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Monday, June 06, 2005

Darwin’s Sand Castle

Hypotheses resting upon metaphysical speculation are not science.

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My aim in this post is to amplify and perhaps make clearer a point noted in Begley Begs a Question.

In that posting I wrote:

“Third, the insurmountable problem for the Darwinian evolution hypothesis is that it starts with a metaphysical value judgment.? Science can deal only with examination, description, and explanation of directly observable physical phenomena.? Darwinian evolution, by the terms of science itself, is not science, because it starts with pure specualtion about First Causes, an area entirely off-limits to the physical sciences.

The point on which Darwinian evolution stands or falls is the origin of life itself.? No scientist has ever come close to demonstrating how life came into existence on the earth.? Darwin?s speculations, starting with square one, require that life came into existence purely by chance, through a combination of already existing natural substances and natural forces.”

True science is a process of observing natural, physical phenomena and, from those observations, constructing an hypothesis to explain them.  The scientist then devises experiments to test the validity of his hypothesis.  If those experiments appear to confirm the hypothesis, the scientist submits his data and hypothesis to others in the scientific community, who will also examine relevant data and attempt to replicate the confirmatory experiments.  If the scientific community’s work also supports the hypothesis, it becomes a generally accepted theory, until some other data come along to bring it into question, or a rival hypothesis is advanced.

But, in any case, every scientific theory must by definition always be no more than the best currently available explanation for physical phenomena, always vulnerable to revision or discrediting if new data and better theories come to light. 

Darwinian evolution, in the protective circle of evolutionary biologists and liberal-socialist educators, somehow is to be considered exempt from all of those basic criteria of science, yet we are to accept it as “proven fact” and, by their definition, scientific.  Darwin’s defenders consider that all discussion is foreclosed by the assertion that questioners “don’t understand science,” or less kindly, are ignorant Neanderthals.

Karl Popper, a theorist of scientific knowledge, wrote that a scientific hypothesis must be both provable and disprovable if it is to be considered true science.  What he meant is that, if a proposition is scientific, other scientists must be able to construct tests that say the proposition will be true if; but it will be false if.  Propositions for which such tests cannot be devised are not science; they are scientism.  Such, for example, is Marxian doctrine about the inevitable progress of history (in a Darwinian context read “social evolution”), culminating in world revolution and the triumph of the proletariat.  Darwinian evolution, not surprisingly, was eagerly adopted by British Marxists as “proof” of their master’s scientistic doctrine.

Now, it can be observed that there is absolutely no way to devise a test to determine the validity or invalidity of the Darwinian evolution hypothesis.  The processes hypothesized by Darwin take place with imperceptible gradualism, over tens of thousands of years.  Darwinians can do no more than say that things might have occurred as they hypothesize.  Evolution is a scientistic doctrine that must be accepted entirely on faith.

Darwin’s hypothesizing is more akin to the work of archaeologists than to scientists.  In both cases, the only data are fragmentary, requiring an educated guess about the nature of what they represent.  The difference is that the archaeologist knows that human nature has not changed one iota, Darwin not withstanding, in the entire span of human existence.  Thus the archaeologist can make reasonable assumptions, based on known patterns of human behavior.  Darwinian evolutionists are speculating about unknowable conditions and unknowable processes completely unrelated to human experience.

Darwin in “On the Origin of Species” admits that there are many serious gaps in his theory that can’t be proven, because there is no evidence to do so.  He wrote in the concluding chapter, “.... this whole volume is one long argument… That many serious objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through variation and natural selection, I do not deny.”

When, for example, Darwin considers the serious difficulty imposed by the sudden appearance of new vertebrate life forms in the Cambrian period fossils, with no intermediate forms between them and the earlier invertebrate life forms, he makes the supposition that such intermediate forms existed prior to the Cambrian period, but that they were somehow lost because of natural occurrences such as floods or earthquakes. 

This, needless to say, is not a provable or disprovable proposition.  It is merely a speculative thesis.  And anyone surveying the literature of evolution will discover that it is typical, for the simple reason that here are very many such discrepancies.  All of the explanations for such discrepancies are introduced by “we may speculate,” “we may assume,” or “might have been.”

A speculative doctrine for which every contradictory fact must be explained away by still another speculative possibility is a very rickety hypothetical structure.  If we allow a theorist to explain every inconsistency by speculating that such-and-such might have been true, then UFOs and the existence of secret interplanetary visitors on earth have every bit as much validity as Darwinian evolution. 

It will also be observed that, far from being willing to consider contradictory data to Darwin’s hypothesis, converts to evolution fiercely deny the right of anyone to challenge their doctrine of faith.  They argue, sometimes very nastily among themselves, about variations on the basic hypothesis.  But no non-believer may be permitted to question the fundamental faith itself.

This, of course, accounts for the sometimes vicious personal attacks by defenders of Darwin when school boards are asked to teach both sides of the story.  Darwinians declare that only Darwin’s speculative thesis is science; only science should be taught in schools, therefore, case closed.

To be charitable, let’s note that this is simply human nature.  Even in legitimate areas of scientific theory, practitioners who have invested years of study and work to support a given theory will react hostilely to any new hypothesis that challenges their firm convictions and undermines their professional status and financial sustenance. 

But, in true science, eventually the new hypothesis will force its way into the attention of the scientific community.  One such case is the now proved idea that some stomach ulcers are caused by pyloric bacteria.  When a medical researcher first advanced that proposition, after his own exhaustive research and experimentation, the medical science community rejected it with scorn and derision.  Any fool, they said, can see that bacteria can’t survive in the stomach’s gastric acids.  Well, of course, we now know that they were wrong. 

But, had some scientists not been willing to look into the hypothesis further, the world would have been deprived of a valuable tool to treat stomach ulcers.  Darwinians, needless to say, are on the side of the scornful rejecters.  As converts like the Wall Street Journal’s Ms. Begley usually say, Darwin has been “proved correct,” so there is no point in questioning his thesis.

Another basic tenet of science is that scientists do not deal with what are called First Causes, because First Causes are metaphysical concepts, by definition non-material and not subject to physical examination or experimental verification.  Scientists say that philosophical concepts are “value judgments” that, right or wrong, are simply outside the scope of the physical sciences. 

First Causes are, for example, the Bible’s description, in the Book of Genesis, of earth’s creation out of chaos by God.  Or the New Testament’s Book of John, which, in a very Greek philosophical fashion, says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In that sense, Word, or the Greek logos, means reason or knowledge, or in a more Biblical sense, the Mind of God; the universe exists in the mind of God, Who exists before and outside the universe, in a way altogether beyond direct human experience and comprehension. 

This idea of earth existing as an extension of the mind of God is very much in keeping with the existence throughout the universe of uniform laws of science.  The properties of mathematics are a similar phenomenon.  Mathematics is a wholly mental thing that does not exist in any physical sense, yet its properties are exhibited in all things.

Marx’s scientistic doctrine rests upon an unknowable future.  Darwin’s, on his unprovable speculations about the remote past.

The whole point of Darwin’s labors to produce his hypothesis of evolution was to combat what he called “the damnable” doctrine of Christianity.  He wanted, as the first foundational block of his hypothesis, to confute the Genesis account of the Creation.  In “The Descent of Man” he wrote, “I have at least, I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.”

Compare this to a true scientist examining physical data and seeking an explanation for observable phenomena.  In contrast, Darwin started with the intent to carry on his family’s tradition of atheistic assaults on Christianity.  This may be suitable fare for a politician or a political theorist, but hardly for a scientist.

Underlying the hypothesis of evolution are four completely unprovable, atheistic, First-Cause concepts.  First, that the universe had no beginning; it simply always has existed as it is.  Second, that the only influences on life in the universe are blind, random, physical conditions, to which life forms react unpredictably and spontaneously.  Third, that life was not created by God, but just “happened” spontaneously when certain physical substances were exposed to just the right combinations of natural forces.  Fourth, that every plant and animal life form now existing, or ever in existence, came from that single, original accidental life form.

If these four concepts are not correct, the whole of Darwinian evolutionary theory crumbles when the waters of reality flood its foundations of sand.  We are then left with no more than what humans have known for millennia.  Natural selection becomes nothing more than a fancy term for the knowledge that seeds planted in fertile ground, watered, and protected from birds, animals, and insects will produce larger and more plentiful crops than seeds cast on rocky ground; that it is possible to change characteristics of plants and animals within species by selective breeding or hybridization.

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Posted by Thomas E. Brewton on 06/06 at 11:38 PM
Junk Science • (1) Comments
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