Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fighting The Undefeatable: Can Evolution Be Falsified?

In my previous post on this topic I laid out some of the problems with the way science is used to discredit the supernatural. Basically my points were that 1. The deck is stacked! From the very outset of the scientific endeavor only certain types of answers are acceptable and considered "scientific". Only answers that explain phenomena in a naturalistic way are acceptable in the scientific arena. Thus to bring God into the picture, and of all things to say the universes' existence is dependent upon God is to commit scientific blaspheme. Now some have made a distinction between philosophic and scientific naturalism to answer this protest, I think that these responses are really non-distinctions the one is dependent upon the other and can not be divorced. Which brings me to 2. Science is NOT religiously neutral. As I stated Atheism's legitimacy is dependent upon science showing that life CAN come about without God. Many want to discredit ID and Creation science movements because of religious motivations. I say so what if they are religious? Everybody has a religious bias of one sort or another. Richard Dawkins himself conceded (quoted in previous post) that Darwinism made it possible to be an "intellectually fulfilled atheist". In fact I have seen more articles by Richard Dawkins talking about religion and God (How stupid you are if you are a Christian basically) than I have seen articles by him in his field of scientific expertise. It is pretty clear that Dawkins has his own dogma and hates God, thus he is not a "neutral" observer, no one is. I will touch more on this later.

I) Responses to "Irreducible complexity" arguments:

Irreducible complexity arguments are pretty straight forward, certain things by their complex makeup show that time and slight mutations to bring them about is very unlikely. The example of the eye is used often. The problem is that the eye and all the different parts operation are dependent upon the proper operation of one another. What good is an optic nerve without a retina, or a retina without lenses? Not much. Of course the evolutionists have answers for this they seem to be much like Darwins when writing on this very subject:

"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. "

Now Darwin does not stop there people trying to refute evolution often slap a bunch of Darwin quotes together out of context to show Darwin doubted his own theory. I say so what if Darwin did doubt his own theory? This doesn't disprove evolution, and it is kind of underhanded. Rather attack an argument at it's "strong points" I say. Darwin Goes on to say:

"Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. "

There is the other half of what Darwin said. I hate it when people misrepresent my position on things so I will try not to do it to others. All I have to say in response to part 2 of Darwins statement is "Nice statement, can you prove it?" Of course not. What is being said by Darwin as well as those trying to respond to ID's irreducible complexity argument is simply question begging. They answer the issue being challenged by only affirming the point in challenge. Basically this is what is being said: "It indeed seems quite unlikely that evolution can give an account of the eye but I think it does through time and selective mutations." Ok...My point in raising this issue is to ask can evolution be refuted empirically? What evidence is needed to show that the theory evolution is an inadequate description for the origins of life? I don't think there are any, thus the theory of evolution will remain perfectly safe.

b) Further examples of how evolution theory can not be falsified:

The claim is often made that for something to be science it must be falsifiable. In other words there must be a hypotheses which if not met the theory very probably is not true. With evolution I think we have a case and point example of a theory which has no fasifiable hypotheses'. When Darwinism became accepted as true many scientists eagerly anticipated the discovery of the "missing link". Indeed many "missing links" were found. To be short the track record is pretty poor, with such shameful assertions like "Nebraska man" which turned out to be nothing more than a single tooth. Not only a single tooth but a pig's tooth at that. Such "discoveries" as "pildown man", "Lucy", even the "Neanderthal" have all been based on sloppy research and proven to be less that genuine links between man and apes. It is because of this that it is now said that we don't expect to find a fossil specimen between man and ape. That's interesting considering the cock sure attitude of early Darwinists.

As I stated before in regards to the human eye, the same responses are often given to questions of blood clotting. The ID supporters often will say "How can blood clotting be reached by natural selection? If your blood doesn't clot and you will innevitably bleed to death." In response the answer generally is actually evolution can give account for blood clotting, given time mutations in blood and natural selection (ie those with the clotting trait surviving over those who do not). As I said above this is simply question begging and a logical fallacy. The point of the irreducible complexity arguments is to show that it certainly seems as though there is a mind behind the complexity we see. I say either this natural law called evolution is brilliant (knowing which traits to add for survival ex: "Gosh a longer neck sure would be helpful..." 1 billion years later a Giraffe) or there is a designer behind the things we now see. There may be some problems with the way ID argues, doing "God of the gaps" arguments as many say, which I think is true unless you bring the Bible in as authoratative. My main point here is again to further show that evolution is not falsifiable, and therefore Not testable.

II) Ad populum or "bandwagon" fallacy:

It is often said in response to ID and CS that the vast majority of scientists hold evolution to be fact. This message is often coupled with the accusation that the reason why ID and CS refuse to conform is because of religious bias. The fact that almost every scientist believes in evolution is trumpeted in nearly all articles I read regarding this issue. Again this is a "So what." scenario. It doesn't necessarily follow that because the majority believes something that it is true. For example scientists once nearly unanimously held that Newtonian mechanics were an accurate description of how the universe operated. However, Newton's theory was later found to be flawed and replaced by Einstein's. As the saying goes might does not make right.

III) Those Fundamentalists! (Ad Hominem arguments)

Of course the most tried and true method of debating has been and will continue to be name calling (ad hominem). "Religious Fundamentalist" is the label of labels in our day to shut the Christians out of the debate. By calling a Christian the "F" word the opponent is saying they are dealing with an unreasonable person (of course this is a far cry from the true meaning of fundamentalist). So it is in the debate over ID. The Discovery Institute, who I never heard of until I began looking more into this debate is seen as the ID group. Discovery is a Seattle based think tank of scientists who are proponents of ID. One of the most frequent charges against them and ID in general is the accusation of religious bias. ID unlike CS does not rely on the bible to form it's arguments, partly because ID backers think this gives more of an air of science around what they do. Unfortunately much to the chagrin of Darwinists many ID backers are evangelical Christians. And much of the funding for the Discovery Institute comes from "fundamentalists"! I bet many of the fundamentalists are republican too...the rabbit hole just keeps on going...

These facts are brought up repeatedly as if they in themselves disprove the theory of ID. I would be willing to wager that most backers of Darwinism are Atheists. I would also be willing to wager that their research is funded by Atheists (at least what is donated). None of this is evidence to support evolution as opposed to ID or CS theories. It becomes more clear to me that the success of evolution has not nearly as much to do with supposed overwhelming evidence but rather the philosophy/behind it, namely a hatred of God.

IV) Conclusion

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. " (Rom 1:18)

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools," (Rom 1:21-22)

Men by nature hate God. That's a stunning truth. Men by nature don't want to honor God, they don't want Him in their thoughts, they don't want Him ruling over the earth, and they don't want to have to give an account to Him for their deeds. Thus they suppress the truth of God. Ultimately I think evolution is a manifestation in our day of the truth of these verses. Another form is relativism where God and truth are treated like ice cream pick which flavor you want, that is suppression of the truth.

In the end I think what we see is a battle between the city of God and the city of this world, as Augustine put it. The philosophies of this world will always strive to remove God from His rightful place and thus is constantly at war with the city of God (the church). Again the theory of evolution I think is the backbone of all the anti-Christ philosophies of our own day, for it makes philosophy without God possible.


Darwin said...

Leaving aside the scientific questions (there is a great body of work to read out there on paleontology and anthropology, and there's really no point in regurgitating it on a blog) I think you give 'Darwinism' and science far too much credit in saying that they are the justification for atheism. Atheism has existed roughly as long as there have been people. Ancient pagans fought against the forces of atheism and indeed, some of the better critiques of ancient polytheism were written by atheists such as Lucretius who sought to identifier a life of 'higher' virtue than those offered by the gods.

Science and evolution may be a useful hook for bozos such as Dawkins to hang their conclusions upon, but one may be sure that if evolution were definatively routed tomorrow atheism would dry up and vanish.

The natural rebelliousnes which Original Sin brought into human nature neither originates in science nor depends upon it. It originates in sin.

Melissa Bixler said...

Hi Bob, Hope you're doing well in school and work and being a daddy.

Your posting sounds pretty angry. I can understand that from a lot of the arguments about Christ/religion/faith at PP from folks coming from this angle is fueling that discomfort.

I do want to offer up another resource which provides a different perspective on the issue. This is from a microbiologist from Brown University who came to speak at my seminary. He wrote a book called "Finding Darwin's God" which I think you would find very interesting. Miller is a faithful Christian and an excellent scientist. Since I am only a faithful Christian and don't know a lick about sciene I have needed him to teach me about the conversation between science and faith.

Anyway, here's to our trained Christians who are trying to build bridges to other disciplines for the honor of God. Unlike you I am convinced that the subtlety, beauty and brillance of evolution is one of the truest signs of a good, holy and awesome creator-God at work in the world.


see especially this open letter to the pope....


Bob said...

Sorry I really wasn't angry, I was just being a little sarcastic. Maybe I should avoid sarcasm when it comes to this issue. But yeah I promised "Darwin" I would check out Ken Miller, he's a theistic evolutionist catholic I know, and I'm open to accepting that (theistic evo), I just want some serious evidence. And I agree totally that if evolution is true it would be a testimony of providence big time.

My main points I was intending to get accross was the fundemental necessity of evolution to make atheism a plausable world view, therefore the atheist scientists are NOT religiously neutral as is popularly believed. And I wanted to show how scientifically the theoretical hypotheses' of evolution theor are not falsifiable (ex: survival of the fittest). Sorry if I came off angry.

MelissaJacob said...

Thanks for the clarification. I can hear that.

I think you have an important point. I agree with you that there are no religiously neutral questions or disciplines. To that I would add that there are disciplines which necessitate creative and visionary Christians. I have a friend studying anthropology, a discipline that was created to explain human development without theistic involvment. It's taken a lot for him to get across what Christians are doing in this field but he is radically altering a lot of perceptions about the nature of anthropology and its potential for theological ethics. I'm really proud of him.

So, do give Miller a read. He was great in person and really excellent at generating conversation about the culture war underlying the Kansas debate.

be well,