Home » Intelligent Design, The Design of Life » What would happen to science if Darwin ceased to be God?

What would happen to science if Darwin ceased to be God?

Recently, I received and published this comment on this post about Oxford mathematician John Lennox’s book, God’s Undertaker, from “curwen”:

As an historian, with some background in the cultural and social history of Darwinism, I’m interested in how philosophy effects scientific practice. In my search for current material on the subject, I ran across this post, and became interested in your blog.

I am interested in your opinion on this: in what ways would scientific practice change if materialism, as a philosophy of science, was eventually replaced by design? In other words, would research and experiment be structured differently? Would standards of evidence change? Does Lennox comment on this? I apologize if this is something you’ve already dealt with at length, so even if you responded with relevant posts that would be helpful.

I told curwen that it is an excellent question, and I’d answer it.

I am also going to ask around and post other answers.* (Meanwhile, here is mine below.)

My area of interest is the popular culture that grows up around science (not surprising given my background as a journalist, author, and blogger), so here are my thoughts on that:

[ ... ]

2. If the hold of the materialist atheists is broken, we will see evidence restored to its rightful place as the hallmark of science. Instead of hearing empty rhetoric like “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, we will hear “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evidence.” How will this affect research? Well, for one thing, people will be able to follow the evidence without fear of losing their positions. That will – necessarily – lead to the discovery that many materialist truisms are poorly supported. Honest discussions will be possible again. I reasonably believe that advances in knowledge will result.

Note: George Hunter’s Science’s Blind Spot meticulously records the decline of the importance of evidence in science, as opposed to ideology. See also Evolution in the light of intelligent design for a limited list of topics on which reasonable discussion can become possible.

3. Another key change I expect is this: Promissory materialism will cease to be obligatory mental furniture – the monstrous overstuffed sofa that lurks in the picture window of the minds of most educated people today.

As a result, people who insist that

- computers are going to become conscious – soon!
- apes can write autobiographies with appropriate training
- the mind is a user illusion
- there must be aliens out there because otherwise we would be special (and we “know” we’re not special)
- there is a “God spot” in the brain which explains religious convictions and experiences
- there is no free will and you are controlled by your selfish genes

will slowly cease to be treated as authorities by popular media, as they presently are. They will come to be seen for what they in fact are: Materialist cranks flogging up ideas that do not withstand scrutiny or evidence – people whose positions are largely maintained by the organized ridicule or persecution of the holders of better supported alternative positions.

4. Some unproductive projects will probably be simply abandoned. For example, origin of life research is presently handicapped by the fact that such research MEANS research on how life came about by chance. Virtually everyone I have read in the field stoutly defends the view that that is what OoL research means – and the only thing it can ever mean. They would actually regard any other conclusion as a failure – even though, as Design of Life demonstrates, their efforts have gone nowhere and come up with nothing for the better part of a century. Unable to consider the possibility that life didn’t come about that way, they battle each other over theories that are probably all incorrect. I suspect that human evolution research suffers from the same problem: Researchers search for a hairy, half-conscious proto-human who may never have existed at all. But he must exist according to materialist theory, and therefore he does. And in the present state of science, materialist theory trumps honest examination of the evidence.

5. Last and best, science may be separated from religion, to the benefit of both. Much that is called “science” in the popular media is simply the metaphysics of materialist atheism, using science as stage props. We will no longer endure experts who claim to know things like “the cave man was unfaithful to his mate so he could spread his selfish genes” Oh, was he now? That expert knows what cave men did in the same way that a witch doctor knows when my ancestors are displeased with me and a local fundamentalist knows exactly what God wants me to do.

When general acceptance of the religious view that drives any form of non-evidence-based knowledge declines, it ceases to be considered knowledge. Atheistic materialism is long overdue for that.

Do you have thoughts to share? Go here to post them (in the comments box).

*Note that I am interested in hearing from people who think that design is a reasonable inference. If you don’t, materialist blogs are anxious to hear from you, so go there now.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

32 Responses to What would happen to science if Darwin ceased to be God?

  1. I think this thread gives a good example.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....wn-animal/

    In particular, read post 10. If it weren’t for Darwinism, we probably would have found out that the piltdown man was a hoax much sooner.

    Another example is here
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v15/i3/back.asp

    Also (although committed naturalists and/or darwinists would deny this of course), if it weren’t for darwinism, we would have been less likely to prematurely conclude that the appendix (among other organs) are functionless (or very close to functionless).

    Another examle is here
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-that-too/

    Read post 16. Dembski predicted that much of the alleged Junk DNA may have more function than was originally thought and he turned out to be right. If it weren’t for darwinism, we probably wouldn’t prematurely conclude that much of this DNA is junk. Without making naturalistic / materialistic assumptions, we are likely to figure things out sooner due to the fact that we would be less likely to draw premature conclusions based on naturalistic presuppositions.

  2. That is, by not drawing premature conclusions based on naturalistic presuppositions, we would be more open to ideas that may disfavor naturalism (ie: the notion that much of the alleged junk DNA is in fact useful). By being more open about such ideas, we would be encouraged to discuss and research such possibilities making it much more likely that we would discover the truth of the matter much sooner.

  3. You get to follow the evidence to where-ever it leads. Not to where it’s “supposed” to lead.

  4. O’Leary,

    I love it when you get your steam built up.

    “As a result, people who insist that

    - computers are going to become conscious – soon!
    - apes can write autobiographies with appropriate training
    - the mind is a user illusion
    - there must be aliens out there because otherwise we would be special (and we “know” we’re not special)
    - there is a “God spot” in the brain which explains religious convictions and experiences
    - there is no free will and you are controlled by your selfish genes

    will slowly cease to be treated as authorities by popular media, as they presently are. They will come to be seen for what they in fact are: Materialist s flogging up ideas that do not withstand scrutiny or evidence -”

    O’Leary, You really have a talent for showing how silly the evolutionists lies are.

  5. [...] What would happen to science if Darwin ceased to be God? - A provocative Q&A that shows how wrong those are who shriek that the ID debates are somehow slowing down the progress of science.  To summarize a couple points, scientists would be free to follow the evidence where it leads, not where it is supposed to lead.  And we would have almost certainly discovered various things earlier:  The Piltdown hoax, that DNA doesn’t contain “junk” as it was alleged to and that the appendix isn’t functionless. [...]

  6. Isn’t it interesting, Denyse, to learn from the worshippers of Darwin that science will soon grind to a halt if shorn of the grand, old theory of evolution?

    The greybeards seek to frighten us by claiming that theory is necessary to science. There is a difference, however, between the type of unifying theory seen in Darwin and purely scientific hypotheses.

    Science does indeed require hypotheses. It can be hypothesized, for example, that blood clotting is a complex response to trauma integrating feedback systems in the platelet as well as the vessel wall. This hypothesis is predictive, testable and falsifiable.

    Nature supplies unlimited opportunity for such hypotheses on her own terms. Research journals are crammed with modest, sensible hypotheses of this type, which facilitate highly sophisticated studies and intellectually stimulating results.

    But these hypotheses have nothing in common with super-theories like natural selection. Darwin was not interested in obtaining a value judgment about a particular being, such as a blood cell. He wanted to pass judgment on all of being.

    Mind makes grand, unifying theories possible through its capacity for resistance to the varieties of experience. Darwin looked at the great chain of being constructed by his Enlightenment predecessors and inferred the possibility of ascent by purely natural means.

    He did not see ascent; he saw resemblances at progressive levels of being and interpreted them as signs of ascent. The inference of ascent is made possible by the capacity of mind to resist or negate the steps themselves—to put them aside for the sake of the unifying theory.

    Hence natural selection cannot be falsified. Since the steps have been negated or put aside, devotees of the theory are free to imagine any possible means of ascent without having to worry about it being put it to the test. Empiricism is replaced by storytelling.

    The modest hypothesis described above makes no grand inference from nature about the nature of being. It seeks knowledge of nature in nature for its own sake. Science can continue to move forward through such hypotheses and make great discoveries.

    Forward motion is no longer possible through the theory of natural selection, however, which fortifies itself on the resistance supplied by the notion of ascent. This resistance impedes progress by turning science into philosophy and dividing it from nature itself.

  7. In particular, read post 10. If it weren’t for Darwinism, we probably would have found out that the piltdown man was a hoax much sooner.

    Right- because of course it was anti-evolutionists who exposed the fraud. Just like anti-evolutionists exposed Haeckel’s embryos.

  8. [...] interesting post at Uncommon Descent this evening by Denyse O’Leary that poses the question: What would happen to science if Darwin ceased to be God? If you have visited here before and debated with me about Darwinism or agreed with me that [...]

  9. Richard Dawkins is featured on tonight’s South Park.

    One day we were all fish swimming around in the water and they had a retard baby . . . .

  10. Truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn’t evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of ‘like begets like’. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all. ~ Jerry Coyne

    In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all. ~ Marc Kirschner

  11. George DW

    [quote]
    Right- because of course it was anti-evolutionists who exposed the fraud. Just like anti-evolutionists exposed Haeckel’s embryos.
    [/quote]

    I’m sure there were some anti – evolutionists that probably thought/claimed it was a fraud. Of course, the secular community would deny them the means to investigate the issue further (because they don’t want research from anti – evolutionists concluding that evolution is wrong). The point is that had it not been for darwinian presuppositions, people would probably have been more open minded to the notion that the piltdown man wasn’t a transitional and they would have probably investigated the issue further before drawing premature conclusions (causing them to find the truth sooner).

  12. If it wasn’t for Darwin, we probably would not have seen the emergence of UFO abduction claims, comic books such as X Men or all the movies about “ET” and other aliens from outer space. Life would be so much more boring. ;)

  13. 13

    ari-freedom

    If it wasn’t for Darwin, we probably would not have seen the emergence of UFO abduction claims, comic books such as X Men or all the movies about “ET” and other aliens from outer space. Life would be so much more boring. ;)

    I guess Darwinism/UCD make good entertainment, but I’m not so sure it makes good science. I guess science fiction is often more interesting than science fact.

  14. The main ideas that i think are implicit in DE is that things happen for no god reason with no plan or purpose. I think if we are to use ID to make biological predictions we should look for reasons why a certian event is likely based not on pure pobability but on reason or purpose. I call this geometric evolutionary thinking like a picture of a shape while DE is strictly probabilistic or algebraic thinking. DE is strictly quantitative but ID is qualitative. ID looks for and expects sense in the world while DE looks for chaos except in species and NS. The reason common ansertry is important is that it is a way for people to conflate humans and the soul with animals- and NS is important becasue its a way for saying everything happens for no reason except what “just is.”

  15. bettawrekonize,

    “I guess Darwinism/UCD make good entertainment, but I’m not so sure it makes good science. I guess science fiction is often more interesting than science fact.”

    Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. ;)

  16. 16

    For more examples of how darwinism/UCD makes for good entertainment (namely, comic relief) visit

    http://forums.christianity.com.....ey_/tm.htm

  17. It’s late and I don’t have time for a full answer. Here’s a short one though — we can stop forcing ourselves to imagine our origins as simple. Right now, all science — biology, physics, etc., assumes that what it needs to find are simple origins to life. What if we stopped assuming that? What would happen if biology allowed itself to assume that the earliest life was even more complex biochemically than modern life? That the origins could be more complex rather than less?

  18. Evolutionists try to have it both ways. They want to try to “explain” things with “just so” stories on the one hand and then they always fall back on “it just happened. Whatever.”

    But what really bothers me is the move towards “explaining” everything by simply postulating an infinite array of alternative universes. I have a sick feeling that we’re seeing the end of science.

  19. Here is a good article on the Christian foundations of modern science.

    A sample:

    The beginning of science as a fully fledged enterprise took place in relation to two important definitions of the Magisterium of the Church. The first … that the universe was created out of nothing at the beginning of time. The second … condemned 219 Aristotelian propositions, so outlawing the deterministic and necessitarian views of creation.

    These statements … expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature … . Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos. …

    [Stanley] Jaki clearly affirms that in Christianity, a slide into pantheism was prevented because the doctrine of the creation was bolstered up by faith in the Incarnation. Pantheism is invariably present when the eternal and cyclic view of the cosmos prevails. The uniqueness of the Incarnation and Redemption dashed to pieces any possibility of the eternal and cyclic view; for if the world were cyclic, the once-and-for-all coming of Christ would be undermined.

    Read it all. It’s not too long.

    And here is a far longer piece which warns us that,

    science no longer acknowledges its indebtedness to the Christian world view and abandonment of the Christian world view among people is becoming more and more common. The mindset that hindered the birth of science is being resurrected, and the continued existence of science-as-we-know-it is therefore threatened. The polarity between a scientific world view and a religious world view was only able to be bridged by Christianity. For Christianity, like science, acknowledges an objective reality that is intelligible, but unlike atheistic interpretations of science, it also acknowledges the reality of the non-material realm. As science comes under attack, the Mother of Science ought to step-up to defend her offspring from the attacks of the neo-pagan. For only the Christian world view can defend against the attacks of the postmodernists. … The atheists and the naturalists have only their blind faith and sentiments, and these are easily steam-rolled by the irrational faith and sentiments of the neo-pagan mind. The same philosophical and theological assumptions that paved the way for the birth of science are needed to defend the life of science.

    That is, if we continue on the materialist/atheist/postmodernist/neo-pagan path science will eventually come to a full stop. We are already well down that road as evidenced by all the authoritarian blather about “consensus” in relation to “global warming” and by the absolute failure of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to do anything but make atheism socially respectable, to justify genocides, to support totalitarianism, to provide work for surgeons in excising “vestigial” organs and to deprive most of the rest of us of the hope, and fear, that is necessary to keep us living, and living with decency towards other human beings and the rest of creation.

  20. I believe that science will inevitably be coloured by prevailing philosophies, no matter whether the design paradigm or evolutionary paradigm is prevalent at the time.

    I believe it is more important for people to recognise the limitations and underlying assumptions of the scientific method, lest they abuse science to make claims that are in reality unverifiable.

  21. Thanks Janice,
    That was very insightful and very powerful. I did not realize the depth to which Christianity gave birth to science.
    That article is definitely going to ruffle a few atheistic feathers.

  22. If it wasn’t for Darwin, we probably would not have seen the emergence of UFO abduction claims, comic books such as X Men or all the movies about “ET” and other aliens from outer space.

    LOLOL. You are right!

  23. My prediction is that the Biologic Institute will supplant the Mayo Clinic as the premier medical research institution. And there will be design labs at major universities.

  24. actually its ID that incorperates UFO’s and aliens but” the x-men did get their powers through N/S R/M I think.

    I’m still waiting for darwinism to accomplish somthing like that in real life though-

    Id sure like to be able to shoot weapons grade lasers out of my eyes.

  25. “actually its ID that incorperates UFO’s and aliens”

    it was the belief that life and evolution are inevitable and that our planet isn’t special that led to the idea that there must be millions of advanced alien civilizations out there. Evolutionists are behind the SETI project.

  26. A related topic:
    Out of control:
    AIDS and the corruption of medical science

    Attempts to rigorously test the ruling medical hypothesis of the age are met not with reasoned debate but with the rhetoric of moral blackmail: Peter Duesberg has the blood of African AIDS babies on his hands. Duesberg is evil, a scientific psychopath. He should be imprisoned . . . .

    . . .The nevirapine debate follows the same histrionic, antiscientific pattern. Because of his concerns about the toxicity of this and other antiretroviral drugs, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was pilloried in the international press as pharmaceutical companies and their well-funded “activist” ambassadors repeated their mantra about “life-saving drugs.” So, too, was Jonathan Fishbein, who never questioned the premise that HIV causes AIDS, tarred and feathered for pointing out that the NIH flagship study on nevirapine was a complete disaster. Fishbein’s failure to fall into line, his failure to understand in advance of experimental proof that nevirapine was too important to fail, meant that the AIDS bureaucracy’s neutralizing antibodies had to be activated to destroy them. . . .

    . . .Regardless of whether Duesberg is right about HIV, his case, like Fishbein’s, lays bare the political machinery of American science, and reveals its reflexive hostility to ideas that challenge the dominant paradigm. Such hostility is not unusual in the history of science. . . . but the contemporary situation is dramatically different from those faced by maverick scientists in the past. Today’s scientists are almost wholly dependent upon the goodwill of government researchers and powerful peer-review boards, who control a financial network binding together the National Institutes of Health, academia, and the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Many scientists live in fear of losing their funding. “Nobody is safe,” one NIH-funded researcher told me. “The scientific-medical complex is a $2 trillion industry,” says former drug developer Dr. David Rasnick, who now works on nutrition-based AIDS programs in Pretoria, South Africa. “You can buy a tremendous amount of consensus for that kind of money.”

  27. Great comments, Allanius. Scientists as human beings hold a huge variety of philosophical beliefs. Yet as scientists they continue to form and test hypotheses according to agreed upon processes and standards. Evolutionary theory is utterly irrelevant to the vast majority of scientists as they practice their disciplines. The loss of the “materialism assumption” would have little-to-no effect on the day-to-day practice of science. The benefit would be (as other posters have noted) a broadening of acceptable hypotheses to test about the rather narrow field of origin of life.

  28. “What would happen to science if Darwin ceased to be God?”

    A better question would be: What would happen to science if ID proved The Designer to be God?

    Then, the next question is: How would the union of religion and science be taught under a law that forces the separation of Church and State?

  29. Janice, 19:

    . . . The beginning of science as a fully fledged enterprise took place in relation to two important definitions of the Magisterium of the Church . . . .

    These statements … expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature … . Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.

    H’mm, that pesky MAGISTERIUM strikes again . . .

    For an all-too-revealingly and predictably cherry-picked opposed view to Jaki, cf here.

    You will see a wonderful little graph that projects a hypothetical exponential rise in civilisation and science that would have happened if the pesky church with its nefarious Magisterium etc had not intervened and created “the Christain Dark Ages.”

    As if it is not a long-term, all too frequently repeated fact of history that civilisations rise and fall, and that the Roman Empire had not nearly collapsed in the 200′s only to be patched together and hang on in the W for a few hundred more years, while in the E it hung on until 1453. [The scholars and books that fled W on the fall of Constantinople did help boost W Europe's re-awakening.]

    Indeed, Augustine’s City of God, was specifically written to refute an earlier, pagan-anchored form of such slanderous myths. (And how many of us have even dipped into this great classic of Western Civ?)

    In fact, not only did Rome suffer many disasters under classical pagan hands as Augustine documented in painstaking detail, but Rome had been strategically untenable from the point where Augustus lost two [or was it three . . .] legions on the Rhine, and thus failed to move the Empire’s line to the Elbe — Danube river lines. In short, once the Empire moved into Gaul and pushed up to the Rhine, under that notorious Christian, Julius Caesar, the seeds of destruction at the hands of the Barbarian hordes were already long since sown.

    Without further expansion, and with a tax and population base that were not sustainable relative to the challenges on the frontiers, Rome was doomed. And, it is a commonplace among historians that for centureis befre the fall, cultural standards were in obvious decline, even the basic helmets worn by the legion were of a far lower standard.

    Not to mention the repeated inflation of the coinage though diluting the silver content, from about 90+% to about 5% in the end. That is how the PENNY of England was a copper coin, when the Denarius of the C1 was a silver one. (Shades of what has been happening with the US Dollar across the past 70+ years!)

    Indeed, I recall C S Lewis in one of his essays remarking on how pleasantly surprised he was to see the relatively high quality of Latin in a church Father of the 4th Century or so. Even the basic level of education was part of the rot, in other words.

    Those who resort to or peddle “Church at war with progress and ‘freedom’ ” myths, should take a pause in the aftermath of recent events in Colorado, and think about what they are doing.

    GEM of TKI

  30. The law does not “force the separation of church and state,” unless Jefferson spoke ex cathedra. Here is what the Constitution actually says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Since our schools have become too enlightened to teach history, it is perhaps useful to point out that this prohibition was intended to provide religious freedom to Americans, not to guarantee freedom from religion. The context of the statement is that many of the original settlers came to America seeking freedom from the Church of England. The First Amendment guarantees their freedom to worship as they please.

    What the First Amendment does not guarantee is the right of the State to prohibit any reference to religion in publicly-funded classrooms. This interpretation goes far beyond the original intent—is ahistorical and reflective of the materialism of the modern age—the chimera of an activist judiciary working on elitist assumptions about what is good for the nation’s schoolchildren.

    The First Amendment also does not authorize the use of publicly-funded schools to disseminate materialist dogma in the guise of science. Darwinism is more than just a scientific theory; it is a naturalistic religion based on the notion of the inevitability of “progress.” It makes a religious statement about the nature of being and the non-existence of a creator. Darwin and his supporters were perfectly forthright about this.

    ID makes it possible to argue that Darwinism is not the final word in science or in religion. The improbability of nature overcoming its own nothingness through “natural selection,” the irreducible complexity of life-giving systems, the astonishing degree of fine-tuning that is necessary to support life—these scientific facts indicate the existence of a Designer, in contradiction to the doctrinaire materialism of Darwin.

    Should the State compel our schools to teach only Darwinism and exclude reasonable evidence that points to a Designer? In that case the State has established Darwinism and Naturalism as its official religion—which is contrary to the First Amendment. Perhaps the time has come again for Americans to fight for freedom and against oppressive orthodoxies.

  31. allanius,
    Thank you for clearing up my confusion about the law. However, I think the solution you arrived at is revealing:
    “Perhaps the time has come again for Americans to fight for freedom and against oppressive orthodoxies.”

    I think the probability of that happening is very low.

  32. Denyse O’Leary:

    Note that I am interested in hearing from people who think that design is a reasonable inference. If you don’t, materialist blogs are anxious to hear from you, so go there now.

    That’s exactly the right kind of attitude.

Leave a Reply