Friday, April 25, 2008


As expected, Ben Stein’s new documentary has been given a chilly reception by most reviewers—by folks inclined to sympathize with the moral stylings of Joy Behar and reluctant to express opinions at odds with gray eminences at The New York Times.

Outside of “the usual suspects” (like Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center) few have been willing to put their heads on the cultural chopping block for the sake of open dialogue about a scientific hypothesis called “Intelligent Design.” Instead, as the movie itself asserts, most commentators are content to reiterate the boilerplate descriptions typically employed whenever this topic is broached.

A San Diego radio newscaster, for example, pigeonholed the production as a “movie about religion.” In fact, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed isn’t a movie about religion. It’s a documentary that shows how academics and other cultural elites are blocking honest discussion of a theory that undercuts purely materialistic explanations of the origin of life.

A common tactic for stifling this debate is to repeat the lie that “intelligent design” is simply a stalking horse for “creationism.” Though the movie doesn’t provide a detailed discussion of ID, it does present enough superbly qualified and articulate advocates of the theory to demonstrate that its proponents aren’t, as advertised, slack-jawed Neanderthals in lab smocks.

The movie also highlights more aggressive tactics for enforcing Darwinist orthodoxy—denial of tenure, blackballing, the denial of grants, and refusing to publish the work of ID dissidents. Professor Guillermo Gonzalez, for example, an astronomer with a stellar publication record, was recently denied tenure at Iowa State University, apparently because of his association with ID theory. Similarly, at Baylor University, Engineering Professor Robert Marks II saw his school web site unplugged and grant money revoked when his work on information theory began interfacing productively with ID. These are only two of several examples presented in the film. Collectively, these cases expose a widespread effort to marginalize academics who raise questions about Darwinian theory and to ignore research that suggests what Sir Isaac Newton assumed—that an intelligent designer sustains the cosmos.

The intolerance suggested by these methods is also exhibited in the interviews Stein conducts with members of the science establishment. Among the words that spring to mind when viewing these exchanges are “pompous, dismissive of criticism,” and “small-minded.” One petty tyrant (who looked every bit the part) was perfectly pleased with the speculative theory that life emerged “on the backs of crystals.” Another critic with a noxious demeanor dismissed ID as incredibly “boring.” A third enforcer of orthodoxy pronounced confidently, and erroneously, that ID proponents had published no peer-reviewed work.

Philosophically speaking, the easiest way to enforce neo-Darwinian orthodoxy is to equate science and inquiry within a materialistic paradigm. Given this definition, any theory that strays beyond materialistic parameters is automatically labeled pseudo-science. These ground rules mean that empirically derived evidence of intelligent causation, no matter how compelling, must be ignored. As Stein’s interview with Richard Dawkins illustrates, it’s OK to speculate (as the late DNA researcher Francis Crick did) that life arose on earth due to seeds planted by space aliens, but scientists aren’t allowed to assert that a cell’s complex information codes point, more simply and broadly, to an intelligent cause. In other words, for the Darwinist establishment, all intelligent causes must have prior unintelligent causes if an explanation is to be considered “science.”

As a philosopher of science, Alfred North Whitehead, observed almost a century ago, this “fixed scientific cosmology” means that all ultimate explanations must be expressed in terms of “senseless, valueless, purposeless” material that is “spread throughout space in a flux of configurations.” Stein’s movie provides a perfect example of this nihilistic perspective in the person of Professor William Provine. Provine’s dogmatic on-screen pronouncements link his devotion to Darwinism to a deterministic creed that reduces moral propositions to meaningless chatter and human beings to insignificant chatterers. Curiously, the Professor persists in exhibiting moral and aesthetic preferences in which he exhibits a degree of pride—as if he had the freedom to accept inferior alternatives.

The most controversial aspect of Stein’s documentary is the way it links Darwinism and The Third Reich. Beyond discussing how Mein Kampf’s terminology and thought structures are deeply indebted to Darwin, Stein also makes visits to Hadamar (where Nazis exterminated thousands of mental “defectives”) and to Dachau (where other sub-Aryans met the same fate at the hands of individuals who embraced the pre-Nazi science of eugenics). Though many viewers will find this focus on a Darwin-Hitler axis objectionable, the clear links that do exist raise a monumental question that’s been studiously ignored by intellectuals who view Darwin as a savior from religion. That question goes as follows: If atheistic, materialistic, Darwinistic explanations permeate society, aren’t actions like those at Hadamar and Dachau made more philosophically plausible? Indeed, aren’t such actions what one should expect in a world where “will to power” and the “struggle for existence” are seen as “real” scientific explanations and “intelligence” is dismissed as a quaint epiphenomenon?

The primary image Stein employs to dramatize the expulsion of open inquiry from science is the Berlin Wall—a metaphor that combines authoritarianism, fear, dogmatism, and the suppression of human freedom. Expelled provides plenty of evidence to suggest that this image is more than a hyperbolic device to magnify a minor disciplinary quarrel. Indeed, the film offers sufficient reason to view The Wall as a grim historical preview of a world divested of moral import—a world where “intelligent” explanations are given no scientific credence.

In 1925, Alfred North Whitehead said that the prevailing materialistic outlook in science was “entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived.” Stein’s ID proponents would add to that assertion arguments taken from cell biology, astronomy, and information theory. More significantly, however, Stein’s film asserts (and Whitehead would probably agree) that scientific materialism is all too compatible with a vision of reality that embraces authoritarianism and eugenic extermination. The latter is clearly a compelling reason for tearing down the ugly wall that currently separates intelligence and science.


maurile said...

for the sake of open dialogue about a scientific hypothesis called “Intelligent Design.”

Intelligent Design is not a hypothesis or a theory -- it is not science at all. It is philosophy.

There is no research program associated with ID. There is no experiment that can be done to falsify it.

That's fine. There's nothing inherently wrong with philosophy. But let's call it what it is.

In terms of journalistic accuracy, Expelled rates somewhere below your typical Michael Moore film. You may want to look further into a number of the film's claims for yourself. Google "Richard Sternberg" or "Guillermo Gonzalez" or "Caroline Crocker" and see if you can get the scoop from reliable sources that back up their claims with verifiable facts. Maybe you'll think less of the film if you don't appreciate being lied to.

Ronald Clark said...

Anyone truly interested in a way in which religion and science can work together should examine the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

I am not sure why intelligent design cannot be a theory or a hypothesis if Darwinism is or can be either or both.

Though I have not seen Expelled, it is hard to believe that it is less accurate than a Michael Moore film. If true, it is disappointing since Mr. Moore seems to have little regard for the truth.

It seems that the real question in evaluation Expelled is how representative is it beyond what is depicted. It can be hard for people who agree with the dominant view to realize what is being done to and the impact on those who disagree.

Academia certainly is a place where people profess a willingness to respect diversity of opinion, freedom of speech and academic freedom unless it is ideologically opposed to liberalism, socialism or moral relativism.

maurile said...

Anyone truly interested in a way in which religion and science can work together should examine the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

If you like Teilhard, you might like this interview with John Haught.

I am not sure why intelligent design cannot be a theory or a hypothesis if Darwinism is or can be either or both.

Because it doesn't follow the scientific method. It makes no testable predictions that would, if proven false, refute the idea that the universe was intelligently designed. Any empirical observation anyone ever makes will always be consistent with the notion that God designed things that way.

Not so with evolutionary theory. "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian." -- JBS Haldane.

Ojalanpoika said...

Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drived not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover, but also the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who raised the monstrous Haeckel in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871:
Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)

RKirk said...

Intelligent Design can be viewed in two ways. One can look at specific data (the DNA structure of simple organisms) and ask whether that structure is more like a "designed" system (a computer) or more like a product of random interactions, given the structures of more simple units (proteins like adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine).

Professor Marks, who deals with information theory, has investigated this question with respect to basic biological units. His inquiry parallels those of archeologists who employs disciplinary standards to distinguish cultural artifacts from natural formations.

Professor Michael Behe, a biochemist and author of Darwin's Black Box, investigates from his disciplinary perspective the same issue of "irreducible complexity."

Darwin and 19th century scientists generally assumed that life was formed from a simple substance named "proto-plasm" that perhaps only needed an electrical jolt to be brought to life. With the development of modern biochemistry, that theory is clearly incorrect and defunct.

Darwinism, which is based on the idea of favorable mutations and natural selection over time--as inadequate as it is to explain macroevolutionary development--has nothing at all to say about the origin of life itself. The profound complexity of even the simplest organisms means that the "hypothesis" of "intelligent design" (which in my estimation is compatible with an Aristotelian or Teilhardian "telos" within the natural world) makes sense.

Intelligent Design can also be thought of in terms of a larger paradigm that permits asking questions that are dogmatically excluded from the regnant materialistic paradigm that Whitehead denounced in his Lowell Lectures at Harvard in 1925.

Maurile's assertion (in my view) is that the regnant materialistic paradigm of science simply "is" science. All causes, in other words, must be materialistic causes--though Maurile probably wouldn't be happy noting that those causes are, in Whitehead's words, "senseless, valueless, purposeless."

Paradigms, however, lose their efficacy as data accumulates that exposes their weakness (like relativistic data ultimately relegated the Newtonian paradigm to a useful device for understanding things within limited parameters--e.g. things not moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light). To the great chagrin of the scientific and atheistic establishment, Darwinism is showing its age. The good news is that a new paradigm (one more consistent with a broader swath of the available evidence)will encourage new thoughts about profoundly important human experiences that are rendered essentially meaningless under the materialistic paradigm--namely, human meaning and morality.

RKirk said...

In case some weren't clear about ojalanpoika's post, his links provide interesting data about the longstanding fraud perpetrated by Haeckel and the biological establishment (via textbooks and true believer Darwinists) that humans in the womb go through the various stages of our species evolution--that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

This was totally bogus "science"! This ongoing ruse is a good example of the depths to which "the scientific establishment" will go to prop up their ideas and status--which would include discrediting individuals who threaten to overturn their ideological and cultural applecart.

When a "hatchet job" is done on Guillermo Gonzalez to justify the academic/scientific establishment at Iowa State University, one might ask whether the hatcheteer is a member of the same "establishment" that foisted Haeckel's lie on generations of trusting students.

maurile said...

To the great chagrin of the scientific and atheistic establishment, Darwinism is showing its age.

Evolutionary theory has, of course, become stronger with age as new discoveries are made and countless experimental results continue to confirm it. As Pope John Paul II observed, "It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory." (Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences,

Indeed, that is the view of most educated theists -- so it is a bit odd to try to associate evolutionary theory with atheism.

I linked to an interview with John Haught in a previous comment; I can assure you (since he was one of my college theology professors) that he is no more a member of the "atheistic establishment" than was Pope John Paul II.

Neither, for that matter, is the devout Catholic biologist, Ken Miller. All here would benefit tremendously, in my opinion, from watching his lecture on intelligent design. Why wasn't he, as a prominent Christian biologist, interviewed for Expelled?

Or why wasn't Francis Collins interviewed for Expelled? Maybe because they don't fit the film's absurd argument that believing in evolution obliges one to be an atheist?

And what should we make of the 11,000+ clergymen who've proclaimed: "We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children."

Are they all part of the "atheistic establishment"?

What about this conservative Christian biologist who writes, in the conservative publication Human Events:

"I, for one, have religiously ignored the topic [of intelligent design] before now. I have done this partly out of a sort of professional courtesy to its supporters, with whom I share most other beliefs (and in many cases a personal affection), partly out of a belief that the idea was too obscure to argue over, and partly because the idea is so patently ridiculous to me that I felt that pointing this out would be somewhat akin to telling a friend that they have really, really bad breath. I mean - it would be an uncomfortable moment for both of us. But then how will they ever know, if I don’t tell them?

"So in light of the issue’s new prominence and with a desire to improve the mental hygiene of others, I would just like to say that Intelligent Design is a really, really bad idea --scientifically, politically, and theologically. I say this as a dedicated conservative, who has on many occasions defended and espoused religion and religious conservatism. I also say it as a professional molecular biologist, who has worked daily (or at least week-daily) for years with biological problems to which the theory of evolution has contributed significant understanding -- and to which Intelligent Design is incapable of contributing any understanding at all.

"Scientifically, attributing every aspect of biology to the arbitrary design of a divine tinkerer explains as much about biology as attributing the eruption of volcanoes to the anger of the Lava God would explain geology. A theory, by definition, makes predictions that can be tested. Intelligent Design predicts nothing, since it essentially states that every thing is the way it is because God wanted it that way."

The "atheistic establishment" appears to be a rather big tent. ;)

Ojalanpoika said...

Thanks. Toda raba.

Regarding the text books recycling the fraudulent embryo drawings, originally it was claimed that human embryos had functioning gills when they 'climb up their family tree' in mothers womb via fish stage and amphibian stage. I have scanned some of them in here:

They are, really, the MOST recycled figures in the Finnish text books of biology in the 20th century, I'm afraid. And were known to be deliberate fakes to begin with. Talking about indoctrination and popularization of science! Dawkins is Oxford professor on public understanding of science. That species is responsible for a lot of rubbish still recycled.

I try to bake the issue by few quotes from this article published in the 5th Asian conference for bioethics that I submitted in 2004:

Gould described how the predecessor in his chair (Louis Agassiz, 1807-1873) disliked
Haeckel for "his haughty dismissal of earlier work which he often shamelessly 'borrowed' without
attribution" (2000). Richardson and Keuck wrote in one of the above mentioned prestigious
"We can make a persuasive case with Haeckel because we have identified some of his sources… he removed the limbs.
The cut was selective, applying only to the young stage. It was also systematic because he did it to other species in the
picture… The altered drawings support theories which the originals did not. Therefore, these are not legitimate
schematic figures." (Nature 410, 2001, p. 144.)

Haeckel never listed the sources of his simplified pictures. Filling the gaps in the embryonic
series by speculation is one thing, but concealing a mere hypothesis from observations is
something else.

The consensus seems to be, that the recapitulationary concept of Haeckel is dead thanks to
developmental physiology and genetics. It is hastily added, however, that it has its value as a
descriptive statement. Haeckel himself used puzzling phrase "labyrinth of ontogenesis" in his
most popular Weltraethsel or Riddle (1899 p. 79).
University-level textbooks elaborate a new concept of "evolvability" and after the
"unipolar Haeckel" –model, students still face concepts such as by "bipolar Haeckel", "twodimensional
Haeckel", and "three-dimensional Haeckel" -models. Sound criticism of the
deductive Haeckelian reductionism has been rare in the narrative thread of Ariadne.

In a sense the situation resembles the paradigm change from the "tree of life" to the "bush
of life" or "agnostic tree of life" at the emergence of the genome projects and popularization of the
lateral gene transfer. Likewise, the Biogenetic Law is still supported by several recent studies – if
applied to single characters only (like in Richardson & Keuck, 2002). Popperian habits would
wellcome not only verification, but also falsification in order to earn the epithet "scientific" for a
theory. Biogenetic Law was a straitjacket for a paradigm, and there must be a place for criticism
before adopting it as a heuristic principle.

"It is to be recalled that Haeckel had written: 'Among the Spartans all newly born children were subject to a
careful examination and selection. All those that were weak, sickly, or affected with any bodily infirmity, were killed.
Only the perfectly healthy and strong children were allowed to live, and they alone afterwards propagated the race.'
[The History of Creation, 1883, I, p. 170.]

In the light of the following comments, is Haeckel “guilt by association” to Hitler only?
'Sparta must be regarded as the first folkish state. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short their
destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which
preserves the most pathological subject.'[Hitler's Secret Book, p. 18] (1971 p. 164)?
Let us remember that premature infants have been even operated without local anesthesia or
analgesic drugs almost until our times. Western countries, generally, have broadly embraced the
fact that a new-born child can feel pain only at the late 1980'ies.

Haeckel ascended from infanticide also to genocide: "…the morphological differences
between two generally recognized species - for example sheep and goats - are much less
important than those… between a Hottentot and a man of the Teutonic race" (The History of
Creation 1876, p. 434). He categorized human beings into "Woolly-haired" and "Straight-haired"
classes. The Woolly-haired people were "incapable of a true inner culture or of a higher mental
development" (The History of Creation, 1876, p. 310).
Only among the Aryans was there that
"symmetry of all parts, and that equal development, which we call the type of perfect human beauty" (The
History of Creation, 1876, p. 321). "The mental life of savages rises little above that of the higher mammals,
especially the apes, with which they are genealogically connected. Their whole interest is restricteed to the
physiological functions of nutrition and reproduction, or the satisfaction of hunger and thirst in the crudest animal
fashion… one can no more (or no less) speak of their reason than of that of the more intelligent animals." (The
wonders of life, 1905, p. 56-7).

Finally, since: "the lower races - such as the Veddahs or Australian Negroes - are psychologically nearer to the
mammals - apes and dogs - than to the civilized European, we must, therefore, assign a totally different value to their
lives… Their only interest are food and reproduction… many of the higher animals, especially monogamous mammals
and birds, have reached a higher stage than the lower savages" (The wonders of life, 1905, p. 390, 393).

In his autobiography, Darwin stated: "Hardly any point gave me so much satisfaction when
I was at work on the Origin, as the explanation of the wide difference in many classes between the
embryo and the adult animal, and of the close resemblance of the embryos within the same class.
No notice of this point was taken, as far as I remember, in the early reviews of the Origin".

Prior to Haeckel's mystified doctrines, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) himself acknowledged
in his letter to his intimate Asa Gray (1810-1888) and Joseph Hooker (1817–1911), that "by far
the strongest single class of facts in favor of" his theory was the similarity of vertebrate embryos
in their earliest stages (Churchill 1991 pp. 1-29). Darwin complained that his reviewers and his
friends had not paid attention to his embryological arguments despite of this. In the Origin,
namey, Darwin had listed five set of facts in embryology, that could not be explained satisfactorily
without the idea of descent with modification. "The leading facts in embryology" were "second in
importance to none in natural history" (Origin, p. 450; Mayr 1982 p. 470).

Later on, this subject was siezed, indeed. Subsequent editions of the Origin
stated:“[Haeckel]…brought his great knowledge and abilities to bear on what he calls phylogeny,
or the lines of descent of all organic beings. In drawing up the several series he trusts chiefly to
embryological characters.”

Darwin did not apply his revolutionary theory to the human beings until his Descent of Man,
and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. This was after the ambitious Haeckel had firmly stepped
in the print, and the old Darwin paid hommage in his introduction:

"The conclusion that man is the co-descendant with other species… is not in any degree new… maintained by several
eminent naturalists and philosophers… and especially by Häckel. This last naturalist, besides his great work
'Generelle Morphologie' (1866), has recently (1868, with a second edit. in 1870), published his 'Natürliche
Schöpfungsgeschichte,' in which he fully discusses the genealogy of man. If this work had appeared before my essay
had been written, I should probably never have completed it. Almost all the conclusions at which I have arrived I find
confirmed by this naturalist, whose knowledge on many points is much fuller than mine."

€ € €
The evolutionary ideology is one of lobbying and popularization of stuff the Zeitgeist wants to hear. Malthusian model was very important idea and model for Darwin, whose cousin was Sir Francis Galton, inventor of the whole concept of 'eugenics' in his book Inheritary genious. The book was full of self indulgence and praised Galton's (Darwin's) OWN family tree. According to Malthus worries, the industrial revolution put 12 year old girls to work over 120 hours a week. In order to kill them and to prevent the lower class of society from reproducing more rapidly than the inheritary genious families.

RKirk said...

Darwinism has not grown stronger with age. The fossil record that was not cooperative at the time of Darwin continues to be uncooperative. But as Harvard's Louis Agassiz was swept aside in the 19th century for failing to bow to the tidal wave of Darwinism, so also studies that don't confirm Darwinist views nowadays are also doomed to non-publication.

But even a few gurus of the science estabishment, like the late Stephen Jay Gould, are willing to admit that the history of most fossil species includes two features inconsistent with "gradualism" (which is the traditional Darwinian viewpoint). These two features are "stasis"
(demonstrated most clearly in the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming, which contains about 5 million years of fossil deposits) and "sudden appearance" (illustrated most obviously in the "Cambrian Explosion"). Gould's response to this state of affairs is that evolution always seems to be taking place somewhere else. His solution is the ad hoc theory of punctuated equilibrium--a theory designed to be compatible with the lack of evidence (given the Darwinian idea of gradual, incremental change over time).

With respect to evolution and theists. The film EXPELLED points to the fact that atheism is very common (probably the majority view)among committed Darwinists. Cornell's Dr. William Provine serves to illustrate this point in the documentary. In print, Provine has argued that "Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with mechanistic principles. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable." At Bishop's the chemistry teacher and administrative asskisser, Jeff Guckert, lectured the faculty once on the "ateleological" nature of evolution--and then encouraged us to use that as a model (a telos?) for our work.

I have read (and have in my personal library) Haught's book SCIENCE AND RELIGION. It is perfectly ok with me if a theologian or scientist wants to assert that evolution is compatible with faith (an assertion Provine denies with great vigor). I myself think that evolution is compatible with faith. But mechanistic materialism, which is the doctrine most Darwinists embrace (and that Whitehead criticized)is NOT rationally compatible with the belief that God "designed" things.

Teilhard's vision of an inherent force within things (radial and tangential energy, if I recall correctly) is compatible with the concept of design. Aristotle's teleological vision is compatible with the concept of design. (It is the central intellectual theme of his philosophy.) And Whitehead's vision of a "subjective aim" provided by God (a "lure for feeling") is compatible, obviously, with a vision of design and purpose that is also consistent with (and would help explain) punctuated equilibrium. Provine's universe, however, is the universe I described in my original post--the vision of the universe conveyed to him by Darwinist teachers and largely conveyed to other students by Darwinist teachers.

That "God" stands behind a random, mechanistic process with no goals is a "faith" only for folks who aren't serious about the need to provide a "rational" structure for faith (a la Whitehead). It is a faith for "antiquarians" who want, above all else, not to be labeled religious reactionaries. They want "to get along"--even if it means that they are given a separate "theological sphere" (a la Descartes) that has nothing to do with the physical world. Most Darwinians, along with Provine and Ockham, would say that such a "god" is an unnecessary hypothesis.

NP said...

If ID isn't about religion then what is it about?

It certainly isn't a science. And it's not just real scientists who say this - even Ben Stein who presumably supports Intelligent Design says that "science leads to killing people". He probably wasn't thinking of ID when he said that.

Since you have brought up this issue, why don't you present the most compelling scientific (i.e. testable AND falsifiable) evidence for Intelligent Design?

Ojalanpoika said...

Evolutionism was politically and religiously driven. (By religion, I mean the old worship of nature akin naturalism.) Evolutionism was a revolution, and revolutions are violent. It is anachronism to mehasize the idea of selection since evolutionism was sold by much harder claims, especially constant spontaneous generation of life from mud (moneras), inheritance of acquired characteristics, mutationism in leaps (hopeful monsters), linear model of human races - and especially recapitulation.

I mean, fertilizing human embryos for research purposes? Pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys?!? Also the last round of eugenics started by cheapening the embryos.

Self correct
my hat, sir.

RKirk said...

It is disconcerting that individuals make comments without having read (or understood or assimilated) prior comments that address their questions. I suspect that is because folks are loath to reject or modify their beliefs, especially when it means breaking with a "group" in which they have invested substantial emotional capital.

The work of Michael Behe, Guillermo Gonzalez, Robert Marks, and others are clearly scientific, not religious, enterprises. Read DARWIN'S BLACK BOX by Behe. Marks' work on information theory also addresses your "talking points" comment about verifiability.

Those of us who know philosophy and the philosophy of science are amused by the intellectual naivete of those who equate "testability" with one particular paradigmatic framework for interpreting evidence. This was Whitehead's point. Have you read Whitehead, NP? SCIENCE AND THE MODERN WORLD? His critique was made in 1925, at Harvard. It was an intellectual and scientific critique, not a "religious" critique--though it has profound "religious" implications--as does the regnant materialistic paradigm (cf. Nazi Germany and the atheistic, materialistic, Marxist Soviet Union.) Also, as Wittgenstein et al. have pointed out, the "verifiability principle" which you seem to equate with "science" is not itself "empirically verifiable."

You might also look at Phillip Johnson's classic, DARWIN ON TRIAL, to gain some insight into the difference between "science" and the philosophy of naturalistic materialism. The latter philosophy corresponds with the explanatory system Whitehead critiqued--since it automatically excludes answers to questions in terms other than the blind movement of matter in space. It is a "religious" or "metaphysical" commitment within contemporary science that DEMANDS allegiance to this dogma (and other related dogmas). ID, by contrast, argues for a broader explanatory framework--a less dogmatic and exclusionary framework.

Ojalanpoika said...

WIttgenstein was big on agnostism. But who recalls that the term was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley, the bulldog of Darwin? The point was not against the church only, but against Ernst Haeckels massive volume of propaganda. (He preached evolution in rented halls by the time and Huxley found out that his Monera drawings were false.)

The correspondence between Huxley and Haeckel, where Darwin referred, seems to have been an excellent indication of the differing "zeitgeist" between the British Isles and the continent. The English edition of the Generelle Morphologie did not contain the main arguments on the descent of man or his 'system of monism'. Huxley cancelled entire chapters from Haeckel's main work despite the fact that he was a fervent defender of Darwinism. Huxley remained an adherent of agnosticism – a word that Huxley coined by himself for himself!

I think that in his Brave New World (1932) Aldous Huxley catched more of the anxieties of his grandfather than his brother Julian Huxley (the president of Unesco). Who is afraid of the "bulldogging" of evolution?
Biochemist, drop-out (M.Sci. Master of Sciing)

RKirk said...


I only mentioned Wittgenstein to point to the fact that the empiricist principle itself is not empirically verifiable. Philosophically, Wittgenstein has been called, as you doubtless know, both an agnostic (in the broadest, almost Humean, sense) and a "mystic." Most of his contributions (PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS) relate to logical structures or "language games" (for the benefit of non-philosophical readers).