Have we profoundly misunderstood Harvard Evolutionary Biologist Richard Lewontin in his Jan 1997 NYRB article, “Billions and Billions of Demons”?
|October 16, 2011||Posted by kairosfocus under Intelligent Design|
In the current Computer Simulations thread, Dr Liddle has challenged me as follows, that I profoundly misunderstand prof Lewontin’s 1997 NYRB article that crops up so often at UD:
. . . as I have said several times, I don’t think it means what you think it means. In fact I’m sure you are misinterpreting it.
What Lewontin clearly means (and he says so explicitly) is that the entire scientific method is predicated on the assumption that the universe is predictable.
That doesn’t mean it is but that science can only proceed on that assumption.
There is no indoctination here – because no doctrine. Science does not teach the doctrine that there is “no Divine Foot”. What it teaches is that scientific methology must exclude that possiblity because otherwise the entire system collapses . . . .
Before responding to this, let me lay out a link on my understanding of science and its methods, at IOSE.
This also comes at a time when Mr Arrington was told that by leaving off the Beck reference, he had materially distorted the meaning to the point of alleged quote-mining. This is similar to what is now a standard talking point for darwinist objectors when this clip is used. (I had to deal with it in June this year, here at UD.)
It is time to again set the record straight.
>> . . . to put a correct view of the universe [1 –> a claim to holding truth, not just an empirically reliable, provisional account] into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out [2 –> an open ideological agenda] . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations [3 –> a declaration of cultural war], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [ 4 –> this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [5 –> a self evident claim is that this is true, must be true and its denial is patently absurd. But actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question, confused for real self-evidence] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [6 –> Science gives reality, reality is naturalistic and material], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [7 –> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim: if you reject naturalistic, materialistic evolutionism, you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, by direct implication] . . . .
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world [8 –> redefines science as a material explanation of the observed world], but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [9 –> another major begging of the question . . . by imposition of a priori materialism as a worldview that then goes on to control science as its handmaiden and propaganda arm that claims to be the true prophet of reality, the only begetter of truth] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. [10 –> In short, even if the result is patently absurd on its face, it is locked in, as materialistic “science” is now our criterion of truth!] Moreover, that materialism is absolute [11 –> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [12 –> Hostility to the divine is embedded, from the outset, as per the dismissal of the “supernatural”] The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. [13 –> a slightly more sophisticated form of Dawkins’ ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, certainly, irrational. This is a declaration of war! Those who believe in God, never mind the record of history, never mind the contributions across the ages, are dismissed as utterly credulous and irrational, dangerous and chaotic] To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. [14 –> Perhaps the second saddest thing is that some actually believe that these last three sentences that express hostility to God and then back it up with a loaded strawman caricature of theism and theists JUSTIFY what has gone on before. As a first correction, accurate history — as opposed to the commonly promoted rationalist myth of the longstanding war of religion against science — documents (cf. here for a start) that the Judaeo-Christian worldview nurtured and gave crucial impetus to the rise of modern science through its view that God as creator made and sustains an orderly world. Similarly, for miracles — e.g. the resurrection of Jesus — to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, there must first be such an ordinary course, one plainly amenable to scientific study. The saddest thing is that many are now so blinded and hostile that, having been corrected, they will STILL think that this justifies the above. But, nothing can excuse the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on science, which distorts its ability to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world.]
[[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.] >>
Do you see my fourteen main points of concern in the clip?
And if you go to the immediately linked, you will see a following note that raises much more, e.g Lewontin’s caricature of the woman who thought the TV broadcasts from the Moon were fake because she could not get Dallas on her set; while in fact Wernher von Braun, the man who sent the Apollo rocket to the Moon was a Christian and a Creationist.
There is even more in the onward linked full article.
Read the above, work your way through the fourteen points, then come back to me and show me how I have misunderstood what Lewontin “really” meant.
So, let us extend the invitation to the onlooker.
Have we misunderstood Lewontin, or have we understood him all too well?
What are your thoughts, why? END