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At Mind Matters News: Michael Egnor takes a more jaundiced view of Richard Lewontin

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Michael Egnor asks, re Richard Lewontin, Is it scientific misconduct to make science about materialist atheism?

My friend and colleague Casey Luskin has penned a poignant essay in memory of Richard Lewontin, a Harvard evolutionary biologist who passed away at 92 recently. Casey is a gentleman and a scholar, and very much disposed to finding the best in people. Indeed it seems there was much that was very good in Lewontin’s persona, and Casey highlighted it beautifully in his encomium.

I am not of the opinion, however, that we should speak only good of the dead. The passing of a public figure is a good time to consider his impact, and Lewontin’s impact on American culture and science is something very much worth considering.

By all accounts, Lewontin was a gentleman and a good friend and affable mentor to this colleagues and students. From what I know of him, I think I would have enjoyed his company and valued his friendship. He was a man of remarkable social and intellectual gifts. But in my view, his exercise of these gifts inflicted incalculable damage on the scientific profession and on our culture …

Richard Lewontin was congenial academic but his agenda was to advance a materialist view of science despite his admission of its “patent absurdities.”

Michael Egnor, “Remembering a biologist’s remarkable confession of faith” at Mind Matters News

See also: Tributes to Richard Lewontin (1919 – 2021) Paul Nelson: Lewontin opposed the facile storytelling of much of sociobiology, with its invocation of hypothetical genes for equally hypothetical behavioral traits. The fact that his opposition stemmed in part from his politics is no indictment; his evidential critique holds its value, or stands on its own two legs, independently of the Marxism. Show me the actual data, he would say, or stop the storytelling.

2 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Michael Egnor takes a more jaundiced view of Richard Lewontin

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Is it scientific misconduct to judge science by the extent to which it is consonant with religious presuppositions?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky asks

    Is it scientific misconduct to judge science by the extent to which it is consonant with religious presuppositions?

    First off, to even be able to judge whether something qualifies as ‘scientific misconduct’ or not, it is first necessary to presuppose that there exists an objective moral basis to judge by. Yet, for objective morality to exist, then God must necessarily exist.

    Thus for Seversky to even admit that there is such a thing a ‘scientific misconduct’ is for him to inadvertently, and unwittingly, concede the necessary existence of God:

    Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
    The Moral Argument – drcraigvideos – video
    https://youtu.be/OxiAikEk2vU?t=276

    If Good and Evil Exist, God Exists: Peter Kreeft – Prager University – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xliyujhwhNM

    Moreover, it is simply impossible to ‘do science’ without Judeo-Christian presuppositions.

    In his recent book, “The Return of the God Hypothesis”, Stephen Meyers lists the necessary presuppositions that lay at the founding of modern science as such,

    “Science in its modern form arose in the Western civilization alone, among all the cultures of the world”, because only the Christian West possessed the necessary “intellectual presuppositions”.
    – Ian Barbour
    Presupposition 1: The contingency of nature
    “In 1277, the Etienne Tempier, the bishop of Paris, writing with support of Pope John XXI, condemned “necessarian theology” and 219 separate theses influenced by Greek philosophy about what God could and couldn’t do.”,,
    “The order in nature could have been otherwise (therefore) the job of the natural philosopher, (i.e. scientist), was not to ask what God must have done but (to ask) what God actually did.”
    Presupposition 2: The intelligibility of nature
    “Modern science was inspired by the conviction that the universe is the product of a rational mind who designed it to be understood and who (also) designed the human mind to understand it.” (i.e. human exceptionalism),
    “God created us in his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts”
    – Johannes Kepler
    Presupposition 3: Human Fallibility
    “Humans are vulnerable to self-deception, flights of fancy, and jumping to conclusions.”, (i.e. original sin), Scientists must therefore employ “systematic experimental methods.”
    – Stephen Meyer on Intelligent Design and The Return of the God Hypothesis – Hoover Institution
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_8PPO-cAlA

    Moreover, these necessary Judeo-Christian presuppositions that lay at the founding of modern science did not just evaporate into thin air, but are still required for the continued practice and success of science. As Paul Davies himself conceded, ‘science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”

    Physics and the Mind of God: The Templeton Prize Address – by Paul Davies – August 1995
    Excerpt: “People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature-the laws of physics-are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they came from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is a rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least partly comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.theistic.net/papers.....cience.pdf

    Thus, with modern science itself being inextricably bound to, and dependent upon, Judeo-Christian presuppositions, we have every right to ask Atheists how in blue blazes was it ever possible for them to claim that Atheistic Naturalism is the supposedly scientific worldview and that Theism is somehow unscientific?

    Well, it was by a ‘Theological sleight of hand’ that Atheists were able to perform this ‘switch-a-roo’ as to which worldview is scientific and which is not.

    Charles Darwin’s book, “Origin of Species”, itself, instead of being a scientific book, is, in reality, a theological book that is filled with ‘bad’ theological argumentation. Arguments that are based on faulty, even juvenile, Theological presuppositions,

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:
    I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation): ?1. Human beings are not justified in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.
    2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.
    3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.
    4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.
    5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.
    6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.
    7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.
    8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.
    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.?http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    To this day, since Darwinists still have no compelling scientific evidence that Darwinian evolution is true, (or even that it is feasible), Darwinists are still heavily dependent on faulty theological presuppositions:

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014
    Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise’s Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous “God-wouldn’t-have-done-it-that-way” arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,,
    ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky’s essay “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1973).
    Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky’s essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes:
    “Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist’s arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky’s arguments.”,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89971.html

    Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don’t – Steve Dilley- 2019-06-02
    The Problem of God-talk in Biology Textbooks
    Abstract: We argue that a number of biology (and evolution) textbooks face a crippling dilemma.
    On the one hand, significant difficulties arise if textbooks include theological claims in their case for evolution.
    (Such claims include, for example, ‘God would never design a suboptimal panda’s thumb, but an imperfect structure is just what we’d expect on natural selection.’) On the other hand, significant difficulties arise if textbooks exclude theological claims in their case for evolution. So, whether textbooks include or exclude theological claims, they face debilitating problems. We attempt to establish this thesis by examining 32 biology (and evolution) textbooks, including the Big 12—that is, the top four in each of the key undergraduate categories (biology majors, non-majors, and evolution courses). In Section 2 of our article, we analyze three specific types of theology these texts use to justify evolutionary theory. We argue that all face significant difficulties. In Section 3, we step back from concrete cases and, instead, explore broader problems created by having theology in general in biology textbooks. We argue that the presence of theology—of whatever kind—comes at a significant cost, one that some textbook authors are likely unwilling to pay. In Section 4, we consider the alternative: Why not simply get rid of theology? Why not just ignore it? In reply, we marshal a range of arguments why avoiding God-talk raises troubles of its own. Finally, in Section 5, we bring together the collective arguments in Sections 2-4 to argue that biology textbooks face an intractable dilemma. We underscore this difficulty by examining a common approach that some textbooks use to solve this predicament. We argue that this approach turns out to be incoherent and self-serving. The poor performance of textbooks on this point highlights just how deep the difficulty is. In the end, the overall dilemma remains.
    https://journals.blythinstitute.org/ojs/index.php/cbi/article/view/44

    Darwinists, with their vital dependence on faulty theological presuppositions, instead of on any compelling scientific evidence, in order for them to try to make their case for Darwinian evolution, are, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face.

    “In other words, the non-Christian needs the truth of the Christian religion in order to attack it. As a child needs to sit on the lap of its father in order to slap the father’s face, so the unbeliever, as a creature, needs God the Creator and providential controller of the universe in order to oppose this God. Without this God, the place on which he stands does not exist. He cannot stand in a vacuum.”
    – Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979).

    Moreover, presupposing Atheistic materialism, and/or methodological naturalism to be true, as Atheists insist we must do if we are to be considered ‘scientific, leads to the catastrophic epistemological failure of science itself.

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist (who believes Darwinian evolution to be true) is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable, (i.e. illusory), beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. the illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who also must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the hopelessness of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is simply too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft). Who, since beauty cannot be grounded within his materialistic worldview, must also hold beauty itself to be illusory (Darwin).
    Bottom line, nothing is truly real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, beauty, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,

    Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist and/or Methodological Naturalist may firmly believe that he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for naturalistic explanations over and above God as a viable explanation), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists themselves are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science, indeed more antagonistic to reality itself, than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

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