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Darwinism the Invincible

If I am a fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.
-George Gordon Byron

Intelligent Design is a theory that follows evidence observed in nature to the existence of one or more intelligent agents who had a role in building at least some of what we observe, particularly in living systems, physical laws, and cosmology. Intellectual Honesty dictates that we follow the evidence where it leads just as we should the evidence for any theory of origins (or anything else, for that matter). Rejecting the theory out of hand only because it might imply a cause which is disallowed on philosophical grounds is not science at all; it is Intellectual Dishonesty of the worst kind and a shameful placement of philosophy ahead of a science purported to be purely objective.

In their popular 70’s cult film classic “The Search for the Holy Grail”, Monty Python’s Flying Circus performed one of my all time favorite examples of Intellectual Dishonesty. Read the scene Here.

To the Black Knight, his own invincibility was considered a matter of fact. Even with the strongest contrary evidence possible, the knight refused to believe he had been defeated. Not because the facts weren’t clear – rather because he had decided that his defeat was not even a possibility, and so his limbless torso could not be defeated. “Come back here and take what’s coming to you. I’ll bite your legs off!”. Even as the evidence mounted around him and his enemy galloped off across his bridge, the very possibility of defeat simply did not exist in his mind. “Come back here, I am invincible!” In making this choice, he was in essence placing his own belief (or philosophy if you will) ahead of the facts. Philosophy first, then the facts IF they fit.

I use this Monty Python scene as a metaphor for Intellectual Dishonesty to help focus scientists and engineers on the importance of following the evidence where it leads (being intellectually honest). As a reminder, I show the video clip to my staff and their organizations once per year. I remind them that the success or failure of our business depends on their complete objectivity and intellectual honesty. We could not survive as professionals on decisions driven by data skewed by preconceived notions of what should be true. Truth is not a subjective thing, especially in science and engineering, so ALL evidence should be viewed free of personal beliefs, intellectual biases, or preconceptions of what it is allowed to say.

This concept of Intellectual Honesty is of profound importance to me – and not just as it applies to business, science, and engineering. As a Christian theist I am required by my philosophy and belief system to be honest – especially with myself. I can’t both be a Christian and tolerate Intellectual Dishonesty because the two are mutually exclusive, so I am required by my faith to view evidence objectively and follow it wherever it leads, no matter what, and that sits just fine with my faith in the existence of God. Since no scientific theory or data can prove or disprove God exists, no scientific theory can prove or disprove how he might act in the world – or that there is (or is not) purpose to any given thing, or intent to any given incident.

With that simple truth, I am able to put science ahead of philosophy on matters of scientific pursuit. My faith does not depend on the final scientific answer to any question. Indeed, my philosophy literally broadens the scope of possible naturalistic explanations. I don’t need to a priori reject any potential explanation because my personal philosophy allows any to be true. Said another way, science can neither prove nor disprove whether or not there is divine purpose behind natural processes, so I am able to accept as fact any scientific conclusion that the evidence leads to.

But there is a dilemma here: if it is my theism that allows me to be open to following the evidence wherever it leads and to be completely objective, then what of the pure materialist whose atheism does not permit him the same objectivity, especially if it were to lead to an answer his philosophy does not allow? To be honest to his chosen philosophy, he must be intellectually dishonest at least to the extent of a priori rejection of an infinite number of potential truths. He must put his philosophy ahead of science, and wear blinders that remove from sight any evidence that *might* point to it (his philosophy) being wrong. To offer a case in point: the offhanded rejection of Intelligent Design theory by the old guard Darwinians simply because it is not allowed by their philosophy, regardless of what the evidence might tell them. Most people would call that religion, not science.

There is another important aspect to consider here: because theism frees one to accept any naturalistic explanation that the evidence supports, theism also frees one to seek evidence that might support any theory one might contrive. No theory is out of bounds to a theist except one that cannot be supported by evidence. But the same is not true of a person whose philosophy precludes certain possibilities – his philosophy must necessarily preclude any attempt to seek evidence that might support the theory he rejects on philosophical grounds. He’s already decided the theory is wrong, so why even bother seeking evidence for it? But that’s really not so bad, is it? As long as he doesn’t prevent other researchers from seeking the evidence, there is not a problem. It’s when a scientist’s philosophy prevents him from considering evidence and causes him to try to stop others from considering it that we have a real problem on our hands. That problem is most definitely not science; most people would call it Fascism. And I would call our current state of affairs Darwinian Fascism – as part of our scientific community attempts to render even the slightest criticism of Darwinism illegal by judicial decree.

History is replete with examples of truth overcoming political and philosophical censorship of new ideas. Nations have been destroyed, entire races subjected to genocide, valid scientific theories dismissed to the dung heap of great thinking, only to be resurrected as the old guard is eventually overcome by the inevitable truth. As it is with nations, people, and scientific theories, so it will be with Intelligent Design.

In the not too distant future, as top scientists of the day work feverishly to follow the real evidence where it really leads, they will only barely notice a faint cry from the distance – that of the shrinking Darwinian army screaming from their crumbling pulpit of lies, coercion, deceit, and intellectual dishonesty: “Come back here, Darwinism is invincible”.

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18 Responses to Darwinism the Invincible

  1. Well stated Doug…. the arguments not made on science, but in mocking jestures only show bias, not intelligence.

  2. 2

    Hi Doug,

    I think you are probably right that many atheists are essentially convinced that there is no god and that the world must be interpreted in that light. For example, it seems that some physicists are willing to propose multiple universes as a way of getting around the improbability that the parameters of the universe are at values that allow the universe to exist.

    However, I don’t think this form of atheism, as you present, is the sole form.. Speaking for myself, I don’t believe in god, but not because I have some preconceived philosophy of how the universe should be. I was raised believing in god, but in my life I have seen no evidence for the existence of god. My belief (that there is no god) is based on lack of evidence.

    I don’t mean to say that I am completely convinced, and I am certainly not in the business of trying to convince others to be atheists. But if you held a gun to my head and said “What is your belief – god or no god ?” I would have to say what I believe. And I am sure that this comes from my experience in the world, not some pre-conceived philosophy that I in turn have built my world on. I really don’t agree that “atheism does not permit him the same objectivity, especially if it were to lead to an answer his philosophy does not allow”. In fact, most atheists I know hold objectivity as a foundation to understanding. And if someone came along and showed some good data to really show that there was a god, I would be happy to believe. In fact, I would prefer to believe in the first place. I just don’t. But my current belief doesn’t preclude a change of mind.

    My two cents.

    Take care.

  3. Thank you for offering your thoughts doug! It’s comforting to see objective individuals in the scientific and engineering disciplines.

    If I might add, the scientific enterprise requires a little bit of faith, and that faith is that the universe is architected to allow the scientific method to succeed. If we did not have that faith, there would be no science. Eugene Wigner called this property of discoverability a miracle.

    To some extent, the theist has at least has a philosophical justification for why the scientific enterprise succeeds, namely the universe is archtected for discovery by humans, and that God is helping humans along by giving them a universe that is friendly to discovery. As Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips recently said, “I’d also like to thank God for giving us such a wonderful and interesting universe to explore.”

    Salvador

    Salvador

  4. I would like to point out that most all the materialists that I know or have read be they agnostics or atheists are not so on account of philosophy but on account of the available evidence. Therefore these people are not bound by materialism but arrive at it by fiat. I agree with senatorchuck. I would much rather believe in a god (particularly the Christian God), and in a way I still do. What faith I have is a-rational. It is my rational mind that denies me a complete religious belief.

    That said, I would agree that the many episodes of intloerance in academia as of late are completely unacceptable, and the unbridled hostility to ID has been extreme. Evolutionary Theory proponents of Dawkin’s ilk are doing more harm to their cause than IC or CSI could hope for.

  5. senatorchunk:

    I agree with you that there is a faction in the athiest camp who are reasonable, open minded, and willing to take up the challenge objectively – as you seem to be (which I really appreciate, by the way). My experience is that these individuals are relatively rare. So consider yourself blessed to have such an open mind! (perhaps “blessed” isn’t the best choice of wording, but you get the point) :)

    One last comment – I would place many a thiest into the same category as being driven by dogma and lacking Intellectual Honesty and would thus make the same arguments about their handling of scientific issues. But that’s a topic for a different post.

  6. Hi Senator Chuck,

    Thanks for your post and I am wondering what you think of Roger Penrose’s recent calculation based upon the entropy in blackholes that the probability of having such dramatic fine tuning by chance is 10 to the 10 to the 123? Penrose based his calculations on a venture Hawking had with a team of scientists?

    I find this a fair way to logically infer that a Designer built the universe.

    Regards
    Dan

  7. SenatorChunk, Doug doesn’t actually know what he thinks. His essay contains contradictions. For instance:

    “Since no scientific theory or data can prove or disprove God exists, no scientific theory can prove or disprove how he might act in the world – or that there is (or is not) purpose to any given thing, or intent to any given incident.”

    is completely contradicted by:

    “He [an atheist] must put his philosophy ahead of science, and wear blinders that remove from sight any evidence that *might* point to it (his philosophy) being wrong.”

    Either there’s no such evidence and the first sentence is true, or there’s evidence and the second is true.

  8. ctaster:

    Maybe this will help you understand why that’s not a contradiction:

    http://www.sonoma.edu/users/s/.....llabus.htm

  9. What, reading a syllabus? I’ve had both philosophy of science, and epistemology. Either belief in god can be affected by scientific evidence, or it can’t. If it can, you’re correct that an atheist would have to ignore that evidence. If it can’t, you’re correct that theists can follow any evidence free of threat.

  10. ctaser:
    My fault, I didn’t realize the spring term is halfway through. Maybe you should catch the summer session (or the fall if summer isn’t offered).

  11. Doug,

    I agree with your premise but ctaser has a valid point and why did you post a syllabus? I too have some logic training and I don’t think he is wrong. Can you elaborate?

    Sincerely,
    A fellow Doug.

  12. Doug,
    ctaser claimed “Doug doesn’t actually know what he thinks. His essay contains contradictions.” The tone of this statement is not something I’m inclined to waste my time on responding to. If he had simply asked to explain the logic I would have been happy to. To lighten the situation I posted a Philosophy 101 syllabus. Gotta have a sense of humor to survive these discussions.

    The quotes provided by ctaster must be viewed within the context being discussed, not taken out of context to show a non-existent contradiction. One context is that of a person of religious faith. The other is within the context of a person of athiestic worldview.

    -Doug (this could get confusing if any more Dougs join in)

  13. Doug,
    I think I understand what you say. The fact that science cannot definitely prove or disprove a Creator is the objective truth; but that is not perceived equally by all.
    In the worldview of the faithful, that truth is well understood: The religious person can pursue scientific goals knowing their findings will never question their faith.
    The atheistic worldview fails to see this, however. So, the atheist is subconciously insecure, afraid they might actually find some evidence that will prove the very thing their worldview denies, and prefer to steer away from such recearch.
    What I wonder, however, is why? Why should we assume that it cannot sometimes be the other way round, with confident atheists and subconciously insecure believers? What is there in the religious viewpoint that makes it understand science’s true limitations, while the atheist’s viewpoint doesn’t grasp them and regards science as a potential enemy deep down?
    My opinion is that there isn’t anything, and that the difference of perspective usually comes out of a difference in character, regardless of beliefs. And that’s why you can get confident and insecure individuals on both ‘sides’ in this argument.
    But I’d also like to know your views on this.

  14. Phed,
    I agree with you that character plays an important role, and that there are insecurities on both sides of the issue that lead to undesireable behaviors (see my comment #5 above). But in my opinion there is also a fundamental difference in the way a person of faith views evidence – as compared with the athiest – that is a logical outcome of their chosen worldviews. It is a built-in limitation of the athiestic worldview that does not exist for the thiest.

    The person of faith is able to view the complete set of evidence completely objectively because he knows none of it can threaten his worldview (character flaws neglected for the moment). But the athiest is forced into a defensive position immediatly: a subset of existing evidence must be either ignored or marginalized by “just-so” stories and wildly imaginative hypothesis for which there is no evidence and which are infinitely untestable even conceptually. Taking the limiting case as an example (but there are many, many more): the anthropic principle v. the need for infinite universes.

    It seems the whole of the athiestic worldview now depends on the existence of something that cannot be observed, measured, or tested. Were I an athiest I would indeed be feeling quite insecure.

  15. dougmoran:
    “The person of faith is able to view the complete set of evidence completely objectively because he knows none of it can threaten his worldview (character flaws neglected for the moment).”

    Doug,
    What about the many Christians (including Paul Nelson, Ken Ham, and Kent Hovind) who accept the Genesis creation story? They are undoubtedly persons of faith, but their worldview is profoundly threatened by the abundant evidence for an old universe.

    Unless you have some evidence I find acceptable that Nelson’s worldview is profoundly threatened I think you should take your comments elsewhere. -ds

  16. the contradiction remains.

    You however don’t. -ds

  17. DaveScot wrote:
    “Unless you have some evidence I find acceptable that Nelson’s worldview is profoundly threatened I think you should take your comments elsewhere.”

    The fact that Nelson is a young-earth creationist is well known:
    http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/ignorance.html
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310220173
    http://www.nagt.org/files/nagt.....n3p319.pdf
    and many others.

    As a YEC, his view on the age of the earth differs from that of modern science by a factor of 450,000. To put that difference in perspective, it’s as if modern science is claiming that the moon is 250,000 miles away, but the YECs are saying “No, the moon is only half a mile away.” A huge difference.

    When multiple fields of science converge on an answer that’s 5.5 orders of magnitude larger than yours, and your answer is central to your religious beliefs and to the perceived reliability of your holy book, I’d say your worldview is threatened.

    :lol: Wrong answer. Go in peace but go. -ds

  18. [troll]

    What would have been the “right” answer, Dave? A notarized statement from Paul certifying that his worldview was threatened?

    You are an intellectual coward, banning all who see (and point out) the holes in the swiss cheese logic of you and your cronies. I see that you truly are as ridiculous as you are portrayed at “After the Bar Closes”.

    Ban all of us, but we’re still laughing, whether you can hear us or not.

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