George Orwell’s New Europe
|September 27, 2007||Posted by William Dembski under Intelligent Design|
Here are extracts from the Council of Europe’s Draft Resolution against ID, Creation, and anything that does not toe the materialist line. Note the passages in bold.
A. Draft resolution
1. For some people the Creation, as a matter of religious belief, gives a meaning to life. Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.
5. We are witnessing a growth of modes of thought which, the better to impose religious dogma, are attacking the very core of the knowledge that we have patiently built up on nature, evolution, our origins and our place in the universe.
6. There is a real risk of a serious confusion being introduced into our children’s minds between what has to do with convictions, beliefs, ideals of all sorts and what has to do with science, and of the advent of an “all things are equal” attitude, which may seem appealing and tolerant but is actually disastrous.
7. Creationism has many contradictory aspects. The “intelligent design” idea, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not deny a certain degree of evolution but claims that this is the work of a superior intelligence. Though more subtle in its presentation, the doctrine of intelligent design is no less dangerous.
17. Investigation of the creationists’ growing influence shows that the arguments between creationism and evolution go well beyond intellectual debate. If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists. It is part of the role of the Council’s parliamentarians to react before it is too late.
B. Explanatory memorandum. Report of Mr Guy Lengagne (revised).
6. The first major upheaval came about as a result of the work of John Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), a French biologist. At the beginning of the 19th century, Lamarck presented his basic theory of “transformism” in a work entitled Philosophie Zoologique. A few years later, on 29 November 1859, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published a work entitled “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”, in which he also put forward the idea that species evolve. Today, it is considered the founding work of the theory of evolution. According to this theory, which contrasts sharply with the knowledge and fears of the time, the biological characteristics of living beings evolve in the course of time and genuine natural selection operates for the survival of species. Through his activities and this work, Darwin proposed to the people of his time a new hypothesis concerning the evolution of species and human beings. His works mark the end of the agreement between natural history and the Christian tradition, as well as the birth of anti-evolutionist movements1.
7. From then on, there were two camps that faced one another: those who were convinced that Darwin had to be opposed in order to defend Christian theology and those who thought that the theory of natural selection would enable humankind to put an end once and for all to the theoretical foundations of “religious obscurantism.”
24. As Guillaume Lecointre, a professor of zoology at the National Natural History Museum in Paris, points out, science is the totality of operations that produce objective knowledge. A statement on the world can only be described as objective if it has been verified by an independent observer. This verification depends on three factors: scepticism, rationality and logic and, finally, methodological materialism. These three pillars ensure the objectivity of a scientific result.
27. In addition, as Hervé Le Guyader emphasises, evolutionist thinking now pervades all areas of biology and, through the historical dimension of the process of evolution, also affects the sciences of the Earth and the universe. The advances in evolution research have in fact resulted in broadening the basis of this theory, so that today the evolution of populations, including human populations, is only part of evolution as a whole. Research being done on evolution is still providing more evidence for the truth of the theory of evolution.
35. The last quarter of the 20th century was marked by an appreciable resurgence of creationist ideas. In the light of the setbacks they had sustained against the supporters of the theory of evolution, the creationists tried to adapt, and did so to such an extent that in the current statements of the “neocreationists” references to God and the Bible are, or at least it would appear, totally absent. There is no longer any question of divine creation. The neocreationist movement, which mainly consists of the advocates of “intelligent design”, defends the hypothesis of the intervention of a so-called superior intelligence. Describing it as scientific, the supporters of intelligent design demand that their ideas be taught in biology classes alongside the theory of evolution.
36. However, in 2005 the intelligent design creationists also suffered a setback when the Pennsylvania judge John Jones declared that the teaching of intelligent design in schools violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
46. Guillaume Lecointre has shown that they [creationists] have been somewhat cavalier with regard to elementary rules of science. The first breach of these rules is their lack of scepticism. In every creationist experiment, faith imposes a preconceived idea of the expected result. Faith does not permit them objectively to accept the result of a scientific experiment if it does not correspond to their beliefs, so it would seem impossible to reconcile faith and science. The second breach noted concerns the fact that even if the creationists seem to comply with the principles of logic, that logic is based on false premises, indeed on a tendentious selection of facts. Finally, mention may be made of a large number of breaches of the principles of methodological materialism and experimentation. As G. Lecointre emphasises, scientific creationism is by definition the very opposite of science because it denies the need for recourse […] to material realities […] in order to establish truths. However, let us repeat: it is not possible to establish knowledge without scientific evidence and without verifying its objectivity and scientific character by the reproduction of experiments and/or observations. The creationists make a number of claims that cannot be scientifically tested and are thus not provable. It is therefore easy to see through the deception of the creationists who claim to follow scientific principles. This deception is all the greater as, being aware that it is impossible for them to prove scientifically what their dogma advocates, some creationists even go so far as to fabricate facts and evidence. Thus, apart from the absurd interpretations put forward by some creationists, it would seem that others do not hesitate to fabricate “pseudo” evidence to try to prove the scientific nature of their statements.
48. Similar criticism can be made about the “pseudo”-scientific character of the intelligent design ideas. Its supporters present the Darwinian theory of evolution not as a scientific theory but as an ideology or a “natural philosophy” and therefore think it either cannot be taught in schools as a “science” or that the intelligent design ideas must be taught at the same time. There is consequently a tendency to justify the inclusion of the intelligent design ideas, which are presented as scientific because of the total lack of any reference to the Bible and God, in the school curricula. However, as G. Lecointre has shown, the intelligent design ideas are anti-science: any activity involving blatant scientific fraud, intellectual deception or communication that blurs the nature, objectives and limits of science may be called anti-science. The intelligent design movement would seem to be anti-science for several reasons. Firstly, the nature of the science is distorted. Secondly, the objectives of the science are distorted. The writings of the leaders of this movement show that their motivations and objectives are not scientific but religious.
49. The intelligent design ideas annihilate any research process. It identifies difficulties and immediately jumps to the conclusion that the only way to resolve them is to resort to an intelligent cause without looking for other explanations. It is thus unacceptable to want to teach it in science courses. It is not enough to present it as an alternative theory in order to have it included in the science syllabus. In order to claim to be scientific, it is only necessary to refer to natural causes in one’s explanations. The intelligent design ideas, however, only refers to supernatural causes.
89. The creationists claim that evolution is only one interpretation of the world among others, but that is not the case. The scientific nature of evolution remains irrefutable today. However, it must be repeated that the science of evolution cannot claim to give an explanation as to “why things are” but tries to explain how things are happening or have happened. The theory of evolution constitutes a body of knowledge fundamental for the future of our democracies and cannot be arbitrarily challenged.
90. It is important to point out that the theory of evolution has had a profound effect on science in general, philosophy, religion and many other aspects of human society (for example, agriculture). Evolution has also entered the field of psychology: evolutionist psychology is a field of psychology that aims to explain the mechanisms of human thought on the basis of the theory of biological evolution. It is based on the fundamental hypothesis that the brain, like all the other organs, is the result of evolution and thus constitutes an adaptation to specific environmental constraints, to which the ancestors of the Hominidae were forced to respond.
93. Creationism has many contradictory aspects. “Intelligent design”, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not completely deny a degree of evolution. However, this school of thought has hardly provided any fuel for the scientific debate up to now. Though more subtle in its presentation, the doctrine of intelligent design is no less dangerous.
104. A detailed study of the growing influence of the creationists shows that the discussions between creationism and evolutionism go well beyond intellectual disputes. If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be in danger of being directly threatened by the creationist fundamentalists. It is part of the role of the Council’s parliamentarians to react before it is too late.