Darwinism as religion
Research scientist Paul Shlichta writing in today's The American Thinker has some thoughts on the debate about Intelligent Design and the argument that ID proponents are unscientific. Don't miss this:
In contrast, the idea of ID, as I understand it, is well within the realm of science, since it can be summarized in the two statements:
(1) The probability of life on Earth having occurred spontaneously, by random chemical combination, is so infinitesimal as to be excludable. Therefore some other cause, outside the laws of nature as we currently understand them, is much more probable.
(2) Therefore, excluding the "we were lucky!" explanation, some intelligent force, which we call “God”, must be postulated as the cause.
Statement (2) is considered by some to be within the realm of scientific speculation while others claim it is philosophy or religion. The latter viewpoint has some validity when we consider that purist physicists have criticized string theory as being philosophy rather than science because it cannot be verified experimentally. (In this rigorous light, neither ID nor string theory should be taught in science classes.)
On the other hand, there is no question that statement (1) is in the realm of science. It challenges the mathematical probability of the spontaneous occurrence and development of life on Earth in terms that are amenable to calculation leading to some degree of verification or refutation. It is therefore legitimately scientific, not as a theory in itself but rather as a challenge to the causal self-sufficiency of the theory of evolution.
It is rather the “ID is anti-science” position that is unscientific. In the main, it seems to boil down to the idea that ID is not accepted as fashionable in current scientific circles. Well, so what! A hundred years ago, relativity and quantum mechanics were not fashionable. Fifty years ago, the big bang theory and plate tectonics were not fashionable. And a hundred years hence, scientists will talk patronizingly about the quaint superstitions of early 21st century scientists.
And “superstition” is not an inappropriate word for the more vituperative opponents of ID. The fact is that, separate from the scientific theory of evolution but mixed in with it in many people’s minds, there exists a philosophy (or what might even be considered a religion), which I shall call “evoluticism”, which preaches that some mysterious force, either inherent in or external to the laws of nature, is continually pushing things onward and upward toward a higher and more perfect humanity. In short, evoluticists believe in the Black Slab in Kubrick’s movie 2001 A Space Odyssey. This philosophical extension of evolutionary concepts is the basis of virtually all 20th century liberal philosophy and social thinking—and therefore, at least subconsciously, a part of the mindset of many contemporary scientists and journalists.