Science, Assumptions and Intelligent Design Part 2: Philosophy, Evolution and Religion

A few years ago, a scientist made the argument that the gaps in the fossil record were fatal to Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. You might immediately think he must have been a young earth Creationist, after all, that was the hallmark of Christian discussions on evolution for decades before the intelligent design movement began. You would be wrong, it was Stephen Jay Gould, who put forward a new type of evolutionary theory, punctuated equilibrium (or more properly punctuated equilibria).

Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium has sometimes been discussed in terms of Marxist revolutionary thought, that is, Gould’s theory is based on a philosophy. This would seem to be an unusual thing for a scientist, but then, similar things are true of evolution as a whole. A few years ago, during some questions on “equal time” for creationism and evolution I noticed that a number of those supporting the current status quo (evolution being taught with no mention of other theories) began their interviews by saying science had disproven miracles, upon which they did not elaborate. (As I’ve noted before, though science can no more disprove miracles than one can deny the existence of verbs on the basis of mathematics). Arguments about miracles are ultimately philosophical, and I believe they were referring to David Hume’s argument against miracles. This ultimately is the major question: can miracles happen?

Scientists might easily rebut that the miraculous is not testable, and this would be a true statement as far as it goes, but this neither argues that miracles do or do not occur. Belief in miracles is not after all contrary to belief in natural law, it is rather an assumption that God is the author of both. Psalm 19 for example brilliantly illustrates nature and natural law as evidence of God’s existence.

The questions of miracles is ultimately a statement of one’s religion, as I’ve noted before, Religion is best defined as one’s beliefs about the nature of reality and man’s proper response to it. The first question, the worldview question includes the question of whether God exists (since religion is by definition a category of questions; any attempt to answer a religious question is a statement of religious belief).

In this sense, Ken Ham was precisely correct when he argued that Creation versus evolution was ultimately a question of two religious systems competing for hearts and minds. The question of evolution cannot be answered by science alone (at least, unless and until time travel is developed allowing for actual observation of events) though I would argue that evolution has a serious evidentiary problem. In this sense, evolutionists are right when they claim creation science is religion not science, my argument however, is that the same thing is true of evolutionary thought.

So if the battlefield is one of religious ideologies opposed to one another where does intelligent design fit in? Intelligent design is a philosophical argument for the existence of God (actually a series of philosophical arguments since Intelligent design writers don’t appear to be unified in some important details), it is not ultimately an answer to the question of evolution, as we will note next time.

One thought on “Science, Assumptions and Intelligent Design Part 2: Philosophy, Evolution and Religion

  1. Pingback: Disproving Creationism: Part 1 Why I am a Young Earther | Truth in the Trenches

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