ones which are thrown out in turn the next day. So off the bat, how can this premise be true? More problematically, though, as any good scientist will readily admit, science is always wrong. Einstein, for example, is famously quoted as saying about reality, “We know nothing about it at all. Our knowledge is but the knowledge of school children […] We shall know a little more than we do now. But the real nature of things—that we shall never know, never.”1

Given this, the most that can reasonably be claimed about science is that understanding it is necessary for understanding the latest scientific theories about reality; which is really saying nothing at all. It doesn’t speak to the success of science in actually understanding reality; nor to the importance of this in education.

And this being the case, premise (i) is manifestly untrue; and even any scientist worth his salt would rightly scoff at it. If reality is to be understood—actually understood—then science is not the tool to use. So this premise must, at the very least, be amended to say that a right understanding of science is a necessary condition for having an approximate understanding of reality. Even then, however, it must be pointed out that science is not, by any means, a sufficient condition for having an approximate understanding of reality—not if “reality” is taken to mean “everything which exists”. After all, if non-physical souls actually do exist, or if God exists, what can science say about these things? Nothing at all. And if science can say nothing at all about the matter of souls, or God, and if souls and God do exist, then science alone cannot by any means furnish us with even an approximate understanding of reality. A scientist would have to beg the question to make that claim.

ii. Not teaching children a right understanding of reality is immoral

Under a Christian worldview this charge could be defended—at least to a degree. The defense would look something like this:

  1. Understanding the gospel is a necessary condition for rightly understanding reality (because a right understanding of reality requires an understanding of God and our relationship to him).
  2. We are commanded to preach the gospel to everyone (Matthew 28:19–20), and especially to our children (Deuteronomy 6:7).
  3. It is immoral (ie, it is sin) to transgress the commands of God.
  4. Therefore, it is immoral to not preach the gospel to our children.
  5. Therefore, by implication, it is immoral to not teach our children (or any children for whom we are responsible) a right understanding of reality insomuch as that understanding is conveyed in the gospel.

Thus, from a Christian perspective, I am compelled to agree with (ii) to the extent that theological knowledge must be taught to children. Perhaps a case could be made that scientific knowledge must be taught also, but I can’t think how; so I leave it as an exercise for you, the reader.

But Ken is speaking atheistically, not as a Christian. And what grounds does an atheist have to say that something (anything) is immoral? What grounds does he have to say, in particular, that not teaching children an understanding of reality is immoral? Not that I don’t agree with him, but how can he justify his belief here, under an atheistic worldview? He can’t just assert that it’s immoral—he has to be able to show that he has grounds for his assertion. It must be congruent with the rest of what he believes. That’s a burden of proof that he has yet to take up, and without which his accusation is just so much hot air.

iii. Therefore, not teaching children a right understanding of science is immoral

I’ve largely dealt with this conclusion by exposing the complete lack of justification for the premises which lead to it. But notice what a strong, very broad claim it is. Anyone who doesn’t teach their children science (whether in person or by way of schooling) is a child abuser. That is no doubt easy for Ken to say, living in an affluent first world nation where education is taken for granted. But does he think it applies everywhere in the world? If not, why not? And does he think it applies through all of history? If not, why not?

Notice also that a Christian—even a Christian who is himself a scientist—cannot teach his children science in such a way that secular theories are undermined, because secular theories are a priori assumed to be right, and Christian theories (which contradict these) are wrong. So under Ken’s view, Russell Humphreys could not teach his children both big bang and white hole cosmology,2 and conclude that the white hole model must be closer to the truth. That would be so extremely immoral that it is best characterized as child abuse. To actually hold to anything other than a purely secular scientific view of the world, and to pass this on to your children, is child abuse. Since it’s absurd to think that any parent would teach his children that which he believes to be false, it follows that Ken must either think that non-materialists should never be allowed to have children; or at the very least that they should never be allowed to actually parent their children. That is how extreme the logical conclusion of Ken’s view is. Far more extreme than any kind of Christian fundamentalism. Manifestly, in the minds of people like Ken science is no less a fundamentalist religion than any other.

But even if a “right” understanding of science is taught to children, how much is enough? At what point of education have we satisfied our alleged moral obligation to teach science? Most children in New Zealand only learn science up until the age of about fifteen—and what they learn is hardly systematic or comprehensive. Are we, as a country, being grossly immoral by not teaching science better? Are we, as a nation, abusing our children? Should we be enforcing mandatory science education to a university level? And after that, what sort of moral obligation is passed on to children when they become old enough to learn for themselves? Are they acting unethically if they don’t continue to maintain their knowledge of new scientific theories? Are they abusing themselves? If my daughter has no interest in science and never learns anything about it after the age of fifteen, is some kind of immorality going on?

Lastly, is this ethical rule only applicable to science? What about music or math? Art or languages? Is it immoral to not teach those? If not, why not? If so, then all the same questions above apply.

iv. The kind of immorality involved is in the category of child abuse

This is really the crux of the matter. Let me expand on it a bit so that it’s quite clear what is being claimed.

Child abuse is emotional, physical, or sexual harm caused by maltreatment or neglect of a child.3 It is a serious crime. It is wrong—not merely in the sense that speeding on public roads is wrong, or stealing from work. Those are wrong, but not in the sense of being “evil” or “wicked” as people generally use those terms. You don’t go to jail for those sorts of crimes. But child abuse actually is evil. People who abuse children are considered sick; depraved. They go to jail for it.

So Ken is saying that when I teach my daughter at the age of, say, seven years that (a) the Bible is the infallible word of God; (b) that the soundest exegetical understanding of the book of Genesis is as historical narrative; and (c) that orthodox (secular) scientific theories of origins (including cosmological and biological theories) must therefore be mistaken—that I am actually abusing her in a wicked, criminal way, and that I ought to be incarcerated. It is as if I did not feed her and let her become emaciated. It’s as if I let her broken leg turn septic instead of taking her to a doctor. It’s as if I continually shouted obscenities at her, telling her that she’s ugly and fat and hateful and that I can’t stand the sight of her. It’s like me beating her with a hose, or perhaps raping her every now and again. That’s what child abuse is, after all: emotional, physical, or sexual maltreatment or neglect. So teaching my daughter that the Bible is the word of God, and that secular theories which contradict it must therefore be wrong, is in the same category as doing these things to her.

How can I respond to this? Instinctively, with a manly left hook. Failing that, I can only ask: Ken, are you truly that deeply lost in the pit of your self-made religion, worshiping science, that you cannot see the total idiocy of such an accusation? I’m not in favor of teaching children rubbish either. But I’m not going to stand up and say that atheists are child-abusers because they teach their kids nonsense like that there’s no immaterial soul. Or even that they are child abusers for teaching their children utter tripe, such as that Christian homeschoolers are all child abusers. That would just be stupid. It would be, in fact, slander. They’d be rightly not a little ticked off if some religious nutjob accused them of abusing their kids by teaching them what they believe to be true. So why do I need to stand here meekly while some non-religious nutjob accuses me of the same thing?

This is the sort of rhetoric typical of the New Atheists. It is deeply, deeply hypocritical. It is big on vitriol and emotion, but tiny on rational thought. It’s a sadly ironic accusation. Christians are supposed to be the close-minded, unreasoning bigots—but we aren’t the ones saying this sort of thing. We don’t just teach our children that science is sometimes wrong; we have reasons for teaching them this. For believing that the Bible is the word of God. If you doubt it, just look through some of the posts on this blog. Read my book. Read other Christian apologists or philosophers. Read Plantinga or Lewis or Aquinas. Are we also abusing our children when we teach them the arguments made by these great thinkers? What about when we teach them the arguments made by (let’s not mince words) morons like Dawkins and Dennett, and set them homeschool assignments in Year 7 to refute their jejune reasoning? You don’t have to agree with what we say, but what happened to that central sentiment of the Enlightenment: defending our right to say it? You’re turning into the very thing you claim to hate: extremists who believe that anyone who disagrees with you is not only wrong, not only irrational, not only dangerous, but criminal.

You’re turning into the medieval Catholic Church. Stop it before there’s another inquisition.

  1. Cited from Gordon Clark, Philosophy of Science and Belief in God (Trinity Foundation: 1996); pp viii–ix.
  2. Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time: Solving the Puzzle of Distant Starlight in a Young Universe (USA: Master Books, 1994).
  3. See answers.com, ‘child abuse’ (http://www.answers.com/child%20abuse) for various definitions along these lines from a number of encyclopedias.

14 comments

  1. James

    See Bnonn, these people are neither open minded nor lovers of liberty. They are totalitarian in their worldview. Like the former Soviet Union and China under Mao they will try to remove all vestiges of religion. And they will replace it with what? The nihilism of materialism, where man has no inherent value, and no hope? Here the state must become god and the individual must conform to the whole or be discarded – or at least be re-educated… And if they want to know how a godless society would function all they have to do is look at the former Soviet Union and China where millions were slaughtered who refused to conform. Accusing the Christian parent of child abuse is the first step toward their atheistic utopia…

  2. Ryan

    I don’t get it. Steve mentioned the same type of thing in his comments on your recent posts…not to this degree, by any means, but certainly expressing major concern over anyone who questions science and the impact religion has on society. Let us weigh both sides here…

    Secular science says – Humans came from apes; we’re just a higher form of animal. You are nothing but physical matter. You live and you will die…that’s it…nothing more.

    God says – If you love me, you will keep my commandments. What are his commandments? Love your neighbor as yourself. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Live for others above yourself…etc.

    Of these two views, which is of greater detriment to our society? Is it any wonder our children act like monkeys, talking back to those in authority over them, and having little care for those around them? If I’m nothing more than matter and you’re no more than matter, what makes you any better than me? I just need to look out for myself. Who cares about any one else? If life is an accident and I simply cease to exist at death, death can’t be so bad because I didn’t exist for millions of years before I was born and it wasn’t so bad, so I don’t have to worry about facing the problems of this accident called life anyway, so I’ll just end it all.

    I could go on for hours. Is it obvious to anyone else which worldview is more detrimental to our society? I couldn’t agree with you more, Dom.

  3. Ed Darrell

    I’m curious about a “world view” that claims to be Christian, but which makes up fantastic falsehoods about science, scientists and other Christians, and denies reality to children without a glimmer of irony (does the word “millstone” suggest anything?).

    Theories which are accepted today are thrown out tomorrow and replaced with new ones which are thrown out in turn the next day.

    Okay, I call your bluff. What theory are you thinking about here? Science is not so changeable as you claim. Truth and reality are given great sway — contrary to creationism, which seems to have little regard for truth or reality.

    Can you name some idea in science which meets your description, even if we substitute “this year” for “today,” and “in the next five years” for “tomorrow?”

    Do you know how science works? I don’t see any evidence of that in your post.

  4. Ed Darrell

    Secular science says – Humans came from apes; we’re just a higher form of animal. You are nothing but physical matter. You live and you will die…that’s it…nothing more.

    Science — Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Jewish, Islamic, secular, all science — says if we classify humans, humans are classified with the other great apes. Science notes that the evidence shows no special creation, and that our experience is everything has a parent. Fossils show other apes that look like ancestor species to ours. Fossils show ancestors to all modern species and almost all ancient fossilized species, too.

    Science says we are physical matter. Science does not claim that nothing more exists. There is not much good evidence for a spiritual world, but there’s about an equal amount against specific claims of spirituality. Science journals do not fill up with articles denying the human spirit. In fact, I’ll wager you can’t find a single such article.

    Science shows that human development, from sperm and egg to squalling baby, is astounding. Science shows that humans have remarkable potentials (as do other animals). Science shows all life to be related.

    Some cynics say there’s nothing more — but those cynics are religiously inclined more often than non-religiously inclined. Don’t blame science for what you regard as a failure of religion, eh?

  5. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    I’m curious about a “world view” that claims to be Christian, but which makes up fantastic falsehoods about science, scientists and other Christians, and denies reality to children without a glimmer of irony (does the word “millstone” suggest anything?).

    Ed, you don’t seem to be engaging with point (i) in my article. You’re just begging the question instead of interacting with the arguments I made.

    As regards my comments about theories being changed ‘tomorrow and the next day’, as it were, perhaps you would like to familiarize yourself with the literary device of hyperbole. My point was that scientific “knowledge” or “truth” is in constant flux—and this fact amply demonstrates that it is actually neither knowledge nor truth as those things are typically defined.

    As regards what science has to say about souls, you’re just pointing out what I’ve already said, which is that science can’t address the matter. The problem, as I think I made clear in my article, is that people like Ken religiously assume that since something cannot be investigated scientifically and shown to exist, it therefore cannot be investigated at all and does not exist. I don’t take issue with methodological naturalism. That is simply a limitation of science. What I take issue with is philosophical naturalism—especially the fundamentalist sort you see in New Atheists.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

  6. Ryan

    Ed,

    I agree again with Dominic. You have a point in that I overstepped my bounds with regards to what ‘science’ says, but it doesn’t refute the fact that telling a kid he’s a cosmic accident, an animal evolved from monkeys, is far more detrimental to him than telling the child he/she is accountable before God to love their neighbor, put others before themselves, etc, etc… It’s as if you’re trying to avoid the actual argument by drawing my attention towards mistakes I made that, when it comes to the argument, really don’t matter (that’s not to say they don’t matter at all, just not for this argument).

  7. Lawrence

    Let’s see, we were an accident and only have each other to rely on versus we were created special, made more important than the angels. Which philosophy would create more corruption in people?

    How do we know that we are in favor of god? While somewhat flawed, the important part of Max Weber’s work, which is still consistent, showed that those that held the philosophy that they were to be rewarded by God used their economic success to evaluate their standing. They would exploit the poor because they surely were not going to get into heaven.

    The fact that I am evolved from a common ancestor with apes only makes me more in awe of the power of nature, not a horrible monster.

    You say that by removing god that we remove our attachment and caring for others, yet you have no evidence for this. All ape species show at least some from of attachment, even if they are largely weak ties, so humans should have, and there is evidence that they did, evolved stronger ties to help in survival.

    Your argument is that we need to lie to children because there is nothing in nature that makes us responsible to others.

    My argument, supported by the works above, is that humans have a mechanism that makes them care for one another, which make us responsible for the survival of one another.

  8. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Lawrence—

    Your argument is that we need to lie to children because there is nothing in nature that makes us responsible to others.

    No it isn’t.

    My argument, supported by the works above, is that humans have a mechanism that makes them care for one another, which make us responsible for the survival of one another.

    But responsibility is obviated by evolution, so your argument is fallacious. If we really did evolve from lower forms of life, and all we are is complex physical organisms governed by nervous responses adapted to ensure reproduction and survival, then “duty” is an empty word. It has no meaning and no power. Ex hypothesi, once I am aware of the nature of the universe, and of my evolutionary origins, I have no reason whatsoever to be constrained by the “responsibility” mechanism which those origins selected for.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

  9. Lawrence

    How is responsibility obviated? Let’s say that we are evolved to reproduce and survive (The Selfish Gene), ignoring culture for now. Does that mean we are only out for ourselves? Possibly, but can we ensure that we pass on our genes? If we are on our own, alienating the rest of the species from ourself we can’t. So, how best can we pass on our genes? We cannot be selfish and hurt others as it decreases our chances of bearing offspring.

    Instead, we must cooperate with others if we wish to propagate our genes. If we are evolved to be connected with other people this allows our genes to be passed on. Ties are the means of our existence, breaking these ties would go against evolution and the selfish gene. The idea you propose is of the selfish gene but you assume it means personal selfishness, not the best means of propagation. Ignoring the importance of ties denigrates humans to mindless sex machines, but you knew that already, that was your intention.

  10. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Lawrence—

    1. You didn’t actually address the issue of responsibility at all. Nothing you have said refutes my original argument in post #9.

    2. Why does it matter if we propagate? Ex hypothesi, as an evolved animal with the ability to consider the question rather than simply acting as evolution dictates, I choose not to pass on my genes. I choose to ignore the obligations I feel to others, because I know that these are just an evolutionary mechanism. I can’t be obliged to be obliged if duty is just a mechanism for survival and reproduction, and I don’t care about either. You can’t very well argue that I have an obligation to act according to these mechanisms when obligation is itself a mechanism. All you’d really be saying is that your biology is causing you to think that my biology should cause me to think that I should behave in a certain way. So what? If you’re going to reduce responsibility to biology, then you aren’t talking about responsibility any more.

  11. Lawrence

    Your focus was originally on humans being out to simply propogate our genes and being selfish, “[i]f we really did evolve from lower forms of life, and all we are is complex physical organisms governed by nervous responses adapted to ensure reproduction and survival, then “duty” is an empty word,” and that this somehow removes responsibility.

    But is this true? Does it remove the duty of responsibility? I don’t think so, and there is no evidence to say that it does.

    Responsibility is related to the network ties that we have. For our survival we must ensure the survival of others. Responsibility is made stronger by culture than evolution as society picks the rules that it wants. Which is why you are hard pressed to find a universal rule, no, not even killing/murder.

    Responsibility comes from a mix of biological imperative and cultural enforcement of those things that gradually evolved in society. Cultural rules became more and more institutionalized and began to trump responses that were considered unruly. Killing, disobedience, and so on. Christianity was one of several attempts to convey a certain society’s rules in an institutionalized manner.

    So again, evolution = stronger ties stronger ties + larger groups= rules=culture;

    The evolution of culture now leads to a mandate of why we should or should not commit certain acts, but it also leads to rules that have a certain amount of liquidity through time. What was once obscene, dangerous, subversive, and so on is now commonplace. Ancient rules no longer hold as much sway because the world is changing and if the system of rules cannot address these changes then they can no longer hold a place in the direction of culture.

    time = cultural evolution = shifting institutionalized rules.

    My biology does lead me to think your biology should act in a certain way, but culture has an influence on the mind that my biology created and culture has an influence on your mind as well.

    The assumption seems to be from your previous comment, and correct me if I’m wrong, that evolution says that we are a machine. However, this is wrong, all evolution say is that we are not a blank slate.

    Culture isn’t everything and neither is biology. What humans are, is a combination of both. This is why people given the worst of situations can rise out of them and why people given only the best chances and the purest environment can fall.

    Responsibility is evolved by nature (strong ties) and defined and strengthened/weakened by culture (folkways and mores of the time frame) and biological makeup.

  12. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Lawrence—

    But is this true? Does it remove the duty of responsibility? I don’t think so, and there is no evidence to say that it does.

    What do you mean by “evidence”? Does the argument I just gave not count?

    My biology does lead me to think your biology should act in a certain way, but culture has an influence on the mind that my biology created and culture has an influence on your mind as well.

    So what? Culture is just an evolutionary adaptation; a mechanism for survival and reproduction.

    You aren’t engaging with my argument at all. You’re just telling me how you think duty evolved. But I know that already; my whole argument is that, if duty is nothing but a biological mechanism for survival and reproduction, then it is not actually duty. To say that one person has a duty toward another, under your view, is actually just to say that one animal has a biological imperative to behave in a certain way toward another. But that is not what duty is. If duty is nothing more than a biological imperative, then it does not exist as we think it does, and as we talk about it in the study of ethics (for example, as exemplified in moral responsibility). You can affirm that if you like, but as indicated by your hedging, it’s a high price to pay. It removes deontology from your worldview entirely. You can’t use the word “ought” any more because it has no meaning. Such a view is simply unworkable, and certainly unbelievable.

  13. Lawrence

    You seem to hold a very reductionist view on the relationship of culture and evolution. Culture may have started as an evolutionary byproduct but if an evolutionary byproduct is selected for long enough it can become a force by itself. This creates a mechanism that cannot be reduced back to its origin, as much as you might like to, and this mechanism has an influence of its own which can go against why it was originally selected for.

    Duty is a moral obligation to something which is created by what society deems as right or wrong.

    Just because duty is guided by a biological mechanism does not remove the importance of duty as it exists because of the cultural importance of it. Just because the cultural is related to evolution does not mean that it is unimportant. Duty arises by culture, as does responsibility to others.

    Deontology offers nothing as a philosophy. It is based on the popular morality, a subjective state asserting that the current status quo on what is right or wrong is how things have always been. How these universals are decided seems very subjective and therefore not very useful.
    The idea of culture minimizes the importance of deontology because we cannot ascertain absolutes through a filter such as culture, the current status quo. If there are absolutes, then there is a method to find them but deontology is not a satisfying approach. ( I apologize if I have misstated anything, it has been awhile since I have taken philosophy)

    Ought still exists, but it cannot be found in the court of popular opinion.

    A good philosophy neither assumes humans are just calculating machines (homo economus) nor are they completely reciprocating beings (homo reciprocans) Instead, a better philosophy seems to be desire utilitarianism, though I am still reading up on it to understand the finer details.

  14. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Lawrence, you aren’t understanding me. Let me grant, for the sake of argument, that culture is more than just a biological mechanism for survival. So what? How does this save duty?

    Duty is a moral obligation to something which is created by what society deems as right or wrong.

    Notice that all you’re actually saying is that duty is a duty to do something. You’re just concealing it by using synonyms. A moral obligation is merely a duty to some moral authority, Lawrence. Which brings us back to asking, what is a duty? You can’t define it by referencing itself. But how will you define it, then? You see, the reductionism you’re complaining about is inherent in your view. I’m just pointing that out. Duty is a biological mechanism for survival in your view. Apparently it’s a cultural mechanism for survival also. But so what? How do either of these actually entail duty; that is, obligation or responsibility? One cannot be responsible or obligated to some biological or cultural process. The evolutionist worldview just does not have the tools available to provide an adequate explanation of duty; just as it doesn’t have the tools available to provide an adequate explanation of intentionality. It cannot accept that these things are properly basic, because this would mean that they are grounded in something other than the natural universe (ie, in God)—so it attempts to reduce them to naturalistic processes; all the while claiming that God “doesn’t explain anything” and complaining that theists are being reductionistic in their critiques of naturalistic evolution.

    As regards deontology, I was talking about the study of duty; not about some specific philosophical position. I take deontology to entail a little more than ethics, since it it covers epistemic as well as moral duties.

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