Without question, modern science has bequeathed lasting and important benefits to human civilization. It has produced wonder-working drugs and miraculous inventions; it has led to a staggering increase in both freedom and the standard of living. Unfortunately, in recent years the cultural Left in America has attempted to enlist science as a weapon in its ideological arsenal, defining any disagreement with leftist ideology in areas touching upon science as a “war on science.” Whether the issue is embryonic stem-cell research, global warming, sex education, or even partial-birth abortion, if you oppose the policy prescriptions of the Left, you are likely to be smeared as “anti-science.” Underlying such rhetoric is an unthinking scientism: a credulous belief that modern science can answer all important questions about human life and that scientists have the right to dictate public policy merely because of their presumed technical expertise.
Conservative intellectuals such as Richard Weaver, Eric Voegelin, G. K. Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis warned prophetically about the dangers scientism posed for politics and society during the last century. “Let scientists tell us about sciences,” Lewis wrote in the 1950s. “But government involves questions about the good for man, and justice, and what things are worth having at what price; and on these a scientific training gives a man's opinion no added value.”1
As advances in science become ever more tantalizing, claims to rule made in the name of science will likely become ever harder to ignore. One of the most formidable challenges facing conservatives in coming years is how to confront this revival of scientism and curtail the overreach of science into all spheres of human life.
Directly related to this challenge is the cultural status of Darwinian evolution, which has served as one of the most powerful engines of scientism during the past century. In the words of Richard Weaver,
as Darwinism and other theories seemed to immerse man more and more completely in nature, it was soon being asked why the methods which had explained so much of the physical world might not explain him also. With this the way was wide open for the materialistic monism which today underlies virtually all “scientistic” social science. Henceforward man was to be “nothing but” what the methods of science could reveal him as being.2
(...) Skepticism toward neo-Darwinism's overblown claims regarding natural selection and random mutation is far more widespread among scientists than most people realize. Despite the high cost of publicly airing one's doubts about Darwin, more than eight hundred doctoral scientists—from institutions such as Princeton, Ohio State, the University of Michigan, and MIT—have signed a statement expressing their skepticism that the Darwinian mechanism is capable of explaining the complexity of life. Geneticist Lynn Margulis at the University of Massachusetts—a critic of intelligent design—bluntly states that “new mutations don't create new species; they create offspring that are impaired.”22 NAS member Philip Skell argues that “Darwinian evolution has functioned more as a philosophical belief system than as a testable scientific hypothesis. This quasi-religious function of the theory is . . . why many scientists make public statements about the theory that they would not defend privately to other scientists.”23
Some scientists and philosophers have gone beyond criticizing Darwin and argued that nature exhibits strong evidence of intelligent design. Intelligent design is a term that is often misunderstood, and space constraints preclude a full discussion of the concept here. Suffice to say, it should not be confused with biblical literalism, and it has deep roots in the history of science as well as the history of philosophy and theology. Plato and Cicero both argued that nature displays evidence of design, and so too did the early fathers of the Christian church. In the words of Lactantius, “Nothing can be made without mind, intelligence, and design.”24 The modern theory of intelligent design is not necessarily antievolution, and it does not claim that empirical science can “prove” the existence of God. Even less does it claim that God should be understood merely as some sort of cosmic engineer. Unfortunately, too often conservatives who criticize intelligent design show little sign of having read the scientists and philosophers who support it, and their critiques of intelligent design simply refute a straw-man version of the idea propagated by such paragons of fairness and accuracy as the ACLU and the New York Times.
The knee-jerk reaction among some conservatives to intelligent design betrays an unwillingness to grapple seriously with the many formidable questions being raised about the evidence for Darwinism. Yet conservatives cannot effectively hope to challenge scientism if they are afraid to confront the most powerful current incarnation of scientism in the form of Darwinian ideology. Hence, even conservatives who accept Darwinian theory should think twice before embracing the dogmatic claims to rule made by Darwinists and other scientific materialists. Such claims have resulted in a concerted effort to shut down honest debate through caricatures and intimidation. While evolution proponents continue to portray themselves as the victims of fundamentalist intolerance, in most places today it is the evolutionists who have turned inquisitors, and it is the critics of Darwin's theory who are being persecuted, especially those who defend the idea of intelligent design.
At George Mason University in Virginia, for example, biology professor Caroline Crocker made the mistake of favorably discussing intelligent design in her cell biology class. She was suspended from teaching the class, and then her contract was not renewed. At the Smithsonian Institution, evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, the editor of a respected biology journal, faced retaliation and demotion by Smithsonian executives after accepting for publication a peer-reviewed article favoring intelligent design. Investigators for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel later concluded that “it is . . . clear that a hostile work environment was created with the ultimate goal of forcing [Dr. Sternberg] . . . out of the [Smithsonian].”25
Nor is biology the only scientific field where litmus tests are being applied. At Iowa State University, pro–intelligent design astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure in 2007 despite the fact that his work on design focused on physics and astronomy and did not challenge biological evolution. An outstanding scientist whose research has been featured on the cover of Scientific American, Gonzalez was rejected for tenure even though he had produced 350 percent more peer-reviewed publications than needed to demonstrate research excellence in his department. Iowa State insisted that Gonzalez's denial of tenure had nothing to do with his views on intelligent design. But members of Gonzalez's department admitted otherwise, including one colleague who published a newspaper article highlighting Gonzalez's views on intelligent design as the only reason he voted to deny him tenure.
Such intolerance should raise concerns for people from across the political spectrum. True liberals—those who favor free and open debate—should be appalled by the growing campaign of intimidation against academic critics of Darwinism just as much as conservatives. Whatever one's personal view of Darwinism, the current atmosphere is unhealthy for science, and it is unhealthy for a free society.
Hat Tip New English Review
Last edited by EscapeVelo; 12-03-2010 at 02:30 AM..
If creationists/IDers want to get something published in a reputable scientific journal, they are welcome to do so. They have yet to produce a falsifiable theory, hence their ideas are not scientific. Evolution is the bedrock for several major fields of study today, including medicine. It is what has allowed scientists to dramatically extend lifespans of humans by studying how diseases (life forms) evolve and respond to certain treatments so that we can create cures for them. Everywhere we look in every fields of the biology, geology, paleontology, and the medicinal sciences converges on the same conclusion and confirms evolutionary theory. The most esteemed creationist critics like Michael Behe with their ideas of "irreducible complexity" have had their best efforts thoroughly refuted by the academic community..and their intellectual dishonesty waslaid bare for the world to see[newscientist.com]at the Dover trial a few years ago.
Last edited by Libertarian; 12-03-2010 at 03:02 AM..
You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. It can be falsified in literally hundreds of different ways. To date, not a single attempt to do so has succeeded, and every new discovery has confirmed it. Try again.
Last edited by Libertarian; 12-03-2010 at 02:59 AM..
The problem as the article acknowledges is the over-reach.
Here is an unfalsifiable hypothesis.
Hypothesis, cyclical universe. The universe will stop expanding, and collapse on itself, then explode into expansion in a never ending cycle. This fits all the data, but is unprovable, and also unfalsifiable. It is not within observational limits. Evolution Theory's grander claims also are not within observational limits. Just because something mostly fits the data, does not make it true either.
Im not anti Evolution, BTW. Im not a true believer either, I have my criticisms.
Last edited by EscapeVelo; 12-03-2010 at 03:43 AM..
Here is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Hypothesis, cyclical universe. The universe will stop expanding, and collapse on itself, then explode into expansion in a never ending cycle. This fits all the data, but is unprovable, and also unfalsifiable.
Hence, the differentiation between "hypothesis" and "theory". A scientific theory is the GRADUATION point...It is the highest level an idea can achieve in science. Evolution is accepted by scientists because it has confirmed thousands of separate hypotheses over the past 150 years. Observations and experiments from many different fields have independently confirmed it. The cyclic universe may be correct, but until someone devises a means to measure or test the idea, it will forever remain a hypothesis. The same goes for ID proponents. Their entire case is based on an argument from ignorance "I can't understand 'X', therefore God". This has nothing to do with punishing dissent. Dissent is encouraged in scientific circles and the most prestigious awards in science are reserved for those who overthrow existing paradigms (as Einstein did with relativity). There was initial resistance to Einstein's idea, but once the data to back it up became overwhelming, it was accepted. Empirical data that proves ID and disproves evolution is precisely what the creationists lack.
Evolution Theory's grander claims also are not within observational limits.
First of all, it is not necessary for an event to be witnessed in order to determine it occurred. Very few murders and burglaries have direct witnesses, yet through forensic evidence (footprints, fingerprints, DNA, etc) we can deduce with near certainty who was responsible. The same goes for the scientific study of ancient events that preceded the modern scientific age. We discovered Pluto a little over a hundred years ago and have yet to see it make a full rotation around the sun..but the fact that humans haven't yet witnessed the event doesn't mean we are forbidden from claiming that it is in orbit.
Putting that aside however, you should be aware that evolution has repeatedly been observed in nature, both on the microscropic and macroscopic level..by historical methods and in real-time. I'm afraid the fact that you aren't aware of the evidence doesn't change anything.
Even if we had no instances of observed speciation in progress, the evidence that it occurred over history is overwhelming. Ken Miller, a devout Catholic and biologist who testified in the Dover trial has written a book[amazon.com] on the subject you may find interesting. Despite refuting every argument made by ID proponents, he sees no conflict between the scientific facts and his faith. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project (and evangelical Christian) has made the case that the DNA evidence alone is enough to prove evolution occurred beyond a shadow of a doubt. No fossils are required, and the evidences from every other field that confirms evolution are just icing on the cake.
As for the phrase "scientism", this seems to be a derogatory term used by people who don't like the conclusions reached by science..because it conflicts with their mystical or religious intuitions, but I'm afraid those are just tough cookies. Science is the most consistently reliable path to truth ever discovered by mankind, and if someone is ready to demonstrate a better method for discovering facts about reality and discerning true claims from false claims, let them present it. They will have a few dozen nobel prizes waiting for them.
Science does have limits however. Nobody denies that. The way we live our lives and the path we set for society are philosophical questions, not scientific questions. Science is only concerned with the "is" questions, not "what ought to be" questions. It can be abused if stretched beyond it's purview and we must guard against that. So if this is what you mean in criticizing "scientism", I fully agree.
Last edited by Libertarian; 12-03-2010 at 06:15 AM..
By a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Holy Trinity Church v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457 (1892) declared in the Opinion written for the Court by Mr. Justice Brewer, that "These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation."
Evolution is held captive by theory because it lacks witness William F. Mackenzie
Even the "king" of evolution (actually more an atheist/anti-creationism) Dawkins has admitted that evolutionism can't explain "everything" (meaning nothing - to - human) and there are plenty of holes in the theory which require leaps of faith [not sure if those were his exact words but he's admitted that some of the theory you just have to "accept" as true without proof].
Also, the two theories aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
Actually Mart, gravity really is just a theory. There are actually several competing theories that try to explain it. We have yet to discover what natural mechanism carries the gravitational force, how it does so, and why.
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