"Gould supposes what he has to suppose, and Dawkins finds it easy to believe what he wants to believe, but supposing and believing are not enough to make a scientific explanation."
-- Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial
We all know how the giraffe got its long neck, right? Yes, the poor short-necked versions ate up all the leaves on the low branches, and only their lucky longer-necked brothers and sisters could eat. And eating leads to survival to reproduce. Not eating rarely aids in living long enough to reproduce, so voila!, "evolution" preserves the lucky and kills the unlucky, who are never to be seen again (including, incidentally, in the fossil record). So we are regaled with many such "just so" stories to "explain" evolution. When examined closely, almost any account of evolutionary development, such as that of the wing or the eye, involves mostly "supposing" to get from point A to point B. Supposing is fine for imagining; but supposing falls short of explaining, much less proving.
The fact that Darwinists are quick to presume elaborate imaginations to be akin to factual accounts for the origin of something as complex as a working eye is both amusing and troubling. On the one hand, like ancient andabatae, Darwinists make great spectacle as they thrash about in their imaginations (imagination being their only guide). Formidable in appearance only, alternating probes and thrusts in impressive form, Darwinists seem oblivious to the futility imposed by their armored helmets of philosophy. On the other hand, unlike the ill-fated andabatae (all of whom no doubt would risk removing the helmet for the ability to see), the groping blindness of today's Darwinists is self-imposed, evoking a certain pity. What purpose can be served by steadfastly insisting on a view of reality that does not admit certain lines of scientific inquiry, regardless of the evidence?
Unfortunately, the answer to the question above is that science has evolved to the precarious predicament of being guardian of a worldview. Changes in scientific understanding often trigger a change in worldviews. In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn includes a chapter entitled, "Revolutions as Changes in World View" which explores how worldviews change with scientific developments. Simple examples such as how Aristotle and Galileo understood the motion of pendulums can illustrate how fundamental shifts in scientific understanding affect how one views all of nature, i.e., one's worldview.
But the change in worldview brought on by understanding the difference between one view or another with respect to pendulum dynamics hardly rises to the level of change that theories of origins require. Discussing theories of origins may make for wearisome academic debates, but the truth of the matter (i.e., the actual, unchangeable, historic happening of the origin of living beings) has profound implications with respect to all areas of life--legal, political, and ethical--to name a few. At bottom, the fact of our existence means the truth of our origins must be either that we are matter-caused, i.e., matter is all that exists and energized matter alone produced everything from rocks to rocket scientists through unplanned, unguided motion, or we are intelligently created, i.e, matter was intelligently manipulated to create the cosmos and everything in it. There are no other choices, and theories built on one of these assumptions must necessarily be false.
Mainstream science has chosen to stake its flag squarely and immutably in the worldview associated with the matter-only assumption of philosophical naturalism, requiring all theories to assume matter is all that exists, or, at least, matter is all that matters. Such a stance is understandable and relatively harmless when the object of study is applied science, like studying pendulums or building rockets. But with respect to origin of life theories, science is championing the cause of naturalism unnecessarily. Contrary to the oft-repeated rhetoric, naturalistic Darwinism is not necessary to study and understand any area of science any more than is intelligent design, or even special creation. For example, photosynthesis, planetary motion, life cycles, even genetics, can each be studied and understood, as well as applied to solve practical problems, without recourse to any theory of origins, including the study of Darwinism. In fact it's done in laboratories everyday.
Why, then, do mainstream scientists guard Darwinism so fiercely? First, it seems that, almost by definition, one can't be a mainstream scientist without paying public homage to Darwin. Second, it must be appreciated that many people are convinced that Darwinism represents the truth with respect to origins. Not ever having been exposed to contrary evidence, such scientists are under the impression that there is no contrary evidence. Even more so, Darwinism has a symbolic value as the defining discipline dividing science and religion, and any attack on Darwinism is an attack on science itself. The attacks are all the more threatening because they always seem to come from "religious" people. Finally, like other religious people and their beliefs, many people who believe in Darwinism have never studied their chosen dogma; they believe it because that's what they've been taught and to think otherwise not only requires work, but is likely to make them look like charter members of the flat-earth society.
Obviously, objective scientific considerations are insufficient to explain the religious ferocity with which the evolutionist elites protect their Darwinian domain. There is more in play here than a simple scientific controversy, such as whether light is a particle or a wave, to give another example of a question that divided the scientific world for a time. No, the question of origins brings into play the question of ultimate worldview--which philosophy is correct for understanding reality? If naturalism is not the correct philosophy, i.e., matter is not all that exists, then weighty questions arise as to just what else may exist. The "what else" implies an intelligent "who else" that leads to a "why else" which causes one to see the world very, very differently from what naturalism would require.
Like surviving andabatae removing their unduly restrictive helmets, scientists willing to consider alternatives to philosophical naturalism can remove blinding restrictions on the mind and can see the world in an entirely different way. Such a paradigm shift has its professional risks, but those who are willing to honestly consider the alternatives to naturalism will no doubt find that the new way of seeing permits new ways of solving problems--solutions with fewer anomalies than those provided by naturalism. New theories of origins that consider intelligence, even God, can, then, join other scientific paradigm shifts, where, as Kuhn says, "Scientists then often speak of the 'scales falling from the eyes' or of the 'lightening flash' that 'inundates' a previously obscure puzzle, enabling its components to be seen in a new way that for the first time permits its solution."
As long as science is held hostage by the philosophy of naturalism, however, the scales on most eyes will remain, the puzzles will remain obscure, imaginations will continue, and "supposing" will have to suffice for explanation. Sophisticated "just so" stories will have to carry the evidentiary load, feebly substituting for scientific reasoning. That such "just so" stories go unchallenged from the mind's eye of Darwinists to the reading eyes of an unwary public is unfortunate. But that science would condone such behavior, risking its reputation for the honor of a philosophy, is tragic.
Let him who has eyes to see, see.
Roddy Bullock is a freelance writer and the Executive Director of the Intelligent Design Network of Ohio and is the author of The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science, published by and available from Access Research Network.
This month's essay adapted from End Note 79 of The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science.
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Copyright (c) 2008 Roddy M. Bullock, all rights reserved. Quotes and links permitted with attribution.
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Opening quote from: Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), p. 42.
"Just so" stories refer to Rudyard Kipling's book, Just So Stories, originally published in 1902. The book is a collection of fanciful tales with titles such as "How the Whale Got His Throat," "How the Camel Got His Hump," and the like.
Andabatae were Roman-era gladiators that were heavily armored, but their helmets had no eye holes; they fought without the benefit of their eyesight.
Kuhn quote from: Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 111.
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