Saturday, March 6, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Apart from its intrinsic merits this book represents an almost symbolic gesture forcing open discussion of evolution among secularists. This critique is from mainstream academic science/philosophy circles, and makes clear its secularist (atheistic) perspective. That should not be necessary, but in the current environment the public tends to assume all critics of evolution are from the Bible Belt, and that is false. This book can't be pegged on any religious or ID rubric, and hopefully the mainstream scientific public can recover from a generation of the Dawkins regime and the Darwin propaganda machine to acknowledge the obvious: Darwin's theory is very probably not right, so let's move on. It is way way overdue for this to happen, and whatever else it has done (or not done) the ID movement is a reminder that culture is going to balk if it is forced to believe forever in Darwinian absurdities through force-feeding by pseudo-scientific distortions. The pity is that secular culture has been unable to break free in similar fashion from the conditioning imposed by this cult of Darwinian scientism. The result is an imporverished secular culture. That can now change, perhaps. But it is almost twenty years since Robert Wesson's Beyond Natural Selection, which was unable to make a dent in the armor of the Darwin stupidoes monopolizing discourse on evolution and intimidating all dissent. Let us hope this fate does not await this book. It is not the last word on the subject of evolution, but it is a start toward Postdarwinism. The courage to produce this book, sure to be given the 'treatment', is commendable.
I find the authors' refusal to hype another theory at the end commendable. As Wesson warned twenty years ago, after the Darwin pipedream there is no second pipedream in the form of a keep-it-simple-stupid 'theory' for science grunts.
Must read, despite its fairly stiff learning curve. Maybe Darwin groupies can be cured of their laziness with this book and do some hard thinking for once.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The bearing of scientific men towards the men of culture who do not belong to their own class.
The third cause of the alienation between religion and science, is the bearing of scientific men towards the men of culture who do not belong to their own class. When we, in such connections, speak of scientific men, we do not mean men of science as such, but those only who avow or manifest their hostility to religion. There is an assumption of superiority, and often a manifestation of contempt. Those who call their logic or their conjectures into question, are stigmatized as narrow-minded, bigots, old women, Bible worshippers, etc.
Professor Huxley's advice to metaphysicians and theologians is, to let science alone. This is his Irenicum. But do he and his associates let metaphysics and religion alone? They tell the metaphysician that his vocation is gone; there is no such thing as mind, and of course no mental laws to be established. Metaphysics are merged into physics. Professor Huxley tells the religious world that there is over-whelming and crushing evidence (scientific evidence, of course) that no event has ever occurred on this earth which was not the effect of natural causes. Hence there have been no miracles, and Christ is not risen. He says that the doctrine that belief in a personal God is necessary to any religion worthy of the name, is a mere matter of opinion. Tyndall, Carpenter, and Henry Thompson, teach that prayer is a superstitious absurdity; Herbert Spencer, whom they call their "great philosopher," i. e., the man who does their thinking, labors to prove that there cannot be a personal God, or human soul or self; that moral laws are mere "generalizations of utility," or, as Carl Vogt says, that self respect, and not the will of God, is the ground and rule of moral obligation. If any protest be made against such doctrines, we are told that scientific truth cannot be put down by denunciation (or as Vogt says, by barking). So doubtless the Pharisees, when our blessed Lord called them hypocrites and a generation of vipers, and said: "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves," doubtless thought that that was a poor way to refute their theory, that holiness and salvation were to be secured by church-membership and church-rites. Nevertheless, as those words were the words of Christ, they were a thunderbolt which reverberates through all time and space, and still makes Pharisees of every name and nation tremble. Huxley's Irenicum will not do. Men who are assiduously poisoning the fountains of religion, morality, and social order, cannot be let alone.
Haeckel's Irenicum amounts to much the same as that of Professor Huxley. He forbids the right to speak on these vital subjects, to all who are not thoroughly versed in biology, and who are not entirely emancipated from the trammels of their long cherished traditional beliefs. This, as the whole context shows, means that a man in order to be entitled to be heard on the evolution theory, must be willing to renounce his faith not only in the Bible, but in God, in the soul, in a future life, and become a monistic materialist.
It is very reasonable that scientific men, in common with lawyers and physicians and other professional men, should feel themselves entitled to be heard with special deference on subjects belonging to their respective departments. This deference no one is disposed to deny to men of science. But it is to be remembered that no department of human knowledge is isolated. One runs into and overlaps another. We have abundant evidence that the devotees of natural science are not willing to confine themselves to the department of nature, in the common sense of that word. They not only speculate, but dogmatize, on the highest questions of philosophy, morality, and religion. And further, admitting the special claims to deference on the part of scientific men, other men have their rights. They have the right to judge of the consistency of the assertions of men of science and of the logic of their reasoning. They have the right to set off the testimony of one or more experts against the testimony of others; and especially, they have the right to reject all speculations, hypotheses, and theories, which come in conflict with well established truths. It is ground of profound gratitude to God that He has given to the human mind intuitions which are infallible, laws of belief which men cannot disregard any more than the laws of nature, and also convictions produced by the Spirit of God which no sophistry of man can weaken. These are barriers which no man can pass without plunging into the abyss of outer darkness.
If there be any truth in the preceding remarks, then it is obvious that there can be no harmony between science and religion until the evils referred to be removed. Scientific men must come to recognize practically, and not merely in words, that there are other kinds of evidence of truth than the testimony of the senses. They must come to give due weight to the testimony of consciousness, and to the intuitions of the reason and conscience. They must cease to require the deference due to established facts to be paid to their speculations and explanations. And they must treat their fellow-men with due respect. The Pharisees said to the man whose sight had been restored by Christ, "Thou wastome a fool, that he may be wise;" or these, "Be converted, and become as little children;" or these, "The Spirit of Truth shall guide you in all truth." We are willing to hear this called cant. Nevertheless, these latter words fell from the lips of Him who spake as never man spake.
Relation of Darwinism to Religion
So much, and it is very little, on the general question of the relation of science to religion. But what is to be thought of the special relation of Mr. Darwin's theory to the truths of natural and revealed religion? We have already seen that Darwinism includes the three elements, evolution, natural selection, and the denial of design in nature. These points, however, cannot now be considered separately.
It is conceded that a man may be an evolutionist and yet not be an atheist and may admit of design in nature. But we cannot see how the theory of evolution can be reconciled with the declarations of the Scriptures. Others may see it, and be able to reconcile their allegiance to science with their allegiance to the Bible. Professor Huxley, as we have seen, pronounces the thing impossible. As all error is antagonistic to truth, if the evolution theory be false, it must be opposed to the truths of religion so far as the two come into contact. Mr. Henslow, indeed, says Science and Religion are not antagonistic because they are in different spheres of thought. This is often said by men who do not admit that there is any thought at all in religion; that it is merely a matter of feeling. The fact, however, is that religion is a system of knowledge, as well as a state of feeling. The truths on which all religion is founded are drawn within the domain of science, the nature of the first cause, its relation to the world, the nature of second causes, the origin of life, anthropology, including the origin, nature, and destiny of man. Religion has to fight for its life against a large class of scientific men. All attempts to prevent her exercising her right to be heard are unreasonable and vain.
 When Professor Huxley says, as quoted above, that he does not deny the possibility of miracles, he must use the word miracle in a sense peculiar to himself.
 Jenaer Literaturzeitung, January 3, 1874. In this number there is a notice by Doctor Haeckel of two books,—Descendenzlehre und Darwinismus, von Oscar Schmidt, Leipzig, 1873; and Die Fortschritte des Darwinismus, von J. W. Spengel, Cöln and Leipzig, 1874; in which he says: "Erstens, um in Sachen der Descendenz-Theorie mitreden zu können, ein gewisser Grad von tieferer biologischer (sowohl morphologischer als physiologischer) Bildung unentbehrlich, den die meistzen von jenen Auctoren (the opposers of the theory) nicht besitzen. Zweitens ist für ein klares und zutreffendes Urtheil in diesem Sachen eine rücksichtslose Hingabe an vernunftgemässe Erkenntniss und eine dadurch bedingte Resignation auf uralte, liebgewordene und tief vererbte Vorurtheile erforderlich, zu welcher sich die wenigsten entschliesen können." (Laughing Boy translation:) First, in matters of descent theory, a certain degree of profound biological (both morphologically and physiologically) education is essential and which the leaders of those Auctore (the opposers of the theory) do not possess. Second, a clear and true judgement in these things requires a ruthless devotion to rational knowledge and a consequent resignation required to ancient, cherished and deeply inherited prejudices, to which few can resolve themselves.
 In his Natürlische Schöpfungsgeschichte, Haeckel is still more exclusive. When he comes to answer the objections to the evolution, or, as he commonly calls it, the descendence theory, he dismisses the objections derived from religion, as unworthy of notice, with the remark that all Glaube ist Aberglaube; all faith is superstition. The objections from a priori, or intuitive truths, are disposed of in an equally summary manner, by denying that there are any such truths, and asserting that all our knowledge is from the senses. The objection that so many distinguished naturalists reject the theory, he considers more at length. First, many have grown old in another way of thinking and cannot be expected to change. Second, many are collectors of facts, without studying their relations, or are destitute of the genius for generalization. No amount of material makes a building. Others, again, are specialists. It is not enough that a man should be versed in one department; he must be at home in all: in Botany, Zoölogy, Comparative Anatomy, Biology, Geology, and Palæontology. He must be able to survey the whole field. Fourthly, and mainly, naturalists are generally lamentably deficient in philosophical culture and in a philosophical spirit. "The immovable edifice of the true, monistic science, or what is the same thing, natural science, can only arise through the most intimate interaction and mutual interpenetration of philosophy and observation (Philosophie und Empirie)." pp. 638-641. It is only a select few, therefore, of learned and philosophical monistic materialists, who are entitled to be heard on questions of the highest moment to every individual man, and to human society.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
The failure to make the due distinction between facts and the explanation of those facts, or the theories deduced from them.
A second cause of the alienation between science and religion, is the failure to make the due distinction between facts and the explanation of those facts, or the theories deduced from them. No sound minded man disputes any scientific fact. Religious men believe with Agassiz that facts are sacred. They are revelations from God. Christians sacrifice to them, when duly authenticated, their most cherished convictions. That the earth moves, no religious man doubts. When Galileo made that great discovery, the Church was right in not yielding at once to the evidence of an experiment which it did not understand. But when the fact was clearly established, no man sets up his interpretation of the Bible in opposition to it. Religious men admit all the facts connected with our solar system; all the facts of geology, and of comparative anatomy, and of biology. Ought not this to satisfy scientific men? Must we also admit their explanations and inferences? If we admit that the human embryo passes through various phases, must we admit that man was once a fish, then a bird, then a dog, then an ape, and finally what he now is? If we admit the similarity of structure in all vertebrates, must we admit the evolution of one from another, and all from a primordial germ? It is to be remembered that the facts are from God, the explanation from men; and the two are often as far apart as Heaven and its antipode.
These human explanations are not only without authority, but they are very mutable. They change not only from generation to generation, but almost as often as the phases of the moon. It is a fact that the planets move. Once it was said that they were moved by spirits, then by vortexes, now by self-evolved forces. It is hard that we should be called upon to change our faith with every new moon. The same man sometimes propounds theories almost as rapidly as the changes of the kaleidoscope. The amiable Sir Charles Lyell, England's most distinguished geologist, has published ten editions of his "Principles of Geology," which so differ as to make it hard to believe that it is the work of the same mind. "In all the editions up to the tenth, he looked upon geological facts and geological phenomena as proving the fixity of species and their special creation in time. In the tenth edition, just published, he announces his change of opinion on this subject and his conversion to the doctrine of development by law." "In the eighth edition of his work," says Dr. Bree, "Sir Charles Lyell, the Nestor of geologists, to whom the present generation is more indebted than to any other for all that is known of geology in its advanced stage, teaches that species have a real existence in nature, and that each was endowed at the time of its creation with the attributes and organization by which it is now distinguished." The change on the part of this eminent geologist, it is to be observed, is a mere change of opinion. There was no change of the facts of geology between the publication of the eighth and of the tenth edition of his work, neither was there any change in his knowledge of those facts. All the facts relied upon by evolutionists, have long been familiar to scientific men. The whole change is a subjective one. One year the veteran geologist thinks the facts teach one thing, another year he thinks they teach another. It is now the fact, and it is feared it will continue to be a fact, that scientific men give the name of science to their explanations as well as to the facts. Nay, they are often, and naturally, more zealous for their explanations than they are for the facts. The facts are God's, the explanations are their own.
 Fallacies in the Hypothesis of Mr. Darwin, by C. R. Bree, M. D., F. Z. S. London, 1872, p. 290.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Relation of Darwinism to Religion
The consideration of that subject would lead into the wide field of the relation between science and religion. Into that field we lack competency and time to enter; a few remarks, however, on the subject may not be out of place. Those remarks, we would fain make in a humble way irenical. There is need of an Irenicum, for the fact is painfully notorious that there is an antagonism between scientific men as a class, and religious men as a class. Of course this opposition is neither felt nor expressed by all on either side. Nevertheless, whatever may be the cause of this antagonism, or whoever are to be blamed for it, there can be no doubt that it exists and that it is an evil.
The two parties...adopt different rules of evidence, and thus can hardly avoid arriving at different conclusions
The first cause of the alienation in question is, that the two parties, so to speak, adopt different rules of evidence, and thus can hardly avoid arriving at different conclusions. To understand this we must determine what is meant by science, and by scientific evidence. Science, according to its etymology, is simply knowledge. But usage has limited its meaning, in the first place, not to the knowledge of facts or phenomena, merely, but to their causes and relations. It was said of old, "ὁτι scientiæ fundamentum, διὁτι fastigium." No amount of materials would constitute a building. They must be duly arranged so as to make a symmetrical whole. No amount of disconnected data can constitute a science. Those data must be systematized in their relation to each other and to other things. In the second place, the word is becoming more and more restricted to the knowledge of a particular class of facts, and of their relations, namely, the facts of nature or of the external world. This usage is not universal, nor is it fixed. In Germany, especially, the word Wissenschaft is used of all kinds of ordered knowledge, whether transcendental or empirical. So we are accustomed to speak of mental, moral, social, as well as of natural science. Nevertheless, the more restricted use of the word is very common and very influential. It is important that this fact should be recognized. In common usage, a scientific man is distinguished specially from a metaphysician. The one investigates the phenomena of matter, the other studies the phenomena of mind, according to the old distinction between physics and metaphysics. Science, therefore, is the ordered knowledge of the phenomena which we recognize through the senses. A scientific fact is a fact perceived by the senses. Scientific evidence is evidence addressed to the senses. At one of the meetings of the Victoria Institute, a visitor avowed his disbelief in the existence of God. When asked, what kind of evidence would satisfy him? he answered, Just such evidence as I have of the existence of this tumbler which I now hold in my hand. The Rev. Mr. Henslow says, "By science is meant the investigation of facts and phenomena recognizable by the senses, and of the causes which have brought them into existence." This is the main root of the trouble. If science be the knowledge of the facts perceived by the senses, and scientific evidence, evidence addressed to the senses, then the senses are the only sources of knowledge. Any conviction resting on any other ground than the testimony of the senses, must be faith. Darwin admits that the contrivances in nature may be accounted for by assuming that they are due to design on the part of God. But, he says, that would not be science. Haeckel says that to science matter is eternal. If any man chooses to say, it was created, well and good; but that is a matter of faith, and faith is imagination. Ulrici quotes a distinguished German physiologist who believes in vital, as distinguished from physical forces; but he holds to spontaneous generation, not, as he admits, because it has been proved, but because the admission of any higher power than nature is unscientific.
It is inevitable that minds addicted to scientific investigation should receive a strong bias to undervalue any other kind of evidence except that of the senses, i. e., scientific evidence. We have seen that those who give themselves up to this tendency come to deny God, to deny mind, to deny even self. It is true that the great majority of men, scientific as well as others, are so much under the control of the laws of their nature, that they cannot go to this extreme. The tendency, however, of a mind addicted to the consideration of one kind of evidence, to become more or less insensible to other kinds of proof, is undeniable. Thus even Agassiz, as a zoölogist and simply on zoölogical grounds, assumed that there were several zones between the Ganges and the Atlantic Ocean, each having its own flora and fauna, and inhabited by races of men, the same in kind, but of different origins. When told by the comparative philologists that this was impossible, because the languages spoken through that wide region, demonstrated that its inhabitants must have had a common descent, he could only answer that as ducks quack everywhere, he could not see why men should not everywhere speak the same language.
A still more striking illustration is furnished by Dr. Lionel Beale, the distinguished English physiologist. He has written a book of three hundred and eighty-eight pages for the express purpose of proving that the phenomena of life, instinct, and intellect cannot be referred to any known natural forces. He avows his belief that in nature "mind governs matter," and "in the existence of a never-changing, all-seeing, power-directing and matter-guiding Omnipotence." He avows his faith in miracles, and "those miracles on which Christianity is founded." Nevertheless, his faith in all these points is provisional. He says that a truly scientific man, "if the maintenance, continuity, and nature of life on our planet should at some future time be fully explained without supposing the existence of any such supernatural omnipotent influence, would be bound to receive the new explanation, and might abandon the old conviction." That is, all evidence of the truths of religion not founded on nature and perceived by the senses, amounts to nothing.
Now as religion does not rest on the testimony of the senses, that is on scientific evidence, the tendency of scientific men is to ignore its claims. We speak only of tendency. We rejoice to know or believe that in hundreds or thousands of scientific men, this tendency is counteracted by their consciousness of manhood—the conviction that the body is not the man,—by the intuitions of the reason and the conscience, and by the grace of God. No class of men stands deservedly higher in public estimation than men of science, who, while remaining faithful to their higher nature, have enlarged our knowledge of the wonderful works of God.
 Science and Scripture not Antagonistic, because Distinct in their Spheres of Thought. A Lecture, by Rev. George Henslow, M. A., F. L. S., F. G. S. London, 1873, p. 1.
 Gott und Natur, p. 200.