Ben Stein Vs. Sputtering Atheists

Townhall | Brent Bozell III | Apr. 18, 2008

Everyone should take the opportunity to see “Expelled” — if nothing else, as a bracing antidote to the atheism-friendly culture of PC liberalism. But it’s far more than that. It’s a spotlight on the arrogance of this movement and its leaders, a spotlight on the choking intolerance of academia, and a spotlight on the ignorance of so many who say so much, yet know so very little.

[...]

I confess that when the producers of Ben Stein’s new documentary “Expelled” called, offering me a private screening, I was less than excited.

It is a reality of PC liberalism: There is only one credible side to an issue, and any dissent is not only rejected, it is scorned. Global warming. Gay “rights.” Abortion “rights.” On these and so many other issues there is enlightenment, and then there is the Idiotic Other Side. PC liberalism’s power centers are the news media, the entertainment industry and academia, and all are in the clutches of an unmistakable hypocrisy: Theirs is an ideology that preaches the freedom of thought and expression at every opportunity, yet practices absolute intolerance toward dissension.

Evolution is another one of those one-sided debates. We know the concept of Intelligent Design is stifled in academic circles. An entire documentary to state the obvious? You can see my reluctance to view it.

I went into the screening bored. I came out of it stunned.

Ben Stein’s extraordinary presentation documents how the worlds of science and academia not only crush debate on the origins of life, but also crush the careers of professors who dare to question the Darwinian hypothesis of evolution and natural selection.

Stein asks a simple question: What if the universe began with an intelligent designer, a designer named God? He assembles a stable of academics — experts all — who dared to question Darwinist assumptions and found themselves “expelled” from intellectual discourse as a result. They include evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg (sandbagged at the Smithsonian), biology professor Caroline Crocker (drummed out of George Mason University), and astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez (blackballed at Iowa State University).

That’s disturbing enough, but what Stein does next is truly shocking. He allows the principal advocates of Darwinism to speak their minds. These are experts with national reputations, regular welcomed guests on network television and the like. But the public knows them only by their careful seven-second soundbites. Stein engages them in conversation. They speak their minds. They become sputtering ranters, openly championing their sheer hatred of religion.

PC liberalism has showered accolades on atheist author Richard Dawkins’ best-selling book “The God Delusion.” But when Stein suggests to Dawkins that he’s been critical of the Old Testament God, Dawkins protests — not that Stein is wrong, but that he’s being too mild. He then reads from this jaw-dropping paragraph of his book:

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Comments

  1. #48 Phil

    Your example is technically correct, but is so trivial as to be meaningless. The brown spots were useless before the mutation, so there was no disadvantage conferred by their absence. Also, the fact that they turned red was due to a change in only one pigment.

    In the scenario cited in Jim’s article, an ion-powered pump was converted in one fell swoop into a flagellum propulsion system. For your analogy to hold water, the organism would have had to develop a highly complex, multicomponent physico-chemical structure, dependent on the coordination of dozens of specialized proteins, but which had no use. Why did the organism bother building this elaborate system, piece by piece, for millions of years, if it was useless and could be assigned another function presto chango?

    Your “argument from incredulity” statement bespeaks a philosophy of science peculiar to Darwinian apologists. No matter how improbable the explanation, no matter how little evidence, no matter how violently it sins against common sense, it must be accepted because it fits with the theory. This is all backwards, the burden is on the one promoting a theory to prove it; not on the critic to disprove it.

    Let’s say I had a theory of, say, polymer miscibility, that depended on comets being aligned with planets at the same moment that sunspots were produced. I describe it with words like “it has been proposed…” and “over time, this system might have been developed…”. All of it vague, hypothetical, and ill-defined; no evidence produced at any point. Then you say “I don’t think that is a good explanation for polymer miscibility. If I responded that “personal incredulity is a logical fallacy” you would think me at least obtuse, if not insane.

    Yet this is what awaits those who question the wild “just-so” stories of the Darwinists.

  2. Banescu says:

    Phil, You have just agreed that there is in fact an Intelligent Designer (Creator) and all matter is guided by the laws He has created. Thanks for supporting ID! I knew you’d come around. :)

    If anything, science is about figuring out what those laws are.

    Chaos, random actions, and a mindless Nature do not and cannot ever create laws. Matter itself did not create the laws it’s governed under. Universal laws require a designer/creator. By acknowledging that laws exist, you have confirmed the existence, power, and immense intelligence of the originator of those laws. This is exactly what Fr. Hans, myself, and many others have been saying all along. You finally got it. Welcome to reality!

  3. Jacobse says:

    Phil writes:

    Is there a single scientific theory which denies that the “laws of the Universe” exist?

    Most armchair Darwinists believe the laws preexisted the creation of matter. But in a Darwinian cosmology (based on philosophical materialism), those laws cannot preexist matter. IOW, the laws that govern the arrangement of matter into structures must exist in the matter itself, not apart or outside of it, and must have evolved/emerged as the matter was self-organizing.

    There is no other option. You might argue that the laws spontaneously generated during the big bang but this posits design thereby undermining Darwinism. Spontaneous generation of orderly physical law? (Deus ex machina anyone?)

    If anything, science is about figuring out what those laws are.

    For the Darwinist it is figuring out where those laws came from.

  4. By acknowledging that laws exist, you have confirmed the existence, power, and immense intelligence of the originator of those laws.

    Well, if, by “Intelligent Designer” you actually meant, “the laws of physics” all along, then, yes, we were in agreement.

    But I definitely think that the most plausible explanation for speciation on this planet is evolution by natural selection, which I find entirely consistent with the laws of physics, etc.

    It may bother you that the theory of evolution doesn’t really have anything to say about whether there’s a God, but it doesn’t bother me.

    If you see commonality in our beliefs that the Universe appears to follow laws, that’s great, because I don’t think that you and I, as men of reason, are so very different. We might disagree on whether anyone exists who can break the laws we’ve observed thus far (whether it be Neo from The Matrix or an omnipotent being), but most of the human beings who’ve existed have disagreed about the specifics.

    For the Darwinist it is figuring out where those laws came from.

    Jacobse, for your statements to have any meaning, you’re going to have to provide a clear explanation of what a “Darwinist” is. Am I a Darwinist? Is everyone who finds the theory of evolution plausible a Darwinist? What’s the difference between “Darwinism” and “the theory of evolution by natural selection,” in your view?

    The impression I get is that the uncertainty of science bothers you. The theory of evolution has nothing to say about whether laws pre-existed matter, any more than does the theory of the speed of light. You’re more comfortable with an all-encompassing worldview, which provides answers based on revealed texts, as opposed to slow, plodding discovery.

    That’s fine for you, but then you apply the underpinnings of your worldview (everything must have an answer) to others, such as these elusive “Darwinists.” Science is really about the search for answers; providing those answers is just a byproduct of science.

    It’s entirely possible for a person to hold the view that the Universe was created by an omnipotent and omniscient Supreme Being, and that this being allowed evolution to take place on our planet. Millions of people hold that belief. That’s because the theory of evolution doesn’t disprove the existence of such a being. (It doesn’t prove it, either, but that’s science for ya.) Now, if I knew what “Darwinists” were, I might have an opinion about their views.

  5. Jacobse says:

    Note 53. Phil writes:

    Jacobse, for your statements to have any meaning, you’re going to have to provide a clear explanation of what a “Darwinist” is. Am I a Darwinist? Is everyone who finds the theory of evolution plausible a Darwinist? What’s the difference between “Darwinism” and “the theory of evolution by natural selection,” in your view?

    Let me simplify it then. For the Darwinian evolutionist who believes that life emerged through the random collision of elementary particles, the existence of physical laws present a difficult challenge, i.e.: where did they come from?

    Darwinian theory is materialistic, that is, it incorporates the the philosophical precepts of philosophical materialism. Philosophical materialism had profound influence in Darwin’s day, long before the philosophical limits of science were properly understood, and long before the unbridled optimism that science would save humanity started to die on the killing fields of WWI, with the final death blow delivered in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and the Gulags of the Soviet Union.

    Philosophical materialism posits nothing exists beside matter. This means that any “ideal”, that is, non-material constituent of human experience, has a material origin. Darwin believed the same thing, or at least he incorporated the assumption into his hypothesis, i.e.: the universe self-organized through random events. No hierarchy of order, no consistent law, guided the process.

    So, again, this raises the question for Darwinists: where did the laws come from? Do they exist in the matter that self-organized? Further, the Darwinian must deny that these laws in any way affected the self-organization of matter. Anything else would deny randomness. Deny randomness and the entire house comes tumbling down.

    Thus, when you write:

    It’s entirely possible for a person to hold the view that the Universe was created by an omnipotent and omniscient Supreme Being, and that this being allowed evolution to take place on our planet. Millions of people hold that belief. That’s because the theory of evolution doesn’t disprove the existence of such a being.

    …it reveals that you still don’t grasp philosophical materialism, particularly in its Darwinian manifestation. Randomness is essential to the hypothesis, and positing an Aristotelean-like “umoved mover” at the top of the process just doesn’t work. Essentially you are arguing that the randomness is contained within hierarchy, but philosophical materialism does not allow this (thus neither does Darwinism) without fatally undermining the materialist thesis. (Aristotle’s thesis “works”, as an epistemological principle anyway, in an ordered universe, not a random one.)

  6. …it reveals that you still don’t grasp philosophical materialism, particularly in its Darwinian manifestation. Randomness is essential to the hypothesis, and positing an Aristotelean-like “umoved mover” at the top of the process just doesn’t work.

    No, Jacobse, you’re failing to grasp the limits of the theory of evolution because you’re loading it up with extra baggage.

    The theory of evolution by natural selection is not an explanation for how life came to exist.

    For the Darwinian evolutionist who believes that life emerged through the random collision of elementary particles

    Darwin’s theory was about speciation, not the origin of life. You are factually incorrect here. It may be true that there are “evolutionists” who hold that belief about the origin of life, but when you conflate the two, you’re constructing a straw man.

    Further, one need not “be” a philosophical materialist to find the theory of evolution plausible, any more than one must be a philosophical materialist to find that modern theories of planetary orbits make sense. An “unmoved mover” could have created the laws of gravity and physics, and an “unmoved mover” could have set the events of evolution in motion.

    You’re creating a position that you find logically inconsistent, then you’re attributingit to other people, then you’re arguing against it. That’s now how science, or logic, works.

  7. Jacobse says:

    Phil writes:

    Darwin’s theory was about speciation, not the origin of life. You are factually incorrect here. It may be true that there are “evolutionists” who hold that belief about the origin of life, but when you conflate the two, you’re constructing a straw man.

    It’s called “Origin of the Species.”

    Nope. Darwin’s notions of a random universe draw directly from philosophical materialism. I’ve been through this ten times now but you still don’t grasp it.

    Don’t bother trying to draw a distinction between Darwin and Neo-Darwinism because all you will discover are differences in details, not underlying philosophy. Both are materialistic (don’t confuse the philosophical definition of materialism with the scientific meaning of the term), that is, both allow for no order or hierarchy in the universe.*

    *To the extent that visible order exists, the Darwinist must argue that order emerges from matter itself; order does not exist above or apart from matter; there is no agency of ordering outside of matter, if he is to remain philosophically consistent. Read on.

    Further, one need not “be” a philosophical materialist to find the theory of evolution plausible, any more than one must be a philosophical materialist to find that modern theories of planetary orbits make sense. An “unmoved mover” could have created the laws of gravity and physics, and an “unmoved mover” could have set the events of evolution in motion.

    Phil, you just don’t see the implications of your assertions, and you don’t understand the philosophical ground from which they are drawn.

    It occurs to me that you are thinking of evolution in terms of design. IOW, you seem to think that evolution is an orderly process (a kind of contained randomness) put in motion by an unmoved mover. Sorry, but evolution itself precludes this definition. Evolution is random, no design is implied.

    Further, you seem to indicate that the process is orderly because of physical law, that is, physical laws guided the evolutionary process. But if physical laws guide the process, then they must also predate it. If so, design, not randomness, is implied, thus relegating evolutionary theory to an epistemological principle, that is, a construct by which scientific data is arranged, and not a theory about origins (contra Darwin).

    True evolutionists don’t believe this of course, although many armchair Darwinists do. If physical laws guided the evolutionary process, then design, order, hierarchy, etc. reigns in the universe, and the philosophical underpinnings of the evolutionary theory (a random collision of material particles) are thereby nullified. You can’t claim the universe consists of matter, energy, and design on one hand, and then claim it consists only of matter and energy in your part of it on the other. This is philosophically incoherent.

    You really need to read Gilder again, but this time try to comprehend it: Evolution and Me.

    Then read Berlinski again: The God of the Gaps.

    On the social ramifications of this debate, read Tom Wolfe’s Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died.

    It’s hard conceiving of a random universe, isn’t it? Armchair Darwinists simply can’t do it. They think they are Darwinian, but in fact their thinking is just confused. From the opposite direction: Why are true evolutionists such adamant atheists? Because unlike the armchair Darwinist, they understand the philosophical ground and implications of the Darwinian hypothesis.

  8. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “From the opposite direction: Why are true evolutionists such adamant atheists? Because unlike the armchair Darwinist, they understand the philosophical ground and implications of the Darwinian hypothesis.”

    A poll of members of the National Academy of Sciences taken in 1998 showed that only 10 percent believed in the existence of God or immortality, and 5 percent of biologists.
    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/55593

    As the article notes, such polls have been taken since 1914, and the numbers continue to drop. Thus I would be surprised to see any kind of realignment on this issue.

    The proponents of intelligent design have had absolutely no success in convincing other scientists. There’s no research to support it. No papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals. They were shot down in flames in the Dover case. Outside of the religious community ID has little appeal. I just don’t see how there is going to be any kind of major rejection of evolution.

  9. Jacobse says:

    Jim writes:

    A poll of members of the National Academy of Sciences taken in 1998 showed that only 10 percent believed in the existence of God or immortality, and 5 percent of biologists.

    The NAS is a Darwinian stronghold. I hope you don’t expect us to believe that on issues as contentious as the collapse of philosophical materialism (remember Marx, Freud?), that this snap shot proves anything.

    No papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

    From the Center for Science and Culture:

    “Critics of intelligent design often claim that design advocates don’t publish their work in appropriate scientific literature. For example, Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, was quoted in USA Today (March 25, 2005) that design theorists ‘aren’t published because they don’t have scientific data.’”

    See: Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated).

    I just don’t see how there is going to be any kind of major rejection of evolution.

    The Marxists didn’t see the collapse of Marxism coming either.

  10. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “See: Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated).”

    Ok, I concede that there have been articles about ID in “peer-reviewed journals.”

    I did some research on the articles. Rather than posting a long essay with multiple links, let me just provide a summary:

    One article, S.C. Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2) (2004): 213-239, was later repudiated by the Journal, saying that it had not been properly vetted, and that the content was inappropriate for the Journal.

    Other articles talk about complexity, etc., but never actually talk about ID. One article was published in a mathematical journal, not a biological journal. Other articles were actually reviews of articles and books. Few articles actually presented any new data.

    One scientist reviewed the list of articles published on the Discovery Institute web site and noted that more articles are published on evolutionary biology in one week than are in the entire publication history of intelligent design:

    Even by the most generous criteria, the peer-reviewed scientific output from the intelligent design (ID) movement is very low, especially considering the long history and generous funding of the movement. The list of papers and books above is not exhaustive, but there is not a lot else. One week’s worth of peer-reviewed papers on evolutionary biology exceeds the entire history of ID peer-review.

    Even granted that there have been articles related in some way to ID published in peer-reviewed journals, one fellow noted that

    “Publishing is not an end in itself. Scientific ideas mean nothing unless they can withstand criticism and be built upon. None of the ‘intelligent design’ publications have led to any productive work. Most have had their main ideas rebutted.”

    Concerning the analogy to Marxism — there were in existence other economic theories that predated Marxism by centuries. Marxism collapsed because it didn’t work. In contrast to that evolutionary theory has led to actual discoveries, opened new and fruitful avenues of inquiry, been supported by other branches of science (e.g., genetics and geology), and generated actual verifiable predictions. It would be fair to say that it’s not that there’s biology on the one hand and evolution on the other. Rather, modern biology IS evolutionary biology.

    In a sense, ID is the new Marxism: relatively new, competing with a well-established body of knowledge, and thus far without any significant results to its credit. I suspect that, like Marxism, it also will eventually fade into obscurity.

  11. Jacobse says:

    Phil writes:

    Again, you are factually incorrect in your insistence that the theory of evolution, or Darwin himself, provide an answer about the origin of life. This is not a matter of opinion. You can choose to dig in your heels and insist that it is otherwise, but…why do that?

    Let’s try it one more time. Evolution, the notion that live evolved from simple to complex organisms, is a philosophical, not scientific, notion. It presents itself as a scientific theory (indeed, there are indications of natural selection within species), but the notion that the world evolved from a single organism into complexity by random interactions through vast stretches of time is, well, scientifically unsustainable. The evidence is just not there.

    So where does the theory come from? The key is in the idea of random interactions. Is the universe really random? This is a philosophical precept, not a scientific one. In fact, we know physical laws exist in the universe, but as I have said twenty times before, these laws must exist in matter itself and emerged concurrently with the random organization of matter into complex structures, lest the entire notion of random chance (a key philosophical component of Darwinian evolution) collapses.

    This is the area of your confusion. You think that some kind of law guides chance (your notion that an unmoved mover, that some kind of intelligence set the entire evolutionary process in motion reveals this). In short, you don’t really understand that random means random, not design.

    A theory may be incorrect. A theorist may be influenced by politics, by philosophy, by cosmology. However, these statements are independent of each other. The influence of politics, philosophy, and cosmology do not have an impact on whether or not a theory is correct.

    Kind of. What you really mean to say that politics, philosophy, and cosmology cannot speak to the scientific (properly understood) veracity of a theory. But it does not follow that a theory cannot be examined and critiqued on non-scientific grounds, especially when it makes philosophical, cosmological, cultural, etc. assumptions.

    Look at Darwinism and eugenics for example. Sure, the eugenic horror that swept the country earlier in the last century does not speak to the scientific veracity of Darwinism. It does, however, speak to the cultural assumptions of Darwinists (not all Darwinists of course), who use the theory as justification for their crimes. It requires as well a hard look at whether these justifications are indeed justified, at least in a philosophical, if not moral, sense.

    Thus, it would be wrong to conclude that Darwin was a eugenicist (although there are some writings that indicate he was not unaware of the eugenic implications of his theory), but it would not be wrong to deny that Darwinian thought opened to the floodgates to these crimes (they did). Further, when you examine Darwinian cosmological assumptions (random universe, etc.), ignoring the philosophical basis of these assumptions is an act of historical ignorance.

    Now let’s examine some of your assumptions a bit further.

    If the facts that Darwin described were correct, then it’s irrelevant whether his notions drew from philosophical materialism.

    Facts? Above it’s a theory. No, the theory is not divorced from philosophical materialism (you imply as much), and secondly, the fact that it is makes the study of the impact of the evolutionary theory on culture and history all the more relevant.

    If you believe that a supreme being was incapable of creating the sequence of events that the theory of evolution describes, then you don’t believe in an omnipotent supreme being.

    This statement is nothing more than a rhetorical proposition. Your supreme being is Aristotle’s “unmoved mover”, but your attempt to reconcile Aristotle and Darwin (design and randomness) drains the Darwinian notion of a random universe of all meaning. Dawkins would laugh at your ignorance of the cosmological dimension of the Darwinian hypothesis.

    Additionally, the correctness of a scientific theory has nothing to do with the originator of that theory. Darwin is, himself, irrelevant to the accuracy of the theory of evolution. That’s why modern-day creationists insist on using the term “Darwinism,” as if the facts of evolution are somehow linked to the personality of a single historic figure.

    Right. The term “Darwinism” functions as a kind of short-hand for the entire theory. Maybe the term “evolutionary theory” would be better. But then again, since Darwin was the originator of the theory, and he was a man thoroughly steeped in the materialism sweeping the continent at the time (it was no accident that Marx and Freud emerged in the same epoch), separating the man from his theory gets a bit dicey, particularly considering that evolutionary theory is more than a scientific theory.

  12. Jacobse says:

    Note 60. Jim writes:

    Concerning the analogy to Marxism — there were in existence other economic theories that predated Marxism by centuries. Marxism collapsed because it didn’t work. In contrast to that evolutionary theory has led to actual discoveries, opened new and fruitful avenues of inquiry, been supported by other branches of science (e.g., genetics and geology), and generated actual verifiable predictions. It would be fair to say that it’s not that there’s biology on the one hand and evolution on the other. Rather, modern biology IS evolutionary biology.

    Actually, no. Marxism collapsed because of spiritual exhaustion — all that spilled blood in the name of “scientific progress” tends to do that. Further, not too sure of what actual discoveries evolutionary theory has led to. Some of the brightest minds in science (Gilder, Berlinksi, there will be others…just watch) argue Darwinism is a hindrance to scientific inquiry.

    Darwinism, like Marxism, will fall because philosophical materialism is a dead end. There will be frenetic attempts to keep the ship afloat (aggressive atheism on the part of prominent Darwinists is one example; dragging Design proponents into court is another), but the Darwinist hegemony will continue to erode.

  13. #62

    Thus, it would be wrong to conclude that Darwin was a eugenicist (although there are some writings that indicate he was not unaware of the eugenic implications of his theory), …

    I think this is understating the case. Just look at the title of his book, quoted by Phil above:

    On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    This connection is kept scrupulously hidden from the public by Darwin apologists.

    Phil, Jim, and Fr. Hans, you are all talking past one another since you are using the key terms here to mean different things. You need to settle on just exactly what is meant by evolution, Darwinism, common descent, etc. Dawkins and Dennet purposely conflate these terms so they can accuse everyone of being a young-earth creationist, but it is not necessary that everyone be so dishonest.

  14. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “…aggressive atheism on the part of prominent Darwinists is one example; dragging Design proponents into court is another…”

    Dover showed what happens when ID has to go toe-to-toe with science — not on web sites, but in the light of cross-examination and testimony under oath. The results weren’t pretty. Who was the judge? John E. Jones, a Republican appointed to the bench by George Bush.

    Fr. Hans: “…the Darwinist hegemony will continue to erode.”

    Other than in the religiously or politically conservative ranks, in what way do you see it eroding?

  15. Evolution, the notion that live evolved from simple to complex organisms, is a philosophical, not scientific, notion. It presents itself as a scientific theory (indeed, there are indications of natural selection within species), but the notion that the world evolved from a single organism into complexity by random interactions through vast stretches of time is, well, scientifically unsustainable. The evidence is just not there.

    So, all you’re really saying is that you believe the theory of evolution is an inaccurate description of the facts–that is, it’s not the way things really happened.

    But the only thing you’ve said which actually supports that notion is that “the evidence is just not there.”

    The rest of your statements–that it’s a philosophical notion, that it draws from materialism, etc.–have nothing to do with the correctness or incorrectness of the theory. It’s just wheel-spinning. You’re pretending that somehow the events of history are impacted by whether a description of them fits into a particular cosmology.

    But, in case you were wondering, regarding your contention that the evidence doesn’t support the theory of evolution, I disagree.

  16. Jacobse says:

    Note 65. Jim writes:

    Dover showed what happens when ID has to go toe-to-toe with science — not on web sites, but in the light of cross-examination and testimony under oath. The results weren’t pretty. Who was the judge? John E. Jones, a Republican appointed to the bench by George Bush.

    You are reading this wrong Jim. Taking ID proponents to court is a political maneuver. Judges are not scientists. You will see more of this happening BTW, as the Darwinian establishment feels increasingly threatened.

    Other than in the religiously or politically conservative ranks, in what way do you see it eroding?

    I think you will see the hegemony erode. IOW, while conservatives are most likely to make their skepticism of the hypothesis known, at least initially, I think you will see the skepticism increase across the board. It’s inevitable IMO, because the unarticulated faith in materialism is eroding across the board. Freud, Marx, and Darwin. They all drank from the same philosophical well. They were all roundly defended as secular prophets, and their findings as “scientific.” Darwin is the only one left standing — so far.

    My hunch is that in the next few years, you will see more prominent scientists walk away from the theory. I would not be surprised if many scientists have already abandoned it but it is still too dangerous to admit it in public. But there are some brilliant thinkers who are brave, some of them posted here like Gilder and Berlinski. More will come. Philosophical materialism (scientific naturalism) is a dead end and a lot of people know it.

  17. Jacobse says:

    Note 66. Phil writes:

    The rest of your statements–that it’s a philosophical notion, that it draws from materialism, etc.–have nothing to do with the correctness or incorrectness of the theory. It’s just wheel-spinning. You’re pretending that somehow the events of history are impacted by whether a description of them fits into a particular cosmology.

    You still don’t understand the points about cosmology, randomness, philosophical materialism, etc. Put more simply, the theory draws on philosophy, not science. Even your term “the events of history” reveals a conflation of philosophy and science, yet you still to want to believe the theory is pure science. Then there was trying to put Aristotle on top of Darwin — philosophical incoherence, really.

    Here’s an interview with some prominent non-Darwinists I found: The Measure of Design. It might help.

    Oh yes, if you think Darwinism has no philosophical or cultural implications, read the last post on this blog: Darwin and Hitler: In Their Own Words. (Implications have antecedents, BTW. If the theory was pure science, why was Darwin using it to morally justify social engineering?)

  18. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “Judges are not scientists.”

    Very true, but in this case the judge (a Republican, as I mentioned), was a kind of “man in the street.” He is not a scientist, but was an intelligent layperson evaluating the arguments of scientists and others. By way of analogy consider (Republican and conservative Baptist) Judge Greer and the Schiavo case. Disagree with Greer if you want, but something like 70 percent of the people in the country agreed with him.

    Fr. Hans: “It’s inevitable IMO, because the unarticulated faith in materialism is eroding across the board.”

    Again, I just don’t see that outside of people who are religiously predisposed to ID in the first place. Numbers? Statistics? Polls? If you have it, bring it on.

    Fr. Hans: “My hunch is that in the next few years, you will see more prominent scientists walk away from the theory.”

    And if that doesn’t happen? Really, I don’t think it will happen. I don’t see a trend or anything resembling a trend. Quite the opposite.

    Tom C writes: “Phil, Jim, and Fr. Hans, you are all talking past one another since you are using the key terms here to mean different things.”

    Good point. I think the key term that needs to be defined is “science.” When the vast, overwhelming number of scientists accept a certain theory and use that in a very practical way to guide research, make predictions, etc. — if that’s not science, then what is?

  19. Jacobse,
    A “fact” is a thing which is either true or false. The “events of history” are facts, whether we actually know what those events are or not.

    Facts are not subject to opinion. Obviously, Darwin’s writings are a text which millions of people can project their own views onto, or draw their own opinions about. Absolutely, both Darwinism and the theory of evolution (we agree that those are two separate things, right?) have cultural implications.

    But those cultural implications have no impact on whether the facts described by the theory are true or not.

    You seem to believe that there is a two-way flow between the two areas: that somehow, the opinions/cosmologies/philosophies/cultural implications–and all of the possible ways that humans can think about facts–have an impact on whether those facts occurred, and whether a theory that proposes a description of those facts is accurate.

    That’s just fallacious, Jacobse. Facts might affect opinions. They might affect philosophies and cosmologies. But do you really believe that opinions, cosmologies, and philosophies have an affect on facts?

    (Keep in mind, I’m not saying that a fact is a true thing. A fact is a thing which is either true or false. So “the facts of evolution” refers to the truth or falsity of evolution.)

    The cultural implications that stem from the theory of evolution have absolutely no bearing on whether the theory itself is an accurate description of the process of speciation.

  20. Jacobse says:

    Note 69. Jim writes:

    Very true, but in this case the judge (a Republican, as I mentioned), was a kind of “man in the street.” He is not a scientist, but was an intelligent layperson evaluating the arguments of scientists and others. By way of analogy consider (Republican and conservative Baptist) Judge Greer and the Schiavo case. Disagree with Greer if you want, but something like 70 percent of the people in the country agreed with him.

    Doesn’t matter. A few years ago the consensus was that stress causes ulcers. Bring it into a court and any judge – liberal or conservative – would have agreed. The scientific establishment shunned the Australian researcher arguing differently. Turns out the researcher was right. Bacteria, not stress, cause ulcers.

    If you let a courtroom decide complex questions like the veracity of evolution (or whether or not the infirm should be killed), all you will get is a snapshot of prevailing opinion. No light is shed. This should be self-evident.

  21. The world has arisen in some way or another. How it originated is the great question, and Darwin’s theory, like all other attempts to explain the origin of life, is thus far merely conjectural. I believe he has not even made the best conjecture possible in the present state of our knowledge.

    This is a quote from Louis Agassiz, a contemporary of Darwin and probably the the greatest natural scientist ever. There are several notable points:

    * Darwin’s theory was, and still is, one of many possible theories. Propagandists like Richard Dawkins portray this issue as being only Darwin vs. the young earth creationists; but, there are other alternatives, some based on religious understanding, some not. Fred Hoyle, the great astronomer, for example, understood himself as a pagan, somewhat akin to the ancient Greeks, and he thoroughly rejected Darwin’s theory. David Berlinski, who Fr. Hans has referenced, is an agnostic Jew who rejects the theory.

    * Agassiz said that the conjecture was not even the best “for the present state of our knowledge”. What is really remarkable, is that every advance in our knowledge since that time has been adverse to Darwin’s theory. Darwin thought cells to be undifferentiated material; cells turn out to be chemical factories of mind-boggling complexity. A consequence of the theory was that if you somehow “played the tape backward” and then let life evolve again, different organisms would result; recent experiments where the tape has been played backward by targeted genetic deletions have led to the same organisms once they were allowed to evolve again. Individual features were thought to result from gradual accretions of gene sequences; in real life fully 60% of the mammalian genome – from every region – somehow regulates the development of the eye.

    * It is interesting that this contemporary quote speaks of the theory as “an attempt to explain the origin of life”. Note, Phil, that this is not just the narrow goal of explaining speciation.

    Jim, in this debate, as in the global warming debate, it is interesting how frequently you appeal to cultural power as the ultimate tribunal. You don’t appear willing to consider reasoned persuasion; it’s all about guilt by association, majority rule, social sanctions, etc.

    It’s interesting, too, how the rhetorical strategies of these two debates are so similar. There are now hundreds of highly qualified scientists questioning global warming orthodoxy. They are equated with holocaust deniers, called stooges of the oil industry, and described as flat-earthers. Not even an attempt to engage the arguments. Similarly, there are hundreds of scientists who question Darwinian orthodoxy. They are all (misleadingly) called young-earth creationists.

    When you see these dishonest tactics, based on smears more than anything, it’s apparent that cultural power is at stake, and the party in power is teetering.

  22. Banescu says:

    Phil, Yes, “facts” are needed to PROVE anything. Where are your facts and research that show that chaotic processes and random acts create super-structures? Heck, show us even ONE experiment or research in the history of science that shows that random actions using basic elements create any meaningful or functional structures. We’re still waiting… As I have stated over, and over, and over again the BURDEN of PROOF rests fully on the Darwinist Cult Followers.

    Logic and the scientific process REQUIRE that once a Theory is developed by investigation and inferred from the existing evidence, that Theory MUST be PROVED via experimentation that confirms the theory. That experimentation must be ultimately solidified by conclusive proof, it must be consistent, repeatable, and universal. The experiments must support and re-inforce the theory and the final theory must predict the future results of similar experimentation conclusively.

    Yet to date, the key element of the Darwinist-Evolutionist-Secularist dogma that: “Random Actions Result in Progressively Complex Structures” has never been shown to occur in any experiment or research anywhere, in any way, shape, or form, on any scale.

    All we are left with is what Darwin observed and wrote about and scientists, biologists, and geologists have since confirmed via experiments, research, and the geological record, that: “Originally designed creatures with complex biological structures when subjected to different environmental factors over long periods of time tend to change within a certain prescribed range of biological modifications that either enhance certain beneficial traits or de-emphasize some mutations that are not crucial to survival.” This is simply known as Adaptation to the Environment, a far cry and a universe away from the “universal evolution, random action creates life from non-life and man evolved from amoebas by chance” fantasy that was invented by some and since raised to the level of dogma by those who ignore the very scientific principles and laws that govern all of creation.

    The true “religiuos fanatics” (we shall call them “secularist fanatics”) in this debate who have failed miserably to provide us with any verifiable and repeatable experiments to back up their Random Actions Created Order and Reason philosophy are the Darwinists and the Evolutionists after all. Ironic isn’t it!

  23. Michael Bauman says:

    Lord have mercy. Some FACTS

    Facts always have to be interpreted

    The interpretation comes from context

    One’s philosophy provides the context

    Everyone has a philosophy

    There is no such thing as objectivity because even carefully designed double-blind research studies show statistically significant experimenter bias

    Ideas have consequences and are always connected to other ideas, they do not exist in isolation

    Darwin’s grandfather proposed ideas similar to what Darwin himself ultimately articulated and Darwin set out to ‘prove’ his grandfather’s thought, thought that was specifically designed to replace the Christian understanding of man and nature. In other words, Darwin was not an impartial observer who allowed evidence to form his conclusions, he went looking for evidence to support the conclusion he already had. IMO that is not science.

    Peer review does weed out some insubstantial work, however, it just as often functions as a method to squash acutal discussion of new thought and protect the elite even when there is actual experimental evidence. Case in point: The outback Australian doctor who discovered that ulcers where most often caused by bacteria and could be treated safely and effectively with anti-biotics was villified for years as a quack and the peer reviewed journals refused to publish his work. His work was refused not because of inadequate science but simply because he challenged the concensus and was only an outback doctor, therefore he could not possibly have anything to contribute.

    Interpretation:

    The 19th century was a century of rebellion against established authority and order in all of its forms, political, economic and religious. While some of the rebellion was necessary, e.g., the abolishment of the slave trade, much was excessive. Marx, Freud, Darwin and Nietzche are the epitome of excess. Unfortunately, they set the stage for the assault on humanity itself that is the story of the 20th century.

    If anyone wants a unique take on the whole thing by a first rate thinker written during the midst of it all I suggest The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma by Henry Adams.

  24. recent experiments where the tape has been played backward by targeted genetic deletions have led to the same organisms once they were allowed to evolve again.

    That sounds neat! Do you have a citation so I can read about that?

    Phil, Yes, “facts” are needed to PROVE anything. Where are your facts and research that show that chaotic processes and random acts create super-structures?

    Hi Banescu! It sounds here like you are agreeing with me: that Jacobse was mistaken, and that “philiosophies,” “cosmologies,” and “cultural implications” do not prove or disprove a theory. As you say, only facts provide evidence as to the correctness or incorrectness of a theory.

    My goal in this thread has never been to prove or disprove the theory of evolution (although I do acknowledge that I personally find it plausible.) Read my posts here again, if you wish–I’m talking about the Darwin/evolution/ID debate, but I’m not devoting energy to proving the events of evolution.

    About this small matter, it appears we agree.

  25. Phil -

    Role of Gene Interaction in Hybrid Speciation: Evidence from Ancient and Experimental Hybrids,” Science 272, 1996

  26. Jim Holman says:

    Tom C writes: “There are now hundreds of highly qualified scientists questioning global warming orthodoxy. They are equated with holocaust deniers, called stooges of the oil industry, and described as flat-earthers. Not even an attempt to engage the arguments. Similarly, there are hundreds of scientists who question Darwinian orthodoxy. They are all (misleadingly) called young-earth creationists.”

    The two situations are very different. [ed: no they are not, it's exactly the same situation, NO solid proof and no CAUSATION has been shown.] Scientists who are doubters of global warming are citing existing data and research, and suggesting new avenues of research, and more power to them. AGW involves a large number of variables related in complex ways [ed: translation, they have NO idea], in order to create predictions [ed: mostly fantasy] of what might happen decades in the future.

    Proponents of ID are basically advocating an “argument from personal incredulity.” [ed: No, we're asking for EVIDENCE and EXPERIMENTS that LOGICALLY show CAUSATION and PROVE the theory] and In other words, “I don’t see how it could have worked that way, therefore it didn’t.” Most of their examples have been refuted [ed: That's a flat out LIE]. Their published works are few, in comparison with those of evolutionary biologists. Evolutionary theory is completely consistent with other bodies of science, including genetics and geology [ed: That's another flat out LIE,]. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t put my money on ID [ed: You truly are a Darwinist Cult Follower, All you do is EMOTE]. Quite the opposite.

    Concerning creationism and ID, I have a lot more I’d like to say. But I just started a new job, and the demands of putting food on the table must take priority.

  27. Jacobse says:

    Note 75. Phil writes:

    Hi Banescu! It sounds here like you are agreeing with me: that Jacobse was mistaken, and that “philiosophies,” “cosmologies,” and “cultural implications” do not prove or disprove a theory. As you say, only facts provide evidence as to the correctness or incorrectness of a theory.

    Sure, if evolution were a scientific theory this would be true. But it’s not. It’s a creation story, a narrative really, with deep moral and cultural implications, as the post about Darwin’s prescriptions for social engineering make clear.

    What other “scientific theory” makes such sweeping cosmological assumptions and cultural assertions? None. If one dares to construct such a theory, and then seek cultural legitimization by adding the appellation “scientific” to it, we’d call it dubious at best and crackpot at work (Marxism for example).

    The truth is that Darwinism is the creation story of the philosophical materialist. It’s no accident that prominent Darwinists are leading the charge for atheism. Their world view (materialism) is about to crumble.

    Having said that, it will be the scientists themselves that deliver the fatal blow, as it should be. And it will fall as its scientific untenability becomes increasingly evident. The philosophical dimension has already suffered a fatal wound, as the fall of Marx and Freud make clear. (Darwin, Marx, and Freud drank from the same philosophical well.)

  28. What other “scientific theory” makes such sweeping cosmological assumptions and cultural assertions? None.

    The straw man here is that you are applying cosmological assumptions and cultural assertions onto a theory that is, if you look at it as a theory, simply a description of processes that may or may not have occurred.

    Nothing makes evolution more materialist than the theory of gravity except your opinion that God might have created gravity, whereas he certainly didn’t leave the primordial soup to its own devices to turn into snails and fish and Britney Spears over millennia.

    But, it’s clear that people have shared your view in the past about scientific theories. The Vatican certainly felt that the theory of a heliocentric “solar system” made sweeping cosmological assumptions and cultural assertions. Even Einstein was uncomfortable with some of the assumptions of quantum theory.

    But the truth or falsity of a theory has nothing to do with the cosmology of its proponents or the cultural implications that fallible humans read into it.

    If, for example, subatomic particles really are able to exist in two places at once, provided they are unobserved, then that’s the way it is. My opinion about it doesn’t matter. If the “quantum eraser experiment” means that a photon can change its direction before it is observed, well hey, that might blow our minds, but it doesn’t mean the theory isn’t accurately describing the process.

  29. Jacobse says:

    Phil writes:

    The straw man here is that you are applying cosmological assumptions and cultural assertions onto a theory that is, if you look at it as a theory, simply a description of processes that may or may not have occurred.

    Nope. The theory itself holds the cosmological assumption: a random universe. The theory breaks down otherwise. No random universe equals no evolutionary hypothesis. Can’t have one without the other.

    I still think you don’t grasp what “random” actually entails. I think you see evolution as the unfolding of biological life in an ordered universe.

  30. Banescu says:

    Jim, the Fossil Records actually support Creation, NOT evolution. Get your facts straight before posting lies and fabrications. Here we go again setting the record straight and countering your fantasy and dogma with reality and the actual geological record, not the fictional one you keep bringing up. Yet another religious conservative exposing the secularist fanaticism for what it is.

    The missing fossil data needed to support evolution is a crucial argument expressed by many of the book’s contributors. If Darwin was correct, then scores of transitional animal forms must exist in the geological record. However, as Phillip E. Johnson points out:

    The fossil evidence is very difficult to reconcile with the Darwinist scenario. If all living species descended from common ancestors by an accumulation of tiny steps, then there once must have existed a veritable universe of transitional intermediate forms liking the vastly different organisms of today… with their hypothetical common ancestors.

    Such evidence simply does not exist. According to Cornelius G. Hunter:

    The observed fossil pattern is invariably not compatible with a gradualistic evolutionary process. The fossil record does not reveal a pattern of accumulated small-change…. New species appear fully formed, as though planted there, and they remain unchanged for eons.

    In the face of such convincing evidence, one would expect evolutionary scientists to acknowledge some serious flaws in their theories. After all, science should be about searching for the truth. Unfortunately, Johnson notes:

    When the fossil record does not provide the evidence that naturalism would like to see, it is the fossil record, and not the naturalistic explanation, that is judged to be inadequate.

    Instead of admitting the problems and allowing for criticism, the Darwinist establishment ignores the data and muzzles the dissenters, choosing to discredit the messengers rather than face reality. As Dembski observes:

    Darwinism has achieved the status of inviolable science, combining the dogmatism of religion with the entitlement of science.

    http://www.orthodoxnet.com/articles/Banescu/Review_Uncommon_Dissent_2004.php

    Even Darwin himself had serious doubts about his theories and ideas (essentially saying the same thing as Johnson and Hunter (surprise, surprise!):

    Firstly, why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of species being, as we see them, well defined?

    “The number of intermediate varieties which have formerly existed on earth must be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.” – Charles Darwin 1902 edition.