jottings from tertius

views of the world from my worldview window

"If there was no God, there would be no atheists." G.K. Chesterton


SITES OF NOTE

Tektonics Apologetics Ministry
blogs4God
The Adarwinist reader
Bede's Library: the Alliance of Faith and Reason
A Christian Thinktank
Doxa:Christian theology and apologetics
He Lives
Mike Gene Teleologic
Errant Skeptics Research Institute
Stephen Jones' CreationEvolutionDesign
Touchstone: a journal of mere Christianity: mere comments
The Secularist Critique: Deconstructing secularism
Ex-atheist.com: I Wasn't Born Again Yesterday
imago veritatis by Alan Myatt
Solid Rock Ministries
The Internet Monk: a webjournal by Michael Spencer
The Sydney Line: the website of Keith Windschuttle
Miranda Devine's writings in the Sydney Morning Herald
David Horowitz frontpage magazine
Thoughts of a 21st century Christian Philosopher
one-eighty
Steven Lovell's philosophical themes from C.S.Lewis
Peter S. Williams Christian philosophy and apologetics
Shandon L. Guthrie
Clayton Cramer's Blog
Andrew Bolt columns
Ann Coulter columns




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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton


"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton


"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Evolution, the political correctness of science

 
The Metaphysics of Evolution by Fred Reed, an agnostic:

...Early on, I noticed three things about evolution that differentiated it from other sciences (or, I could almost say, from science). First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. (And of course the less you know, the greater the number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way.) Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility.

As an example, it seems plausible to evolutionists that life arose by chemical misadventure. By this they mean (I think) that they cannot imagine how else it might have come about. (Neither can I. Does one accept a poor explanation because unable to think of a good one?) This accidental-life theory, being somewhat plausible, is therefore accepted without the usual standards of science, such as reproducibility or rigorous demonstration of mathematical feasibility. Putting it otherwise, evolutionists are too attached to their ideas to be able to question them.

Consequently, discussion often turns to vague and murky assertion. Starlings are said to have evolved to be the color of dirt so that hawks can't see them to eat them. This is plausible. But guacamayos and cockatoos are gaudy enough to be seen from low-earth orbit. Is there a contradiction here? No, say evolutionists. Guacamayos are gaudy so they can find each other to mate. Always there is the pat explanation. But starlings seem to mate with great success, though invisible. If you have heard a guacamayo shriek, you can hardly doubt that another one could easily find it. Enthusiasts of evolution then told me that guacamayos were at the top of their food chain, and didn't have predators. Or else that the predators were colorblind. On and on it goes. But...is any of this established?


Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. If you have ever debated a Marxist, or a serious liberal or conservative, or a feminist or Christian, you will have noticed that, although they can be exceedingly bright and well informed, they display a maddening imprecision. You never get a straight answer if it is one they do not want to give. Nothing is ever firmly established. Crucial assertions do not to tie to observable reality. Invariably the Marxist (or evolutionist) assumes that a detailed knowledge of economic conditions under the reign of Nicholas II or whatever substitutes for being able to answer simple questions, such as why Marxism has never worked: the Fallacy of Irrelevant Knowledge. And of course almost anything can be made believable by considering only favorable evidence and interpreting hard.

Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to creationist ideas. Nobody does – except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions – overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.

I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn't a Creationist. They refused to believe it. If they had, they would have had to answer questions that they would rather avoid. Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry. Thus their constant classification of skeptics as enemies (a word they often use) – of truth, of science, of Darwin, of progress.

This tactical demonization is not unique to evolution. "Creationist" is to evolution what "racist" is to politics: A way of preventing discussion of what you do not want to discuss. Evolution is the political correctness of science...


The Theory of Implausibility

As previously mentioned, evolutionists depend heavily on plausibility unabetted by evidence. There is also the matter of implausibility. Suppose that I showed you two tiny gear wheels, such as one might find in an old watch, and said, "See? I turn this little wheel, and the other little wheel turns too. Isn't that cute?" You would not find this surprising. Suppose I then showed you a whole mechanical watch, with thirty little gear wheels and a little lever that said tickticktick. You would have no trouble accepting that they all worked together.

If I then told you of a mechanism consisting of a hundred billion little wheels that worked for seventy years, repairing itself, wouldn't you suspect either that I was smoking something really good – or that something beyond simple mechanics must be involved?

Evolution writ large is the belief that a cloud of hydrogen will spontaneously invent extreme-ultraviolet lithography, perform Swan Lake, and write all the books in the British Museum.

If something looks implausible, it probably is.

... Always the question is How does this fit in with evolution, instead of, Does this fit in with evolution?

Intelligent Design

An interesting thought that drives evolutionists mad is called Intelligent Design, or ID. It is the view that things that appear to have been done deliberately might have been. Some look at, say, the human eye and think, "This looks like really good engineering. Elaborate retina of twelve layers, marvelously transparent cornea, pump system to keep the whole thing inflated, suspensory ligaments, really slick lens, the underlying cell biology. Very clever."

I gather that a lot of ID folk are in fact Christian apologists trying to drape Genesis in scientific respectability. That is, things looked to have been designed, therefore there must be a designer, now will Yahweh step forward. Yet an idea is not intellectually disreputable because some of the people who hold it are. The genuine defects of ID are the lack of a detectible designer, and that evolution appears to have occurred. This leads some to the thought that consciousness is involved and evolution may be shaping itself. I can think of no way to test the idea.

In any event, to anyone of modest rationality, the evolutionist's hostility to Intelligent Design is amusing. Many evolutionists argue, perhaps correctly, that Any Day Now we will create life in the laboratory, which would be intelligent design. Believing that life arose by chemical accident, they will argue (reasonably, given their assumptions) that life must have evolved countless times throughout the universe. It follows then that, if we will soon be able to design life, someone else might have designed us.

7:49:00 pm