Intelligent Design

Dawkins Bravely Opposes Following the Herd (Unless It’s His Herd)

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Readers of this blog will know that my favorite game is “spot the irony” (based upon Monty Python’s “spot the looney” game).  Here a colleague from another listserve brings Richard Dawkins’ statement from “The Enemies of Reason”

We’ve got to go back to the evidence and see what is true. We must favour verifiable evidence over private feeling otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth. We should be open minded, but not so open minded that our brains fall out.

The scientific method tests with objective observation and statistical analysis. Individual scientists may or may not be honest, but science with its’ safeguards of peer review and repeated experiment has scrupulous honesty built into it by design. Science replaces private prejudice with publicly verifiable evidence.

I have a hankering after what is actually true.

We are confronted by those who deny the evidence of the real world and instead bend reality around a dogmatic belief system handed down by tradition.

Sceptical rational enquiry is always the best approach. We don’t have to follow the herd, … instead we can think independently and be truly open minded. That means asking questions, being open to real corroborated evidence. Reason has liberated us from superstition and has given us centuries of progress. We abandon in at our peril.

39 Replies to “Dawkins Bravely Opposes Following the Herd (Unless It’s His Herd)

  1. 1

    Praise be to Dawkins, Prophet of holy Darwin! Praise his name, he that liberates us from darkness! He that desires only truth and, alone among men, is unmoved by bias or desire! May He smite down the unbeliever in sacred Reason! May he destroy the forces of foul superstition!
    http://outrageoracle.blogspot.com/

  2. 2
    Collin says:

    I just cannot ever think of Dawkins without thinking of his “matter of faith” in natural selection video. “It’s just so coherent.” he says

  3. 3
    bork says:

    Dawkins lacks outspoken secular critics. I fail to see how all atheists are of the same attitude as him… or is there now an issue with speaking against dawkins?

    Honestly, Dawkins isn’t doing much for the atheist community other than protraying a militant hard lined atheist position (but I thought atheists were individuals [sic]) as well as banding them together.

    If all atheists are like Dawkins, doesn’t that say something about atheism?

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    We don’t have to follow the herd, instead we can think independently and be truly open minded

    And that’s why Richard encourages his flock to wear a uniform and follow him. See: The Uniform.

  5. 5
    The Scubaredneck says:

    We should be open minded, but not so open minded that our brains fall out.

    This almost a direct quote of what my extremely conservative pastor was preaching 20 years ago when the tolerance movement was just getting started. Back then, it was the tolerance folks who were advocating open-mindedness and acceptance of alternate viewpoints while the church was towing the line on truth.

    What an interesting twist that now it is the conservative crowd that is now talking about open-mindedness and such while the formerly-tolerant folks are not digging in their heels and need their secular “preachers” to give them rah-rah speeches about being open minded (but not too open, mind you).

  6. 6
    ReligionProf says:

    This is, like most things, a legitimate point (that reason can help protect us from superstition and from being misled and manipulated, which of course religion has been hijacked to do many times down the ages) and takes it to an illogical (indeed, irrational!) extreme.

    I’ve posted a critical review of Dawkins’ book on my blog at http://exploringourmatrix.blog.....wkins.html

    To be fair, however, I was able to freely post these criticisms on the Dawkins forum. I find that my attempts to express critical views on THIS blog never appear. Irony, it seems, cuts both ways.

  7. 7
    ReligionProf says:

    Hey, it appeared! I take it back! 🙂

  8. 8
    Forthekids says:

    Those scarlet letter t-shirts are the most bland looking things I’ve ever seen. But, check out the size of that A…cripes, could they have made it any larger?

    If I were an atheist, you’d have to pay me to wear it.

    Thank goodness someone with some design sense put together the Expelled apparel.

  9. 9

    So does the scientific method prove that we should only use the scientific method to believe something?

  10. 10
    Patrick says:

    ReligionProf,

    Hey, it appeared! I take it back! 🙂

    The delay varies since it depends on how busy all the moderators are with their lives.

  11. 11

    You dare to defy the Word of Dawkins? Surely Survival of the Fittest demands your death! Darwin is Great!

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    geoffrobinson you ask;
    So does the scientific method prove that we should only use the scientific method to believe something?

    Man’s technological progress could not have advanced as far as it has without the scientific method.
    And as darwinism clearly points out, There is a tremendous amount of deception in the world, and indeed there is a tremendous amount of deception even in science. So I would say yes it is reasonable and necessary to discern, to a certain reasonable extent, the Truth with the “scientific method”. Many “religious” people may argue that faith does not require “proof” yet I would argue that if you blindly believe in the “true God” then your faith will soon be rewarded with tangible miracles that let you know that the living God is in your life and thus proof of its truthfulness.
    I guess religion can work both ways with belief, with believing the truth coming from seeing proof, or seeing proof coming from believing truth, Yet the scientific method requires seeing proof before believing truth.

  13. 13
    Collin says:

    Bornagain,

    But the scientific method cannot test the scientific method. It rests on philosophies that themselves are not provable. Pointing to tech. advances does little to show how and to what degree science gets at truth. After all, there were inventions before the scientific method was really put into practice.

  14. 14
    magnan says:

    geoffrobinson: “So does the scientific method prove that we should only use the scientific method to believe something?”

    No. The “scientific method” itself is merely the method codified in science by which the way the world of matter and energy works is best discovered. The results over the last 200 years, especially the technological applications of science, appear to mostly verify its validity when defined this way.

    However, most scientists also ascribe to a lot of metaphysical baggage that usually accompanies this. That would be termed metaphysical naturalism, the metaphysical belief that the only things that exist are composed of matter and energy as explicated through the scientific method. In that “religious” or metaphysical belief system, one can not rationally believe in anything not discovered through the scientific method. This of course excludes all spiritual concepts and notions of a spiritual component to man.

  15. 15
    shaner74 says:

    “We’ve got to go back to the evidence and see what is true. We must favour verifiable evidence over private feeling otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.”

    There must be a fitting Bible quote to describe Dawkins and his blatant hypocrisy. Maybe someone that knows the Bible really well could post one?

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Magnan,
    I disagree with your assertion. We indeed can use the scientific method to infer to the best hypothesis even when the hypothesis is a theistic or “spiritual” one. The scientific method can even discern how the “spiritual” consciousness interacts with matter and energy and thus your assertion is wrong that the scientific method is limited to just explaining matter and energy. In fact my main gripe with materialism is that it is severely blocking research into brain/consciousness interaction.
    I would say the way you have scientific method defined smells suspiciously like methodological naturalism which is really materialism in sheep’s clothing. The scientific method, while unable to ascertain 100% certainty of truth of a hypothesis is very effective in eliminating a false hypotheisis

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    2 John 1:7

    Many people who deceive others have gone into the world. They refuse to declare that Jesus Christ came in flesh and . This is the mark of a deceiver and an antichrist.

  18. 18
    sagebrush gardener says:

    shaner74:

    There must be a fitting Bible quote…

    How about Isaiah 5:20-21?

    Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

  19. 19
    Forthekids says:

    Speaking of those atheist uniforms, it looks like PZ has been proudly wearing his out on the town. Evidently they haven’t special ordered one small enough for professor Steve Steve yet.

  20. 20
    Rude says:

    Bornagain 77:12, “Man’s technological progress could not have advanced as far as it has without the scientific method.”

    But I don’t believe there is such a thing as “the scientific method”!!

    True, as many will smilingly concede, we write up our papers as though we had followed “the method” (meaning Popper), though it’s quite likely this is not how it actually was. Knowledge advances, and this whether you’re an indigene in the Kalahari or a lab rat at Princeton, via observation, reason, and authority (the latter because no one has the wherewithal or time to do it all on his own). These are universal avenues to knowledge/science—there are no others—and they cannot be implemented without a desire and honesty to really know.

    What the Scientific Revolution was all about was not some exciting new procedure or method—it was about HONESTY and the DESIRE TO KNOW—vital contributions from Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage. This most overlooked aspect of science is under siege by Big Government Money and Militant Materialism.

    Lose the desire and honesty and there’s no methodology that can make up for it.

  21. 21
    GilDodgen says:

    We are confronted by those who deny the evidence of the real world and instead bend reality around a dogmatic belief system handed down by tradition.

    The evidence of the real world — the fine-tuning of the laws of physics and universal constants for life — suggests design and purpose in the cosmos. But some people bend reality to believe in undetectable fantasy universes, in order to explain this evidence away and promote a dogmatic belief system handed down by materialist tradition.

    The evidence of the real world is that living systems give every indication of having been designed. But some people bend reality and attempt to extrapolate a trivial process (random mutation and natural selection) that is only known to produce trivial results (like antibiotic resistance) to explain all of life’s diversity, complexity, information content, and functionally integrated machinery. They deny the evidence of the real world (that with 10^20 opportunities under severe selection pressure, only simple changes occur, and no new biologically meaningful machinery is produced) in order to bend reality around a dogmatic belief system handed down by Darwinian tradition.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    Rude you stated:
    But I don’t believe there is such a thing as “the scientific method”!!
    Yet you typed that very message on a computer that would not exist without the benefit of “the scientific method” i.e. the computer would not exist without experimentation and inference to best explanation.

  23. 23
    The Scubaredneck says:

    born,

    You are conflating the scientific method (which I take to mean Bacon’s method) with inference to the best explanation, which is a logical formulation known as abduction (as opposed to induction or deduction). While the two may be related, they are not the same thing. Indeed, Baconian science could be used to form conclusions using all three forms of reasoning.

    Others have made the point (which I will underscore) that working scientists rarely (if ever) actually rigorously follow the Baconian method. This is the point of Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. He speaks of what he calls “ordinary science” as being quite different from Baconian science. It is based on this and other points that many today suggest that the “scientific method,” while useful in teaching students about science, is likely not a practice employed in the realm of working science. While many will attempt to show the use of the scientific method post hoc, it is doubtful to me (indeed, I would contest such an assertion) that they actually followed the Baconian method in formulating their research program or designing their study.

    The Scubaredneck

  24. 24
    The Scubaredneck says:

    After reading my post, it seems a bit muddy to me so I’ll reiterate. 😉

    The main point is not that no scientist ever uses the Baconian method. The main point is that there is no such thing as “the” scientific method, as in a singular method used by all scientists that distinguishes science from non-science. Scientists employ a variety of methods depending on their goals and the limitations placed on them by their subject.

    For example, a deep-space astronomer is mostly an observer, looking at what is persent and, based on their observatons, using the process of induction to form some general principles, hypotheses and theories. Notice that this is very different from what born described as “experimentation and inference to best explanation [sic]” and is very different from how “the scientific method” is typically described and taught.

    The Scubaredneck

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    Scubaredneck,
    I use scientific method as Phillip Johnson uses it. I use it mainly to differentiate methodological naturalism (materialism) from Theism. It is very useful tool for differentiating the two philosophies under discussion on this blog with newcomers. Though I didn’t properly define in detail “the scientific method” in my earlier entries, I would argue that “the scientific method” as Phillip Johnson uses it would generally be accepted to include all methods of testing competing hypothesis against one another with discoveries, experimentation and strict logic.

  26. 26
    GilDodgen says:

    Dawkins:

    The scientific method tests with objective observation and statistical analysis.

    This is precisely what Michael Behe has done and elucidated in his latest book. Objective observation and statistical analysis demonstrate that Dawkins’ blind watchmaker does not exist. It is a figment of Dawkins’ imagination, and is therefore one of those fairy stories he so detests.

  27. 27
    The Scubaredneck says:

    born,

    When rude said that he didn’t believe that “the scientific method” exists, his post clearly stated that he meant a specific method used by all scientists. When you contested his assertion, you stated that his “computer would not exist without experimentation and inference to best explanation” (i.e. the scientific method). I fail to see how this in any way has to do with differentiating methodological naturalism from theism, as you are now claiming to mean.

    Beyond that, I am unsure what you mean by suggesting that Phil uses “scientific method” to differentiate methodological naturalism from theism. Could you please provide a quote or example of Phil’s usage on this point?

    Finally, methodological naturalism is not the same thing as materialism nor is it necessarily seperate from theism. For example, Francis Collins is a theist who, in his scientific practice, holds strictly to methodological naturalism but quite openly rejects materialism (Harris’ own example demonstrates this nicely).

    The Scubaredneck

  28. 28
    Rude says:

    Bornagain77 (22),

    “Yet you typed that very message on a computer that would not exist without the benefit of ‘the scientific method’ i.e. the computer would not exist without experimentation and inference to best explanation”

    Wrong again! I exhumed that information into the corridors of digital space-time spiritually.

    Just kidding!

    Anyway I have to agree with The ScubaRedNeck. “THE Scientific Method” is a myth! Physics is theoretical, biology is more observation and cataloging, history can operate in a Popperian sense (a theory might be disconfirmed by an old document), etc. Maybe the demarcation temptation arises not only from the urge to exclude God from our knowledge and put atheists in charge of Science, but also from the materialist’s inability to see anything as other than a mechanical process.

    Also let me suggest that we do the uninitiated no service by muddying matters in the interest of simplicity. Identifying the designer, for example, does not lie “outside science” while detecting design sits squarely within. The point is that these are two separate problems. The one—detecting design—is easily amenable to empirical methods, the other—identifying the designer—means inference and reaching out across disciplines, maybe ultimately an appeal to authority, namely Scripture which, by the way, would not be “unscientific” providing we have logical and empirical reasons to trust that authority.

    No one that I know is saying that ID is opposed to identifying the Designer. But that’s a much bigger and more complex issue. If we settle that it’s Abraham’s God, then from the study of nature can we establish whether it’s the God of the Jews or of the Muslims or the Christian Trinity? It does no good to say that this can never be answered and should never be asked, but should we demand an official answer immediately (one we are not competent to give) and then narrow the movement to the few that will agree? ID asks the biggest question of all: Are we the product of intelligence? I really cherish the fact that ID lets us join shoulders across faiths and sects and with honest men and women outside of any faith or sect—anyone who wouldn’t mind the answer to that greatest of all questions to be “yes!” And let us also embrace those who aren’t sure we have found the answer but who would not forbid us from asking the question.

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Scubareneck I found this paper on the web by Johnson;

    http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/wid.htm

    This is an excerpt

    Naturalistic philosophy has worked out a strategy to prevent this problem from arising: it labels naturalism as science and theism as religion. The former is then classified as knowledge, and the latter as mere belief. The distinction is of critical importance, because only knowledge can be objectively valid for everyone; belief is valid only for the believer, and should never be passed off as knowledge. The student who thinks that 2 and 2 make 5, or that water is not made up of hydrogen and oxygen, or that the theory of evolution is not true, is not expressing a minority viewpoint. He or she is ignorant, and the job of education is to cure that ignorance and to replace it with knowledge. Students in the public schools are thus to be taught at an early age that “evolution is a fact,” and as time goes by they will gradually learn that evolution means naturalism.

    This is one of Philip Johnson’s first papers on the issue; From this paper on he develops the argument to its maturity in subsequent books “Darwin on Trial” & “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds” in which he separates, what you disparagingly call, the scientific method from the philosophy of naturalism (aka methodological naturalism) He writes extensively about the necessity of separating the definition of science from this presumption of methodological naturalism. And I think you may agree that we are now at a level in science where trying to explain the consciousness of our brain to natural explanations (energy and matter interactions) will only impede breakthroughs.
    In summation of his arguments I can say that he clearly emphasizes that the scientific method must be divorced from the philosophy of materialism (philosophical naturalism) in order to defeat darwinism.

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    You also state:
    methodological naturalism is not the same thing as materialism nor is it necessarily seperate from theism.
    I argue that For the vast majority of people it is the same.

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    Scubareneck,
    I would like for you to look at how I develop this idea in this paper when I am free to consider other than “natural” explanations i.e. when I am free to consider Theistic explanations;

    The Electron;

    :performs something called a quantum leap, which means it disappears from one spot; then, instantaneously appears at another spot without traversing the space in between.

    :sometimes “blinks off” which means, for a short time, it just disappears before reappearing.

    :has actually never been seen; only the effects of an electron have been witnessed.

    :circles the nucleus of the atom billions of times in a millionth of a second; giving the atom the “appearance” of being solid.

    :acts like a particle sometimes; sometimes, like a wave, depending on how we look at it. The electron also acts like it knows how we were going to look at it before we actually look at it.

    :absolutely refuses to act like a solid particle; the best scientists can do for us is give us the likelihood that an electron will be in a certain place at a certain time; for you see, on the quantum level of the electron, anything is possible; but nothing is certain, as far as location is concerned.

    :has been proven by quantum non-locality to have the ability to instantaneously communicate its state of being anywhere in the universe. This ability defies the speed of light and also gives scientists the spooky impression that the electron may somehow be aware of everything that is going on everywhere in the universe.

    Mark 10:27
    But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

    These actions of one of the most foundational “material” building block of the atom, the electron, as well as the actions of all the other sub-atomic building blocks studied, should be surprising to most everyone. What is surprising about these characteristics is that they are defying our basic notion that there should be a solid, indestructible “material” building block in the atom, somewhere. Solid “material” objects simply do not disappear, then reappear; neither do they instantaneously move from one spot to another spot, not to mention instantaneous communication everywhere in the universe. Most people, from grade school forward, are aware that atoms are comprised mostly of empty space; yet, to find that there are no truly solid objects anywhere in the atom, obeying the three-dimensional constraints that we are subject to is a bit of an eye-opener to say the least. Since only objects which have their basis in a higher dimension can transcend boundaries imposed on objects of a lower dimension, This is obvious and compelling proof that the electron, as well as all other atomic “particles”, have their basis in a higher dimension; so they are able to seemingly “miraculously” transcend the three-dimensional constraints we are subject to.

    “Atoms are not things”, Werner Heisenberg, author of the “Uncertainty Principle in Quantum Mechanics”

    Though most of mainstream science treats electrons as point particles, because of mathematical convenience, it is now apparent the electron is far more than just a simple point particle. The “solid” physical reality of the electron is obviously based on transcendent principles we only associate with the invisible spiritual realm. The electron is capable of many things, that are clearly, not possible for a simple “solid” point particles. Thus, the hard scientific evidence offers compelling and logical proof that what we refer to as the spiritual realm is, indeed, the ultimate source of our physical “material” realm. Since we can’t seem to find anything that we can define as truly solid in the foundational building blocks of this material realm, let’s look to the spiritual realm for something that we can define as truly solid. Spiritually speaking, it may be said that the most solid, immovable and indestructible “thing” in this universe is the truth in, and of, the unchanging universal constants that govern the multitude of complex interactions and forces in the atom. Since the unchanging “universal truths” in the atom are such a vital component of the atom’s reality, let’s examine what truth really is and see if we can establish that “invisible” truth is, indeed, something that can be proven to be a real and independent component of the atom. So let’s see if we can find this invisible and “spiritual” truth in a simple rock.

    John 18:38
    Pilate said to Him, ”What is Truth?”

    Few people would try to argue a rock is not real. Someone who would argue that it is not real could bang his head on the rock; until he was satisfied the rock is real. A blind man in a darkened cave would feel the rock hitting his head; just as well as a sighted man who saw the rock coming. The rock is real and its reality is not dependent on our observation (John G. Cramer, Breakthrough Physics, 1997). Having stated the obvious, let’s look at what the rock is actually made of.
    A rock is composed of three basic ingredients: energy, force and truth. From Einstein’s famous equation (e=mc2) we know that all the matter (solids, liquids and gases) of the universe are made of energy. This energy is “woven” by many, impressively, complex interactions of the different forces into the atoms of the rock. The amount of energy woven by these various forces into the rock is tremendous. This energy that is woven into the rock is clearly demonstrated by the detonation of atom . This woven energy is found in each and every individual “particle” of every atom in the many trillions of atoms in the rock. Woven energy is the “material” of the rock. It is what gives the rock its appearance of being solid. Yet there is another ingredient which went into making the rock, that is often neglected to be looked at as a “real” and independent component of the rock. It is the transcendent, invisible and spiritual component of truth. If truth did not exist, the rock would not exist. This is as obvious as the fact that the rock would not exist if the energy and/or force did not exist. It is the truth in and of the universal and logical laws, that govern the energy and force of the rock, that enable the rock to be a rock in the first place.
    Is truth independent and nt over energy and force? Yes, of course! There are many philosophical truths that are not dependent on energy or force for them to still be true. Yet energy and force are always subject to what truth tells them they can and cannot do. That is, to say, the rock cannot exist without truth; yet truth can exist without the rock. Energy and force must obey the truth that is in the universal laws above them. Since truth dictates what energy and/or force can or cannot do, truth tes energy and force. Energy and force do not te truth. If all energy and/or force in the universe stopped existing, the universal truths that ruled the laws in and of the energy and force in the rock would still be logically true. Thus, truth can be said to be eternal or timeless by nature. The logical truths that rule the rock existed before the rock existed. The logical truths that rule the rock exists while the rock exists. The logical truths that rule the rock will exist after the rock is long gone. This fact of the stability and timelessness of truth is verified by many exhaustive experiments that confirm the many individual universal constants (truths) of physics do not and have not varied from their precise values since the creation of the universe. It is also obvious and verified that truth is omni-present. The truth that is in the rock on this world is the same expression of truth that is in a rock on the other side of the universe, on another world. Thus, truth is present everywhere at all times. It has been scientifically proven by quantum non-locality; that, whenever an electron, that has been entangled, is detected in an experiment, this “invisible information of a truth” is instantaneously communicated; and the appropriate adjustment is instantaneously made to its corresponding electron concerning this reality of truth; no matter where the corresponding electron is in the universe (John G. Cramer, Breakthrough Physics 1997). Thus, truth appears to be “aware” of everything that goes on in the universe, instantaneously. This ability happens to be a vital characteristic of being omniscient (all-knowing). This instantaneous communication of a truth to all points in the universe also happens to defy the speed of light; a “truth” that both energy and gravity happen to be subject to. This scientific proof of quantum non-locality also proves that truth is not a “passive” component of this universe. Invisible, spiritual truth is the “active” nt component of this universe. Invisible truth is not a passive set of different logical rules and laws. Invisible, spiritual, truth is the active “living governor” of this universe that keeps all other “material” components of this universe in line. The hard evidence of quantum non-locality also proves that “spiritual” truth is indeed a “real”, tangible and independent component as far as the physical reality of this universe is concerned. In other words, spiritual, invisible truth is proven to be a real and tangible component of the universe that has dominion over everything in the universe by repeatable scientific experiment.
    Let’s see what we have so far: Truth is eternal (it has always existed and will always exist); Truth is omni-present (it is present everywhere in the universe); Truth is omni-potent (it has dominion over everything else in the universe); Truth has a vital characteristic of omniscience (it appears to know what is happening everywhere in the universe); and Truth is “active” (it is aware of what is happening and instantaneously makes appropriate physical adjustments wherever it needs to in the universe). Surprisingly, being eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and active, are some of the very characteristics that are used by theologians to describe God. Thus, by the rules of logic, truth is the “God” of this material universe. Though God is far more active than just the universal and unchanging truths we find in and of the logical laws of the atom of the rock, the evidence we find in quantum non-locality, and the demonstrated stability of universal constants over the age of the universe, does, indeed, give repeatable and concrete evidence that the truth of the spiritual realm is indeed a real and independent component of this universe that has dominion over all of the components of the material realm. It is interesting to note that the “spooky” actions we find in quantum mechanics and the established fact of spiritual, invisible, truths dominion over the visible material realm does not, in any way, hinder miracles from being possible in our lives. Especially when we live and speak in accordance with the Spirit of truth.

    John 15:26
    “the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
    John 4:24
    “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  32. 32
    The Scubaredneck says:

    born,

    You wrote:

    …I argue that For the vast majority of people [methodological naturalism and materialism are] the same…

    For a lot of people, ID and creationism are the same, but this does not make it so. Truth is not determined by poll.

    Materialism is a philosophical position that holds that the only thing that exists is the material universe. Methodological naturalism (MN) is not a philosophical position but is an guide to practice. Specifically, MN entails a committment to conduct the practice of science as if naturalism (or materialism) were true. This affectively limits scientific explanations to naturalistic explanations.

    Materialism need not be true (or even believed to be true) for one to hold to MN. I offered Francis Collins as a clear example of this. One can believe in a personal God and even believe that this personal God might be actively involved in the universe (a rough definition of theism) and still hold that scientific explanations ought to be limited to naturalistic, mechanistic explanations.

    Second, in your Phil Johnson excerpt, you are conflating “the scientific method” (which is a specific idea based on the writings of Sir Francis Bacon) with the practice of science (which includes a variety of methods, Bacon’s being one of them). Phil’s main point is that most scientists practice science (by whatever methods they wish) within the constraints of MN. This allows only Darwinism (or some other naturalistic explanation) as a possible explanation for the origin and development of life. This has nothing at all to do with “the scientific method” sensu Bacon. Nor does it have anything to do with whether one chooses to believe, as Collins does, in a personal God.

    The Scubaredneck

  33. 33
    j says:

    Richard Dawkins:

    Sceptical rational enquiry is always the best approach… Reason has liberated us from superstition and has given us centuries of progress. We abandon it at our peril.

    __________

    Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1976), p. 49:

    Brains may be regarded as analogous in function to computers.

    __________

    Stephen M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, pp 213-219:

    In 1961, John R. Lucas, a philosopher at Oxford University, set forth an argument, based on Gödel’s Theorem, to the effect that the human mind cannot be a computer program… Now I will explain the Lucas argument. First, imagine that someone shows me a program, P, that has buit into it the ability to do simple arithmetic and logic. And imagine that I know this program to be consistent in its operations, and that I know all the rules by which it operates. Then, as proven by Gödel, I can find a statement in arithmetic that the program P cannot prove (or disprove) but which I, following Gödel’s reasoning, can show to be a true statement of arithmetic… This means that I have done something that that computer cannot do. I can show that [the statement] is a true statement, whereas the program P cannot do so using the rules built into it.

    Now so far, this is no big deal. A programmer could easily add a few things to the program — more axioms and more rules of inference — so that in its modified form it can prove [the statement]… [But] I can [also] find a Gödel proposition for [the revised program]… This race could continue forever. I can keep “outwitting” the programs, but the programmer can just keep improving the programs. So, we have not proven anything… Suppose, [Lucas now] says, that I myself am a computer program… Call that program H, for “human.” And…suppose that I am shown that program… Then, assuming that I know H to be a consistent program, I can construct a statement in arithmetic…that cannot be proven or disproven by H, but that I, using Gödel’s reasoning, can show to be true.

    But this means we have been led to a blatant contradiction. It is impossible for H to be unable to prove a result that I am able to prove, because H is, by assumption, me. I cannot “outwit”myself in the sense of being able to prove something that I cannot prove… So let us look at the assumptions. There were four: (a) I am a computer program, insofar as doing mathematics is concerned; (b) I know that program is consistent; (c) I can learn the structure of that program in complete detail; (d) I have the ability to go through the steps of constructing the Gödel proposition of that program. If we can show that assumptions b, c, and d are valid, then we will have shown that I am not merely a computer program. [Barr goes on to describe arguments for the validity of c and d, including Roger Penrose’s addition to Lucas’ argument.]

    …The most popular objection to the Lucas-Penrose argument seems to be that human beings are inconsistent computer programs, or at least do not know themselves to be consistent. At first glance, this seems incontestable. After all, who is it that has never reasoned inconsistently or made mistakes in mathematics?… [But, as Lucas observed,] “human beings…do discriminate between…true and…false statements… Human beings, although not perfectly consistent, are not so much inconsistent as fallible. A fallible but self-correcting machine would still be subject to Gödel’s results. Only a fundamentally inconsistent machine would escape.”

    …It used to be that those who rejected religious tenets [such as the idea of a “soul”] usually did so in the name of human reason. They called themselves “rationalists.” But the new kind of skepticism is willing, in order to debunk the spiritual in man, to call into question human reason itself. According to this view, we are not even supposed to be able to trust ourselves about the simplest truths of arithmetic.

    (Psst. Richard. As a materialist, you’re not supposed to believe in reason anymore.) 🙂

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks for the correction Scubaredneck.,
    I will be careful to use the term “practice of science” and “scientific method” in their different and correct contexts.
    I am sorry for any confusion my lack of solid definition caused.
    A solid definition of science allows proper separation of the philosophies prevailing in science. In the main focus of this blog, It is extremely important to separate materialistic Dogma as the only viable explanation in science. Especially in this day and age when science is screaming for rational explanations that go beyond materialistic (energy/matter) explanatory powers (as in gravity and consciousness/brain interaction).
    Thanks again for the correction.

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is another article from Phillip Johnson

    http://www.origins.org/article.....eling.html

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    I like this quote at the end of Phillip Johnson’s paper;

    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. When the public understands this clearly, Lewontin’s Darwinism will start to move out of the science curriculum and into the department of intellectual history, where it can gather dust on the shelf next to Lewontin’s Marxism

  37. 37
    John Kelly says:

    Science and Religion do not threaten each other; they are merely complementary in purpose. It is believers and non-believers that threaten each other. Whoever this Dawkins character is, he is a foaming idiot. Ignore him. It is inevitable that this type of reasoning from people like this will fall off to the way-side. It’s not a question of “If”, it is a question of “When”. Those who understand Intelligent Design also understand that the ability to predict the future is a function of the Intelligence within the Design; therefore, I can confidently say there is no need to worry about peoples such as this. They had their time, but their future is already cut off. Watch their faces change with the decline in force of their arguments over the next couple of years. When they are reveling in defeat, they will become living proof of how Natural Selection truly works….as a subordinate of the Intelligence within.

    🙂

  38. 38
    Joseph says:

    The scientific method tests with objective observation and statistical analysis.

    There is no way to objectively test the premise that humans and chimps shared a common ancestor sometime in the past.

    As for the evidence, well that demonstrates wobbling stability.

  39. 39
    magnan says:

    Thanks Scubaredneck for your lucid analysis of what really are materialism/metaphysical naturalism, methodological naturalism, and the “scientific method”. I would only comment that it seems to me the de facto institutional definition of “science” and the “scientific method” in our society does in fact assume reductionist materialism or metaphysical naturalism, not methodological naturalism. This entails that the scientific method is the primary approach and is constrained to only apply to material causes and effects that can be predicted from hypothesis or theory and observed instrumentally. Abductive reasoning and other methods are applied (though not usually mentioned) but are also constrained within this limited definition of science. In practice amongst the intelligentsia in our society anything else is not “science” and is pejoratively considered metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.

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