(continued Subject: SWAA Lecture Date: 18 Jan 1993 16:25:42 GMT There is a political and r

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(continued From: philjohn@garnet.berkeley.edu (Phillip Johnson) Subject: SWAA Lecture Date: 18 Jan 1993 16:25:42 GMT ) There is a political and religious dimension to the issues Grasse and Dobzhansky were debating which must also be considered. To say as Grasse did that, in the domain of creation, "biology, impotent, yields the floor to metaphysics" is to imply something important about the relative cultural authority of biologists and metaphysicians. Whatever that might mean in France, in the United States the scientific establishment has been in conflict over evolution for generations with the advocates of creationism. Although the scientists have won all the legal battles, there are still a lot of creationists around who are very much unconvinced with what the Darwinists are telling them. How many there are depends upon how "creationism" is defined. The most visible creationists are the Biblical fundamentalists who believe in a young earth and a creation in six 24-hour days, and Darwinists like to give the impression that opposition to what they call "evolution" is confined to this group. In a broader sense, however, a creationist is any person who believes that there is a Creator who brought about the existence of humans for a purpose. In this broad sense, the vast majority of Americans are creationists. According to a 1991 Gallup poll, 47 per cent of a national sample agreed with the following statement: "God created mankind in pretty much our present form sometime within the last 10,000 years." Another 40 per cent think that "Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man's creation." Only 9 per cent of the sample said that they believed in biological evolution as a purposeless process not guided by God. The evolutionary theory endorsed by the American scientific and educational establishment is of course the creed of the 9 per cent, not the God-guided gradual creation of the 40 per cent. Persons who endorse a God-guided process of evolution may think that they have reconciled religion and science, but this is an illusion produced by vague terminology. A representative Darwinist statement of "the meaning of evolution" may be found in George Gaylord Simpson's book bearing that title. In the words of Simpson: Although many details remain to be worked out, it is already evident that all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely naturalistic or, in a proper sense of the sometimes abused word, materialistic factors. They are readily explicable on the basis of differential reproduction in populations (the main factor in the modern conception of natural selection) and of the mainly random interplay of the known processes of heredity. ...Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind." "Evolution" is a vague term which can be used in a variety of senses. When it means only that a certain amount of natural change occurs in nature, it has no great philosophical consequences. What Simpson was describing was something much more specific, which I prefer to call the "blind watchmaker hypothesis," after the famous book by Richard Dawkins. According to Dawkins, ""Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." Dawkins wrote his book to convince the public of something that Darwinians take for granted: The appearance of purposeful design in biology is misleading, because all living organisms, including ourselves, are the products of a natural evolutionary process employing random variation and natural selection. As Dawkins explains, Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning. But blind people doe plan ahead, and pursue purposeful action. What Dawkins is described is a watchmaker that is not merely blind, but unconscious. The really important meaning of "evolution" is not that creation was a gradual process that required billions of years. It is that the process was supposedly undirected and purposeless. The prestige of the scientific establishment, and of the intellectual class in general, is heavily committed to the proposition that evolution -- in the blind watchmaker sense -- is either a fact, or a theory so well supported by evidence that only ignorant or thoroughly unreasonable people refuse to believe it. If the scientists ever had to retreat on this issue, the cultural consequences could be significant. Persons who now have a prestigious status as cultural authorities would be discredited, and the political and moral positions they have advocated might be discredited with them. That is the fear of Michael Ruse, author of "Darwinism Defended." Ruse proclaims proudly that Darwinism reflects "a strong ideology," and "one to be proud of." According to Ruse, most contemporary Darwinians "show a strong liberal commitment" in both their politics and their sexual morality. Advocates of creation, on the other hand, want to restore a "morality based on narrow Biblical lines" with respect to marriage and sexual behavior. Ironically Darwinism, which has at so often been associated with ideologies of racial superiority, eugenics, and unrestrained competition, is currently enlisted in the fight against that trinity of political incorrectness: racism, sexism, and homophobia. Ruse concludes his book with these stirring lines "Darwinism has a great past. Let us work to see that it has an even greater future." Such statements are equivalent to the claims of creation- science advocates that to doubt the Genesis account is to open the floodgates for all kinds of immorality. I think that Michael Ruse and Henry Morris are both right to insist that cultural acceptance of Darwinism has had important consequences for politics and morality. Recognition of this factor, however, also has important implications for how we should regard Darwinism's rules of reasoning. Are those rules designed to protect a cherished doctrine from scientific criticism -- criticism that might, wittingly or unwittingly, give aid and comfort to persons who want to deprive the Darwinist establishment of its cultural authority? If physicists were to start to proclaim that belief in the Big Bang has had wonderful political and moral consequences, and we must all work to see that the Big Bang has a wonderful future, surely we would begin to wonder about their objectivity. (continued in next message...)


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