Evolution without Naturalism

Elliott Sober

in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 3

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603213
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725388 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion

Evolution without Naturalism

Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  14056 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.