Intelligent Design

Materialist Fideism on Display

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fi·de·ism  [fee-dey-iz-uhm, fahy-dee-] noun, “exclusive reliance in religious matters upon faith, with consequent rejection of appeals to science or philosophy.”

Fideism is usually associated with religious fundamentalism.  But the materialists have their own fundamentalists, and in a comment to my previous post, a materialist who goes by the handle JLAfan2001 put up a comment that contains one of the purest assertions of materialist fideism I have ever seen.  I mean this guy despises God so much that he refuses to capitalize the word even if it begins a sentence.

His faith is very strong, but let’s see if we can shake it just a little (I am not hopeful, but I’m willing to try).

Here’s the comment:

There is no scientific evidence that god acts in the laws of chemistry, physics or biology. Science has all natural explanations for them. That being the case, where is the evidence that god exists?

Jon [Garvey], My understanding is that you are a theistic evolutionist in the classical sense meaning that you beleieve god directs evolution as part of the creation process. Where is the evidence for that? All the data is pointing to evolution as being random with no direction. It would be the same with the other sciences. god doesn’t form or move planets, gravity does. god doesn’t form species or organisms, evolution does. We don’t know how DNA was formed at the moment but that is a matter of time. We see amino acids, nucleotides, proteins etc being formed by nature. It stands to reason that nature can assemble them into the first life. We just haven’t figured out how yet. When that time comes, creationism and ID will be destroyed so better to get off the religion train now.

“There is no scientific evidence that god acts in the laws of chemistry, physics or biology.”

JLA, where, exactly, do you think the laws of chemistry, physics or biology come from?  Hold on to your hat.  This is going to surprise you.  The question “where do the laws of science come from” is NOT a question that can be addressed by science.  It is a metaphysical question.  I have an answer to that question.  My answer may be right; it may be wrong.  But at least it is an answer.  Do you have an answer to that question?  Your comment makes me suspect you’ve never even thought of the question, much less tried to answer it.

“That being the case, where is the evidence that god exists?”

Well, as we have already seen, “that” is not the case.  So your question is incoherent.

“Jon [Garvey], My understanding is that you are a theistic evolutionist in the classical sense meaning that you beleieve god directs evolution as part of the creation process. Where is the evidence for that?”

I will let Jon respond, if he chooses, to questions directed to him.  I am not the one to defend theistic evolution.

“god doesn’t form or move planets, gravity does.”

JLA, assertions are not arguments.  Notice that you do not make a single argument for your position or try to support it with evidence.  You simply assume your conclusion (materialism is true) and proceed to make assertions based on that assumption.  You talk of “gravity” is if it were a causal agent.  It is not.  It is a model that describes observed regularities.  Appeals to gravity explain at one level of Aristotelian causation, and not others.   Maybe you are not interested in questions about final cause.  That’s OK.  Some people just aren’t curious.  But don’t pretend the question does not exist simply because you have no interest in exploring it.

Also, again, do you believe gravity can account for its own existence?

“god doesn’t form species or organisms, evolution does.”

You cannot point to a single species that was observed to have been formed by evolution.  Note that the key word in my last sentence is “observed.”  Neo-Darwinian Evolution (NDE) rests on inferences, not observations.  The observations concerning the creative power of natural selection have not been very helpful for your position.  Certainly natural selection can account for minor changes within an already existing species (finch beaks, antibiotic resistance, wing color).  It has been, however, spectacularly unsuccessful in observed instances of creating birds, microbes and moths in the first place.

You might respond, as many do, that, “Evolution is a fact, fact, fact!  Without the slightest doubt, the biosphere is different now from what it was in previous ages.”  Well, if by “evolution” all you mean is “the biosphere is different now from what it was in previous ages,” you get no argument from me.  That is an interesting datum.  But the really interesting question is how it came to be different, and you have no right to assume your conclusion on that point (i.e., that it is different because of NDE).  I might be interested in arguments attempting to demonstrate that NDE accounts for the data.  Your bald unsupported assertions bore me.

“We don’t know how DNA was formed at the moment . . .”

You are a master of understatement.  Dr. Eugene Koonin, a highly respected microbiologist and veteran researcher in the origin of life field (not an ID proponent), is more candid in his 2011 book, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution:

when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life…these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle.

“but that is a matter of time.”

Your faith is strong young one.  Blind leaps of faith like yours always strike me as ironic, coming as they do from someone who would undoubtedly insist that they are moved by nothing but calm dispassionate reason.  I hope you’ll keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to sneer at a religious fundamentalist.

“We see amino acids, nucleotides, proteins etc being formed by nature.”

Well, yes and no.  If by this statement you mean that we see cells replicating themselves, then the statement is obviously true, even trivial.  If by this you mean that we “see” how the process got started in the first place, then it is just as obviously false.  We have seen no such thing.

“It stands to reason that nature can assemble them into the first life.”

Your reasoning goes like this:

We see a process currently in operation.

It stands to reason that unguided natural processes can account for the origin of that process.

Do you not see that your conclusion is a massive non sequitur?  Your conclusion is not even related to your premise.  Far less does it follow from it.  Suppose I took you to a super sophisticated automobile assembly plant in which all of the cars are assembled by robots.  Suppose I said, “we see this process in operation.  It stands to reason that unguided natural processes can account for its origin.”  You would rightly think I was insane.

You might respond that the cell is different from a super sophisticated automobile assembly plant, and you would be right.  The cell is more sophisticated by several orders of magnitude.

“We just haven’t figured out how yet.”

See “your faith is strong” above.

“When that time comes, creationism and ID will be destroyed so better to get off the religion train now.”

News flash JLA:  We are all on the religion train if by the “religion train” you mean “faith commitments.”  You have placed your faith in metaphysical naturalism.  Sadly, metaphysical naturalism is certainly, without the slightest doubt, as a matter of pure logic, either one of two things: (1) false or (2) incoherent.  Let’s see why:

Metaphysical naturalism asserts that nature is a closed whole and that nothing outside of nature (i.e., God) exists.  JLA ask yourself this question:  Why is there something instead of nothing?

My answer to that question is that something outside of nature (a super-natural, uncaused self-existent Being) created nature.  I choose answer (1), i.e., metaphysical naturalism is false.  I say the very existence of nature points to something beyond nature.

How are you going to answer the question?  Nothing comes from nothing.  To suggest that something comes from nothing and can account for its own existence is a logical absurdity.  The statement “there is a natural cause of nature” is incoherent.  Are you going to choose (2), or are you going to stick your fingers in your ears and yell “la la la la la I’m not listening”?  I ask, because, metaphorically speaking, that is what most naturalists do when faced with the logical incoherence of their position.

6 Replies to “Materialist Fideism on Display

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    Do I hear a squeaky voice from the vicinity of JLAfan2001 mutter, ‘Pass…’

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    JLA, assertions are not arguments. Notice that you do not make a single argument for your position or try to support it with evidence.

    Apparently just another ‘true skeptic.’

  3. 3

    We see amino acids, nucleotides, proteins etc being formed by nature.

    One might ask, how do you know what you’re seeing is “by nature”?

    Fool! Because there’s a credit roll after the viewing, “Proteins constructed by Natural Forms & Processes, Inc.”.

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    No. There’s a lot of confusion about that at the moment, WJM. There’s a case going on in the courts at the moment.

    Natural Forms & Processes, Inc. and Mother Nature Global Inc are counter-suing each other over which has copyright in the name, ‘Nature’.

    However, with Mother Nature’s enormous ‘clout’ (you know she patented evolution, don’t you?) NF&P looks as if they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.

  5. 5
    humbled says:

    Hmmm. I assume this is the same JLA who admitted that:

    “..I apologize for the tone of my initial post. I’m not really a Darwinist as my messages would imply. I’m just a struggling christian who is trying to come to terms with the evidence for evolution. I thought that the ENCODE results was a blow to Darwinism. When I read this post, it literally made me sick to my stomach because I thought you were saying that it turns out ID was wrong on the ENCODE findings.”

    The full discussion, along with some much needed schooling from Dr Jay Wile back in Sep 2012, can be found at the Proslogion blog here:

    http://blog.drwile.com/?p=8766

  6. 6
    humbled says:

    Sadly, it seems JLA has lost his way.

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