Biology Intelligent Design Philosophy Physics theism

Why do some biologists hate theism more than physicists do?

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British physicist John Polkinghorne thinks that biologists see a more disorderly universe:

I think two effects produce this hostility. One is that biologists see a much more perplexing, disorderly, and painful view of reality than is presented by the austere and beautiful order of fundamental physics. . . . There is, however, a second effect at work of much less intellectual respectability. Biology, through the unravelling of the molecular basis of genetics, has scored an impressive victory, comparable to physics’ earlier elucidation of the motions of the solar system through the operation of universal gravity. The post-Newtonian generation was intoxicated with the apparent success of universal mechanism and wrote books boldly proclaiming that man is a machine. Dan Peterson, “Why does hostility to theism tend to be more pronounced among some biologists than among physicists?” at Patheos

He thinks they’ve got another think coming. But to what extent do some biologists hate a lot of things generally? Consider, for example, “PZ Myers blows off attack on Bret Weinstein” or “Priceless: A Plea To Son With Down Syndrome To Be Tolerant Of Dawkins” These guys’ world probably isn;t that much messier than ours; it’s more a question of focus in some cases.

The top of the comment stream features Michael Behe.

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6 Replies to “Why do some biologists hate theism more than physicists do?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Of course, it could have something to do with how the theory of evolution has been under relentless attack by the creationist wing of Christianity more or less since its inception. It’s not the sort of thing to predispose you to think favorably of them. To be fair, though, the only reason relativity theory and quantum mechanics were spared was because, at least in the beginning, nobody knew what the hell physicists were talking about.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:


    I think this is far more to the point, as has been brought to your attention ever so many times:

    . . . to put a correct [–> Just who here presume to cornering the market on truth and so demand authority to impose?] view of the universe into people’s heads

    [==> as in, “we” the radically secularist elites have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . where of course “view” is patently short for WORLDVIEW . . . and linked cultural agenda . . . ]

    we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world [–> “explanations of the world” is yet another synonym for WORLDVIEWS; the despised “demon[ic]” “supernatural” being of course an index of animus towards ethical theism and particularly the Judaeo-Christian faith tradition], the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    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 [–> “we” are the dominant elites], 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 . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], 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 [= the evo-mat establishment] 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 . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]


  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky states that the reason why “Some Biologists Hate Theism More Than Physicists Do” is because,

    “Of course, it could have something to do with how the theory of evolution has been under relentless attack by the creationist wing of Christianity more or less since its inception. To be fair, though, the only reason relativity theory and quantum mechanics were spared was because, at least in the beginning, nobody knew what the hell physicists were talking about.”

    Seversky is echoing the false warfare thesis between science and religion that was invented by evolutionists to frame the origins debate in their favor

    God, Science, and Atheism – (The Christian birth of modern science, The fallacious warfare thesis) (Dec. 2015) – video

    The Two Guys to Blame for the Myth of Constant Warfare between Religion and Science – February 27, 2015
    Excerpt: Timothy Larsen, a Christian historian who specializes in the nineteenth century, notes:
    The so-called “war” between faith and learning, specifically between orthodox Christian theology and science, was manufactured during the second half of the nineteenth century. It is a construct that was created for polemical purposes.
    No one deserves more blame for this stubborn myth than these two men:
    Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), the founding president of Cornell University, and
    John William Draper (1811-1882), professor of chemistry at the University of New York.

    The Importance of the Warfare Thesis – Cornelius Hunter, PhD in Biophysics – July 26, 2015
    Excerpt: Historians have understood for the better part of a century now that this Warfare Thesis (between science and religion) is a false history. It was constructed by evolutionists to frame the origins debate in their favor. In fact the conflict is the exactly the opposite—it is between the metaphysical foundation of evolutionary thought and science. That metaphysical foundation of naturalism is unyielding and unbending, and it makes no sense on the science. It is the evolutionists who have a conflict between their religious beliefs and science. The Warfare Thesis is an attempt to turn the tables and turn the attention away from the obvious problems with evolutionary thought.
    Evolutionists say that their skeptics suffer from bad religion and bad science. In fact, the metaphysical foundation of naturalism is not biblical (in spite of the fact that it comes from Christians), and evolutionary theory is not scientific. Science does not indicate that the world spontaneously arose.,,,
    Clear scientific evidence for evolution? Abundant genetic and fossil evidence for evolution? Yes, the scientific evidence is clear, and the genetic and fossil evidence is abundant, but it does not support evolution. Not even remotely.
    Of course Scripture can have different interpretations. But the science leaves no such wiggle room. It does not prove, indicate or suggest that the species arose spontaneously, as a consequence of natural laws and processes. That is a metaphysical mandate that is in conflict with the science.

    As to this comment from Dr. Hunter in particular,

    “In fact the conflict is the exactly the opposite—it is between the metaphysical foundation of evolutionary thought and science.”

    As Dr. Hunter hinted at, the metaphysical foundation of reductive materialism and/or methodological naturalism, which provides the ‘metaphysical foundation’ for evolutionary thought, is what is actually at war with science.

    In no uncertain terms, assuming Methodological Naturalism, particularly assuming reductive materialism, (as Darwinists assume), instead of assuming Christian Theism, as the worldview on which all of science is based leads to the catastrophic epistemological failure of science itself.

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist 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 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. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is 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).
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    – Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark

    Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist may adamantly claim that he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism as the supposed ‘ground rule;’ for science), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that the Darwinian Atheist is 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 that is more at war with modern science 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;

    Despite how badly Seversky may a-priorily want his atheism to be true and to thusly claim that all of science is based on materialism and/or naturalism, the plain fact of the matter is that all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on intelligent design and is certainly not based on his preferred worldview of methodological naturalism.

    From the Theistic presumption that the universe is rational and that the minds of men can dare understand that rationality, to the intelligent design of the scientific instruments and experiments themselves, to the logical and mathematical analysis of experimental results, from top to bottom science itself is certainly not ‘natural’. Not one scientific instrument would ever exist if men did not first intelligently design that scientific instrument. Not one test tube, microscope, telescope, spectroscope, or etc.. etc.., was ever just found laying around on a beach somewhere which was ‘naturally’ constructed by nature. Not one experimental result would ever be rationally analysed since there would be no immaterial minds to analyze the immaterial mathematics that lay behind the intelligently designed experiments in the first place.

    What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018
    Excerpt: Barr rightly observes that scientific atheists often unwittingly assume not just metaphysical naturalism but an even more controversial philosophical position: reductive materialism, which says all that exists is or is reducible to the material constituents postulated by our most fundamental physical theories.
    As Barr points out, this implies not only that God does not exist — because God is not material — but that you do not exist. For you are not a material constituent postulated by any of our most fundamental physical theories; at best, you are an aggregate of those constituents, arranged in a particular way. Not just you, but tables, chairs, countries, countrymen, symphonies, jokes, legal contracts, moral judgments, and acts of courage or cowardice — all of these must be fully explicable in terms of those more fundamental, material constituents.
    In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities.

    Moreover, since truth itself is also a abstract immaterial entity, which is not reducible to some purely material/natural explanation, then Methodological Naturalism, in reality, actually precludes ‘the truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God – Peter Kreeft
    11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.

    Seversky may think that the ‘the truth’ not being reducible to his naturalistic worldview is not that big of a deal, but I would beg to differ. If the primary and ultimate mission of science itself is not the pursuit of ‘the truth’ itself, then there can be no ultimate purpose for science.

    But then again, besides all the other things Seversky’s worldview denies the objective reality of, (things that everyday people hold as being concrete and real), Seversky’s atheistic worldview also denies the objective reality of purpose and/or teleology:

    Teleology and the Mind – Michael Egnor – August 16, 2016
    Excerpt: From the hylemorphic perspective, there is an intimate link between the mind and teleology. The 19th-century philosopher Franz Brentano pointed out that the hallmark of the mind is that it is directed to something other than itself. That is, the mind has intentionality, which is the ability of a mental process to be about something, rather than to just be itself. Physical processes alone (understood without teleology) are not inherently about things. The mind is always about things. Stated another way, physical processes (understood without teleology) have no purpose. Mental processes always have purpose. In fact, purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) is what defines the mind. And we see the same purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) in nature.
    Intentionality is a form of teleology. Both intentionality and teleology are goal-directedness — intentionality is directedness in thought, and teleology is directedness in nature. Mind and teleology are both manifestations of purpose in nature. The mind is, within nature, the same kind of process that directs nature.
    In this sense, eliminative materialism is necessary if a materialist is to maintain a non-teleological Darwinian metaphysical perspective. It is purpose that must be denied in order to deny design in nature. So the mind, as well as teleology, must be denied. Eliminative materialism is just Darwinian metaphysics carried to its logical end and applied to man. If there is no teleology, there is no intentionality, and there is no purpose in nature nor in man’s thoughts.
    The link between intentionality and teleology, and the undeniability of teleology, is even more clear if we consider our inescapable belief that other people have minds. The inference that other people have minds based on their purposeful (intentional-teleological) behavior, which is obviously correct and is essential to living a sane life, can be applied to our understanding of nature as well. Just as we know that other people have purposes (intentionality), we know just as certainly that nature has purposes (teleology). In a sense, intelligent design is the recognition of the same purpose-teleology-intentionality in nature that we recognize in ourselves and others.
    Teleology and intentionality are certainly the inferences to be drawn from the obvious purposeful arrangement of parts in nature, but I (as a loyal Thomist!) believe that teleology and intentionality are manifest in an even more fundamental way in nature. Any goal-directed natural change is teleological, even if purpose and arrangement of parts is not clearly manifest. The behavior of a single electron orbiting a proton is teleological, because the motion of the electron hews to specific ends (according to quantum mechanics). A pencil falling to the floor behaves teleologically (it does not fall up, or burst into flame, etc.). Purposeful arrangement of parts is teleology on an even more sophisticated scale, but teleology exists in even the most basic processes in nature. Physics is no less teleological than biology.

    Thus, there can be no place for purpose in science in Seversky’s preferred atheistic worldview since his worldview denies the objective reality of purpose in the first place.

    In short, Seversky’s atheistic worldview, to put it mildly, is completely insane as the supposed foundation for science! Again, it would be hard to fathom a worldview that is more ‘at war’ with science than Severky’s naturalistic worldview has turned out to be.

    Romans 1:20-22
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

  4. 4
    Brother Brian says:

    I think “hate” is an over-the-top description of how many biologists view theism. I think it is more accurate that they have issues with some theists. Specifically those who try to impose their theological views on limiting their science.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    Specifically those who try to impose their theological views on limiting their science.

    As opposed to specifically those who try to impose their materialistic views on limiting their science. 🙄

    Materialism is the dogma that limits science. At least with ID materialistic explanations are considered. It’s just that they are always found wanting.

  6. 6
    ET says:


    Of course, it could have something to do with how the theory of evolution has been under relentless attack by the creationist wing of Christianity more or less since its inception.

    There still isn’t a scientific theory of evolution. And what is under attack is the nonsensical and untestable claim that blind and mindless processes produced life and its diversity

    To be fair, though, the only reason relativity theory and quantum mechanics were spared was because, at least in the beginning, nobody knew what the hell physicists were talking about.

    Wrong. They were spared because unlike evolutionism, they make testable claims that have been tested and confirmed.

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