Denyse O'Leary muses about the lecture I attended last Tuesday where Kirk Durston presented the case for Intelligent Design Creationism [Kirk Durston's Proof of God].
Here's what she says on her blog Uncommon Descent [We have the hat, but where’s that rabbit? High levels of information in “simple” life forms]. I'll go through it slowly but the bottom line is that Denyse O'Leary is finally beginning to understand mechanistic naturalism and what science is all about. It's only taken her, what ... ten years? Sheesh.
In Tuesday night, a guest speaker spoke to my adult night school class in why there is an intelligent design controversy. He talked about the central problem of evolution: The fact that high levels of information are present in life forms that are supposed to be early and simple.We've discussed this on other posting. Kirk Durston did, indeed, say that ancient bacteria were complex and modern ones have become more simple. But his most important point was that the existence of protein folds cannot be explained by evolution, therefore they must have been intelligently designed (i.e., God did it).
Some guests attended the talk, and one of them announced that if intelligent design is correct, scientists would not see the need to do any research because Goddunit. Or something like that.Actually, it wasn't one of the "guests"—it was one of the regular students. It happened to be the one who invited me as a "guest."
The question referred to the fact that "God did it" is a science-stopper. As soon as Kirk Durston concludes that protein folds are designed by God, that's the end of doing science. What else can be done? Does he plan to design experiments to prove that God did it? Does he plan to investigate how God might have done it, or when? Of course not. It's a science-stopper.
The more I thought about what he was saying, the more it puzzled me. Finally, I realized:I'm delighted to hear that Denyse O'Leary is capable of serious thought. (Who knew?) She's pretty much got it right.
For the materialist, the PURPOSE of science is to show that high levels of information can be created without intelligence.
Therefore, in looking for causes of events, the materialist accepts ONLY a solution that shows that high levels of information can come from random assembly (= without intelligence).
In science you cannot invoke the supernatural. You are committed to finding naturalistic explanations of the natural world. The procedure is called methodological naturalism or methodological materialism [see Theistic Evolution: The Fallacy of the Middle Ground].
The debate over the conflict between science and religion has been going on for hundreds of years. In the past 50 years the debate has focused on the methodology of science and how it must exclude the supernatural if it's supposed to work properly. I'm shocked (not really) that Denyse has never heard of this before. It's one of the main themes in the writings of Phillip Johnson [see Are You as Smart as a Second Year University Student? Q1 and comments].
He has not shown that high levels of information can be created without intelligence. He assumes that his assertion is true and looks for evidence to support it."Disoveries" that claim to disconfirm the assumption of naturalism are tested against reality. If a hypothesis appears to conflict with a naturalistic explanation then it's back to the drawing board. Scientists will re-examine their assumptions to see where they went wrong. They will devise new approaches and do experiments to collect more data. In other words, the apparent conflict stimulates research, it does not shut it down.
Discoveries that disconfirm his initial belief are not treated as evidence.
Keep looking, he says, keep looking … that magic information mill has GOT to be somewhere!
Keep looking, keep looking. This is an approach that has been enormously successful in science over the past several thousand years. Without that attitude we would still believe that all of humanity was wiped out in a flood and that the sun went around the Earth.
Contrast this scientific approach with the typical Young Earth Creationist approach to learning. How many of them are looking for evidence of how God made the Universe 6000 years ago? Where did he get all the atoms, for example? Did he make any mistakes? Belief in the Bible is a science-stopper.
Here's another example. Kirk Durston stops doing science once he's decided that God made proteins. There's nothing else he can do. On the other hand, scientists look at his data and try to explain where he went wrong and why there could be naturalistic explanations. In this case, it's not too hard to discover where Kirk made most of his errors. This is what science is all about and this is why Intelligent Design Creationism isn't science. It's a science-stopper.
Look at bacterial flagella. Michael Behe pronounced that flagella were created by God when he published Darwin's Black Box in 1996. How much research into the origin of flagella did this stimulate among Intelligent Design Creationists? None at all. What's the point?
Scientists did not accept the conclusion that God did it. They continued to work on the problem and now we have a pretty good explanation for the origin of bacterial flagella. Pretty soon the creationists will have to abandon this example but it sure won't be because of any scientific work they did. No scientific advances come for assuming that God did it.
What if random assembly is not in fact the answer? Then eitherActually the two scientific possibilities are:
1. No solution is found (because there never was any solution in the direction in which he is looking)
2. An inadequate solution is patched together and defended as the best available solution - usually that means that claims for the solution are overstated wildly to the public.
But it is the materialist scientist’s duty to keep looking for the magic mill even if the fact that random assembly did not occur is overwhelmingly obvious.
- We found a naturalistic explanation for the claims of religion. Historically, this is what happens most of the time and it's why the claims of religion have repeatedly been shown to be false.
- We don't know the answer but we'll keep working on the problem. This is what's happening with the most recent claims of the creationists. It takes a few years to demonstrate their nonsense and during that time the correct scientific position is that the questions hasn't been decided. (Sometimes we can say we have a tentative solutions that needs refinement.)
And he displays his virtue to his peers by never questioning the system and by showing hostility and contempt for anyone who does question it.There are many religious scientists who do a pretty good job of being scientific most of the time. They know that methodolgical naturalism is a powerful assumption with a proven track record and that resort to the supernatural has never led to further understanding. As I said above, I'm shocked that Denyse is only now coming to the realization that her understanding of science was seriously flawed. Apparently, in spite of the fact that she has written two books, she never understood the scientific method.
Given his initial convictions, the materialist cannot believe that a non-materialist is actually doing science. He cannot envision any approach to the fact base that does not have as its base an effort to show that the information was created randomly.
As for "hostilty," yes, it's true. Some of us get very frustrated with so-called scientists who don't understand the fundamental concepts of the scientific methd and what it means to be a scientist.
As a matter of fact, the fact base could easily be approached otherwise, and often more fruitfully, too. If we assume that an object in nature is designed, we do not waste time trying to imagine how it could have come about randomly. We study its characteristics and make predictions about its behaviour, function, and so forth.That's just a bunch of bull manure. Part of the statement is true—creationists stop trying to find an evolutionary explanation as soon as they conclude that God did it. But the second part is completely false. Creationists stop all investigations once they've concluded that supernatural beings are involved. They don't try to figure out how God's mind worked.
I hope Denyse does some reading in order to catch up. She should look at Philip Johnson's proposal for a God-based (non-materialistic) science. It ain't gonna happen. Why in the world would scientists shop using a method that has bee so successful?
The idea that invoking the supernatural could be a more "fruitful" approach to science, as Denyse says above, is outlandish to the point of idiocy. There are no scientific advances that have come from assuming God did it. That's always a science-stopper.