Thursday, September 28, 2006


This is the start of an explanation of the cognitive dissonance that underlies the last 300 years in the West. Read it now!

I'm a mathematician, I don't lightly talk about spirituality or the non-scientific, but equally, I'm more aware of the limitations of empirical science than the average scientist. Maths is not empirical, it's the search for verifiable truth. When you do that, every day, for a living, you get pretty attuned to the fudges underlying science, particularly meta-science such as Darwinism.
When I listen to Dawkins (which I can only take for about 30 seconds) I hear the same fanaticism, the same reductionist argumentation, the same mindless polemic and ideology that I associate with the worst of the left.

To quote this wonderful review by P E Johnson:

"To true-believing Darwinists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, all such objections are fundamentally misconceived. The more intricately "designed" a feature appears to be, the more certain it is to have been constructed by natural selection -- because there is no alternative way of producing design without resorting to impossible skyhooks. Even in the toughest cases, where plausible Darwinian hypotheses are hard to imagine and impossible to confirm, a Darwinian solution simply has to be out there waiting to be found. The alternative to natural selection is either God or chance. The former is outside of science, and also apparently outside the contemplation of Gould or Chomsky; the latter is no solution at all. Once you understand the dimensions of the problem, and the philosophical constraints within which it must be solved, Darwinism is practically true by definition -- regardless of the evidence.

I call this a very interesting situation. Within science the Darwinian viewpoint clearly occupies the high ground, because nobody has come up with an alternative for explaining Design that does not invoke an unacceptable pre-existing Mind. (Dennett easily refutes such hype-induced notions as that a physics of self-organizing systems from the Santa Fe Institute is in the process of replacing Darwinism.) But the rulers of this impregnable citadel are worried because not everybody believes that their citadel is impregnable. They are troubled not only by polls showing that the American public still overwhelmingly favors some version of supernatural creation, but also by the tendency of prominent scientists to accept Darwinism-in- principle, but to dispute the applicability of the theory to specific problems, usually the problems about which they are best qualified to speak.

Dennett thinks that the dissenters either fail to understand the logic of Darwinism or shrink from embracing its full metaphysical implications. I prefer another explanation: Darwinism is a lot stronger as philosophy than it is as empirical science. If you aren't willing to challenge the underlying premise of scientific materialism, you are stuck with Darwinism- in-principle as a creation story until you find something better, and it doesn't seem that there is anything better. Once you get past the uncontroversial examples of microevolution, however, such as finch beak variations, peppered moth coloring, and selective breeding, all certainty dissolves in speculation and controversy. Nobody really knows how life originated, where the animal phyla came from, or how natural selection could have produced the qualities of the human mind. Ingenious hypothetical scenarios for the evolution of complex adaptations are presented to the public virtually as fact, but skeptics within science derisively call them "just-so" stories, because they can neither be tested experimentally nor supported by fossil histories."

Now let me quote something very different from the FAQ for Battleground God (from TPM Online), which is more to the point for Joe Public:

3. Evolutionary theory has [not] been proved certainly and irrevocably.

This one catches the atheists, and boy, they don't like it. The problem emerges (it's a bullet) if one accepts that evolutionary theory is true, but want certain and irrevocable proof for God before accepting God's existence.

Well, sorry guys, you don't get certain and irrevocable proof in science - and if you think that you do, then it is you that doesn't understand how science works, not us! The point is, of course, that irrevocable certainty is not required before it is reasonable to accept scientific propositions as being true (i.e., as being facts). Here's Stephen Jay Gould on this matter:

"In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

Of course, that's what I meant when I stressed that I was a mathematician. I don't deal with picayune, empirical, here today and gone tomorrow theories, I deal with the truth - like the 2500 year old Theorem of Pythagorus. So when I hear that Darwinism explains everything I think `that's not science, not even empirical science, that's religion. It's not me that believes in an old white man with a long beard up in the sky, it's the evolutionary theorists and the old man's called Darwin.'

To be brief, Darwinism most certainly doesn't explain the existence of Richard Dawkins, and, to be blunt, if Richard Dawkins doesn't want to face his eventual demise with an excess of fear and trepidation he really ought to give a little thought to that fact.

There are some people out there who might help him, but he's been telling them for years that they're stupid, immoral or insane.

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