Anti-Evolution IIa: Closedmindedness (continued…)

ANTI-EVOLUTION II (a): CLOSEDMINDEDNESS (cont.)

Plus, even the commonly held notion that “all” scientists believe in evolution doesn’t hold up. Look closely the next time you hear that argument.  Notice that much of the evidence given is not about the science itself, but about the credentials of the scientist.  A scientist is supposedly closer to the truth the more accolades he or she has received.  Thus, you may see a letter supporting more evolution education in schools, signed by seventy-five Nobel Prize winners.  Signed by leading professors at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Michigan.  But notice the circularity of that measure.  Those accolades come from within the dominant scientific paradigm.  By definition, such prizes and honors represent not some objective truth, but rather the opinion of other scientists that someone has done something praiseworthy.

The next time you hear that all scientists believe evolution, try sampling from the list below:

  • Fred Hoyle: Hoyle has suggested that current thinking about materialistic evolution is a crock.  Most memorably, he has suggested that the
    chances of life on earth developing on its own was about as likely as the chances that a hurricane blowing through a junkyard would assemble a Boeing jetliner.  In other words, life on earth is entirely too complex to have simply happened.  It needs some source, some cause.  In Hoyle’s case, this is not an argument based on a previous intellectual commitment to the Bible.  In fact, Hoyle’s preferred explanation for the origins of life are not from divine intervention but rather through the seeding of this planet by interstellar viruses containing the basic forms of life.  And even by the standards of mainstream science, Hoyle’s credentials are hard to ignore.  He is often credited, for instance, with coining the term “Big Bang,” although he did not accept the notion himself.  He did not win a Nobel Prize
    himself, although many people think he was unfairly denied one in 1983 despite his contributions to the project that won.
  • Chandra Wickramasinghe: Wickramasinghe was a student of Hoyle, and collaborated with him.  Like Hoyle, Wickramasinghe’s  mainstream scientific credentials are hard to ignore.  He has published dozens of articles, for instance, in the journal Nature.  He holds a professorship at Cardiff University and was the youngest person ever to receive such a professorship.  Like Hoyle, Wickramasinghe is not a biblical Christian.  He does not try to disprove the notion of materialistic evolution out of a commitment to religious ideas.  He is
    simply an innovative scientist able to rest on his credentials enough to publicly doubt the orthodoxy of evolution.  His unorthodox ideas have occasionally cost him funding.  Nevertheless, he has continued to study the idea that life on earth developed from cosmic dust, rather than simply springing into existence on its own.
  • Michael Behe: Behe is a biochemist.  He has argued that some organic functions, such as the mechanism for blood clotting, demonstrate what Behe calls an “irreducible complexity.”  Such complexity cannot have been evolved by a random process, since the entire mechanism needs to have developed all at the same time in order to offer any evolutionary benefit.  In other words, the evolutionary idea that some mutations offer a selective advantage to some individuals of a species, and that those advantages can lead to new species, does not account for some of the complex organic mechanisms.  It would do a simple species no good, in other words, to mutate one part of the blood-clotting mechanism.  It would have to mutate all the parts of it at once in order to derive any evolutionary benefit.

Evolutionists will point to the shortness of this list as evidence that such ideas are the realm of the kook, the crank.  But a balloon only needs a tiny pinhole to explode.  If even a few scientists doubt the evolutionary orthodoxy, that is enough to explode the myth that all scientists agree on the idea.  It is enough to demonstrate that scientific experts, even one expert, can evaluate the scientific evidence and find compelling alternative explanations.  The fact that the great majority of working scientists agree with the idea that life evolved on its own does not prove that it is true.  Before Einstein, the vast majority of working scientists did not understand the theory of relativity.  That does not mean that relativity was not true.  It simply means that most scientists were not able to come up with that idea on their own.  They were trained in other ideas and they  conducted all their research based on the ideas in which they were trained.  The vast majority of scientists at one time worked with the  assumption that phlogiston explained combustibility.  The vast majority also assumed at one time that human races were linked in a hierarchical chain with sub-Saharan Africans at the bottom and Nordic Europeans at the top.  Such orthodoxies are not convincing simply because they can conjure up large majorities of scientists.  Such majorities are, rather, just result of such ideological dominance.  They demonstrate nothing about the fundamental truth of evolution or any other scientific idea.

Even Darwin, in a famous closing passage to his 1859 Origin of Species, invoked the notion of a Creator as the ultimate source of life.  “There is grandeur in this view of life . . . having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.”  But wait, you might say, Darwin said that to soften the blow of his controversial book.  As he delved further into the idea, he largely discarded the notion that any Creator had been involved in any way, even to initially breathe life into the evolutionary process.  Such notions only got in the way of his understanding of life.  But look at it from a different angle.  When Darwin started, he was open to the idea of a creator.  As he explored the idea of organic evolution, it only made sense if he eliminated the creator part.  That is, once he decided there was no creator, he realized he didn’t need a creator.  Circular logic.  Not due to evidence, but due to preliminary assumptions about the evidence.  You can do the same thing in reverse.  Assume a young earth.  It will lead you to conclude that such a thing is not possible without a supernatural creator.  Also circular?  Yes.  But it is better, more scientific, to leave all the options on the table.  To examine evidence without first presuming that there are or are not supernatural causes.  Science should mean open minded inquiry, not materialistic inquiry.  If you include that possibility, nine times out of ten the best explanation for life on earth is not due to chance but to design.

When Galileo agreed to recant his support for a heliocentric earth, according to legend, he did so only with an ideological wink.  “E pur si muove,” he allegedly said, “It still moves.”  In other words, in the origins of the modern scientific project, Galileo asserted that whatever humans might say about the physical universe, that universe went on heedlessly.  It didn’t matter, to Galileo, whether or not he recanted his statement, the earth still rotated around the sun.  It seems that Galileo’s position is the one of ultimate faith: It doesn’t matter what I say or do, the truth of my position
is larger than my own being.

The fact that Galileo’s would-be successors in the modern scientific establishment can no longer muster his sense of calm confidence is revealing.  If scientists today really were as confident in their evolutionary ideology as they purport to be, they would not be as insistent that all scientists agree with their position.  In other words, if the notion that life evolved in all its forms without a guiding intelligence really had the same
intellectual weight as the notion of a heliocentric solar system, scientists should be able to muster Galileo’s calm notion that “It still moves.”  They ought to be able to allow other ideas to be considered, knowing that theirs was the truth.

But they can’t.
Mainstream scientists today enforce a rigid evolutionary ideology.  The ideological—as opposed to truly scientific—roots of this kind of closedmindedness become evident in those few cases when scholars have attempted to present alternative ideas in academic settings.  Creationist Jerry Bergman collected cases of such discrimination in his 1984 book The Criterion.  Bergman, who claimed to have been denied tenure at Bowling Green University in the early 1980s due to his creationist beliefs, describes the stories of academics such as Clifford Burdick.  Burdick was allegedly refused his PhD at the University of Arizona in 1960 for including a consideration of divine creation as an explanation for  discrepancies in the fossil record.  Bergman argued that such attitudes had no place in a university setting.  Firing a creationist for speaking to students about his or her beliefs, Bergman argued, would be like “if a black were fired on the suspicion that he had ‘talked to students about being black,’ or a woman being fired for having ‘talked to students about women’s issues.’” In a similar case, Dean Kenyon was reprimanded by his
institution for his work with the notion of intelligent design.  Kenyon had co-authored one of the most influential textbook supplements in the intelligent-design field, Of Pandas and People.  In 1992, his school, San Francisco State University, ordered him to cease teaching scientific creationism as part of his biology classes.  Kenyon had been teaching such ideas as part of his curriculum.  He had been teaching evolutionary ideas as well, but had included other notions about the origins of life.  Such open-mindedness was anathema to the administration of the purportedly open-minded university.  To be fair, the rest of the faculty voted to allow Kenyon to keep teaching such ideas, as part of their right to academic freedom.  But the sentiment in favor of muzzling such ideas was significant.

Similarly, intelligent-design advocate Michael Behe’s university department felt forced to publish a disclaimer of Behe’s work that strayed beyond mainstream orthodoxy.  In embarrassment, apparently, that one of its faculty members could question the reigning scientific ideology, his academic department felt obliged to post the following disclaimer on its website: “The department faculty . . . are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary
theory. . . . Behe’s . . . views . . . are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department.”  Why is this sort of statement necessary?  Because evolution’s dominance of mainstream science is maintained through social, not scientific, rigidity and control.

However, there is a heavy price to be paid for such control.  Such attitudes not only enforce
the evolutionary orthodoxy, they also demonstrate its fundamental intellectual weakness.  When scientists feel they must resort to such heavy-handed ideological enforcement, it is evidence that their emperor really has no clothes.

 

ANTI EVOLUTION IIa: FURTHER READING

Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 2nd edition (New York: Free Press, 2006); Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis, Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins, 2nd edition (Haughton, 1993); Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984).

Advertisements
Leave a comment

3 Comments

  1. Intelligent Design Defended « I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  2. REQUIRED READING: Protester Voices « I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  3. Creationist: Give Creationist Kids Evolution! | I Love You but You're Going to Hell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s