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TT: “. . . “scientism” (which I think is a bogus term)” . . . or, NOT

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Here.

Now, let us collect a well-known live example, Lewontin, in NYRB 1997, reviewing Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted world; here, with my annotations:

demon_haunted>>. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [–> notice, the context of intended indoctrination, with a hint of being backed up by secularist institutional power to enforce such indoctrination] we [–> who? the Evolutionary Materialist elites, that’s who] must first get an incorrect view out . . .   the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world [–> note the ready equation of ethical theism with ignorance and irrationality], the demons [–> notice, equating the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, to destructive demons] that exist only in their imaginations [–> assumption of atheism, to be duly dressed up in a lab coat], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

 To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> to an evolutionary materialist thinker, all of reality], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test  [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [–> whose door?] The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. [–> irrationality projection again] To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen [–> again, the irrationality thesis, while actually for miracles to stand out as signs pointing beyond the usual course of the world, there must be a reliable usual course backed by the enabling of a Creator who is Reason Himself, an order that was studied and discerned by the foundational modern scientists “thinking God’s [creative and providential thoughts] after him”] . . . [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you imagine this is “quote-mined” kindly cf here.]>>

The reference to getting the general public to believe that Science is the only begetter of truth (and so, gatekeeper of knowledge) is a classic illustration of evolutionary materialist scientism.

It’s real, and it’s live.

Am HD:

>>sci·en·tism

(sī′ən-tĭz′əm)

n.

1. The collection of attitudes and practices considered typical of scientists.
2. The belief that the investigative methods of the physical sciences are applicable or justifiable in all fields of inquiry.>>

In short, in a day of great prestige for science, ideologised evolutionary materialism-dominated science can be blown up out of proportion into a synonym for knowledge or even rationality, and is then treated as the golden key to and gate-keeper of all knowledge.

In a case like that cited from Lewontin, it becomes trivially plain that the attempt is self-referentially incoherent. Here, speaking for the scientific elites and a dominant worldview, he makes or rather suggests a philosophical claim that effectively undermines philosophical claims. Thus, refuting itself.

Moreover, he reveals an ideological censorship and imposition that should give us pause.

The solution, is quite simple.

Acknowledge the strengths, weaknesses and limitations as a means of inquiry and learning credible, empirically reliable findings about our world. While, acknowledging that genuine and significant knowledge comes from not only other fields of inquiry but from common sense reflection on experience. END

19 Replies to “TT: “. . . “scientism” (which I think is a bogus term)” . . . or, NOT

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    “Scientism” is not so bogus after all.

  2. 2
    tintinnid says:

    GEM: ““Scientism” is not so bogus after all.”

    Sorry KF, I was being overly broad when I said that the concept of scientism was bogus. I should have been more specific and said that the way that you and other IDism proponents use the term is bogus.

    I have always found that when people misuse terms, or misrepresent them the way that you have, lends credence to what they are arguing against.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    TT, I will ignore the loaded implication of the term “bogus” and will read it as in error. To that, the answer is, we have seen scientism in action as defined live ever so many times. In particular, I have given a case in the OP, and can provide more. As Merriam-Webster sums up, Scientism is: “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities).” No, it is not an error to speak of and warn against the ideologisation of science into a worldview level claim about the general source and gatekeeper of knowledge, one deeply influenced by evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow travellers and often driven by a lack of understanding of the linked philosophical issues and implications of truth, knowledge and capability claims. Where, for instance issues about what is or may constitute reality, what is knowledge and how one may have it, or of the frame and basis of rationality and reasoning are inherently philosophical rather than scientific issues. Similarly, the social scientists, especially economists, have legitimate concerns regarding methods. And in fact Science — more properly, Natural Science — grew out of studies of natural philosophy, natural history and the like; it does not stand on its own, independent of even philosophy of science much less broader issues of philosophy, and its praxis must be informed by axiology especially ethics [yet another facet of philosophy]. I have long been convinced that a basic but sound exposure to and respect for the significance of philosophy as the root intellectual discipline, would go a long way. KF

  4. 4
    mahuna says:

    100 years ago, it people began to suggest that Science could solve social and administrative problems. Communism was only one of the scientific systems. And in fact “political science” was created by believers in Scientism to make their ideas sound more professional.

    Science cannot explain what political and social communities of people should do, or why they should do it, or how. Mao killed 100 million people attempting to run China “scientifically”. Scientism very nearly destroyed China, a nation that had survived millennia of unscientific politics.

    It all comes down to whether chocolate ice cream really is better than vanilla. Some people prefer to live and form communities in different ways. The only thing that Science can do is help document the larger disasters in social experimentation. See “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray.

  5. 5
    Silver Asiatic says:

    tin

    I have always found that when people misuse terms, or misrepresent them the way that you have, lends credence to what they are arguing against.

    You just apologized for misusing the term.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Maverick Philosopher on Scientism:

    _____________

    http://maverickphilosopher.typ.....ntism.html

    >> . . . it is refreshing to encounter Alexander Rosenberg’s accurate definition and his forthright acceptance of the view. (It is the forthrightness that wins my approbation, not the acceptance.) I quote from James Anderson’s review of An Atheist’s Guide to Reality:

    Science provides all the significant truths about reality, and knowing such truths is what real understanding is all about. … Being scientistic just means treating science as our exclusive guide to reality, to nature—both our own nature and everything else’s. (pp. 7-8)

    This comports well with the ‘quickie’ definition I have stated many times in these pages:

    1. Scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is scientific knowledge.

    But note that both Rosenberg’s definition and mine need qualification given that ‘science’ is just the Latin-based word (L. scientia) for the English ‘knowledge.’ Surely the following is perfectly vacuous: “Scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is knowledge knowledge, epistemic knowledge.” So I say, nontrivially,

    2. Scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is natural-scientific knowledge.

    Among the natural sciences we have, in first place, physics. And so a really hard-assed scientisticist (to coin a word as barbarous as what it names) might that hold that

    3. Scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is physics and whatever can be reduced to physics.

    But it would be more plausible for the scientisticist to wax latitudinarian and include among the natural sciences physics, chemistry, biology, etc. and their specializations and offshoots such as quantum mechanics, electrochemistry, neurobiology, and what all else. He ought also, for the sake of plausibility, to drop the idea that all natural sciences reduce to physics. (It might be difficult to write a textbook on plant physiology that employed only concepts from physics.) So definition (2) is to be preferred to (3). But (2) is still a rather strong claim, so it is advisable to distinguish between strong and weak scientism:

    4. Strong scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is natural-scientific knowledge.

    5. Weak scientism is the view that, while the ‘hard’ sciences are the epistemic gold standard, other fields of inquiry are not without some value, though they are vastly inferior to the hard sciences and not worthy of full credence.>>
    ______________

    In short, say, characterising Lewontin’s thought and similar thought as scientism is quite warranted.

    The problems as already pointed out then allow us to conclude that this is a self-referentially incoherent scheme of thought. [Yet another facet of the self-falsification of evolutionary materialism: on such, physical reality (and its extensions that it may be convenient to study under other heads . . . through blind, undirected evolution of cosmos, OOL, origin of diverse forms, origin of man and culture) exhausts reality.]

    KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Nancy Pearcey, in Finding Truth:

    ______________

    >> A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . .

    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” >>
    ________________

    More of the same underlying problem.

    KF

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 3: It is worth pausing to see how MP breaks down scientism, step by step, as he continues:

    _______________

    >>Mathematics is not a natural science. Empirical observation is no part of it. Nor is experiment. Mathematicians qua mathematicians do not make testable predictions about future events in the physical world. If a mathematician were to predict that a certain theorem will be proven within ten year’s time, he would not be making a prediction in mathematics about a mathematical object, but a prediction about psychological and physical events: he would be predicting that some mathematician would undergo a series of mental states that he would then commit to paper by physical acts of writing. And yet mathematical knowledge is genuine knowledge.

    So what can a strong scientisticist do? He can water down his definition:

    5. Strong scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is natural-scientific knowledge plus mathematics.

    But why stop there? Mathematicians construct proofs. Proofs are valid arguments. Not all arguments are valid. The disinction between validity and invalidity falls within the purview of logic. Now logic is a body of knowledge, but it is not natural-scientific knowledge. So logic is another counterexample to (4). Will our scientisticist advance to

    6. Strong scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is natural-scientific knowledge plus mathematics plus logic.

    At this point someone might object that mathematics and logic are not knowledge but merely systems of notation that we use to help us make sense of physical phenomena. And so, while natural science studies natural reality, there is no reality that mathematicians and logicians study. Well, do those who make such claims claim to know that they are true? If yes, then they lay claim to knowledge which is neither natural-scientific nor mathematical nor logical. They lay claim to philosophical knowledge, specifically, metaphysical knowledge. They lay claim to knowledge as to what counts as real. Will they then move to the following definition?

    7. Strong scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is natural-scientific knowledge plus the philosophical knowledge that there is no logical or mathematical reality.

    If they do advance to (7) then they are hoist by their own petard, or, to change the metaphor , they have completely eviscerated their own thesis. (What’s worse, to be hanged or disemboweled?) After all, the whole point of scientism is to place a restriction on what counts as genuine knowledge. ‘Genuine’ is strictly redundant; I use it for emphasis. Pleonasm is at most a peccadillo.)

    Introspective knowedge is yet another counterexample to strong scientism as codified in definition (4). The certain knowledge of my own mental states that introspection affords me is knowledge if anything is. Which is better known: that I feel head-ache pain or that I have a brain? The first, obviously. But introspective knowledge is not natural-scientific knowledge. The latter type of knowledge is knowledge via the outer senses, suitably extended by such instruments as microscopes and telescopes. But introspective knowledge is not knowledge via the outer senses taken singly or in combination. Suppose I see myself in a mirror wearing a sad expression and thereby come to the knowledge that I am sad. That is is not introspective knowledge. Introspective knowledge is first-person knowledge of one’s own mental states via inner sense.

    Since introspective knowledge is genuine knowledge, strong scientism is plainly false.

    Memory is another source of genuine knowledge that refutes strong scientism. How do I know that I had lunch at 12:30 and then read Gustav Bergmann’s “Some Remarks on the Ontology of Ockham” while smoking a fine cigar? Because I remember those events. Memorial knowledge is not natural-scientific knowledge. If you think it is, describe the repeatable experiments you had to perform to come to the knowledge that you had lunch. And yet memory is a source of genuine knowledge. It is of course not infallible, but then neither is sense-perception on which natural science is ultimately based.

    And what of history? Do we not have a vast amount of knowledge of the past? We do, but it is not natural-scientific knowledge.

    There is also the obvious point that strong scientism is self-vitiating. Is the proposition All knowledge is natural-scientific knowledge scientifically knowable? No, it isn’t. Therefore, strong scientism, by its own criterion, is not knowable . . . . Finally, there is our knowledge of value and of right and wrong. If strong scientism is true, then we cannot claim to know that natural-scientific knowledge is a value, or that knowledge is better than ignorance, or that kindness is to be preferred over cruelty, or that vivisection is morally wrong, or that the Nuremberg laws in Nazi Germany were unjust.

    But aren’t these things better known than that strong scientism is true?

    Scientism is not science. It is a philosophical claim about science that finds no support in any science. What’s more, it is plainly false.>>
    ________________

    It seems it is time for serious re-thinking.

    KF

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    If you read Lewontin’s review in the NYRB of Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World, the tenor of the piece is that, while Sagan is well-intentioned, he is somewhat naive about the social and political realities of the cultures in which science has to operate. He, Lewontin, is also critical of scientists for making exaggerated claims, discarding repeated observations that don’t fit into a current theory, and over-reliance on the opinions of experts in a given field. On the last point, however, he asks the pertinent question, what else are we to do?

    Third, it is said that there is no place for an argument from authority in science. The community of science is constantly self-critical, as evidenced by the experience of university colloquia “in which the speaker has hardly gotten 30 seconds into the talk before there are devastating questions and comments from the audience.” If Sagan really wants to hear serious disputation about the nature of the universe, he should leave the academic precincts in Ithaca and spend a few minutes in an Orthodox study house in Brooklyn. It is certainly true that within each narrowly defined scientific field there is a constant challenge to new technical claims and to old wisdom. In what my wife calls the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Syndrome, young scientists on the make will challenge a graybeard, and this adversarial atmosphere for the most part serves the truth. But when scientists transgress the bounds of their own specialty they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution.

    In the passage from the review which kairosfocus quotes ad nauseam, Lewontin is again highlighting a perfectly well-known problem concerning the possibility of our understanding the world in which we find ourselves. If we assume an ordered universe regulated by natural law-like behavior that holds through time and space then there is the possibility of our investigating and understanding it. If, on the other hand, it is the creation of an interventionist deity who can upend anything it chooses, whenever it chooses, if it is just a question of ‘here there be miracles’, the possibility of our understanding what is going on vanishes. We have no way of telling what is natural behavior and what is the whim of the creator. The whole enterprise of science must collapse as there is no prospect of ever finding reliable knowledge. That is why you can’t allow the Divine Foot in the door.

    Although I don’t subscribe to the so-called Warfare Thesis, there is clearly a tension between science and some forms of religious belief. It centers on the knowledge claims of both, where they are in conflict and the social influence and political power which such claims, if acknowledged, confer on the claimants. For those who are interested, Lewontin’s views are summed up in the final paragraphs of the review:

    Carl Sagan, like his Canadian counterpart David Suzuki, has devoted extraordinary energy to bringing science to a mass public. In doing so, he is faced with a contradiction for which there is no clear resolution. On the one hand science is urged on us as a model of rational deduction from publicly verifiable facts, freed from the tyranny of unreasoning authority. On the other hand, given the immense extent, inherent complexity, and counterintuitive nature of scientific knowledge, it is impossible for anyone, including non-specialist scientists, to retrace the intellectual paths that lead to scientific conclusions about nature. In the end we must trust the experts and they, in turn, exploit their authority as experts and their rhetorical skills to secure our attention and our belief in things that we do not really understand. Anyone who has ever served as an expert witness in a judicial proceeding knows that the court may spend an inordinate time “qualifying” the expert, who, once qualified, gives testimony that is not meant to be a persuasive argument, but an assertion unchallengeable by anyone except another expert. And, indeed, what else are the courts to do? If the judge, attorneys, and jury could reason out the technical issues from fundamentals, there would be no need of experts.

    What is at stake here is a deep problem in democratic self-governance. In Plato’s most modern of Dialogues, the Gorgias, there is a struggle between Socrates, with whom we are meant to sympathize, and his opponents, Gorgias and Callicles, over the relative virtues of rhetoric and technical expertise. What Socrates and Gorgias agree on is that the mass of citizens are incompetent to make reasoned decisions on justice and public policy, but that they must be swayed by rhetorical argument or guided by the authority of experts.

    Gorgias: “I mean [by the art of rhetoric] the ability to convince by means of speech a jury in a court of justice, members of the Council in their Chamber, voters at a meeting of the Assembly, and any other gathering of citizens, whatever it may be.”

    Socrates: “When the citizens hold a meeting to appoint medical officers or shipbuilders or any other professional class of person, surely it won’t be the orator who advises them then. Obviously in every such election the choice ought to fall on the most expert.”

    Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, the situation is that the review as a whole does also sufficiently advocate the sort of evolutionary materialist scientism as shown, that it is appropriate to highlight it [the above is not quotation out of context], and to link onward where we may see a fuller excerpt with annotations and link further to a copy of the whole online. The overall casting of irrationality unto ethical theism is an error of gross proportions fully deserving of exposure and even censure. Do you want me to go on to the way he caricatured ordinary people on the case of a woman who doubted the reception of radio and TV signals from the Moon because she could not get reception from was it Dallas? And more? KF

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Sev @ 9 — that was an insightful overview. I disagree on various particulars, but the most important thing I see is that it’s a philosophical discussion. To a previous criticism, I’d think Lewontin would want more expertise in that area before offering his worldview and social commentary.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky:

    I will take a further pause on your discussion of the Lewontin article and of my clip which you dismiss as repeated ad nauseum, i.e. the passage of my longstanding concern.

    The notion, cited with approval, from Lewis Back: ” anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything . . . ” in the context as cited is an astonishingly tendentious, toxically loaded and blazing, atmosphere-poisoning strawman. No one with even a nodding acquaintance with the thousands of years of serious scholarship by people adhering to ethical theism could reasonably put this forth.

    Further to this, it patently perverts the easily known history of the origin and rise of modern science: a Judaeo-Christian, theistic matrix in which leading scientists such as a Boyle [author of The Christian Virtuoso], a Kepler or a Newton can all be summarised as thinking in terms of our investigating, discovering, stating and wisely applying the laws used by the Creator to originate and sustain the world.

    As in, thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him.

    Where also, the very concept of the miraculous and that of our responsible freedom under God require a generally orderly, well regulated, predictable course of the world. Otherwise all would be a chaos in which we could not be responsible nor could we recognise the extraordinary work of God as pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world as in a confused chaos there would be no ordinary course.

    So, where you find something to treat with in a sympathetic manner, I find a toxic caricature that should be retracted with apology.

    Moreover, the primary concerns I have stand.

    There is simply no way that science can be reasonably presented to the ordinary person as the ONLY — as in we corner the market on — begetter of truth.

    Sorry, my mind gags at the inescapable self referential absurdity in that philosophical assertion that would dismiss such.

    And, the linked monopolisation of authority on knowledge, imposition of a priori materialism on interpretation of scientific findings and prejudicial caricature of others as well as of the few scientists who would stand up to protest are glaring illustrations of overweening authoritarianism over the mind and education.

    So, sorry, but for cause I think Philip Johnson had the better of the exchange, when he wrote in First Things, November that same 1997 — and note the case where Johnson begins, the moot for a 1964 debate, “RESOLVED, that the theory of evolution is as proved as is the fact that the earth goes around the sun.” Johnson responds to Lewontin’s claim that Sagan and he “unaccountably” (apart from fundy prejudice) lost the debate with a key note:

    How could the theory of evolution even conceivably be “proved” to the same degree as “the fact that the earth goes around the sun”? The latter is an observable feature of present-day reality, whereas the former deals primarily with non-repeatable events of the very distant past. The appropriate comparison would be between the theory of evolution and the accepted theory of the origin of the solar system.

    If “evolution” referred only to currently observable phenomena like domestic animal breeding or finch-beak variation, then winning the debate should have been no problem for Lewontin and Sagan even with a fundamentalist jury. The statement “We breed a great variety of dogs,” which rests on direct observation, is much easier to prove than the statement that the earth goes around the sun, which requires sophisticated reasoning. Not even the strictest biblical literalists deny the bred varieties of dogs, the variation of finch beaks, and similar instances within types. The more controversial claims of large-scale evolution are what arouse skepticism. Scientists may think they have good reasons for believing that living organisms evolved naturally from nonliving chemicals, or that complex organs evolved by the accumulation of micromutations through natural selection, but having reasons is not the same as having proof. I have seen people, previously inclined to believe whatever “science says,” become skeptical when they realize that the scientists actually do seem to think that variations in finch beaks or peppered moths, or the mere existence of fossils, proves all the vast claims of “evolution.” It is as though the scientists, so confident in their answers, simply do not understand the question . . .

    A pivotal distinction, and one at the heart of a lot of concerns about scientism.

    That is also the start-point context for my onward, commonly used clip from that article:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    There is serious need for re-thinking.

    KF

  13. 13
    ChrisM says:

    “NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .”

    This might be true if the assertion was philosophical. More likely, the statement would rest on historical terms of reference.

    As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to steer clear of arguments like the one above, they are almost never true, and deploying them will leave a bad taste in the mouth for others.

    Why are they almost never true? the short answer their highly simple structure. There’s nothing there to play with, as necessary, to fit this structure in the mouth

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    CM, it is actually pretty clear, to try to persuade the ordinary person that Science is the only begetter of truth, which implies claims of warrant and truth thus knowledge. Furthermore, historically science is blatantly not the only begetter of truth. What this is is a proposal for the cultural elites to convert the general public to scientism (and to viewing adherents to theism as utterly irrational), whereby Science is seen as the only source of credible truth and thus knowledge. In context, actually evolutionary materialism dressed in a lab coat. Indefensible, when baldly stated. Not least, as this is an assertion regarding the source, warrant for and credibility of knowledge, thus an act in epistemology, the branch of phil that studies knowledge. As phil, it is not sci and so is a statement that self falsifies. KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me expand and comment on a first part of the clip, the part entered into by Lewontin after his story on Arkansas 1964 and some comparative commentary on Sagan and Gould (which Johnson picks up on, BTW):

    ________________

    http://www.drjbloom.com/Public.....Review.htm

    >>Second, to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out.>>

    a –> Presumption of monopoly on knowledge and education power, backed up by will to impose agenda

    >> People believe a lot of nonsense about the world of phenomena, nonsense that is a consequence of a wrong way of thinking.>>

    b –> The issue is ideology, a clash of worldviews, and so in context the issue is to impose the evolutionary materialist frame considered as True, duly dressed in a lab coat.

    >> The primary problem is not to provide the public with the knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of, for that vast project is, in its entirety, hopeless.>>

    c –> The public are willing to have children go through compulsory science education as a foundation of empirically reliable, hopefully credibly true knowledge based on observational facts, to equip them for work and citizenship in a high tech age.

    d –> They are NOT willing to pay for indoctrination in worldviews based on question-begging a prioris that warp allowed interpretations in ways that institutionalise the ideology despite what the real truth may be.

    e –> The public understands that science is vast and technically complex, so must be simplified and summarised for education purposes, but they expect substantial truthfulness and trustworthiness regarding a commitment to truth in the midst of selectivity and summary.

    f –> The appropriate questions are what is needed for preparation for economically significant work and for informed citizenship, and

    g –> as the various protest movements show, the public is increasingly dissatisfied and concerned that agenda-driven ruthless and sometimes manipulative or outright deceitful ideologues are seizing control of science and science education in pursuit of power agendas that are fundamentally unsound, dangerous and prone to lead to breakdown of liberty.

    >> Rather, the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,>>

    h –> The equating of ethical theism with irrationality and imaginary demons is dubious and agenda-driven, a strong and direct sign that we here deal with ideological indoctrination not sound and sensible, sober instruction in science.

    i –> So, at this point the public, who have a strong suspicion that the reality of God is far more credible than the materialist scientists are willing to acknowledge, have reason to be concerned.

    >> and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth.>>

    j –> The self-refuting assertion of scientism backed by a priori evolutionary materialism, as the context makes clear.

    k –> As just noted to CM, we here face an ideological agenda driven attempt

    . . . to try to persuade the ordinary person that Science is the only begetter of truth, which implies claims of warrant and truth thus knowledge. Furthermore, historically science is blatantly not the only begetter of truth. What this is is a proposal for the cultural elites to convert the general public to scientism (and to viewing adherents to theism as utterly irrational), whereby Science is seen as the only source of credible truth and thus knowledge. In context, actually evolutionary materialism dressed in a lab coat. Indefensible, when baldly stated. Not least, as this is an assertion regarding the source, warrant for and credibility of knowledge, thus an act in epistemology, the branch of phil that studies knowledge. As phil, it is not sci and so is a statement that self falsifies.

    >>The reason that people do not have a correct view of nature is not that they are ignorant of this or that fact about the material world, but that they look to the wrong sources in their attempt to understand.>>

    l –> The agenda to impose scientism and a new magistrioum dressed in a lab coat is clear.

    >> It is not simply, as Sherlock Holmes thought [he leads with a clip from the Holmes literature], that the brain is like an empty attic with limited storage capacity, so that the accumulated clutter of false or useless bits of knowledge must be cleared out in a grand intellectual tag sale to make space for more useful objects.>>

    m –> The overwhelming evidence is, that people are able to learn a vast body of matter, with motivated and diligent effort. The further evidence is that the highly graphical and audiovisual, multimedia and so forth are highly effective as educational tools.

    n –> So a project of soberly sound, entertaining [just tell the narrative with site visits and a bit of period acting to give the context of storyline] survey is eminently possible and there is more than enough capacity to carry out such if it is desired — as the two Cosmos series video presentations show; albeit both are evidently vitiated by ideological agenda.

    o –> So, an alternative to Cosmos is patently feasible. Back that up with well done educational materials and class courses and there is something there as a prospect.

    p –> But the ideology and agendas will interfere, as we have seen over and over again. Maybe, the truth is, public education is irretrievably broken in our civilisation and instead perhaps it is time for vouchers and localisation with community based oversight of core studies.

    >> It is that most people’s mental houses have been furnished according to an appallingly bad model of taste and they need to start consulting the home furnishing supplement of the Sunday New York Times in place of the stage set of The Honeymooners.>>

    q –> Subtext of contempt, which will come out later on in the review. Indeed, he goes on to note in summary how Sagan thinks:

    The demonic, for Sagan, includes, in addition to UFOs and their crews of little green men who take unwilling passengers for a midnight spin and some wild sex, astrological influences, extrasensory perception, prayers, spoon-bending, repressed memories, spiritualism, and channeling, as well as demons sensu strictu, devils, fairies, witches, spirits, Satan and his devotees, and, after some discreet backing and filling, the supposed prime mover Himself. God gives Sagan a lot of trouble. It is easy enough for him to snort derisively at men from Mars, but when it comes to the Supreme Extraterrestrial he is rather circumspect, asking only that sermons “even-handedly examine the God hypothesis.”

    r –> The fallacy of invidious association fairly reeks here. Evidence for God and the public’s knowledge of answers to prayer are in a different category from the menagerie of superstitious or urban legend items that are somehow juxtaposed. No wonder the public are going to be suspicious.

    >> The message of The Demon-Haunted World is in its subtitle, Science as a Candle in the Dark.>>

    s –> That is, science is the light that provides well grounded truth, the only begetter of knowledge. The self referential incoherence begs to be highlighted. Already done. And of course the proper label for this is scientism.

    >>Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities.>>

    t –> Imposition of materialism, but Sagan, Lewontin et al need to address how such is in fact self-refuting and CANNOT be right, starting with undermining responsible freedom and rational, knowing mind, something which the general public senses or suspects or intuits as is shown by for instance the insistence that we are responsibly free in the teeth of the many attempts to reduce us to determinisms.

    u –> I suggest, as a 101:

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....ml#slf_ref

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [[Emphases added. Also cf. Reppert’s summary of Barefoot’s argument here.]

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)] . . . .

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.) . . .

    >>The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons.>>

    v –> The contempt again.

    w –> But instead there is reason to see the whole evolutionary materialist project as an exercise in self referential incoherence based on imposing question begging a prioris on science and science education.

    x –> Indeed, that is what comes out a little later on in the review:

    Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world. To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . .

    . . . and, later on after talking about cancers, genome projects, NASA and the like, we see the pivotal ideological point (never mind trying to soften the word “demon” by talking of China):

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    y –> This is fatally wrong-headed. As I annotated as can be seen in the OP:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [–> whose door?] The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. [–> irrationality projection again] To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen [–> again, the irrationality thesis, while actually for miracles to stand out as signs pointing beyond the usual course of the world, there must be a reliable usual course backed by the enabling of a Creator who is Reason Himself, an order that was studied and discerned by the foundational modern scientists “thinking God’s [creative and providential thoughts] after him”] . . .

    _________________

    In short, it should be plain that the citation in the OP does reflect the wider context, and my annotations and comments are not without significant reason to be concerned.

    Scientism raises troubling issues.

    KF

  16. 16
    Axel says:

    ‘1. Scientism is the view that the only genuine knowledge is scientific knowledge.’

    KF, unfortunately, QM has put them on the ‘back foot’ and kept them there permanently, as, to quote Thomas Traherne, the Protestant, Irish visionary: ‘Pigs eat acorns, but neither consideer the sun that gave them life, nor the nfluence of the heavens by which theyw ere nourihed, nor the very root of the tree whence they came.’
    Hence, their a priori repudiation of the most exiguous deism. They are wedded to scientism, and all the other fancies QM forces them to utter, are either completely vacuous or the preserve of genuine science, alien to their primordial paradigm.

    They have been obliged to feign intellectual assent to the ever proliferating and ever more intractable mysteries of QM, as if to the manner born. Laughable. Beyond laughable.

    I thought BA77’s concise and comprehensive demolition of atheism’s claim to be consistent with empirical science, citing the relevant attributions and references, a great read – though we are fortunate enough to be familiar with it here.

  17. 17
    DillyGill says:

    Excellent as usual, such a short statement is so totally loaded.
    I worry that, as the ID movement buries atheism (although never noticed by the common man and denied by the materialist due to priori commitment), if we are not due for another big forgery similar to Piltdown man only around accounting for complex information. Possibly around alien life, or experiments with faked results . It is all about wining (or searing the minds/conscience of men) with in the time frame.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    Axel & DG (Attn TT, CM & Seversky):

    The issue of an agenda to impose scientism driven by evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers, now backed by the pretence that “dere ent no such thing as dat beast” (once we have objected) is pivotal to understanding what has gone wrong with origins science and science education. It also explains why there is such resistance to the core point of design theory, that something like functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I) is real and has just one empirically observed, reliable, needle in haystack analysis plausible cause, design.

    Which, would be excellent grounds for inferring on empirical evidence to design of the world of life and the finely tuned cosmic order that is the platform for life.

    That is where the Lewontin cite that Seversky spoke of as being “ad nauseum” comes in.

    Here, we have a leading scientist discussing another leading scientist and populariser (actually, he goes on to bring in Dawkins and Gould too), in a context of the “we” of the educated elites and the scientific elites. In the further context of the promotion of a worldview that can be summarised as evolutionary materialist scientism, indeed its imposition by a lab coat clad magisterium on the general public and especially on science education. Which, now turns out to be more like indoctrination in evolutionary materialist scientism backed up by the prestige of science.

    Here, we have the bald admission that the interpretation of the actual evidence is utterly warped by imposition of an a priori ideological commitment presumed to be Big-T Truth. So, the whole scheme, necessarily becomes an exercise in worldview level question-begging and indoctrination.

    Which is patently both fallacious and unethical for either science or education.

    And remember, this is clearly a widespread agenda among the elites.

    (One, BTW with all sorts of implications for how we understand knowledge, ethics, law, rationality, politics, the course of civilisation, and indeed how elites and aspiring elites deeply influenced by such ideology will view ordinary people; as the contempt and dismissiveness above so plainly show. And, these issues have been on the table since Plato in The Laws Bk X, 2350 years ago. Yes, in that other clip that has been so studiously avoided for so long also, evolutionary materialism is seen to have been long since tried and found to be fatally wanting, with influences on Alcibiades and co as exhibit A. But by dressing it up in a lab coat, it has again been put back on the table, never mind the cries of the ghosts of over 100 million victims from the past century of horrific, nihilist tyrannies.)

    So, what is the reaction to such a stunning cat out of the bag admission on record?

    To try to suggest that it is not what it is.

    Long since, to try to suggest deceitful snipping out of context. (Which, is why I normally point the reader to my wider annotated cite.)

    Seversky, your rebuttal at 9 above is a more sophisticated version, a sort of exercise in saying what Lewontin was trying to say.

    My problem is the basis and the force of what he revealed in so doing, whatever he was trying to do.

    Statements like the above stand on their own force and are a definite, longstanding wake-up call. (And it is reflective of a much wider pattern, not just some wild-eyed lunatic fringe. Just, it is not as guarded as the usual statements on such matters are. The design thinkers, yea even the lowly Creationists, have a telling, pivotal point here.)

    There is no defence, no excuse for such.

    It is time to face their force and rethink in light of sound insights.

    As a point for beginning, let me put on the table also, the statement of the US National Science Teachers Association Board, 2000 (accessible further down in the string of cites at the same place where the fuller Lewontin clip is):

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [[S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific methods, explanations, generalizations and products . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic [ = evolutionary materialist] methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [note the false dichotomy, naturalistic vs supernatural, when the proper one, the natural [= chance and/or mechanical necessity] vs the ART-ificial, was put on the Table by Plato long since in The Laws Bk X . . . a common case is the famed Time Team contrast: natural vs archaeology] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    Likewise, more subtly, we see the US National Academy of Sciences in the 2008 version of a longstanding pamphlet on teaching origins:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [[Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10]

    And we could go on and on.

    I think Nancy Pearcey in her Finding Truth, hits the proverbial nail squarely:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . .

    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.”

    It is time for serious re-thinking.

    For, patently Scientism is not a bogus term, nor is it a matter of fringe oddballs, but the issue is right in the centre of debates over origins science and linked science education.

    Let me add, from my note to TT at 3 above:

    As Merriam-Webster sums up, Scientism is: “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities).” No, it is not an error to speak of and warn against the ideologisation of science into a worldview level claim about the general source and gatekeeper of knowledge, one deeply influenced by evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow travellers and often driven by a lack of understanding of the linked philosophical issues and implications of truth, knowledge and capability claims. Where, for instance issues about what is or may constitute reality, what is knowledge and how one may have it, or of the frame and basis of rationality and reasoning are inherently philosophical rather than scientific issues. Similarly, the social scientists, especially economists, have legitimate concerns regarding methods. And in fact Science — more properly, Natural Science — grew out of studies of natural philosophy, natural history and the like; it does not stand on its own, independent of even philosophy of science much less broader issues of philosophy, and its praxis must be informed by axiology especially ethics [yet another facet of philosophy]. I have long been convinced that a basic but sound exposure to and respect for the significance of philosophy as the root intellectual discipline, would go a long way.

    KF

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    kf and axel as to:

    “I have long been convinced that a basic but sound exposure to and respect for the significance of philosophy as the root intellectual discipline, would go a long way.”

    Of related interest to that sentiment is this recent article by Dr. Egnor:

    Stephen Hawking: “Philosophy Is Dead” – Michael Egnor – August 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas is far and away the most successful framework on which to understand modern science, especially quantum mechanics. Heisenberg knew this (Link on site). Aristotle 2,300 years ago described the basics of collapse of the quantum waveform (reduction of potency to act),,,
    Real scientists have a meaningful understanding of natural philosophy as it relates to their work. No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today would pass a freshman philosophy class. Think Dawkins. Think Krauss. Think Myers. Think Moran. Think Novella. Think Coyne. Think Hawking.
    Our 21st-century scientific priesthood — mostly atheists and materialists to the extent that their metaphysics is coherent enough to be described — is dominated by half-educated technicians with publicists.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....98261.html

    And indeed, as Dr Egnor pointed out, the findings of modern quantum mechanics dovetail perfectly into some of the oldest philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

    For instance, the ‘first mover’ argument, which Dr. Egnor mentioned (and Heisenberg himself remarked upon), dovetails perfectly into what is now known as wave function collapse.
    The ‘first mover’ argument goes like this:

    Aquinas’ First Way
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    Or to put it much more simply:

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    And in confirmation of this ancient ‘first mover’ argument, in the following video Anton Zeilinger, whose group is arguably the best group of experimentalists in quantum physics today, ‘tries’ to explain the double slit experiment to Morgan Freeman:

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    Prof. Zeilinger makes this rather startling statement in the preceding video that meshes perfectly with the ‘first mover argument’::

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”
    Anton Zeilinger

    If that was not enough to get his point across, at the 4:12 minute mark in this following video,,,

    Prof Anton Zeilinger Shows the Double-slit Experiment – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/

    Professor Zeilinger states,,,

    “We know what the particle is doing at the source when it is created. We know what it is doing at the detector when it is registered. But we do not know what it is doing in-between.”
    Anton Zeilinger

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