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Historian hostile to ID has a new expanded edition of book out

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Ron Numbers tells Salon,

But the leaders of the intelligent design movement, beginning with Berkeley, Calif., lawyer Philip Johnson, have wanted to re-sacralize science. They want to ditch the commitment to naturalism and allow for supernatural explanations. That’s the most radical revolution I can imagine in doing science. And many Christians who are scientists don’t want to do that.

Which is rubbish, but just the sort of rubbish the Salon-ites would believe.

Put another way, if re-sacralizing science means that beliefs about capital-E Evolution, higher dimensional stars, hypothetical Urzymes, and ghost lineages must be entertained because otherwise the universe would have to seem like it was designed …

… well then, a reasonable person should prefer to think the universe was designed.

Why buy a membership in the latest crackpot-ology when it is sure to be superseded by a different one before your dues have run out? Why not just accept the obvious? – O’Leary for News

13 Replies to “Historian hostile to ID has a new expanded edition of book out

  1. 1
    goodusername says:

    Which is rubbish

    Which parts of that statement are rubbish? Even the About section of this site states that “intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution”.

  2. 2
    Bruce David says:

    Two comments:

    First, I don’t think the quote is actually that far off. I just recently read the piece in the DI website explaining the Wedge Document, and if I have read it right what it says is that the DI wants to reverse the commitment to naturalism, aka materialism, not only in science but also in the society at large, and replace it with a theistic perspective.

    Secondly, the “just the sort of rubbish the Salon-ites would believe” comment is of course a not-so-veiled reference to liberal thinking. I don’t want to get into a discussion of the merits of conservatism vs liberalism, but I would like to point something out. Most of the posters and conservative commenters here at UD divide the country into two camps—the liberals (atheist, Darwinist, moral relativists, anti-business, and generally if not bad, at least stupid) and the conservatives (Christian, ID proponents, believers in objective morality, anti-big government, and generally good).

    And in general, the atheist/materialist liberals agree with this perception, except of course they see themselves as more intelligent and morally superior.

    I wish to report that there is a third large group in this country, in which I include myself. For want of a better term, you might call us the New-Agers. We are theists but in most cases reject all dogmatic religious forms (although some of us are drawn to esoteric forms of some of those religions, such as Sufism, Yogananda’s work, or Tibetan Buddhism). We generally reject the notion that there is objective (ie God given) morality. Rather, we focus on love and acting from love. Most of us believe in reincarnation and the possibility of psychic phenomena like astral travel, telepathy, and precognition. And we tend as a group to be politically liberal. We are mixed when it comes to whether we reject Darwinism. Some of us are well-known, like Rupert Sheldrake and Wayne Dyer, but most of us do not appear in public much.

    And there are a lot of us. Millions.

  3. 3
    Blue_Savannah says:

    They want to ditch the commitment to naturalism and allow for supernatural explanations. That’s the most radical revolution I can imagine in doing science.

    Gee, it makes you wonder how those great men of GOD could ever have given us the modern scientific method. God and science are not mutually exclusive, in fact, it’s because of GOD that we have any hope of even understanding this universe and everything in it.

    Anyway, here’s my rhetorical questions for Ron Numbers:

    What IF there IS a supernatural explanation for some things? If we negate that possibility from the beginning, what ‘truth’ would science provide? Why can’t we allow science to point us in that direction? When a teacher suspects a child copied from another child during a text, that teacher will compare the wrong answers on both tests to see if they match. The reason is the odds against them both getting the same questions wrong with the same wrong answers, are small.

    So if the odds are incredibly small that the finely-tuned universe came into existence by chance, why ignore that logic and reasoning simply because our scientific method has limits??? Science never declared that EVERYTHING will have a natural cause and be subject to the scientific method. How can darwinists prove life started by random chance “X” amount of years ago? They can’t. What they are pushing is their religion of atheism, not science.

    Who are we cheating but ourselves if we turn a blind eye and deaf ear to what the evidence shows?

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    LEWONTIN, NYRB Jan 1997: >> the problem is to get them [- the public] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, 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 [= all of reality for a priori materialists] , 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. [if you think this is quote mined cf the fuller clip and notes as linked] >>

    PROVINE, U Tenn, Feb 1998: >> Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists [–> i.e. a consequence of this ideologically loaded theory is amorality, thence might and manipulation make right nihilism]; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent [–> i.e. reason, mind, responsibility and morality are dead] . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . >> [–> in short this theory can serve as a scientific “cover” for a sobering sociocultural agenda, one that sober minded people will want to question, starting from the a priori materialism laden scientific claims and implied ideological redefinition of science]

    JOHNSON, First Things, Nov 1997: >> 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. ,b>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.] >>

    A bit of context.

    KF

  5. 5
    Bruce David says:

    KF, re. #4:

    a consequence of this ideologically loaded theory is amorality, thence might and manipulation make right nihilism

    You keep asserting this as if it were a fact, KF, but it is clearly false. Atheists as a group are no more amoral than any other group. I personally know atheists, including my brother, who are kind, loving, gentle beings.

    Why is this? The evidence is pretty strong that having an “ultimate foundation” for ethics is pretty much irrelevant to how any particular individual actually behaves. And clearly, a society being based on Christian belief is no guarantee of behavior that anyone living now would call moral. Examples abound: Many if not most slave holders in the early years of this country were Christians. The conquistadors were conquering new lands for the glory of God and visited untold suffering and misery on native populations in His name. The Spanish Inquisition was executed according to what was claimed to be God’s will. The crusades were also.

    If having an ultimate foundation for ethics has little effect on behavior, then why is it that some people behave in ways that most would call moral and others don’t? Here is my answer: We are each made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore it is an essential part of our nature to be loving towards all beings, human or otherwise. Some people are far more in touch with this essential nature than others, and this apparently has very little to do with their particular metaphysical beliefs. I believe that we live many lifetimes on earth, and through those lifetimes we grow spiritually. Those who of us who have been here a lot will naturally be more spiritually advanced than those who are relative newcomers. And the state of one’s spiritual advancement is not very well correlated with one’s metaphysical position. Atheists can be relatively advanced souls and firm believers in some religious tradition can be relatively immature spiritually.

    But in general, the way we behave is a product of how in touch we are with our essential nature and has very little to do with whether we believe that we have an “ultimate foundation” for our ethics.

  6. 6
    Jerad says:

    Many if not most slave holders in the early years of this country were Christians. The conquistadors were conquering new lands for the glory of God and visited untold suffering and misery on native populations in His name. The Spanish Inquisition was executed according to what was claimed to be God’s will. The crusades were also.

    Including the Albigensian and Waldensian crusades wherein armies of the Catholic Church killed thousands of other European Christians with whom they had a purported disagreement in their particular beliefs.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    BD: I am speaking of the theory with worldview implications. And what I say is nothing new, Dawkins in 95 said it in Sci Am. There is no is in the foundations of evolutionary materialism that can ground ought. People, being actually morally governed cannot en bloc be amoral, but such theories undermine civil society. KF

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad, you need some history lessons to set a few things straight. KF

  9. 9
    Bruce David says:

    KF, re. #7:

    There is no is in the foundations of evolutionary materialism that can ground ought. People, being actually morally governed cannot en bloc be amoral,. . .

    Your second sentence renders the first one irrelevant.

    . . .but such theories undermine civil society.

    You keep saying this, but there is no evidence that it is true. There are a number of secular societies in Europe today that are doing just fine, thank you very much.

  10. 10
    Bruce David says:

    Also, I think Japan qualifies as an essentially secular society that is basically humane as well.

  11. 11
    Barb says:

    Bruce David @ 5:

    I personally know atheists, including my brother, who are kind, loving, gentle beings.

    Anecdotal evidence is pretty meaningless.

    And again at 10:

    Also, I think Japan qualifies as an essentially secular society that is basically humane as well.

    They are religious to a degree but one of the major religions there is Buddhism, which does not require belief in God. Secularism does not guarantee a Utopian paradise: witness Stalin and Lenin’s Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Rwanda in 1994. All were secular societies, but none were humane.

  12. 12
    Bruce David says:

    Barb, re. #11:

    Anecdotal evidence is pretty meaningless.

    It isn’t anecdotal evidence; it’s a counter-example, one of many, to KF’s statement that “a consequence of this ideologically loaded theory is amorality, thence might and manipulation make right nihilism.”

    Secularism does not guarantee a Utopian paradise: witness Stalin and Lenin’s Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Rwanda in 1994. All were secular societies, but none were humane.

    I did not claim that secularism guarantees anything. I merely noted that it does not inevitably “undermine civil society”, as KF claims.

  13. 13
    Jerad says:

    Jerad, you need some history lessons to set a few things straight. KF

    Such as? Did I say something that was incorrect?

    The Albigensian and Waldensian crusades were examples of the Catholic Church’s intolerance of dissenting views. AND a convenient excuse to cover a political power struggle I suspect. Either way, they killed a lot of fellow Christians. Very sad. At least they’ve stopped doing that!!

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