Friday, December 1, 2006

History Repeats

Paul Nowack urges us to learn from the lessons of history:

The Mouse That's Roaring

Peter Hitchens in The Mail Online, a British newspaper blog, has an excellent piece on the Darwinism/ID controversy. He manages in a few paragraphs to capture perfectly the metaphysical nature of the dispute and the misrepresentations and obfuscations that Darwinists employ to try to mask the real nature of the controversy from the general public. Here are some excerpts:

The left-wing Guardian newspaper is in a state about what it calls "creationist teaching materials" being used in British schools. What is this row really about? What does "creationism" mean? Why does hardly anyone discuss it honestly?

For what I noticed (as I have also observed over the global warming controversy) is that the people on one side of this dispute tend to misrepresent the other side. Rational scientists who are doubtful about Darwinism are abused. And expressions such as 'Creationism' are used to suggest that a complex, nuanced position is in fact a crude Hillbilly superstition.

Now, there is no doubt that some of the people behind the campaign for 'Intelligent Design' are passionately religious. Well, so what? Religious belief is a legitimate position of choice, held to by many of the greatest minds who have ever lived (including many scientists) and in my view religion is the foundation of all morality, art, literature and culture. The Darwinist theory of evolution seems to me to knock religion on the head. If Darwin is right, the realm of nature was produced out of random, undirected chaos, in which case we have invented God, and there is no reason why any idea, action or work of art should be considered superior to any other. (Italics mine).

I am sure some supporters of ID do so for tactical reasons, and actually believe (but keep quiet about their belief) that the Genesis account of the creation of the world is literally true, and is an accurate and factual description of events - that the Earth was made in six days and is only a few thousand years old. This I, and many other Christians, do not agree with. I think the scientific evidence on the age of the planet simply contradicts this view.

But what's interesting is that many of the Genesis people, who control large funds, will not support the campaign for ID - because ID refuses to endorse the 'Young Earth' Bible literalist position. Now, when people turn down the possibility of generous cash aid, that seems to me to suggest that principle is involved.

The original opponents of Darwin tried to stick to the Biblical theory. But they were defeated not by Darwin but by the growing body of scientific proof that the Earth is far too old for the Bible account to be literally true. Many ID supporters concede all that. What they say is much more subtle.

They examine various organisms in the light of the latest science, and argue that it is highly improbable that such organisms could have evolved as Darwinists believe. This is the theory of 'irreducible complexity;' advanced by the microbiologist Michael Behe.

Behe cannot be certain that his chosen examples were not produced through natural selection, but he maintains that - for this to happen - an extraordinary number of changes would have needed to take place simultaneously. This is because of the interdependence of the parts of the organism, pointless on their own, all of which would have had to alter at once to have any evolutionary purpose.

Behe and his supporters are not trying to produce a mirror image of Darwinism, in which the hand of a Creator can be observed at work - as you might think from the rage and fury of the liberals who complain when schools propose to include 'ID' in their classes. All they are doing is casting doubt on the supposed certainties of Darwinism, and using advanced scientific knowledge to do so. If Darwinists are as secure in their beliefs as they claim to be, they should easily be able to see off the ID proponents, in school or out of it, without suppressing, abusing or misrepresenting anyone.

And surely the fact that some scientists question Darwin's theory is itself an interesting fact, which any inquisitive mind ought to be informed about. What good does it do to hide the existence of a scientific disagreement from the young?

Yet the evolutionists trumpet and bellow about this small, modest challenge, like an enormous elephant panicking over the presence of a mouse. I wonder why.

Hitchens is exactly right. IDers are not challenging science or the discoveries of science. Not a single empirical datum of science is called into question by Intelligent Design theorists. Rather, these philosophers and scientists are challenging the metaphysical naturalism of some scientists who fervently believe as an article of faith that there are no non-material, non-physical causes or agents responsible for our world. This belief is part of the creed of the naturalist, and, as such, it's a pillar of his materialist religion. It is, as Denyse O'Leary says, the creation story of materialism. It started out as a respectable theory of how species might change from one into another over time. Might be right, might be wrong. But it simply cannot bear the weight that is now placed on it, trying to make it the explanation as to why everything is the way it is.

This is why the Darwinists are so alarmed and outraged at the inroads being made by ID. It's not their science which is being threatened by ID, it's their religion, a religion in which they've invested their entire professional careers and reputations. Few men will suffer something so profoundly important to them to be discredited with equanimity.