Motive Mongering: Does It Belong in Science?
Amanda Gefter, a book reviewer and science editor, felt the need to warn the world about the creationists. She wrote a blog entry at New Scientist called “How to spot a hidden religious agenda.” Aiming to “share a few tips for spotting what may be religion in science’s clothing,” she exposed buzzwords and buzzphrases she felt only creationists, not scientists, would use – irreducible complexity, Darwinism, scientific materialism, and “blind, random, undirected process” among them.
In addition, Gefter listed concepts and emphases that she felt betray a hidden agenda: an emphasis on complex molecular machines, the reference to quantum physics in support of free will, and calls for “academic freedom” (which she says can be translated as “the acceptance of creationism”). Lastly, she disclaimed any connection between the truth of a scientific theory (like evolution) with its social consequences (like the Holocaust), as explored in the movie Expelled.
Bottom line: “It is crucial to the public’s intellectual health to know when science really is science. Those with a religious agenda will continue to disguise their true views in their effort to win supporters, so please read between the lines.” See a previous article by Gefter reported 12/05/2008.
Motive-mongering and subversion is a game anyone can play. It means you don’t have to listen to the arguments of someone, you can just label them and expel them in advance. No intelligence required. To show how fair and balanced we are, we invite you to go read Amanda’s scare tactics then read the following rebuttal, essentially the same article with some changes of a few words and phrases. Links to supporting material are included for convenience.
As a science reporter at Creation-Evolution Headlines, I often come across so-called science articles which after a few lines reveal themselves to be harboring ulterior motives. I have learned to recognize clues that the author is pushing a materialist agenda. As evolutionists in the US continue to lose in polls over whether to have Darwinism alone taught as science in federally funded schools, their strategy has been forced to… well, evolve. That means ensuring that references to pseudoscientific concepts like materialism are more heavily veiled. So I thought I’d share a few tips for spotting what may be materialism in science’s clothing.
Red flag number one: the term “intelligent design” in scare quotes (03/08/2007). “Intelligent design” in scare quotes is most often used in contrast to something else – something mindless and purposeless. Proponents of materialism frequently lament the scientific claim that the products of intelligence can be detected empirically (12/03/2005, 10/12/2008). At the same time, they never define how aimless, Darwinian forces might create complex specified information (01/22/2009, cartoon). I have yet to find an article by an evolutionary biologist that defines intelligent design (09/11/2008) the way its proponents define it.
The invocation of kinship selection (09/30/2007) – where natural selection is transferred to populations – is also a red flag. And if an author describes altruism (01/23/2009, bullet 13), or any moral value for that matter, as a product of game theory (12/21/2005), let the alarm bells ring.
Misguided personifications of evolution are a classic hallmark of pseudoscience (01/12/2009), usually of the New Age variety, but some materialist groups are now appealing to aspects of personality to account for evolution as a cosmic “Tinkerer” (01/13/2006). Beware: this is nonsense. As William Provine has explained, if Darwinism is true, there is no free will, and as Dawkins described it, Darwin described a world of blind, pitiless indifference.
When you come across the terms “religious” or “religiously motivated“ (08/10/2005), take heed. True scientists rarely consider the motivations for a theory, and instead opt for examining the quality of the evidence. When a scientific theory like ID is described as “religiously motivated“ (04/09/2008), be warned. Genetic mutations are random, and natural selection is an aimless process. Believing that mindless processes can produce a mind (10/23/2008) cannot logically follow from materialist presuppositions (02/14/2007). When cells are described as “astonishingly complex molecular machines“ (04/04/2002), it is generally only breathless defenders of Darwinism who make up stories about them (02/24/2009, bullet 8) and assume that such a “machine” is explainable by numerous, successive, slight modifications (11/21/2003). If an author tries to argue against academic freedom bills (07/10/20008), it is usually materialist code for “insulating Darwinism from scientific criticism” (02/19/2009).
Some general sentiments are also red flags. Authors with materialist motives ignore reason in favor of slogans, from the staid mantra – “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (Dobzhansky, 12/19/2008) – to the unscientific assertion – “Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory, we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories” (atheist Richard Dawkins, see Uncommon Descent). If scientists use their intelligence, it is self-contradictory to define science to preclude intelligent causes (01/04/2006). “Methodological naturalism” is another red flag (02/18/2006). Materialists think they can restrict their materialism to methods of scientific inquiry, but always wind up extending their materialist philosophy (12/21/2005) into all branches of inquiry—including history, politics, economics, ethics and even “the evolution of religion“ (05/27/2008).
Materialistically-motivated authors also have a bad habit of ignoring the cultural implications of a theory (02/17/2008). The materialist crowd, for instance, abhors any linkage from Darwin to the Holocaust, as shown in the “documentary” film Expelled: No intelligence allowed (04/16/2008). Even if a straight line from Darwin to Hitler could not be drawn, it would have zero relevance to the historical fact that German scientists strongly affirmed Darwinian materialism as a philosophy supporting German militarism in the decades leading up to the Holocaust (02/03/2005), and Hitler appealed to natural selection in his racist writings (11/30/2005). Le Fanu writes that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species “articulated the desire of many scientists for an exclusively materialist explanation of natural history that would liberate it from the sticky fingers of the theological inference that the beauty and wonder of the natural world was direct evidence for ‘A Designer’“. Philosophers of science have agreed that scientists cannot be blind to the social implications of their beliefs (01/15/2009).
It is crucial to the public’s intellectual health to know when materialism is merely masquerading as science. Those with a materialist agenda will continue to disguise their true views in their effort to win in the courts, so please read between the lines (04/30/2005, 03/08/2007).
See? It’s easy. Now, Amanda, how about a calm, rational discussion about THE EVIDENCE.