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When Scientists Make Truth Claims Outside Science

Image: Carl Sagan lectures to school kids, in a scene from Cosmos (screen shot).

Every once in a while evolutionists distill their thoughts into pithy statements that profoundly summarize what it’s all about for them. Carl Sagan’s 1980 Cosmos series is chock full of such statements, but as John Lennox notes, none is better than his classic opening line: “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Find the video here:

Obviously that is a truth claim, but it does not come from science. Truth claims that do not come from science are nothing new. What is new, however, is the presentation of such truth as science. And so while there is nothing wrong with evolutionists proclaiming what they believe, there is everything wrong with their insistence that it is what everyone else must believe as well: that their personal religious beliefs, not open to scientific scrutiny, are scientific facts. Evolutionists may be correct about origins, but they are not scientific.

Here is a small, representative sampling of similar claims over the past three centuries.

  • “We think him a better Artist that makes a Clock that strikes regularly at every hour from the Springs and Wheels which he puts in the work, than he that hath so made his Clock that he must put his finger to it every hour to make it strike.” Thomas Burnet, 1681
  • “Newton and his followers also have a very odd opinion regarding God’s workmanship. According to them, God’s watch — the universe — would stop working if he didn’t re-wind it from time to time! He didn’t have enough foresight to give it perpetual motion. This machine that he has made is so imperfect that from time to time he has to clean it by a miraculous intervention, and even has to mend it, as a clockmaker mends his work. The oftener a clockmaker has to adjust his machine and set it right, the clumsier he must be as a clockmaker!” Gottfried Leibniz, 1715
  • God would not “set his own hand as it were to every work, and immediately do all the meanest and trifling’st things himself drudgingly, without making use of any inferior or subordinate Minister.” John Ray, 1717
  • It is most appropriate to the wisdom of God that the cosmic structures “develop themselves in an unforced succession out of the universal laws.” Immanuel Kant, 1755
  • “A perpetual war is kindled amongst all living creatures,” and nature is so arranged so as “to embitter the life of every living being.” David Hume, 1779
  • “The world itself might have been generated, rather than created; that is, it might have been gradually produced from very small beginnings, increasing by the activity of its inherent principles, rather than by a sudden evolution by the whole by the Almighty fiat. What a magnificent idea of the infinite power of the great architect! The Cause of Causes! Parent of Parents! Ens Entium! For if we may compare infinities, it would seem to require a greater infinity of power to cause the causes of effects, than to cause the effects themselves.” Erasmus Darwin, 1794
  • “How can we suppose an immediate exertion of this creative power at one time to produce the zoophytes, another time to add a few marine mollusks, another to bring in one or two crustacea, again to crustaceous fishes, again perfect fishes, and so on to the end. This would surely be to take a very mean view of the Creative Power.” Robert Chambers, 1844
  • “No inductive inquirer can bring himself to believe in the existence of any real hiatus in the continuity of physical laws in past eras more than in the existing order of things; or to imagine that changes, however seemingly abrupt, can have been brought about except by the gradual agency of some regular causes. On such principles the whole superstructure of rational geology entirely reposes; to deny them in any instance would be to endanger all science. … The event [the introduction of new species] is part of a regularly ordained mechanism of the evolution of the existing world out of former conditions, and as much subject to regular laws as any changes now taking place.” Baden Powell, 1855
  • “These analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations.” Charles Darwin, 1859
  • “The strange springs and traps and pitfalls found in the flowers of Orchids cannot be necessary per se, since exactly the same end is gained in ten thousand other flowers which do not possess them. Is it not then an extraordinary idea to imagine the Creator of the Universe contriving the various complicated parts of these flowers as a mechanic might contrive an ingenious toy or a difficult puzzle? Is it not a more worthy conception that they are some of the results of those general laws which were so co-ordinated at the first introduction of life upon the earth as to result necessarily in the utmost possible development of varied forms?” Alfred Wallace, 1870
  • “If whales were made at once out of hand as we now see them, is it conceivable that these useless teeth would have been given them?” Joseph Le Conte, 1891
  • “What we do not know today we shall know tomorrow.” Alexander Oparin, 1924
  • “Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution — paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history.” Stephen Jay Gould, 1980
  • “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Carl Sagan, 1980
  • Would God “really want to take credit for the mosquito?” Kenneth Miller, 1999
  • “There are too many deficiencies, too much cruelty in the world of life. To assume that they have been explicitly created by God amounts to blasphemy. I believe God to be omniscient and benevolent. The ‘design’ of organisms is not compatible with such beliefs.” Francisco Ayala, 2002

These claims are not from science, but they drive science. They determine what is acceptable and not acceptable. They inform science and constrain its “right” answers. As was said so long ago, theology is the queen of the sciences. Imagine for a moment that you believed these things. Then you would be an evolutionist.