Darwinism the Invincible
|March 8, 2006||Posted by Douglas Moran under Intelligent Design|
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 70Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s cult film classic Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Search for the Holy GrailÃ¢â‚¬Â, Monty PythonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t clear Ã¢â‚¬â€œ rather because he had decided that his defeat was not even a possibility, and so his limbless torso could not be defeated. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come back here and take whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coming to you. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll bite your legs off!Ã¢â‚¬Â. 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ especially with myself. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ his philosophy must necessarily preclude any attempt to seek evidence that might support the theory he rejects on philosophical grounds. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already decided the theory is wrong, so why even bother seeking evidence for it? But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really not so bad, is it? As long as he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t prevent other researchers from seeking the evidence, there is not a problem. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when a scientistÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that of the shrinking Darwinian army screaming from their crumbling pulpit of lies, coercion, deceit, and intellectual dishonesty: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come back here, Darwinism is invincibleÃ¢â‚¬Â.