The View From 1776

Reader Challenges Newton’s Fundamental Postulate

      http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/reader_challenges_newtons_fundamental_postulate/

Reader Adam Leigland challenges the root postulate of Isaac Newton’s scientific discoveries: his intuition that the laws of science are applicable everywhere in the universe, because the universe is Intelligently Designed by the Mind of God.


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Adam Leigland disagrees with my assertion in PBS: Inadvertent Truth From Corrupt Mouths that Isaac Newton’s most fundamental postulate was that the Universe is a product of Intelligent Design by Divine Power.

If Newton is correct, the universe had a beginning that originated in Divine Force outside the universe, whence come all the laws of mathematics, physics, and chemistry, as well as life itself, in all its forms.

If Darwinians are correct, the universe just “is” and always has been in existence by virtue of some unknowable accident.  There is no meaning to life or to the universe other than random changes in material conditions in specific locations.  Life came into being accidentally as a product of such random interactions of material, physical factors.  All living creatures, plant or animal, evolved from the resulting original, primordial blob.

Yet astronomers, physicists, and chemists have observed everywhere in the universe the same chemical elements, the same laws of gravity and motion, the same sub-atomic structure of matter, all held together with the huge amounts of energy that produce nuclear explosions.  Atheistic secular materialists dismiss the intuition that this regularity and order on an inconceivably vast scale is the work of a Divine Being from outside the universe.  But they have no trouble accepting the unbelievable miracle that all of this happened purely by accident.

In the Darwinian world, logically there should be no rules of any kind other than natural selection.  Unfortunately, however, natural selection has to assume implicitly the existence of Newton’s Intelligently Designed universe with its universal laws of mathematics, chemistry, and physics.  Darwinian polemicists like Richard Dawkins repeatedly refer to those laws to support their concepts of evolution.

For perspective on the methodology of Darwinism, consider an everyday example.

Darwinians analyzing changes over many decades in the game of football would look strictly at physical factors.  How a football came to exist, or who might have made it or thought to use it in a game are not the sorts of questions with which Darwinians bother themselves.  They would tell us that changing material conditions in the playing environment led to random changes, some of which proved more effective than others and therefore survived among more teams until they became standard tactics.  For instance, field goals and extra points in former days were drop-kicked.  By accident someone kicked a ball while it was held by another player.  As this proved to be more consistently effective, natural selection decreed that the latter practice survive.  Similar explanations would be given for the development of forward passing and the transition from leather helmets to plastic ones.

What we call plays would be described as the ever more complex and cumulative evolutionary results of random collisions of 22 physical life forms.

Anyone so rash as to suggest that these were not accidental events, but evidence of intelligent design, would be dismissed as someone who does not understand science. 

In the following paragraphs I recite Mr. Leigland’s commentary in full, interspersing his points with my replies. 

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Mr. Leigland: With all due respect, you should stick to politics and philosophy and stay away from science.

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My reply:  That is precisely the problem.  Separating Darwinism from politics and philosophy is impossible, because Darwinism is a melange of deductions by biologists, combined with both religious and political doctrines.

It must be understood that the climate of English intellectual opinion in 1859, when Darwin published “On the Origin of Species,” was suffused with secular materialism.

Philosophical doctrines of the French Revolution had become very popular among the intellectuals by mid-19th century.  Gradual acceptance of Darwinism was greatly aided by their socialistic belief in Progress, a sort of evolution on the social and political fronts. 

Christianity was being challenged by the intellectuals at the very time that Methodists were rousing public opinion for Parliament to outlaw slavery and to enact the first measures to improve working and housing conditions for the poor. 

Charles Lyell and other geologists theorized about mountains and valleys created by geological events over millions of years, challenging the Bible’s description in the Book of Genesis.  Fossil hunting was a popular week-end and vacation pastime for the English middle class. 

Darwin did his research contemporaneously with Karl Marx’s publication of the “Communist Manifesto” and John Stuart Mill’s espousal of socialism.  Both Marxians and non-revolutionary British socialists happily supported Darwinism, claiming it as proof that the secular materialism of socialism was indeed scientific truth.

Intellectuals held that belief in God the Creator was medieval ignorance, that man alone had created everything in the world and therefore could redesign everything to attain perfection of human nature and human society, a sort of accelerated Darwinian evolution. 

Darwinian evolution was also widely accepted because it fit so neatly with the doctrine of French socialists and Karl Marx that history itself was evolving in accordance with scientific laws leading humanity inevitably toward socialism. 

Note, however, that the concept of inherent laws of history moving society inevitably toward socialism conflicts with Darwinism’s official position that biological evolution has no meaning and no determinable objective. This nonetheless doesn’t deter Darwinians from visualizing evolution of life forms as upward progress from primordial soup to human beings, just one of Darwinism’s manifold internal contradictions.

It must also be understood that Darwinism was as much an anti-Christian project as a scientific one.  From its inception in France of mid-18th century, socialism was an aggressively anti-religious doctrine.  Absent the vitriolic attacks on Christianity by Darwin’s supporters, which brought it to full public attention, Darwinism would be just another hypothesis in an obscure corner of biology.

Charles Darwin himself wrote in his autobiography that discrediting the Biblical account in Genesis was one of his reasons for pursuing the question of life’s origin and the development of life forms.  He also wrote that he was happy to have played a role in undercutting religious beliefs.

Darwin’s most vocal champion, Thomas Huxley, asserted that Darwinism proved that there is no such thing as morality or sin; life, he declared, is nothing more than the struggle for survival, hardly a prescription for social order and harmony. 

Huxley’s assertion was picked up here in the United States thirty-five years later by the doyen of American socialism, John Dewey.  In Columbia University lectures on his philosophy of pragmatism, he instructed his students (who became part of the original Eastern liberal establishment) that morality is entirely relative.  Darwin had proved, he said, that everything is continually in flux, including moral standards.  Thus the only valid criterion is whether your actions get for you what you want.  The Christian idea that each individual should strive to do the right thing, in the sense of the Golden Rule, is nonsense in a hard, secular and materialistic, Darwinian world.

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Mr. Leigland: No one who truly understood both Intelligent Design (ID) and current scientific orthodoxy could claim that mainstream scientific thought “backfires at every turn in the real world,” while maintaining that ID is supported by “incontrovertible evidence.”

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My reply:  As implied above, the reason for my contention that “It is easier for such ?scientists? to rely on an unprovable belief in atheistic secularism, which backfires at every turn in the real world…” is simply the empirical historical results of pursuing atheistic, secular materialism. 

Let’s start with the riots and fire-bombings in France.  I wrote recently:

“France was the greatest nation in Continental Europe so long as it remained a Christian nation.? The 1789 Revolution brought about a complete rejection of God and embrace of purely secular, materialistic socialism, which remains today the religion of France.? Apart from the brief bravado of Napoleon?s Empire, France has endured an endless succession of governments and constitutions, sinking ever lower in world influence.? Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1850s that France already had gone through more than a dozen constitutions.? It has had restorations of monarchies, empires, republics, dictatorships, and the Vichy government collaboration with Nazi Germany.

“Today, in common with liberal-socialists here and elsewhere, French socialists pride themselves on their secular materialism and the belief that all they survey is the work of their own minds.? They look, not to God, personal morality, and love of their fellows, but to the theories expounded by the technocrats produced by the Hautes Ecoles.”

In another posting I wrote:

“As an example, let?s take a look at Sweden, the darling of liberal-socialists, the best that the world of liberal-socialism has to offer.? Sweden was apotheosized by Pulitzer-Prize-winning liberal columnist Marquis Childs in his 1930 best-seller, ?Sweden: The Middle Way.? The book influenced Franklin Roosevelt?s decision in the 1932 election campaign to promise imposition of socialistic state-planning in the New Deal.

“Sweden?s experience suggests that the heaven-on-earth of liberal-socialism?s materialistic political and social order is, in practice, not a boost to productivity, but a disincentive to work and to produce goods and services.? According to its own government statistical studies, the average Swedish citizen in 1999 had a comparative income 40 percent lower than his American counterpart.? Worse, productivity is so much lower in Sweden that the gap is increasing each year.”

Let’s, of course, not forget the barbaric savagery of the atheistic, secular, and materialistic Soviet Union and Hitler’s National Socialist Germany.  They exemplified in pure form Thomas Huxley’s contention that Darwin had proved there is no such thing as morality, just the atheistic struggle for survival.

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Mr. Leigland: Take Michael Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box.” The ID community places a lot of weight on this book, but when Behe’s arguments are distilled down, all they become is “There are some complex biochemical phenomena out there. We can’t explain how they arose. And since we can’t explain them, ipso facto they were designed.” This might be called the argument from ignorance. In fact, Behe’s whole concept of irreducible complexity is a hollow construct. It fails on both logical and empirical grounds.

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My reply:  This completely misstates Michael Behe’s argument.  He introduces the concept of irreducible complexity by noting that X-ray microscope technology available only in recent years has enabled biochemists to explore the detailed chemical structures of what Darwin expected to be simply fluid-filled cell membranes with no internal structures.  The simple creature that Darwin assumed might possibly have come to exist via accidental combinations of chemicals at the precisely the right time under exactly the right conditions.

As Mr. Behe, a biochemist, illustrates, even the simplest of known single-cell life forms have several internal structures of considerable complexity.  There are mechanisms to attract and capture food, to move food about within the cell, to digest the food, and to move the toxic waste of food digestion toward a system to expel the toxic wastes, as well as systems for replicating the cell itself. Each of those systems is comprised of many different, complex, synthesized organic chemicals not found on a stand-alone basis in nature.  Unless every one of those highly sophisticated internal systems is present from the beginning, the cell will die almost immediately. 

This is irreducible complexity and it would have been impossible for the systems to have evolved over the aeons required by the gradual process of Darwinian natural selection.

But, Ah! cry the Darwinians, there MIGHT have been much simpler life forms of the sort envisioned by Darwin, from which our present-day simplest life forms evolved.  That’s about as scientific as Darwinism gets.


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Mr. Leigland: Similarly, the Gonzalez/Richards book “The Privileged Planet,” is logically flawed. How can we possibly know that the Earth is precisely positioned? That presupposes that humans already know the entire arc of possible knowledge. As Rumsfield famously said, there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns, and in the fields of astronomy and cosmology, I would say we are well into the territory of the latter.

William Dembski’s idea of specified complexity is yet another ID bedrock that is flawed, for more complicated reasons.

I could go on. I challenge you to offer one piece of “incontrovertible evidence” for ID. Or, perhaps easier, to give an example of mainstream thought backfiring.

In short, the real unprovable belief is Intelligent Design. Indeed, ID is nothing more than belief masquerading as science.

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My reply:  To begin, Darwinism is what police and prosecutors would describe as a case based entirely on circumstantial evidence, from which a motive and modus operandi have been speculatively deduced.

There were no witnesses, nor could there ever have been, to the beginning of life as asserted by Darwinism, nor have there been any witnesses to the supposed process by which all life forms are intuited to have developed. 

For good reason, cases with only circumstantial evidence are the hardest to prove, because the prosecutor (or Darwinian biologist) can do no more than state his conclusion based on assembling various pieces of information that suggest the possibility that certain things might have occurred. Defense attorneys can play the same game equally well, demonstrating holes in the logic by which the prosecutor (Darwinist) reached his deduction.

The jury of public opinion must accept the Darwinist’s circumstantial case purely on religious faith.  If the juror is a worshipper of atheistic, secular materialism, he welcomes Darwinism as supportive of his religion, even though there is not a single proof of it beyond “might have been.”  For the same reasons, atheists and Darwinists fight to the bitter end to forbid what they regard as the heresy of questioning their religion in the nation’s classrooms.

The purely circumstantial nature of Darwin’s dogma is why, within Darwinism, there are fiercely differing sub-theories, both with respect to the purported process of natural selection and with respect to classifications of fossils and other life remains.  There are similar dogfights over the differing ideas about the so-called tree-of-life diagrams purporting to identify the evolutionary paths from elemental life forms into today’s living plants and animals.  Darwinist do not agree among themselves at what point certain species branched off from what ancestors.

Darwinism is not scientific in the sense defined in Webster’s dictionary:

“Agreeing with, or conducted or prepared strictly according to the principles and practices of or for the furtherance of exact science, especially as designed to establish incontestably sound conclusions and generalizations by absolute accuracy and perfect disinterestedness of investigation….”

Branches of knowledge that are indisputably scientific, such as chemistry or physics, are based on deriving laws that both describe natural processes and can predict results accurately.  If a chemistry or physics researcher publishes a new hypothesis, his peers expect to see his data and must be able to replicate his results with their own work, if the new hypothesis is to receive credence. 

This standard approach to scientific knowledge is entirely foreclosed to Darwinism, for two reasons. 

First, experimentally replicating natural selection over a long enough period for a new species to develop, unaided in nature, is vastly beyond the life-span of human researchers. Most Darwinists stress that the highly differentiated and complex structure found in life forms can be credibly assumed to have developed only if we postulate those changes occurring over millions of years. 

Those random changes, moreover, must be assumed to have been cumulative in all cases, even those in which the random mutations served no useful purpose whatever at that time, because they might become useful aeons in the future when different environmental conditions might be encountered.

A second reason that normal scientific methods cannot be applied to Darwinism is that Darwinism postulates the complete absence of all exogenous design (i.e., that Intelligent Design is medieval ignorance).  But all scientific experiments are quintessentially Intelligently Designed processes, with specific goals in mind, under precisely controlled conditions.

A Darwinian experiment would require throwing everything on the table, walking away, and waiting at a distance to see what happens all by itself.

Thus, no designed and controlled experiments, such as those with fruit flies, can be accepted as evidence in favor of Darwinism, because they are obviously designed, prepared, monitored, and aided by the biologist’s human intelligence.

Such “experiments” are rigged from the start.  Researchers interbreed selected populations in carefully controlled atmospheres.  Then these “researchers” play the role of a secular god by culling only the mutations they are looking for, then interbreeding that refined population, until finally they have a fruit fly that might be called a new species. 

Such “experimental evidence” supporting Darwinism is an analog of Intelligent Design in God’s creation of the universe. 

Bottom line: what you hear on all sides about Darwinism having been proved by overwhelming evidence is not factual.  All of the evidence is strictly circumstantial and all of the conflicting conclusions of Darwinists are no more than reasonable guesses.  Darwinism MIGHT be true, but there is absolutely no way to prove it.

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