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Is Darwinism a naturalistic mystery religion masquerading as a scientific theory?

A friend of mine asked me to write a foreword to a forthcoming book critiquing Darwinism and promoting ID. I’m giving the foreword below but keeping the author and the book anonymous for the time being. In the foreword, I argue for the following claim:

Evolutionary theory, in its grand macroevolutionary Darwinian form, flies in the face of the scientific method and should not be taught except as a discredited speculative hypothesis that properly belongs to nature religions and mystery cults and not to science.

I would like in this thread to discuss whether the argument I make for this claim in terms of the absence of a rational connection between the “mountains and mountains of evidence” that Darwinists cite and the grand claim of their theory that a blind purposeless process can do all the creative work in biology holds up and whether it could be the basis for radically limiting Darwinism in the textbooks.

In this discussion, I don’t want any quibbles about the use of the term “Darwinism,” to the effect that we shouldn’t be talking about Darwinism but rather about evolutionary biology. If thinkers as diverse as Richard Dawkins, Lynn Margulis, and Stephen Jay Gould can call themselves Darwinists, then Darwinism is the appropriate designation. At any rate, I outline precisely what I mean by Darwinism in my paper “Unintelligent Evolution” (go here).

FOREWORD TO FORTHCOMING BOOK
By William A. Dembski

In the film Moonstruck, Loretta (played by Cher) has an affair with her future brother-in-law (played by Nicholas Cage). To get her life back on track, Loretta goes to confession. Here is the exchange with her priest:

  • Loretta: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been two months since my last confession.
  • Priest: What sins have you to confess?
  • Loretta: Twice I took the name of God in vain, once I slept with the brother of my fiancé, and once I bounced a check at the liquor store—but that was really an accident.
  • Priest: Then it was not a sin. But what was that second thing you said, Loretta?
  • Loretta: I … uh … slept with my fiancé’s brother.
  • Priest: That’s a pretty big sin.
  • Loretta: I know.
  • Priest: Alright. This is your penance. Say two rosaries and … be careful, Loretta. Reflect on your life.

Darwinism is like Loretta’s confession. A number of its claims are innocuous, such as that organisms have changed over time, that organisms can adapt to changing environmental conditions, or that gene frequencies may vary in a population. But, as with Loretta’s confession, tucked in among these innocuous claims is a whopper. The whopper, in the case of Darwinism, is this: all organisms, including ourselves, are the result of a blind, purposeless evolutionary process (namely, the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation) that at no place required the services of God or any guiding intelligence.

Like Loretta, Darwinists bury this whopper among evolution’s more innocuous claims, only this time they do it not to befuddle a priest but to beguile an unsuspecting public. For instance, when parents press school boards and biology teachers about what they are teaching their children concerning biological origins, they typically get the innocuous version of evolution: of course you believe that organisms have changed over time … surely you’ve heard of bugs developing antibiotic resistance … this is evolution in action.

Indeed, this is evolution in action. But it is small-scale microevolution that no one disputes and that is irrelevant to the really big claim of evolutionary theory, namely, that the bug that developed antibiotic resistance and you, the poor human whose immune system cannot resist the bug, are both offspring of some common ancestor in the distant past and that the process that brought you and the bug into existence is Darwinian, operating by chance and necessity and without plan or purpose. In particular, you, your aspirations, and the entire human family to which you belong are simply an accident of natural history, here for a brief moment and destined for extinction. This is Darwinism in its full glory.

To see that this view of evolution is widely accepted among our educators, consider that in 1995 the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), which sets the tone and rhythm for biology instruction across the United States, issued the following statement on evolution: “The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.” (Emphasis added.) Two years later the NABT removed the words “unsupervised” and “impersonal” to placate religious believers. In this way, they attempted to maintain the facade that evolution is perfectly compatible with religious beliefs. But the removal was all for show. A subsequent bullet point states that Darwinian evolution, which is the form of evolution the NABT supports, “has no specific direction or goal, including survival of a species.” Thus, for the NABT, evolution remains to this day a Darwinian process that operates without plan or purpose.

Suffocating as Darwinism is to the human spirit, we cannot reject it simply because we don’t like it. If the truth hurts, deal with it. But is it true? Is it the case that we evolved through a blind Darwinian process? What evidence supports this grand view of evolution and what evidence disconfirms it? In this book, [snip] answers these questions brilliantly and decisively. In particular, he shows that Darwinism needs to be defeated not as an apologetic ploy to promote Christian theism but because it is demonstrably false. Indeed, he shows that the evidence of biology supports not the view of evolution endorsed by the NABT (and peddled in all the basal biology textbooks at their behest). Rather, the evidence of biology supports intelligent design.

At this point, valiant defenders of evolution, of which there are many, usually play the “overwhelming evidence card.” Accordingly, they tell us that there are “mountains and mountains of evidence for evolution” (Darwinist Richard Dawkins used precisely those words in his recent attack on religion for the BBC series titled The Root of All Evil?). When I hear Darwinists use the phrase “overwhelming evidence” to tout their theory, I think of a story that my colleague Del Ratzsch at Calvin College tells about the wife of an entertainer who, according to a tabloid, descended from aliens. The key piece of evidence cited to support this hypothesis was that the woman had slightly lower than average blood pressure. Obviously, the problem with such an argument is that there is no rational connection between blood pressure and alien descent.

Likewise, there is no rational connection between the mountains of evidence cited by Darwinists and the grand claim they make that all organisms are descended from a last universal common ancestor via a purposeless material process (which they understand as the interplay of natural selection and random variation). Because no such rational connection exists, evolutionary theory, in its grand macroevolutionary Darwinian form, flies in the face of the scientific method and should not be taught except as a discredited speculative hypothesis that properly belongs to nature religions and mystery cults and not to science. Indeed, the grand claim of Darwinian evolution has never been tested: all the evidence and experiments cited to support it have no rational connection with it. At best, they support that there was a gradual progression of living forms. But they do not support that such a progression occurred without the need for intelligent input.

If these words sound heretical, it is only because Darwinists have brainwashed a gullible public for too long. Invariably, when intelligent design is brought up as an alternative to Darwinian evolution, Darwinists respond indignantly, casting themselves as protectors of science by affirming their brand of evolution and by shooting down intelligent design. Accordingly, we are supposed to think that they are the ones who are pro-science whereas the proponents of intelligent design are anti-science.

We need to see the Darwinists’ behavior as the psychological aberration that it is. Indeed, their behavior exhibits classic defense mechanisms, notably, projection and reaction formation. Darwinists are projecting their own insecurities about their theory (because of the overwhelming absence of evidence for it) onto intelligent design. Moreover, because they realize at some level that intelligent design is raising valid objections to their theory and providing a cogent design-theoretic alternative, they react against it, viciously attacking it because its implications are intolerable.

Yet, in fact, as this book makes clear, intelligent design is the real science here. Intelligent design studies patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence. As such, it merges the natural sciences (such as physics, chemistry, and geology) with the engineering sciences (such as information theory, communication theory, and computational intelligence). Intelligent design makes testable predictions about the forms of complexity we should find in biological systems and the inherent limitations we should observe in evolutionary processes not controlled by intelligence. As this book demonstrates, these predictions are now being consistently borne out.

[Snip] is not an armchair general. He has been an active participant in the fray about which he writes. He is competent in the relevant science and he is a card-carrying member of the educational establishment in which this controversy over evolution and intelligent design is being played out. You will be hard-pressed to find a better guide through this minefield. Once you are through it, you will realize why the following words of Malcolm Muggeridge are finally coming true: “I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution [read “Darwinism”], especially to the extent to which it has been applied, will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity it has.”

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53 Responses to Is Darwinism a naturalistic mystery religion masquerading as a scientific theory?

  1. My only question is what does Darwinism have to do with “nature religions and mystery cults”? Is this just an attempt to do what S.Morris did with ID by comparing it to Gnosticism? If so, don’t do it. Its hypocritical, and therefore beneath you. If not, what the heck do you mean by this? Otherwise, wonderful intro for a book I can’t wait to read!

  2. No, I’m not playing SCM’s game. Nature religions attribute magical/mystical powers to material forces. It seems to me that this is precisely what Darwinism is doing. Indeed, on reflection, given the utter absence of a detailed account of how the Darwinian mechanism can build biological complexity, it seems to me more “supernatural” that nature, as conceived by Darwinian materialists, could do all the creative work they attribute to it than to understand life as the product of a designing intelligence. Yes, I’m being provocative, but I do mean what I say.

  3. I don’t know all that much about nature religions, but from what I do know, they are more dualistic than your comments convey: they see material forces as being directed and governed by NON-material powers and entities. But anyway, I see your point, and I of course agree that it is VASTLY more ‘supernatural’ to believe in the creative powers of chance than in the creative powers of intelligence IF supernatural is taken to mean something along the lines of ‘unbelievably fantastic’ as opposed to ‘above nature’.

  4. I think the thing that many Darwinists will glom onto is the notion that only Evolution makes into peer reviewed science journals. Therefore, if ID isn’t making it into those same journals, it is not science. Someone needs to seriously write an expose about how the peer process works, and if proof exists, how it has been corrupted by those who manage it to exclude any submissions by those who would challenge Darwinian orthodoxy. The Darwinists cling very tightly to their control over scientific publications. If that ground were ceded to the ‘enemy’, all would be lost for them. They would have to compete toe to toe, rather than hide behind the ‘no peer reviewed scientific articles’ canard.

    It’s been done. Have a look here: http://www.iscid.org/papers/Ti.....070103.pdf. –WmAD

  5. One of the best descriptions of the controversy I’ve seen, and it’s very easy to read.

    Rather than nature religion and mystery cults, have you considered comparing Darwinism to once-dominient theories now laughed at?

    Saying something like: Because no such rational connection exists, evolutionary theory, in its grand macroevolutionary Darwinian form, flies in the face of the scientific method and should not be taught except as a discredited speculative hypothesis that properly belongs to scientific dead-ends like Aristotle’s aether and phlogiston theory.

    Just something to mull. I kind of like the myster cult route too.

  6. “Indeed, the grand claim of Darwinian evolution has never been tested: all the evidence and experiments cited to support it have no rational connection with it. At best, they support that there was a gradual progression of living forms. But they do not support that such a progression occurred without the need for intelligent input.”

    This would be a good time to cite the evidence to support that such a progression occurred WITH intelligent input.

    That’s where Dembski, Behe, and others like them come in. Have you read any of their books? Granted I’m not convinced beyond any reasonable doubt but what I am convinced of is that intelligent agency best explains certain patterns found in nature. Furthermore, this better explanation is being excluded from public education because a vocal minority of anti-religionists who don’t like the philosophical implications of any intelligent agency other than humanity have managed to torture the 1st amendment establishment clause in such a way that it legally precludes even criticism of their preferred theories of origin and diversity of life in public schools. Since when did science operate by using federal judges to stifle criticism? Answer: science doesn’t. Science itself has been corrupted by Darwinian dogma and its adherents. -ds

  7. Some gems from Berkeley evolution education site.

    “Any coffee table book about natural history will overwhelm you with full-page glossies depicting amazing adaptations produced by natural selection”

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/.....0_0/evo_26

    “There are some sorts of changes that a single mutation, or even a lot of mutations, could not cause. Neither mutations nor wishful thinking will make pigs have wings; only pop culture could have created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mutations could not have done it.”

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/.....0_0/evo_19

    “It’s more accurate to think of natural selection as a process rather than as a guiding hand. Natural selection is the simple result of variation, differential reproduction, and heredity. It is mindless and mechanistic. It has no goals; it’s not striving to produce “progress” or a balanced ecosystem.”

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/.....0_0/evo_32

    “All available evidence supports the central conclusions of evolutionary theory, that life on Earth has evolved and that species share common ancestors.”

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/.....0_0/evo_50

  8. 8

    I agree with tribune7. While I love the provocation the nature religion comment makes (keep it) I believe the history of science argument is much more powerful.

    For what it’s worth.

  9. Your intro made ME want to buy the book. The author was very fortunate in getting such a great foreward. As you might guess there’s nothing in the forward I have any disagreement with.

    tribune7: I think there are too many people who’re unfamiliar with aether and phlogiston to mention those by name. Astrology would be more recognizable and fitting but it’s already more or less contained by the nature-religion vessel.

  10. While the reasoning is right on I still think the problem is that we continue to play on Darwin’s playground. You rightly point out that all the evidence is in micro-evolution but don’t make the point forcibly enough that it is the wrong playground. While the confession example is a good analogy, it is too subtle.

    The real playgrounds are OOL, origin of more complex organisms and body parts, and the stickier parts of macro evolution such as bird flight, bat sonar, land breathing mechanisms, mammal origins etc. Load the dice in our favor.

    As long as all the areas are conflated with micro-evolution and treated as equals, the Darwinists will be able to obfuscate the issue. Hand them micro-evolution. Tell them their evidence is reasonable but trivial and then challenge them to come play on the real play ground. We all know they can’t compete there.

  11. You might appeal to Darwinian philosophers to further support your point about the sweeping metaphysical claims that Darwinism makes. For instance, look at the positions that Darwinian philosophers take with the notion of function. The normal understanding of function is that some object has a particular function by virtue of having been intended to do something. Biological entities have traditionally been said to have functions because they appear to have been intended to do particular tasks. However, if you deny that evolution was intended (as you are arguing that Darwinists do), then you are forced to deny the existence of function outright, or to try to replace it with something else. Thus, some Darwinian philosophers (like Searle) will say that the heart is no more for pumping blood than it is for making loud sounds. Others, realizing that consistently denying functions leaves biology with nothing to study, try eke out notions of “natural purposes” without intentions (a superfluous and vacuous concept, imo) and the like, to support a (fuzzy, vacuous) substitute concept of “function”. The point is that they all understand Darwinism to be a denial of intentionality. Also, the various claims of Darwinian psychology (that there is no self, etc) result from denying intentionality even in human intentions, which follows if, and only if, evolution is taken to be devoid of intentional input. You can even use as support the likes of Kenneth Miller, when he makes his arguments from imperfection. Clearly, when he does this, he’s not arguing that these things were brought about on purpose but indirectly through evolution. Rather, he’s denying that evolutionary outcomes were even intended.

    I think you can make a very solid case that, among professional Darwinists, the Darwinian mechanism is nigh unanimously understood to be a substitute for intentionality, a way to get the appearance of intentional input without intentional input, rather than a mechanism through which intentionality may have acted indirectly. Pretty much the only time you hear otherwise is when Darwinists are engaged in PR with the religious layman or a court, trying to convince them that Darwinism doesn’t mean that evolution is undirected.

    Finally, while there may be no condensed way to argue this, I think it can be demonstrated that if the randomness in Darwinism is taken to only be apparent randomness, rather than literal unintended randomness, and if natural selection is taken to only be apparently unguided, rather than actually unguided, it actually renders Darwinism, as a historical explanation, devoid of content. That is, its status as a historical explanation depends, in principle, on it making metaphysical claims.

  12. Deuce, that was awsome. I think (and have argued totally unsuccessfully before with various TEs) that the interpretive schema of Darwinism is the most destructive element: everything is an accident, and therefore without inherent purpose or meaning.

  13. Dave, astology works well.

    You know, after posting last night, I was trying to think of some violently held naturalistic dogma that without dispute inhibited the advancement of science and our understanding of nature. I might have been unfair to aether. It really wasn’t all that bad considering time, place and state of understanding, and I don’t think anybody ever really got into a knock-down, drag-out over it.

    Geocentrism might be good.

    But the mystery cult description is not being unfair to Darwinism. Darwinist have acquired institutional power and defend TOe via whatever means they can, and they are doing so from a religious and not a scientific perspective.

  14. I think the forward will probably be very popular with an audience of people who are already disposed to be enthusiastic about ID and its claims. For others, I think the over-the-top tone will come off as annoying or hard to credit — just as Dawkins is insufferable reading for anyone not already a committed atheist (and I say this as someone who considers evolutionary theory to be correct — I just can’t stand Dawkins).

    It seems to me that over the last ten years ID articles and books have increasingly diverged into their own world, which seems rather odd (and sometimes paranoid) to the outside reader. In a sense, this is unfortunate. Because while I disagree with much of the scientific critique leveled by ID, I think there are some very important philosophical points which ID proponents raise, though not perhaps in the way that I do it myself.

    Clearly, evolution can speak to telos only in the sense that a particular feature currently functions in a certain way for a given creature or population group. Since modern biology restricts itself to function rather than purpose, it puts itself in the odd position of understanding (in some cases) how a given animal’s organs work, yet not being able to put any weight behind the idea that there is a ‘right’ way for them to work. Health is a teleological concept, which a true materialist cannot support.

    The point where I part ways with the ID line of thinking is that this leads me to say not that evolution must therefore be false, but rather that modern science (which intentionally restricts itself to speaking about a very narrow range of objects and causes) provides us with an incomplete view of the world. It seems to me that ID implicity accepts the idea that one should be able to have a full understanding of the world via science, and then tries to shoehorn teleology, providence and design into science in order to make the full view work.

  15. That wouldn’t be Mike Gene’s book would it?

  16. You know, after posting last night, I was trying to think of some violently held naturalistic dogma that without dispute inhibited the advancement of science and our understanding of nature

    what about alchemy? I understand that Newton spent decades of his life pursuing alchemy, and one might wonder what other advancements were inhibited because he spent so much time on this.

  17. Okay, I’ll bite.

    In my opinion, in this introduction you make the strategic mistake of over-playing your hand. I mean this in at least two respects.

    First, consider the claim that evidence for micro-evolution is irrelevant to Darwinism. Were you to provide reason for maintaining a qualitative, rather than merely quantitative, difference between “micro” and “macro” evolutionary development, then the “irrelevant” claim might have force. As it stands, any evidence for microevolution may prove insufficient, but it is not irrelevant. Of course, ID maintains a quantitative distinction by invoking the notions of irreducible complexity and/or complex specification. But these notions are themselves, by your own account, inherently quantitative measures. So, the irrelevancy claim appears under-supported.

    Secondly, consider the claim that Darwinism “flies in the face of the scientific method.” You don’t have the luxury here to articulate the specifics of the scientific method, but I gather from your claim that ID is “the real science,” the scientific method involves inference to the best explanation (ID “studies patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence;” are you now resurrecting demarcation arguments for “real science”). You chide Darwinism for appealing to a “discredited speculative hypothesis,” presumably natural selection, in order to explain speciation. It is speculative, I gather, because it has never been directly observed. The point, as I understand it, is that intelligent agency is commonly observed in the production of human artifacts. From that we can legitimately extrapolate to speciation, even if intelligent causation has also never been directly confirmed as the explanation for speciation. But why would this extrapolation be any less speculative? The Darwinist draws on “small-scale microevolution that no one disputes” ikn order to forward the hypothesis that natural selection is responsible for macroevolution. ID draws on what we all know about the production of human artifacts to forward the hypothesis that intelligent agency is responsible for macroevolution. It is the judgment of Darwinism that this particular mechanism constitutes the best explanation for these phenomena. Their confidence is presumably enhanced by its various predictions now being consistently borne out. I’m not sure from this why your judgment that ID constitutes a better explanation, even if correct, supports the claim that Darwinism is not science.
    Thanks for your openness to feedback. I hope this proves constructive.

  18. The darwinists are like a man you meet in Los Angeles who you had previously met in New York claiming he got there by teleportation. When you ask him for evidence, he says, “I’m here, aren’t I?” He then gets mad when you decline to accept this as a prima facia case…

  19. Yes, there really does come a time for Darwin’s funeral. So when folks like Berlinski and Dembski proclaim it—why not? R. O’Connor brings up old arguments but in a good spirit. Let me then, a dilettante in this informal venue, just say that there is no evidence whatsoever that microevolution adds information. It’s the new information that must be accounted for, and inherent variation or the loss of information just won’t do.

    Is it illegitimate to extrapolate from the design in human artifacts to the design in biological organisms? We can study design in all its glory as it emerges from human agency. Biological design has all the hallmarks of human design. We cannot observe Darwinism in action—there is no evidence whatsoever that Darwinism can account for any kind of design.

    The folks who usually shout the loudest about extrapolating from human design are the Deists. Their deus is by definition so alien from anything we can imagine that nothing attributed to it could ever be observed in our world. The Young Earth theory, even the tooth fairie, at least makes falsifiable predictions—Deism doesn’t. Nobody in ID so far as I know is against demarcation arguments that distinguish between “real science” and pseudoscience. There are no good arguments for calling naturalism science and theism pseudoscience.

  20. By adhering to a naturalistic worldview prior to doing science, a Darwinists empirical work is overshadowed by the belief that no originating force or intelligent agency causes complex biological structures. This is why Darwinists never discuss information content in structures–’intelligent causation’ produces teleological implications–which shut’s down a Darwinist’s ability to proceed scientifically. How do we plan for Darwin’s funeral? Will ID’s emergence be supplemental to or more pervasive over the current paradigm?

  21. 21

    Hello Everyone,
    I’m curious about the frequent statement in pro-ID literature (like the document above) that Darwinian evolution is “purposeless.” Never hesitant to ask the big questions, I wonder what the fundamental differences may be between ID advocates and Darwinists with regard to their perceptions of the purpose of life. I would guess that ID advocates are more inclined to divine their life’s purpose from an extrinsic source whereas the Darwinist is more likely to look within or perhaps even dismiss the need to define a purpose in one’s life. My sense is that differing perceptions of purpose are the primary source for the passion of both sides in this debate. I’d be interested in hearing what others think.

    Thanks

  22. You know, after posting last night, I was trying to think of some violently held naturalistic dogma that without dispute inhibited the advancement of science and our understanding of nature.

    How about phrenology? That one gets trotted out a lot by psychologists. (That gives you a few now…)

    And speaking of psychologists:

    Indeed, their behavior exhibits classic defense mechanisms, notably, projection and reaction formation.

    Nix that. The public regards that Freudian language as gobbldegook anyway. It’s worse than the gobbldegook you’re trying to criticize. Applying it to Darwinists doesn’t get you anywhere. If you don’t like the way the paragraph reads without it, consider rewriting the paragraph using nothing but plain English.

  23. Rude. You betray your name. Thanks.

    I’ll try again.

    You are abolutely right: It is letimiate to extrapolate from the design in human artifacts to the design evident in biological organisms. But then why wouldn’t it be equally legitimate, well within the bounds of rational investigation, to extrapolate from the microevolutionary changes everyone acknowledges to the macroevolutionary changes in question? If there is a demarcation criterion, then it must be something other than this kind of ampliative inference. I guess I’m wondering whether there are good arguments for calling ID science and darwinian naturalism pseudoscience. As ID might say: every time we are able to trace an artifact to its source, we find an intelligent agent. As a darwinist might respond: every time we are able to trace (micro)evolutionary development to its source, we find random mutation + natural selection. Both extrapolate from the case of the small that we can experience to the grand (as it were) that we don’t experience.

    I’m anxious for Bill to correct me, but as I understand the argument, he maintains microevolutionary changes introduce information. Just not enough. The central claim of ID is that these phenomena (apparently including the introduction of some/all species) evidence the introduction of too much information. There is simply not enough time to pull off everything Darwinism attributes to random mutation and natural selection (in the absence of intelligent agency). That’s what I mean by the claim that the distinction is quantitative rather than qualitative. Natural mechanisms, unguided, undirected, can produce information, even if it cannot produce complex specified information. Of course, that microevolution can produce information does not begin to settle the question as to whether evolution can produce as much information, within the time constraints, as evidenced by the phenomena in question. It only goes to the claim Bill makes in the introduction, to wit, that the “mountains of evidence” is irrelevant to the darwinian explanation of macroevolution (speciation). The darwinist posture goes something like this: you admit that this sort of thing goes on all the time (microevolution). So the burden rests on ID to show that the mechanism is insufficient in these particular cases. Taking up that burden is the strength of the appeal to CSI. It’s a worthy project. I’m claiming that he simply overreaches in this introduction.

    Thanks for letting me jump into the middle of a good fight.

  24. DarwinCatholic from 14 above,

    If you consider Darwinism (“evolutionary theory”) to be correct why is it so hard to stomach Dawkins? If Darwinism is correct then either Deism, agnosticism, or atheism are also correct. For my part, “I just can’t stand” those who pretend otherwise.

    Darwinism, I believe, was a socio-political triumph from beginning to end. And it will not be vanquished by billions upon billions of friendly smiles and nice words and supremely logical arguments. Most nice, educated people support Darwin out of peer pressure and they’re not about to change until the peer pressure changes. There are warriors for good and there are warriors for evil. It is the warriors who make the world.

  25. Dr. Dembski, I think that in the link found in the post just up from this one, “University indoctrination program launched, but one professor sees the light” we see an excellent example of why darwinism must be considered a “naturalistic mystery religion”.

    In the link, David Sloan Wilson says:

    Even worse, most people who do accept the theory of evolution don’t relate it to matters of importance in their own lives.

    Wilson seems to be pounding the pulpit, declaring “don’t just hear the word, do what the word says!”

    I have found about four sources now which suggest that relating it to matters of importance in their own lives includes endorcing wonderful concepts such as: euthenasia, eugenics, and the reduction of the human population by 90%. (I can find authors and quotes if need be.)

    The horific views of some who have related it to matters of importance in their own lives has caused me to conclude that if the biosphere really came into existance via NDE, I would prefer to live as an ignoramous than to relate it to matters of importance in my own life.

  26. Recommend summarizing the arguments detailed in Sanford’s Genetic Entropy. e.g.,
    “The exponentially growing genomic evidence and numerous population models all show that mutations cause progressive DEGRADATION of genomic information and function ending in catestrophic extinction. Darwinism is rapidly being buried under this overwhelming tsunami of evidence.”

    Neo-Darwinist’s are increasingly being forced to appeal to “saltations” (jumps) to account for evidence of sudden species formation – directly contradicting Darwin’s gradualistic foundations. They de facto claim divine capabilities for nature since naturalistic causes cannot create the evidence of sudden species formation.

  27. Darwinism was the bedrock for the 20th century’s fascist and communist regimes led by Hitler, Stalin and Mao. “Red in tooth and claw,” they collectively killed 125 million of their own citizens – more than three times as many as in all wars of the 20th century.

  28. If there is an intellectual position which cannot triumph by means of supremely logical arguments but instead needs ‘warriors’ to out-shout all it’s opponents to win out — I would tend to assume it’s not a very tenable intellectual position. War is good for many things (and they can only take my guns if they pry them from my cold dead hands) but it’s place in intellectual debate is limited. I’ll admit that ID does seem to have a great deal more success exerting peer pressure within the conservative movement, but even assuming for the moment that ID is correct, I really don’t think that’s the best way for an intellectual discipline to go about things.

    As for why I dislike Dawkins, first and foremost because I think he is wrong about many things. He is an loudmouth and an intellectual bully. And he routinely engages in the historicist fallacy: claiming a thing is nothing more than the sum of its history, and that if evolution is correct as a description of biological history, there must therefore be no God and no telos.

    I think you’re dead wrong in asserting that evolutionary theory precludes the existence of God. I would maintain that modern science, properly understood, deals only with primary and secondary causality, and intentionally restricts itself from discussing questions of formal or ultimate causality. Thus, evolution cannot assert (though some evolutionary biologists wrongly do so) that evolution is ‘purposeless’ in the metaphysical sense to which Dembski so rightly objects, because modern science is completely incapable of showing something to be either purposeful or purposeless.

    As I said, I respect some of the philosophical critiques that ID brings to bear on the evolution debate. It’s clearly a major problem that many prominant scientists use evolution as a ‘proof’ for atheism. However, I think that by falling into the trap of agreeing with these atheists that evolution necessitates atheism, certain anti-evolution advocates do a great deal of mischief and may lose more souls than they save.

  29. Great foreword! What I have always appreciated about Dembski among other forerunners of Design theorists is his intrepid presentation of the facts as he sees it. I don’t see anything that is over-the-top, but I am cognizant of my bias toward ID. First, this foreword is nowhere near as strident as Dawkins, Myers, Dennett, Forrest, etc, etc. Second, this is vastly different than SCM in that SCM never, to the best of my knowledge, directly addressed the merits/arguments of ID in any cogent manner. SCM like other Darwinians have always resorted to the same tired diatribe of ID=Creationism, or ID is argument from ignorance. On the other hand, Dembski has written extensively on the different aspects and mechanisms of Darwinism. So when he makes the claim that Darwinism is a “discredited speculative hypothesis that properly belongs to nature religions and mystery cults and not to science”, this is not an off the cuff remark. Whether people agree with it or not, he does have scholarship to justify these remarks.

    On a personal note, I certainly agree with what Dembski has stated in his foreword. Darwinism IMO has never been and still has no desire to do real scientific research. Since the time of Darwin to evo-devo, Darwinism is all about, gosh, darn, these things really look similar, I bet it must be common descent (or as the official ID stance, through RM&NS). Darwinism has never practiced the scientific methods and according to their high priests they never will.

  30. Rude,

    You are my kind of guy. There are not enough warriors for good in the world.

  31. Attempting to answer Dr. D’s challenge:
    1) the claim that there is an absence of a rational connection between the “mountains and mountains of evidence” and the idea that a blind purposeless process can do all the creative work in biology and
    2) whether i[this claim] could be the basis for radically limiting Darwinism in the textbooks.

    1) I haven’t posted here for a while, but yes, the argument holds up…rather easily, I think. To see things the Darwinian way, one must have a certain mindset. The mindset is a preconception, a “prejudice” if you will, that “there is no God/Creator/Intelligence in the universe beyond our own.” In other words, the evidence is convincing ONLY if one already *believes* the conclusion. If this were not so, if the evidence were convincing, there would be no more controversy about origins than there is about the speed of light, gravity or 2+2. The “mountains and mountains of evidence” claim is nothing more than a bludgeon with which rabid Darwinist PhDs beat vulnerable and ill-equiped high school and college students.

    2) The lack of connection between evidence and the claims of Darwinism fails the test of experimental science. Darwinism should be taught in schools only as a way to demonstrate how to apply the scientific method to seemingly believable claims in order to debunk the idea.

  32. Phrenology! By George, I think that’s it!

    Alchemy probably works,ajl, but some argue that it advanced science by encouraging experimentation.

  33. A related topic: Testimony of Ralph W. Seelke, Ph.D., before the Education Committee of the Michigan House of Representatives about what evolution can really do:

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=3536

  34. 34

    Hallelujah, brother, and right on, I’ve always said darwinism, darwinian evolution, common descent et al was a religion, one requiring a greater step of faith than any other religion I have been exposed to, and with results that are, with out fail, excessively detrimental to all humanity, indeed all life.

  35. R. OConnor, you make some good points. I’d like to address this But then why wouldn’t it be equally legitimate, well within the bounds of rational investigation, to extrapolate from the microevolutionary changes everyone acknowledges to the macroevolutionary changes in question?

    It’s absolutely legitmate to extrapolate micoevolutionary changes to macroevolutionary changes. But what if the evidence starts pointing against Darwinism i.e. that unguided evolution explains all devleopment of all life?

    And what if, as this happens, the authorities instead of saying “hmmm, looks like a hole in the theory” start shouting “ignore the man behind the curtain”?

    The problem — which I think is correctly addressed in Dr. Dembski’s forward — is the insistance that this extrapolation be taught as established and unchallengeable, and those who do dare challenge it suffer the penalty of excommunication.

    And, of course, there are huge holes in the theory.

  36. I think you’re dead wrong in asserting that evolutionary theory precludes the existence of God

    DarwinCatholic, in the short time I’ve been posting here, I don’t I’ve seen that view expressed here.

    OTOH, just about all Darwinists I’ve debated have held the view the believing in God is bad form, albeit a belief in one that is irrelevant and apathetic is margainally acceptable.

  37. DarwinCatholic: “However, I think that by falling into the trap of agreeing with these atheists that evolution necessitates atheism…”

    I have come to the mind that theistic evolution is a theologically reasonable position. Non-Darwinism is a position that is difficult for an atheist to hold, but Darwinism does not prove atheism.

    That being said, I have not found a convincing case for NDE. NDE simply doesn’t make sense in light of the facts.

    Further, DarwinCatholic, my understanding is that the Pope and Catholic doctrine is not all that settled on what the Catholic position on evolution is. Current Catholic teaching certainly respects an old earth and old universe. Current Catholic teaching certainly is comfortable with common descent. However, NDE as the only primary mechanism of that common descent seems to be in serious question at the pinacle of Catholic theological thought.

  38. 38

    I’m not sure I see a connection between Darwinism and mystery cults. I cringed at first seeing Darwinism cmpared to nature religions because I tend to have a fair amount of respect for innate human wisdom about spiritual matters. Those who believe in beings behind the forces of nature are not atheistic, and I don’t think there are any human groups who don’t believe in some sort of creator. But I see more and more the importance of pointing up the religious aspect of Darwinism, and so I think this whole aspect needs more thought and development. Many Darwinists have expressed and expounded upon Darwin’s idea that evolution theory has a grandeur. I see that a lot of them get a jolt of awe at the very magnificence of what a purposeless universe has wrought and the horrid indifference of it. Altho it seems odd to the likes of me, I understand that it evokes a certain kind of feeling in them that they are attached to.

    In my opinion, Ken Miller is such a person, and he is trying to work out a way to worship two Gods.

    Re post 21: “I would guess that ID advocates are more inclined to divine their life’s purpose from an extrinsic source whereas the Darwinist is more likely to look within or perhaps even dismiss the need to define a purpose in one’s life.”

    I don’t consider God an extrinsic source. God is known within and nowhere else. The problem with Darwinists looking within is that it isn’t the same thing. Each and every person in the Darwinist scenario is supposed to ‘find’ their own meaning – but it has nothing to do with any actual truth.

    Re post 24. “If Darwinism is correct then either Deism, agnosticism, or atheism are also correct. For my part, “I just can’t stand” those who pretend otherwise.”

    Let me narrow it down a bit more. Agnosticism isn’t a position which can be correct, it is simply the absence of conviction due to lack of knowledge. Deism is fundamentally incompatible with Darwinism. The minute you posit any God at all, you have done away with an unplanned and unguided process. The existence of God clears up the fundamental and unanswerable mystery: How can anything exist at all? If there is a God, then the universe exists because God exists. If that is not the case, then matter is fundamentally existent (self-caused and existing beyond causation) and is therefore the equal of God. So we would have two different Gods, as it were. If matter can exist whether or not there is a God, then God is irrelevant, and it is the same as atheism.

    Once we posit a God, then the fact that things have evolved as they have done cannot be unconnected to this God. The best we can say is that God set up matter and the laws of nature and left a lot of free play in the system as to details.

    Now, after much effort I have come to understand the point of view as expressed by DarwinCatholic that science is limited and cannot make claims as to purpose or the lack thereof. Of course, such claims tend to be in the minority. The problem is, once you have a God to account for the existence of matter, you’ve got ID. The only argument is whether God is a micromanager or lassez-faire.

    You may enjoy contemplating the unfolding of life under Darwinist assumptions, but it is a rigged game if you believe in God.

  39. 39

    Michael Tuite, post 21 again,

    I realized I didn’t express myself well. When I said that a Darwinist looking within for meaning isn’t the same and isn’t connected to truth – I only meant that as a critique of the philosophical standpoint. As to the actual human beings, they find their meaning from God within as everyone else does, they just don’t necessarily name it as such.

  40. avocationist, great post Re 38.

  41. tribune7, I agree! Nice job, avocationist!

    Especially: “Agnosticism isn’t a position which can be correct…” I had never heard it put that succinctly before.

  42. Avocationist’s point might be made more correctly by saying: “Agnosticism isn’t a position that can be correct so much as a refusal to take any position at all.” Dante had a thing or two to say about such indecision when he described the ‘vestibule’ of hell.

    bFast, I think you will find that the position that science speaks to physical causes only and thus can have nothing to say on the question of God one way or the other is pretty much the position that the Catholic Church takes. Thus, the Church does not have, not is it ever likely to have, a position on evolution by natural selection as a physical process. What it does have a position on is what Pius XII and John Paul II have correctly called the grave error of believing that because we understand to some extent the physical processes that have produced life on this planet, that we have thus exhausted all there is to know about life and creation.

  43. Jerry, Thanks!

    R. O’Connor: “So the burden rests on ID to show that the mechanism is insufficient in these particular cases.” Hold on a minute! The burden is on Darwin to show that “microevolution” can produce new information. All that’s ever shown is the selection of old information (as in the classic peppered moth myth) or the loss of information (as in mutant immune bacteria). If they think the design is only the appearance of design then they gotta show me—I’m from Missouri (almost).

    DarwinCatholic: “I think you’re dead wrong in asserting that evolutionary theory precludes the existence of God.” What!?! I always tell people that EVOLUTION IS EVIDENCE. But the purpose of DARWINISM is to make God unnecessary. The pope can believe whatever he wants and I can be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

    “However, I think that by falling into the trap of agreeing with these atheists that evolution necessitates atheism, certain anti-evolution advocates do a great deal of mischief and may lose more souls than they save.”

    Let me say it again: Darwin’s goal is not so much to make atheism necessary as it is to make God unnecessary.

  44. Recommend summarizing the arguments detailed in Sanford’s Genetic Entropy.

    I’d stay away from using Sandford’s book, especially when it comes to anything he wrote about information. He makes lots of claims about information but never defines his terms or makes logical connections other than by saying something is the case and arguing by analogy.

  45. One other suggestion I wanted to make, with regards to the naturalistic mystery religion thing: I think I know what you are getting at, but it could be argued more clearly. Ostensibly, Darwinism is supposed to be a denial of intentionality in evolution, as I argued above – a way of accounting for the appearance of intentionality without intentionality (meaning that intentionality is an illusion). The problem, however, is that the notion of function that biologists rely on to do their jobs is dependent upon intentionality, so denying intentionality requires denying function. The end result is that instead of divesting themselves of intentionality with the Darwinian mechanism, Darwinists end up attributing intentions, purposes, goals, and so on to inanimate objects, like a nature religion. Hence, the previously mentioned vacuous babble about “natural purposes” from some philosophers, or “selfish genes”, or all the heavily teleological talk about natural selection that you see crop up journals. This incoherence is basically what Stove harped on. They may say that this stuff is only metaphorical when pressed, but if they really take that track consistently, they’re forced once again to declare function, a concept they need, nonexistent.

  46. “Darwinists end up attributing intentions, purposes, goals, and so on to inanaimate objects, like a nature religion.” I hate to harp on this, but sincerely from what limited knowledge I have about nature religions, they do NOT attribute to inanimate objects these qualities. They assume and believe that inanimate objects are animated by immaterial powers or entities. This is standard religious dualism. I think the comparison fails for this reason.

  47. 47

    DarwinCatholic:

    Re: “Avocationist’s point might be made more correctly by saying: “Agnosticism isn’t a position that can be correct so much as a refusal to take any position at all.” Dante had a thing or two to say about such indecision when he described the ‘vestibule’ of hell.”

    Isn’t it fun to imagine the hopeless despair that will be visited upon the agnostics forever and ever? Serves ‘em right, I say. No such thing as an honest agnostic. Devilishly clever of God to hide himself so well, tho, ain’t it? Do you agree with Aquinas that we’ll get to watch them suffer, and enjoy it?

    But really, I’d rather you had actually addressed my more interesting arguments, than to repeat exactly what I said, except that I left out the judgementalism.

  48. Avocationalist,

    I always took Dante’s point to be that nothing is externally visitted upon anyone in the afterlife, rather one sees with utter clarity what one has visitted on oneself.

    Perhaps I’m an old softie, but I can’t see being particularly pleased with the damnation of another. I think that Lazarus the beggar had the correct reaction in wishing that he could comply and offer a drop of water to the rich man, although it was impossible to do so.

    I guess I didn’t see the need to address your other points in that I took you to agree that conceiving of science as a philosophically modest discipline was tenable — however few people may in actuality follow the rules.

    Rereading your post, however, I would not send to see believing in the existence of God as ‘rigging the game’ (whatever that means) in part because I don’t think we can fully understand God. Thus, while we may know Him, that in no sense gives us full knowledge of the world and its workings.

    Also, I’m not sure I agree with your distinction between a “micromanager or lassez-faire” God. Since I would tend to describe God as keeping the world in existence through His active will, and lending it order through His intellect, I don’t see how you can distinguish between an involved or uninvolved God. God is just as involved in gravity working when I drop a ball as He was in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. It’s just that the former follows the normal pattern of His work while the latter is an exception to that pattern.

    Some would call my conviction that the world is created and ordered by God ID, but I tend not to since I disagree with Behe and Dembski’s claim that you can demonstrait a designer’s work scientifically. If I support ID, it would be in the sense that Stephen M. Barr does.

  49. Darwin Catholic,

    Forget about ID for a moment and deal with the fact that there is no evidence for Neo Darwinism outside of some areas of micro evolution. I suggest you read Denyse O’Leary’s book, By Design or By Chance, and who is also a practicing Catholic. It is well researched and well written and probably one of the most accessible books on this subject. A link for this book is here

    http://www.arn.org/arnproducts......php?id=74

    See if you still want Darwin associated with your title after investigating the basis for this bogus theory. Darwinism is the greatest con job of the 20th Century and it looks like you have been conned.

  50. 50

    DarwinCatholic,

    I apologize. Certain things push my buttons.

    Science could perhaps be philosophically modest. Cosmology does a fair job of it. But biology and evolution can’t achieve that, due to the nature of the topic. Materialistic naturalism does more than keep science modest. It creates a zone where you ‘can’t go there.’ But what if there is where the answers are to be found? Either we were designed or we weren’t. To insist upon design that must remain forever undetectable is shortsighted. The fact is, if there is design by a magnificent mind, we might be able to detect it, and people who attempt to do so should not be villainized. That is really the crux of the whole beef here.

    I did not say that believing in God rigs the game. I said that IF God exists, the game is rigged. It isn’t the same game that a materialist is talking about and using his scientific approach to explain.

    My comment about a micromanaging God just means that we could conceive of God either deliberately designing everything down to the last detail or having set up a system to organize itself along rough outlines. Point being, in either case it’s ID. Your disagreement with Behe becomes a disagreement among IDists. I regard the Ken Miller vs Behe/Dembski debates to be a disagreement among IDists.

    What you seem to be saying is that although you have faith that God created life, that life really could have created itself. Because life could have created itself (and genomes can evolve themselves), when we study life all we will ever see are processes which require no input. Because when God created life, either it required special techniques or it did not. If it did require special techniques, why in the world would our deep study of it not show that? A thing that could not happen of itself will not look like a thing that could.

    I could be wrong but it seems to me that the insistence of Darwinian Catholics that we live in a God-saturated universe in which that will be forever undetectable scientifically is illogical and motivated by the desire to appease.

    I think Jerry has given you some very good advice, and by the way Jerry I’ve been following your arguments about the real difference between ID and Darwinist arguments, and I think you’re really onto some good points. Stick with it.

  51. I’d stay away from using Sandford’s book, especially when it comes to anything he wrote about information. He makes lots of claims about information but never defines his terms or makes logical connections other than by saying something is the case and arguing by analogy.

    The treatment of information is incoplete but not irreperable. Simply substitute the phrase information with “large scale CSI” and most of the little complaints are fixed.

    Sal

  52. Please move this discussion to the following thread: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1256. –WmAD

  53. [...] Back in June I made a post here at UD that included my foreword to Ken Poppe’s book RECLAIMING SCIENCE FROM DARWINISM (see here). In the post, I did not indicate the book to which it would be a foreword since the book was not yet out and I didn’t want to jeopardize its reception. As it is, the publisher sanitized the foreword. Below the fold is the original as I had intended it. [...]