Evolutionists Scare Presidential Voters
What will doom the United States? A nuclear war? Islamic terrorism? An economic depression? No: the doomsday agent will be a creationist president, said an AFP article posted on PhysOrg. It was published internationally as far as Japan and Turkey.
The scare rhetoric came at the launching of an updated book on creationism by the National Academy of Sciences, which seems to have forgotten that their own founding member and second president, Joseph Henry, was a creationist (see August 2007 Scientist of the Month).
Gilbert Omenn and Francisco Ayala, part of the coalition of scientific academies that denounced creationism last week (01/02/2008), repeatedly linked belief in evolution to scientific progress in their remarks:
- The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious energy policy issues because of global warming. I would worry that a president who didn’t believe in the evolution arguments wouldn’t believe in those other arguments either. This is a way of leading our country to ruin. [Omenn]
- Scientific inquiry is not about accepting on faith a statement or scriptural passage. It’s about exploring nature, so there really is not any place in the science classroom for creationism or intelligent design creationism. [Omenn]
- We don’t teach astrology as an alternative to astronomy, or witchcraft as an alternative to medicine. We must understand the difference between what is and is not science. We must not teach creationism as an alternative to evolution. [Ayala]
Omenn added that having religious beliefs is not incompatible with believing in evolution; it’s just that “religion and science are two different ways of knowing about the world.” He subscribes to the late Stephen Jay Gould’s description of the difference as “non-overlapping magisteria” in that “They might not be incompatible but they don’t overlap each other’s spheres.” Because of this, he concluded that “Science class should not contain religious attitudes.”
Governor Mike Huckabee’s public confession that he did not believe in evolution provided the lightning rod that occasioned the comments. The article provided no opportunity for Darwin doubters to respond, but the Discovery Institute, #2, #3 and Answers in Genesis posted responses on their websites. The AFP press release also made the following judgment without a trial: “The evolution versus creationism debate has crept into American schools and politics, where it is mainly conservative Republicans who espouse the non-scientific belief.”
Here we go again; more screaming by the bratty kids (01/02/2008 commentary). When they cannot get their way with scholarship and reason, they go back to their bad habits of ridicule, fear-mongering, bandwagon, loaded words, false dichotomies, generalities and begging the question. About the only finding of substance evident in their latest tantrum is that most Darwinists are political liberals.
There is hardly any philosopher of science today, except for card-carrying members of the Darwin Party KGB, who holds to the myth of the warfare between science and religion. Everyone knows that this was a contrived and distorted viewpoint that was promulgated by Draper and White in the 19th century for less than impartial reasons. Some, like Lawrence Principe at Johns Hopkins, consider the warfare thesis laughable – even though he is an evolutionist. He and many others defend the many and substantive contributions made to science by people of strong religious conviction.
Today’s belligerent Darwinists usually rephrase the warfare thesis, like Omenn did above, in euphemistic terms. “Having religious beliefs is not incompatible with believing in evolution,” they will allow, but the two must never mix. In their interpretation, this reconstitution of the warfare thesis means something like, “We can’t stop you from believing in fairy tales if you must – just keep them out of the science lab.” They may even graciously admit that religion is nice (sometimes). They may showcase People of Fluffy Faith within the Darwin Party. They are very tolerant of religion so long as Darwin reigns supreme. As with Plessy vs Ferguson, claims of “separate but equal” usually are contradicted by reality.
Parallels. In the communist Soviet Union, Kruschev gave the Christians a licensed church, in which the sermons were censored and membership tightly controlled, so that he could show off to the press and visiting Western diplomats how tolerant toward religion was the Soviet totalitarian dictatorship. Of course, he gave the church members not one shred of influence in policy, and apart from the peering eyes of Western reporters, routinely imprisoned pastors and turned unlicensed churches into museums of atheism. North Korea does the same thing today but is even more brutal.
In the modern science vs. religion warfare thesis, religious attitudes are contrasted with scientific facts. The methods of science, they say, require explanations based purely on natural causes, even if one believes in “God.” As Phillip Johnson has observed, though, holding to such a principle basically rules out a priori anything for a God to do. If God is relegated to a nebulous sphere of religious belief as opposed to the world of observation and evidence, then his hands are tied from intervening in the world in any real way – from answering prayer, designing anything, or changing anything. It’s de facto atheism, notwithstanding their peace pipe offered with the chant that religion can provide a way of “knowing about the world.” (Johnson has also described the two-platoon strategy of Darwinists when discussing religion, a quote worth re-reading at this time in the 01/14/2002 commentary.) The Darwinists show tolerance to religion only so long as they can keep an iron grip on the keys to knowledge of the “real” world. As we illustrated in the 11/05/2006 entry and commentary, this amounts to giving away the toys while keeping the guns. The person with the guns is the one who really owns the toys.
If the NOMA concept (non-overlapping magisteria, that science and religion are separate, non-overlapping spheres of “knowing about the world”) has you snookered and dumbfounded, take time out for a little re-education. NOMA is not a statement of science. It is a statement of philosophy about science. No discovery in a lab, using any scientific method you wish to define, will establish the veracity of NOMA. It is a presupposition. It is a belief that is chosen in advance before any scientific work is done.
Moreover, NOMA is self-refuting. All philosophers admit that no one comes into the lab with a blank slate free of bias. Despite the NAS booklet’s claim that science is based on testable evidence instead of faith, every scientist approaches his or her work with presuppositions that are philosophical or religious in nature, and that cannot be defended scientifically. Even concepts as basic as induction (that what has happened up till now will continue happening in the future), causation (that sequences of experiences constitute cause-and-effect relationships), the correspondence theory of truth (that our experiences correspond to an objective reality), the legitimacy of analogy by modeling (that something I simplify in a model has relevance to the more complex phenomenon I’m investigating) and the progress of knowledge (that scientific methods bring us progressively closer to the “Truth” about reality) are all accepted by – and here is the operative word – FAITH.
A scientist chooses those presuppositions that allow him or her to operate according to the social and traditional norms of what are called “scientific activity.” In many cases these practices have been extremely productive. In some, they have not (e.g., cosmology, Darwinism, and repeated overturns of psychology). The track record of science is of no help here. Even if you claim that practicing the traditional norms has been useful and productive, you are still espousing philosophy by faith (in this case, pragmatism). You cannot prove by empirical means that “If it works, it is true.” This opens up a huge can of worms philosophically that has not been resolved since Socrates. There are plenty of examples of practices that have been useful but probably false. Ptolemaic astronomy and alchemy were quite useful in their heyday.
Modern civilization just got through an era of “science wars” in the 1990s that strongly questioned the objectivity of science. (These battles were completely separate from the critiques of evolution by the intelligent design movement.) The outcome was more a standoff than a definitive victory by the scientific societies. What it demonstrated was that the social constructivists and relativists have just as self-refuting a position as the scientific realists. Neither side had claims to objectivity. The scientific societies just had more staying power in the ring, not any knockout punch. Thomas Kuhn and other critics of scientific objectivity by most accounts made some errors and went too far in some cases. Their criticisms, however, cannot be completely dismissed. They raised serious and fundamental questions that actually echo philosophical issues debated by the Greeks and by great thinkers throughout the ages – essentially as far back as civilization itself. The Darwinists bluff their way past these issues, hoping the public will simply trust their claim to have the best way to get at the Truth. They are like modern secular Magi following the star of their own minds.
In short, the Darwinists define science with presuppositions that are essentially religious in nature and are accepted on faith. Their characterization of science and religion as non-overlapping spheres is thus a false dichotomy. Now, ponder for a minute where their so-called scientific presuppositions come from. What kind of foundational belief system will justify the validity of inductive and deductive reasoning, the perceptibility of causes and effects, the correspondence theory of truth, the regularity of nature, the validity of the laws of logic, and the viability of knowledge gained by human reason and sense experience? You guessed it—Judeo-Christianity! You cannot get there from paganism, Buddhism, pantheism, animism, or any of the other ancient world religions or philosophies. You especially cannot get there from the atheism or evolutionary philosophy held to with such conviction by Omenn and Ayala. Why? Because a material, evolving world can neither define nor defend immaterial, eternal, universal concepts like truth, reason or virtue. If such things evolved, there would be no way to know this; besides, they could un-evolve tomorrow. Only the Judeo-Christian world view provides the preconditions of intelligibility needed for science.
The surprising conclusion is that the Darwin Party KGB, like an army of the night with their NAS booklets held high (to invert a metaphor from Isaac Asimov), are plagiarizing the Bible in spite of themselves. If we insisted that they “get their own dirt” (see joke) and build their own philosophical presuppositions from scratch, their entire superstructure of belief would collapse.
This is why we said back in the 01/27/2003 commentary that the Darwin Party’s arguments are like an army of noisy but silly orcs holding their swords backwards by the blades. The handles are pointed at us and the tips are pointed at their own hearts. The way to defeat the seemingly insurmountable horde is to simply push on the handles. It’s an easy job, but it does take personnel. Without enough people to push on the handles, the few playing defense could be clubbed to death by the sheer number of blunt handles coming at them simultaneously. The orcs won’t feel the sting of self-refutation unless you help push. Once their front line sees what is happening to them, they will be forced to lay down their swords and talk surrender. Orcs are silly, though (due to decades of brainwashing), so expect the casualties to be high before reality dawns on them.