Over the last two articles in our “Tragedy of Compromise” series, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the definition of religion and the definition of science. My central contention is that during the enlightenment, philosophical naturalists began to confuse their religious views with science, and somewhere along the line, Christians began to adopt these atheistic definitions in discussions with atheists.
Naturalism contends natural law is sufficient to explain the universe. This concept is not something that has been proven either by science (by answering all of the questions possible about reality), nor has it been proven by logic. As I have noted before, this is based on an argument by David Hume’s “argument against miracles,” which is ultimately an argument to ignore evidence. Because naturalists believe science can find the answer to all of the questions about the nature of reality, they begin to confuse the philosophical evidence with the actual scientific discussion. I believe Evolution and Psychology, then, are two areas where the confusion between actual science and naturalism is most notable. Evidence revealing this confusion includes the scientific community’s discussion of Michael Behe ( our review was republished last week).
Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box is not actually an argument against evolution (though as a Christian I find much of the evidence useful in my discussion of evolution). Rather, it is an argument against atheistic evolution, and Behe is certainly open to theistic models of evolution. So, why the outcry? Behe has not misstated the facts, after all. He has merely applied the facts and suggested that natural law does not currently have an answer to the development of certain cellular structures without an intelligent designer.
Another evidence, also provided by Behe, is the reaction to the “Big Bang” theory by earlier atheistic scientists. One of the major doctrines of philosophical naturalism for centuries was that the universe has always existed – this was their answer to a particular argument for God (the Cosmological argument). The only explanation I have discovered as to why the Big Bang was so controversial in naturalistic circles (though many of them embrace the theory today), was because it questioned this basic doctrine and tenet. Einstein introduced a “correction factor” to his theory of relativity, not because of evidence, but to avoid the implications that a universe with a beginning is best explained as a created universe. He later acknowledged that this was an error (and this may have influenced his later conversion to Deism). Fred Hoyle, an astronomer, hypothesized the “steady state” theory, which indicated that hydrogen spontaneously came into existence throughout the universe – this theory has also been abandoned.
Finally, we can take note of the attitude naturalistic scientists have towards creationists. See the film Expelled for an introduction to the tactics of naturalists. After all, both Creationists and Evolutionists use a lot of conjecture in their arguments (Dawkins noted, “Creationists lack imagination” – because imagination is a key element of scientific rigor).
The idea, then, that naturalistic scientists are simply more objective than others is not as consistent as many would have us to believe. The title of this series is “the Tragedy of Compromise;” not the tragedy of evolution. We have published many articles laying the groundwork. Next time, we will apply this to our main point: attempts by believers to combine evolution with Christianity.
You cite the fudge factor introduced by Einstein, and the steady state theory of Hoyle to illustrate that certain preconceptions colored the development of cosmology in the 20th Century, and you also mention that these were abandoned, but you fail to make the connection that the essence of science is precisely that mechanism of abandoning dead end trails to approach conformity with the truth asymptotically by successive approximation. This is often ridiculed by believers who rely on a text that never changes, but in the dialogue that ensues, we find we are talking past one another.
Based on the definition of science. Religion as a seen separate but related field works on different principles. As does math, grammar etc.