Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith

by Sean Pitman

.

The concept of methodological naturalism is foundational for most mainstream scientists.  It is most commonly defined as a philosophical doctrine that claims, a priori, that for any study of the world around us to quality as “scientific”, no reference to God or to any kind of supernatural intervention is allowed.  Of course, it is noted that God is not ruled out by methodological naturalism, that religion can still exist, but that the detection of God’s existence and activity is beyond the realm of what is defined as “science” and beyond what most would define as a “rational” belief (which has led many to conclude that methodologically naturalism rationally leads one to accept philosophical naturalism as well).

In practice, however, the proponents of methodological naturalism go beyond even this fairly limited definition to also define “science” as excluding any appeal to intelligent design of any kind (God-like or otherwise) when it comes to explaining the origin of certain phenomena found in nature – specifically to include the origin of any feature within living things or the origin of the fundamental constants of the universe.

This is most interesting because if, hypothetically, some feature happened to be found within a living thing or within the fundamental constants of the universe, which could not readily be explained by any known mindless natural mechanism and which appeared to be artificial (i.e., intelligently designed), the naturalist would feel forced to appeal to some as yet unknown mindless mechanism in order to avoid admitting that the feature in question may be a true artefact of intelligent design – regardless of if the minimum level of intelligence required to explain the artefact need not require a God or even God-like intelligence to explain.
As Dr. Paul Cameron puts it:

The fact that explanations are unknown or known is largely irrelevant. It is a question of how I practice science. I have accepted a priori to practice science as it should be practiced as a process based on methodological naturalism. It admits there is much that is unknown and not amenable to this process. I do not pretend that all of human experience is amenable to this method but I for sure will continue to practice medicine assuming naturalism and do genetics, virology and molecular and cell biology based on naturalism and not magic. (Link)

Yet, even from a “naturalistic” perspective, Dr. Cameron is being inconsistent.  How so?  Consider that there are many scientific disciplines that are dedicated to detecting intelligent design behind various natural phenomena.  Forensic scientists, for example, go about trying to detect empirical evidence for deliberate design behind the demise of suspected murder victims.  Anthropologist go about trying to sort out naturally-produced fragments of wood and rock (etc.)  from those that were deliberately carved or manufactured by intelligent design (arrowheads or fragments of pottery, etc.).  And SETI scientists, who are searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, go about trying to find various types of phenomena that they claim would be very good scientific evidence of alien intelligence and deliberate creativity that is not of human origin.

It is quite clear then that most scientists consider the ability to detect intelligent design, on at least some level, to be well within the realm of scientific investigation and discovery… just as long as the discovered intelligence isn’t given the title of “God”.

Yet, Dr. Cameron, and many like him, will not allow even the proposal of intelligence, of any kind, not even theoretically, for any feature of living things… or of the origin of the fine-tuned fundamental constants of the universe.  In other words, they go beyond the confines of methodological naturalism to exclude any kind of intelligence, God-like or otherwise, from explaining anything within living things – even if a certain feature cannot be explained by any currently-known mindless natural mechanism and even if this particular feature at least resembles a product of known design – i.e., a true artefact.

As an example, consider a hypothetical situation where Dr. Cameron happened to be studying a sequence of viral DNA when his assistant happened to notice what appears to be a Morse Code sequence in the DNA – a coded sequence that spelled out, “Hello Dr. Cameron.  I just thought I’d send you a little note to see if you’re paying attention.  All the best – God.”

Don’t you think, at the very least, that Dr. Cameron would start to suspect that someone was playing some kind of trick on him? – that this sequence was clearly the result of intelligent design?  He may reasonably question that the message was really created by God just for him, but he would not question the fact that however it was made, it was made by intelligent design. Would anyone really believe that Dr. Cameron would feel forced, at this point, by his “a priori” adherence to methodological naturalism, to try to find some mindless natural mechanism to explain such a coded DNA sequence?

However, when called out on his inconsistency and asked to explain the difference between detecting design behind something as simple as this message sequence coded in DNA or something as simple as a highly symmetrical polished granite cube (if it so happened to be found on an alien planet) or the simple radio signals that SETI scientists are looking for, Dr. Cameron refuses to answer – preferring to dodge the question with responses such as:

Since “Of Pandas and People” defined ID as synonymous with creationism in the second edition of 1993.  (Link)

Why is it all of a sudden difficult to explain how intelligent design is detected behind a clearly artefactual granite cube?  Why this reference to “creationism” in response to a question that isn’t addressing “creationism”?  Because,  it seems to me, Dr. Cameron knows where the question is leading and so he refuses to even take the first step down the suspected “rosy path”.   He must know, deep down inside, the inconsistency of his position – that his position is rationally untenable.  He must also know that his adherence to any position that proposes, as an answer to a question regarding the cause of some empirical phenomenon, that some future discovery will no doubt support his “a priori” philosophical position, is not a testable or potentially falsifiable position – and therefore not a scientific position (it is actually a form of the God of the Gaps argument).  Yet, one’s philosophy, as with one’s religion, requires no rational argument or logical reason for belief – as Dr. Cameron also explains.

I do not need my religion, which I think a right brain activity, to be scientific or logical. This may be incomprehensible to you but fortunately there are Christians and scientists who can appreciate that. (Link)

Fortunately, this fideistic view is not the Bible’s view of faith or of a useful religion that goes beyond warm fuzzies and wishful thinking.  The Bible presents a much more rational and hopeful basis for faith that is evidence-based.  Consider the arguments of Tom Price (Academic Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and an Associate Tutor at Wycliffe Hall) along these lines:

I’ve been trying to avoid using the word ‘faith’ recently. It just doesn’t get the message across. ‘Faith’ is a word that’s now misused and twisted. ‘Faith’ today is what you try to use when the reasons are stacking up against what you think you ought to believe. Greg Koukl sums up the popular view of faith, “It’s religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of ‘faith’ believe the impossible. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to fact. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of ‘faith’ ignore reality.” It shouldn’t therefore come as a great surprise to us, that people raise their eyebrows when ‘faith’ in Christ is mentioned. Is it strange that they seem to prefer what seems like reason over insanity?

It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t overemphasize the individual elements of the whole picture of faith, like we so often do. But what does the Bible say about faith? Is it what Simon Peter demonstrates when he climbs out of the boat and walks over the water towards Jesus? Or is it what Thomas has after he has put his hand in Jesus’s side? Interestingly, biblical faith isn’t believing against the evidence. Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action.The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In fact, when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis], which means ‘to be persuaded.’ In those verses from Hebrews, we find the words, “hope,” “assurance,” “conviction” that is, confidence. Now, what gives us this confidence?

Christian faith is not belief in the absence of evidence. It is the proper response to the evidence . . .

(Read More…)

Please follow and like us:
10
273
37

616 thoughts on “Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith

  1. Bob&#032Helm: I respect the peer review process and see its value. However, as wikipedia points out, it was easier to get controversial findings published in the past than it is today

    Interesting the way we read the same wiki text. It is not specifically stated that controversial finding were easier to publish in the past and gives one anecdote on which to base that conclusion. It is perhaps at best implied but the peer review process is described and is fairly critiqued and like any wiki includes pros and cons for the process. You are correct in that it is low on pros but certainly does not give any alternative except to indicate some of the processes that are being tried in the evolution of this process.

    I am happy for you to go outside the peer reviewed literature if you also allow me the latitude to consider the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, Maccabees , Enoch and Bel and the dragon as useful or canonical for understanding and arguing Christianity.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
      • It may be because you said that peer review, while it may be important, does not define science. Paul’s point is that if its not published in some mainstream peer-reviewed journal, its not science – as he defines science. In other words, Paul is arguing that real science cannot be done on an individual level.

          (Quote)

        View Comment
        • @Sean Pitman: Yes, I think science can be done on an individual level, and I don’t think a person must necessarily have advanced degrees to be a genuine scientist. Michael Faraday never attended college; he was self taught. The same holds true for the present-day evolutionist and paleo-anthropologist, Richard Leakey. However, I do understand Paul’s concern with so-called science that is reported on youtube and in the popular press. Some of it is certainly valid, but a lot of it is also fake, and there is no scholarly way to verify it. I have seen some things on youtube that claim to be science, but they are on the level of National Enquirer articles. The popular press and youtube may be interesting, but they are not where we should seek out serious scholarship in natural science or in any other field of knowledge.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
        • In general this is true, but it is also possible that someone presents very compelling evidence, in a youtube video or even the popular press, that is testable and potentially falsifiable and is in fact a real scientific discovery.

          There’s was a popular TV show called “Myth Busters” where many of these YouTube myths were put to the test. While many of them turned out to be fabrications or myths, a few of them turned out to be valid.

          Again, the hypothesis or theory should stand on its own – regardless of where it happens to be published.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
    • A scientific idea is based on a method of evaluation of new ideas – regardless of who else may or may not agree. It is for this reason that Einstein dismissed the published argments of over 100 scientists with the argument that it doesn’t matter what the majority of scientists may think. All that matters if if they have just one fact that undermines the theory. If you cannot evaluate an idea on its own merits, regardless of who else may or may not agree with you, or where it has or hasn’t been published, you’re simply not capable of thinking critically, scientifically, on your own – independent of the opinions of others.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  2. Fair enough, and I don’t disparage your faith or beliefs. However, is it fair to categorize this belief as theological – not scientific, empirical or ID based?

    After all, you seem to acknowledge that SETI is a valid form of ID that is looking for signs of alien life. As far as I know SETI, or any other scientific investigation, has not yet detected life elsewhere in the universe? Would you agree?

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • Again, why do you believe that Alexander the Great really did the various things that historians claim he did? – such as his fantastic victory against Darius III at Issus in 333 B.C.? Upon what basis are these claims believable? Is it just a matter of blind faith? Of course not. The same thing is true, or at least can be true, for the claims of the Bible that are not directly testable – as I’ve explained to you many times before. I’d be very interested in your response regarding Alexander the Great in particular. Upon what basis do you believe the historical accounts of his life?

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  3. @ Dr. Pitman

    “that happens to be the right distance from a star and have water on its surface. The are a host of other variables required for life to come into existence which are extremely unlikely within our universe – even given trillions upon trillions of years of time.”

    Secondly, where is your cosmological math to support yout ‘trillions upon trillions of years” supposition? This sounds a lot like your refrain for the amount of time it would take for macroevolution to work.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
  4. Did you notice that you have unilaterally used the analogy of Alexander the Great of which I have never studied or alluded to?

    Are you equating EGW’s vision of extra terrestrial life to a battle on earth? Proverbial apples and oranges, but your silence and evasion of the science behind EGW’s vision is deafening.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • Once you determine the basis of historical science, you’ll have your answer. Take any historical claim. Why is it or isn’t it believable since it isn’t directly testable? It’s all a matter of establishing credibility of the witness – as I’ve already explained in some detail.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  5. @ Bob and Sean

    Is EGW’s vision scientific? Is it corroborated or falsifiable?

    Ask yourselves honestly why you believe in it. If it is because of your faith that is fine, but if it has some scientific, empirical basis, as Dr. Pitman likes to tote, you need to establish that basis. Otherwise it is a ‘just so’ theological story.

    Also, I think a couple of my previous comments on this topic never made it out of the cyber editing room. I didn’t think they were offensive so I’m not sure why they were not posted. 🙂

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • Is the claimed Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III in 333 B.C. directly testable or falsifiable? Why then do historians believe that such a battle took place? – and that Alexander was the victor of this real historical event? Upon what rational empirical basis are such claims believable? Again, you don’t seem to me to be consistent regarding how the credibility of a source or witness is empirically established…

      Also, none of your comments have been blocked as far as I’m aware.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
    • @george: George, faith that is not based on evidence is not “fine.” Blind faith in anything is silly! However, you need to go back and read my last post, because, at least for me, my belief in ETs is not simply based on that one vision from EGW. I mean, hey, Brigham Young stated that God gave him a vision of beings who live on the sun, and I don’t believe that for one minute! So no, EGW’s vision is not scientific because it cannot be falsified – at least not yet. Perhaps some day – either before or after the second advent of Christ – evidence for ETs will turn up, but that hasn’t happened yet. However, I do see evidence of real honesty in Ellen White’s writings, and I also see evidence that she learned certain things that she could not have known apart from her visions. So these factors lead me to conclude that she was a genuine Christian woman who was gifted by the Holy Spirit with a particular spiritual gift, namely prophecy. This isn’t blind faith; it is faith that is informed by evidence. And because Ellen has proven trustworthy in other areas, I suspect that she was telling the truth about her vision of other worlds. With that said, my belief in ETs is not simply based on EGW. As Sean has pointed out, the Bible does speak vaguely of certain beings that seem distinct from angels – like the sons of God. And to me, this suggests that there are other beings out there. Furthermore, it seems quite anthropocentric to suggest that human beings are God’s special pets and that He designed this entire universe without creating life elsewhere. Honestly, I very much dislike anthropocentrism because it is a form of pride, and in the past, it has steered science in the wrong direction. Is my belief in ETs a doctrine that is derived from EGW? No! Absolutely not! EGW is not my rule of faith, and she did not claim infallibility. So if someone else doesn’t believe in them, I have no bone to pick. Is my belief in ETs empirical – in the sense that it is falsifiable? No again – because science is not advanced enough to determine empirically if ETs exist. Remember – I simply see evidence for them in certain writings that, on the weight of evidence, I consider reliable, and I also believe that anthropocentrism is usually a dead-end street. So yes, I believe in ETs, but I am not dogmatic about their existence.

      However, you did not respond at all to the main question I posed. Why do you believe in abiogenesis when it has never been observed and when there is no evidence whatsoever for it?

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  6. Bob&#032Helm: We have the same data before us, but we view it through different glasses because our presuppositions are different.

    Do you really know what you are signing on for with your acceptance or acquiescence to Seans views on scientific evidence or data which I described as non-sense?

    GEORGE “Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in?”

    SEAN “As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible”

    So according to this any scientific evidence for the reality of a 6 day creation is based on the credibility of the Bible.

    Further
    “…and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood.”

    I am now confused don’t the evidences for these evidences rest on the credibility of the Bible?

    What exactly are the testing procedure for the credibility of the bible if no historical criticism can be allowed?

    Beyond that there are no cogent models of either the young life or the flood. Both of these have been rejected by the conventional science because there is no objective evidence for them short of religious assertion. Simple things like the Grand canyon as an evidence of a universal flood are rejected by geology. It is hard to conceive of how large eolian sandstone deposits (Coconino) could be placed within layers of clearly sedimentary deposits within a single flood.

    “These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.”

    How exactly without critiquing the Bible which is viewed a source of scientific evidence or of proposing testable hypotheses?

    “And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column.”

    Now we get to it. Opinion can now be part of the “weight of evidence” which fits entirely with the Pitman model of science where personal anecdote is equivalent to the literature of science if it is based on some scientific process of personal hypothesis testing and conviction based on that method independent of any repository of knowledge, expertise or consensus.

    “Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.”

    So now we have the completion of the circular argument. The evidence for the features of nature that support the fiat creation and the flood is the bible account and this evidence shows the credibility of the Bible and its account of the events.

    Bob you have stated earlier;

    “I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm.”

    If you accept the Pitman doctrine of science you will not only have to teach students about ID/creation and how “data can fit into this paradigm” but you will have to revise you ideas about data and will have to teach an entirely new way of understanding “weight of evidence” or data as being not just the peer reviewed literature of science but every hypothesis testing analysis, anecdote and piece of religious writing based on the Bible. Some in ID have accepted that as you will find if you look at what S Schiller has written in the thread on the blindingly obvious”. You will need to teach both theistic science; the science which is required to sustain ID arguments as Sean has done here and conventional science as it has been done for many many years which assumes only natural process a particular method of science and an accepted repository of scientific knowledge. The repository of knowledge that is the basis of modern western technology and medicine beloved and embrace by almost all students.

    Do you want students to be taught these 2 methods of science and allowed to arbitrary choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • Do you really know what you are signing on for with your acceptance or acquiescence to Seans views on scientific evidence or data which I described as non-sense?

      GEORGE “Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in?”

      SEAN “As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible”

      So according to this any scientific evidence for the reality of a 6 day creation is based on the credibility of the Bible.

      The same is true of the credibility for any historical claim by anyone. A rational belief that something happened in history as described by some historian, such as Josephus for instance, is entirely based on the established credibility of the author (given that the event itself cannot be directly evaluated). How then is credibility established?

      Further

      “…and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood.”

      I am now confused – don’t the evidences for these evidences rest on the credibility of the Bible?

      No. These Biblical claims are open to testing and potential falsification by comparing these claims with the evidences we have in the natural world. In other words, is there actual evidence of a recent world-wide Noachian-style Flood? Is there evidence of mass worldwide extinctions as a result of this Flood? Is there evidence for a recent arrival of all life on this planet? If the evidences are consistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible gains credibility. If they are inconsistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible loses credibility. It’s quite a simple and rational concept and it is used all the time.

      As an example, consider the claims of the Book of Mormon regarding the origin of the American Indians as being one of the “lost tribes of Israel”. This claim can be tested, genetically, to see if it’s true. Clearly, this claim is effectively falsified. And therefore, for the rational person, this falsification of a key claim from the Book of Mormon significantly undermines its credibility with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested.

      What exactly are the testing procedure for the credibility of the bible if no historical criticism can be allowed?

      Who said no historical criticism can be allowed? Historical criticism is perfectly fine – as long as it can be empirically supported with the weight of evidence. So far, however, Biblical critics have been on the losing end so many times its hardly worth counting. The Bible has be vindicated over and over and over again in the face of the “higher critics”… only adding further to its credibility.

      Beyond that there are no cogent models of either the young life or the flood. Both of these have been rejected by the conventional science because there is no objective evidence for them short of religious assertion. Simple things like the Grand canyon as an evidence of a universal flood are rejected by geology. It is hard to conceive of how large eolian sandstone deposits (Coconino) could be placed within layers of clearly sedimentary deposits within a single flood.

      The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed by the Flood. It was formed after the Flood by the catastrophic failure of a large inland lake and then subsequently by catastrophic failures of lava dams that suddenly released huge volumes of water.

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Erosion
      http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Alternative

      As far as the Coconino sandstone is concerned, there is good evidence that it was catastrophically deposited by water. It simply does not represent a desert or “eolian” environment at all.

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Coconino

      “These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.”

      How exactly without critiquing the Bible which is viewed a source of scientific evidence or of proposing testable hypotheses?

      The Bible should be critiqued in a critical manner before accepting it as credible regarding anything it has to say about history or God or other metaphysical “truths”. Fideistic faith, without any ability for testing or potential falsification, is worthless if one wishes to move beyond wishful thinking and a personal fantasy world.

      “And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column.”

      Now we get to it. Opinion can now be part of the “weight of evidence” which fits entirely with the Pitman model of science where personal anecdote is equivalent to the literature of science if it is based on some scientific process of personal hypothesis testing and conviction based on that method independent of any repository of knowledge, expertise or consensus.

      Again, you defined “science” as the consensus of experts. That means, does it not, that it is impossible for anyone to come to any rational conclusion, via scientific methodologies of any kind, which are opposed to the consensus of mainstream scientists? If this really is your position, you just removed many famous scientists, who personally opposed the consensus of experts of their own day, from the realm of science.

      Consensus means nothing if it is opposed to the clear weight of evidence – evidence which can be and often has been discovered by a single individual.

      “Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.”

      So now we have the completion of the circular argument. The evidence for the features of nature that support the fiat creation and the flood is the bible account and this evidence shows the credibility of the Bible and its account of the events.

      The argument is not “circular” at all. Credibility is established by independent evidence, outside of the source itself. Once established, it is perfectly reasonable to cite the source as being most likely accurate with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested. Tell me, why do you believe in the truth of the historical claim for the what happened during the Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III in 333 B.C.?

      Bob you have stated earlier;

      “I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm.”

      If you accept the Pitman doctrine of science you will not only have to teach students about ID/creation and how “data can fit into this paradigm” but you will have to revise you ideas about data and will have to teach an entirely new way of understanding “weight of evidence” or data as being not just the peer reviewed literature of science but every hypothesis testing analysis, anecdote and piece of religious writing based on the Bible. Some in ID have accepted that as you will find if you look at what S Schiller has written in the thread on the blindingly obvious”. You will need to teach both theistic science; the science which is required to sustain ID arguments as Sean has done here and conventional science as it has been done for many many years which assumes only natural process a particular method of science and an accepted repository of scientific knowledge. The repository of knowledge that is the basis of modern western technology and medicine beloved and embrace by almost all students.

      Do you want students to be taught these 2 methods of science and allowed to arbitrary choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?

      If you do not teach the rational basis for why the church disagrees with mainstream scientists, you undermine the very reason for having a church school – rather than yet another secular university promoting the philosophical Darwinian dogma.

      Again, Darwinism isn’t science, but philosophy. The weight of actual empirical evidence in hand is completely opposed to the notion that random mutations and natural selection can create anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity – even if trillions of years of time were available. Your argument that some future discovery will come along to explain how it all happened via some mindless mechanism isn’t scientific either – it is a religious or philosophical argument that is based on wishful thinking, not the current weight of evidence that is actually in hand.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

        (Quote)

      View Comment
    • @pauluc: I don’t need to respond to the bulk of your post because Sean has already answered it as I would. However, I will answer your final question:

      “Do you want students to be taught these two methods of science and allowed to arbitrary (sic) choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?”

      Paul, I say this kindly, but you have finally let the cat out of the bag. You don’t trust young people to think for themselves. It seems that instead, you prefer to do their thinking for them and indoctrinate them!

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  7. @Bob

    Have you ever read how much resistance Darwin faced when Origin of Species was first published? Many of the scientific establishment opposed him. In fact I have read that natural selection did not become a centerpiece of modern evolutionary biology until the 1930’s and 1940’s.

    Darwin, like Pasteur has stood the test of time, notwithstanding the lack of initial scientific consensus. Who knows, perhaps one day YEC or YLC may ascend to the scientific pantheon? Have to find evidence for 6 day creation and how biodiversity emanated from the Ark though 🙂
    Until then, I’m afraid they are just so stories.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • @george:
      George,

      The resistance that Darwin encountered has been greatly overplayed. The fact is that much of the scientific community and also many theologians quickly embraced Darwin’s theory. What is more, it was embraced with very little evidence, and then people went out looking for evidence – and, of course, they found what they were looking for! Unfortunately, this endeavor turns the scientific method on its head.

      Eugene Dubois is a classic example of this. His mentor, Ernst Haeckel, was an ardent Darwinist, and he insisted that there was once an ape-man, which he dubbed “Pithecanthropus.” So Dubois traveled to Java in search of this new genus, and after finding a portion of a cranium and a femur, he loudly proclaimed that Pithecanthropus had been discovered. Well today, it is recognized that Dubois’ discovery was not a separate genus; he had discovered some skeletal remains of what is usually called Homo erectus – much like a Neandertal, but with a somewhat smaller brain – though still within the size range of modern human brains.

      Clearly, Dubois convinced himself that he had found what he was looking for. And this scenario has been repeated over and over again. Sadly, it is plainly contrary to the scientific method, and it is what Louis Agassiz was talking about when he stated that Darwin and his disciples were chasing a phantom. And even though Agassiz and Darwin have both been in their graves for well over a century, the chase continues.

      Yes, you are correct that Darwin’s system has stood the test of time, but not like Pasteur. Darwin has stood the test of time like Ptolemy’s geocentrism stood the test of time for many centuries – by constant ad hoc changes and manipulation to prop it up. Isn’t 154 years a long time for all this? Why not break out of the box and subvert the dominant paradigm?

        (Quote)

      View Comment
    • Darwin, like Pasteur has stood the test of time…

      This is like saying that any religion, like Mormonism for instance, has stood the test of time. That doesn’t make it correct. It also doesn’t make it scientific – just because it remains popular.

      The real questions remain unanswered – such as how the Darwinian mechanism is supposed to work. You have no idea – and neither does anyone else. That is why Darwinism is truly just-so story telling – inconsistent with the evidence that we have in hand today.

      The claims of the Bible, on the other hand, remain consistent with the weight of evidence we have in hand – adding to Biblical credibility.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  8. Bob&#032Helm: The resistance that Darwin encountered has been greatly overplayed. The fact is that much of the scientific community and also many theologians quickly embraced Darwin’s theory

    You are of course at least partially right. I do not know if you have read any of Ron Numbers history of creationism but you certainly should. Modern creationism and ID really depended on the rise of fundamentalism. At the time of Darwin natural theology and the 2 books was accepted as part of Christian belief. Newtons tradition of science as a process of discovering Gods laws or thinking Gods thoughts after Him remained dominant in a society and a scientific establishment that was predominantly Christian. The idea to which Sean gives lip service of science and the bible going hand in hand and revelations in nature being a basis for rereading the Christian canon largely attenuated criticism of a new understanding of biological origins.

    It required the rise of a reactionary fundamentalisms that says the biblical text in its original autograph as inerrant before a robust critique of science as completely subservient to a literal reading of the biblical and a literal creationism was established. Obviously Adventisms trajectory was in this as in other parts of its theology outside the traditional churches and followed a YEC that was largely oblivious to the progress of science and GMP is appropriately seen as one of the founding fathers of modern literal creationism.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • @pauluc: Yes Paul, I have read Ron Number’s book. Although slightly biased, it is a very good overview and history of the creationist movement. I must add that I strongly identify with the Newtonian tradition of science instead of with methodological naturalism. However, I do want to remind you that I and many other Adventists are YLC rather than YEC. I realize that both of these paradigms affirm the 6 literal days of creation and the world-wide flood, but in other ways, they are quite different and should not be lumped together. Furthermore, I am not
      oblivious to the progress of science, nor is Adventism in general. Unlike some fundamentalist denominations, Adventism, for the most part, appreciates the value of science – especially because science has a bearing on its medical missionary work.

        (Quote)

      View Comment
      • @Bob Helm:

        Do you agree with Numbers or not in seeing ID as a product of literal creationism? Clearly ID is not a monolithic belief and we have people at the DI like Behe who see ID within a context of evolution and at the other end literal creationist like Sean who see it as the scientific justification for discounting evolution. Where do you fit?

        Do you like Sean accept the earth as billions of year old only because the bible says so or because from the 18th century the geological sciences were providing evidence that the earth was very old?

        As far as I can see the piece about Azazel from Andrews seminary series 1994 is your work so I assume your views on YLC has been influenced by people like Younker and Davidson at Andrews.

          (Quote)

        View Comment
        • @pauluc: ID is not a monolithic concept. On one side of it, there are people like Behe, who affirm a very guided type of theistic evolution, and on the other side, people like Leonard Brand and Sean Pitman, who affirm YLC. I would also fall into the latter category, although my main training is in theology. Since ID is not monolithic, I think there would be some disagreement as to whether it is an outgrowth of creationism. Some strands of it probably are, while other strands probably are not.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
        • @pauluc: Paul, the Bible suggests that the earth existed in a chaotic state prior to creation week, but it doesn’t tell us for how long. Evidence from the sciences of astronomy and geology leads me to conclude that the earth as a planet is probably several billion years old and also that the ex nihilo creation of the universe (which Fred Hoyle insultingly called the big bang) probably occurred 13.7 billion years ago – as calculated from the Hubble Constant. However, I regard the designing of the earth’s biosphere as recent and as occurring in 6 literal days. I also believe that the Cambrian through the upper Cenozoic portion of the geologic column was laid down catastrophically in the Genesis Flood.

          The article on Azazel in AUSS was largely taken from my master’s thesis, “The Development Of The Azazel Tradition,” which was written as part of the requirement for the Master of Theology, which I completed at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY in 1992. That master’s thesis was intended as an extension of the ideas expressed in an earlier master’s thesis by Jerry Gladson. It also made some use of Richard Davidson’s ideas, but I don’t think Randy Younker even appears in the bibliography. My time at SBTS in the 1990s was interesting because at the time, that institution was transitioning from being liberal to being conservative. As a non-Baptist outsider, I thought it best not to get involved in the controversy, but it did allow me to be exposed to the arguments for both liberal and conservative theology.

            (Quote)

          View Comment
  9. “Again, why do you believe that Alexander the Great really did the various things that historians claim he did.”

    Who said I did?

    History is often recorded by the victors who may well gild the lily. Different historians may say different things about him. Some may have been eye witnesses, some may have not relying on hearsay. Some may have had a bias. Take all history with a grain of salt by considering the sources and margin for error I say.

    However you’re not just talking about claims of the Bible, you’re talking about the claims of EGW. Do you have some empirical proof that she actually visited those worlds she described? If so where is your corroborating evidence of any sort? In short is your belief about EGW’s vision of extra terrestial based on any science whatsoever?

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • So, you don’t believe the claims of historians that Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at the Battle of Issus in November of 333 B.C.? It’s all just propaganda? Do you believe that Alexander even existed as a king of Greece? Come on now. If you cannot accept the evidence for the validity of historical accounts such as this, you’re certainly not going to accept the basis for the credibility of the Divine origin of the Bible (or the Divine origin of the visions of Ellen White either)…

        (Quote)

      View Comment
  10. @ Dr. Pitman

    How did you make the segue from the creation story to Alexander the Great as historical science? What am I missing here – did someone actually witness the creation story and write about it?

    Let’s try to stay inside the ball park on analogies shall we?

      (Quote)

    View Comment
    • Yes, someone did witness the creation story and wrote it down… more than once. Now, all that is left is to judge the credibility of the one telling the story – the very same as the one(s) telling the story of Alexander the Great or any other historical figure or event. It’s all the same.

        (Quote)

      View Comment

Leave a Reply