Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is Science atheistic?

“Some say God is living there. I was looking around very attentively, but I did not see anyone there. I did not detect either angels or gods…. I don’t believe in God. I believe in man—his strength, his possibilities, his reason.” (Titov USSR)

The question that interests me is whether atheistic scientists are willing to acknowledge that a clear line can be drawn between science and atheism. Can one be just as committed to science and yet believe in the reality of God, spirits, miracles and special revelation or is an atheistic, materialistic world view the only real position that a true scientist can take.

1. Is science intrinsically atheistic? Atheistic science is the true un-encrusted form whereas theistic science is a primitive medieval form of science prior to its emancipation to full grown materialism.

2. Can the tools of science be seen as a valuable toolbox which can be used usefully within a variety of philosophical contexts and presuppositions but has limited value in actually testing those contexts and presuppositions.

3. Can the results and evidence produced by the toolbox of science be seen in different ways according to the presuppositions and philosophical contexts of the individual scientist? Do the presuppositions and philosophical context of the scientist affect the way in which the data is interpreted and put together? Do the presuppositions and philosophical context predispose individual scientists to particular interpretations of the evidence?


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Institutionalised Idolatry

One of the key blindspots of atheistic scientists it seems to me is their inability to distinguish between beliefs based on evidence and beliefs based on presupposition. There seems to be the assumption that any "religious" position is antagonistic to some kind of "normal" view of any civilised democracy. The "normal" view of any civilised democracy is of course secular humanism - atheism- the worship of man as the highest authority. What they seem to have missed and be apparently completely blind to is that this secular humanism is just as much a "religious" position and faith as any other "religious" position. Its assumed "normal" and superior status is just another kind of religious orthodoxy seeking to impose its dogmas upon a society. Many people including top scientists seem to be entirely blind to this.

I thought Geoffrey Lean's article very perceptive.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tail on the Donkey

I was thinking about Intelligent Design and I thought of the old children’s game that we used to play – Pin a tail on the donkey. The children competing would be blindfolded and each would be given a tail with a pin in it. They would have to guess the correct position of the donkey and pin the tail where it was supposed to go. Get the tail in the right place and you are a winner.

This is a bit like finding a protein that works by random mutation. The protein that works is the donkey with the tail in the right place.

The key variables are the size of the available space for your pin and the number of people trying to stick the pin in the right place.

Of course there is not just one right sequence that works and gives a selective advantage and there are of course many more players in protein building than children at a party. However the key question is - how realistic is it to think that random mutation and natural selection are sufficient tools to build all the proteins and protein combinations that are required to explain biology as we know it?

If we made our illustration realistic….

  • How big would the board space be for sticking the pins in?
  • How big would the area be that give a selective advantage?
  • How many tails need to be stuck on how many donkeys at once?
  • How many children do we need on the board to make life as we know it a realistic achievement for chance mutation and natural selection?

These are the big questions for ID research. One would have thought that biologists would agree that these are really exciting questions to be asking. This is the area where there is a real possibility for the main mechanism proposed for evolution to be falsified and shown to be unrealistic. That surely makes this research great science and exciting science.

That is the sort of research that Doug Axe is trying to do…. But it isn’t being funded by the usual biology funding pathways. He has developed a good method. He has published good work in the field. When you mention that he works in the Biologic Institute to the Darwin faithful at best you get a sneer at worst a snarl and curses!

You could put his decisions down to one big weird publicity stunt or say that the fellow has lost his marbles or you could say that there is more going on in modern molecular biology than a disinterested pursuit of the truth…wherever it leads.

I have a hunch that it isn’t just a publicity stunt and that his marbles are pretty much all present and correct and that he might be right and he might be able to demonstrate that he is right. I hope so and wish him well!