When scientists decide they know what the right answer is, despite what the scientific evidence may indicate, then bad things can happen. This was the theme of my recent book Science’s Blind Spot, where I explored the history and consequences of the mandate for naturalism in science. For about two hundred years before Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution, theologians, philosophers and scientific investigators promoted a series of religious and philosophical arguments that mandated purely naturalistic explanations for the history of the world. Darwin’s book, where he used a plethora of these metaphysical arguments for his otherwise scientifically weak theory of evolution, was something of a capstone for the movement. The foundation was in place, and as one historian Read More ›
People such as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and author Susan Jacoby have been calling for an improved intellectual climate and reasoned, informed debate on hot topics such as the question of origins. OK, let’s give it a try. Did you know that most of the evidence claimed for evolution is actually not evidence for evolution? That’s right. Remember the mountain of evidence that evolutionists say is supposed to make evolution a fact? Well, most of it consists of biological findings that merely have been interpreted according to evolution. Here is an example: a prestigious scientific journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published last week detailed findings about how DNA information is used to make proteins Read More ›
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made a call for reason this past weekend. Citing Susan Jacoby’s work, Kristof points out the need for an improved intellectual climate to foster informed and reasoned debate. “How can we decide on embryonic stem cells if we don’t understand biology?” asks Kristof. Amen. Let’s understand the technical details, the relevant history and philosophy, and all sides of an issue. Then we can have informed and reasoned debate. At least that is what comes to my mind when I hear a call for reason. Not necessarily, however, for folks such as Kristof and Jacoby.
The good news is that concern for society’s lack of intellectualism continues. The bad news is this concern continues to lack intellectualism. This unfortunate irony is so common it seems to have become a tradition, and the latest contribution is Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason. Jacoby is a long-time critic of intelligent design who, like most critics, propagates more strawmen renditions and Inherit the Wind stereotypes, than thoughtful or fresh ideas. In this tradition, one is either a Darwinist or a religious fanatic. Darwinism is the ideal of science while ID is creationism in disguise, hostile to reason and knowledge. Doubt evolution and you are a throwback to the days before the Enlightenment. This use of false Read More ›
In the recently published booklet Science, Evolution, and Creationism, the National Academy of Sciences claims that science must be limited to naturalistic explanations: In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. (p. 10) Evolutionists have always been dogmatic about naturalism. They believe that science must, in principle, be absolutely constrained to naturalistic explanations. This is a philosophical position — there is no scientific evidence that could make evolutionists think twice.